This Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce is easy to make and perfect for topping on ice cream or almost any dessert!
*Photos updated September 2017*
As soon as September comes around, I start to crave pumpkin, apple, and salted caramel desserts. Even if there’s just a small hint of fall in the air (in other words, it’s about 85 degrees in Arkansas) I can’t help but get excited to start working on fall recipes to share with you.
Today’s recipe is one of my favorites and one that I make all of the time — Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce. If you’ve never tried making your own salted caramel sauce, it’s so easy and beats anything that you can buy at the store.
You only need six simple ingredients for this recipe, including some water and a little bit of salt! I usually have everything on hand to make a batch and it only takes about 15 minutes to whip up.
Homemade Caramel Sauce Ingredients
This easy caramel sauce requires just six ingredients, all of which are pantry staples at my house. Here’s what we’ll be using to make the best caramel sauce recipe:
- Water: You need to add a little water to the saucepan so the sugar can fully dissolve.
- Granulated sugar: This is the base of most homemade caramel recipes. You need to use granulated sugar, not a sugar substitute.
- Heavy whipping cream: Make sure your heavy whipping cream is at least 36% fat. No substitutions can be used in this recipe.
- Unsalted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter, since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands. We don’t want this sauce to be too salty!
- Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract is best.
- Salt: The exact amount of salt used in this recipe is up to you, but I think 1 teaspoon is perfect.
How to Make Caramel Sauce
To make this salted caramel sauce, you’ll start out with some water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. One important thing – make sure to use a pan that’s a little bigger than what you think you’ll need.
Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble a little bit, you’ll turn up the heat, bring it to a boil, and stop stirring completely. Depending on the size of your saucepan, it can take anywhere from 4-12 minutes for the sugar to turn an amber color.
You want to keep an eye on the sugar to make sure that it doesn’t burn as well, so don’t walk away even if it’s just for a minute. The sugar can go from an amber color to burnt in just a matter of seconds. Once it turns an amber color, remove it from the heat and add in your heavy whipping cream.
Remember when I mentioned using a saucepan that’s a little larger than what you think you’ll need? When you add the heavy whipping cream, the mixture will start to bubble furiously. You want to make sure to add the heavy cream very slowly and whisk well until you have added all of it. Make sure to do this step very carefully. Once the heavy cream is well combined, you’ll whisk in your butter, vanilla, and salt one at a time.
Easy, right? This salted caramel sauce is wonderful on ice cream, caramel apple-upside down cake, or just eaten by the spoonful.
Can I use this recipe to make regular caramel sauce?
If you’re not a huge fan of salted caramel sauce, you can easily reduce the salt in this recipe to make a regular caramel sauce. For a regular version, simply reduce the salt from 1 teaspoon to 1/8 teaspoon.
How long does caramel sauce last?
You can store any leftover salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Reheat in the microwave before using.
- The heavy whipping cream will bubble up quite a bit when you add it, make sure to use a saucepan that’s a little bigger than what you think you will need.
- Be sure to prep your ingredients and have them ready to go before you get started, this will make the process much smoother.
- To make this a regular caramel sauce, just use a pinch of salt or about 1/8 teaspoon.
More Dessert Sauces to Try!
- Homemade Blueberry Sauce
- Easy Dulce de Leche
- Microwave Lemon Curd
- Homemade Strawberry Sauce
- Homemade Magic Shell
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter , cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the water and sugar over medium heat. Make sure to use a saucepan that's a little bigger than what you think you will need. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble just a little.
- Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, stop stirring completely. Let the mixture continue boiling until it turns an amber color, this could take anywhere from 4-12 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit, so make sure to do this very carefully. Then, mix in the butter, vanilla, and salt one at a time.
- Pour the caramel sauce into a dish and allow to cool completely, then cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. The caramel sauce will thicken up some once it's cooled and refrigerated.