Caramel Sauce

Making your own caramel sauce from scratch is a lot easier than you might think, and it takes practically no time at all. This recipe comes from my friend Suzanne who is a baking genius. I’ve watched her make caramel sauce many times and finally got around to doing it myself.

My one note of caution is to be extra careful while you are cooking the sugar, as with any candy making process. Once the sugar has melted it has a much higher temperature than boiling water. Also, when you add the cream, the mixture will foam up, so use a pan with high sides.

Caramel Sauce Recipe

  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes a little over one cup of sauce.


  • 1 cup (210 g) of sugar
  • 6 Tbsp (85 g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream


1 First, before you begin, make sure you have everything ready to go - the cream and the butter next to the pan, ready to put in. Making caramel is a fast process that cannot wait for hunting around for ingredients. If you don't work fast, the sugar will burn. Safety first - make sure there are no children under foot and you may want to wear oven mitts; the caramelized sugar will be much hotter than boiling water.


2 Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want, from this point on. Note that this recipe works best if you are using a thick-bottomed pan. If you find that you end up burning some of the sugar before the rest of it is melted, the next time you attempt it, add a half cup of water to the sugar at the beginning of the process, this will help the sugar to cook more evenly, though it will take longer as the water will need to evaporate before the sugar will caramelize.

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3 As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be dark amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.


4 Once the butter has melted, take the pan off the heat. Count to three, then slowly add the cream to the pan and continue to whisk to incorporate. Note than when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that is at least 2-quarts (preferably 3-quarts) big.

5 Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then pour into a glass mason jar and let sit to cool to room temperature. (Remember to use pot holders when handling the jar filled with hot caramel sauce.) Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Warm before serving.

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David Lebovitz on making caramel

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Showing 4 of 200 Comments

  • Cheryl

    Whisk in a touch (1/4-1/2 tsp) of vanilla after the cream. You can add flavoring oils for variety. Raspberry, lemon, orange, for example, are also tasty in the right recipe. Adding bittersweet chocolate is wonderful on ice cream, drizzled on cheesecake, fruit, or right off the spoon!

  • Cheryl

    Hi Elise! I love your blog. I made the ice cream and caramel sauce the other day and they are great! However, my caramel sauce had a really thick consistency. If I wanted to make it thinner, do I just add more cream during the cooking process? Thank you!

    Note from Elise: The caramel was really thick even when warm? The sauce should be warmed before serving – the heat will make it much runnier. If heat isn’t the issue, then I suppose you could try adding more cream.

  • Cheryl

    Ah. We were eating it at room temperature. I will try heating it up in bain marie tonight. Thanks again!

  • Chase

    Awesome recipe! I ran out of creamer today for my coffee and I remembered watching Emeril one night make some fancy topping that started out as just melting sugar and butter into caramel. I thought – YES! – that will do it. Thankfully I found your blog and it much easier to follow than that dang Food Network site. Thanks again!

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