Can I keep it in the fridge? How long?
Hi, Domenico! Yes, this will keep in the fridge for at least a week or longer. It will stiffen up once cool — you might need to warm it up a little before using.
ok thank you so much
Hi in the UK the easiest Caramel that I have ever made is to put a can of Condensed Milk in a pan of water and simmer for about 4-5 hours (don’t let the pan boil dry or it will explode) , when opened hey presto caramel in the tin. I usually do 6 cans at a time as they keep in the store for months, just don’t forget to label the tins as the paper label comes off when cooking
Hi Janet, I think that’s how we make “dulce de leche”.
Just to be precise for the US cooks–the can of milk must be Sweetened Condensed Milk. And yes it is delicious–is Dulce de Leche as Elise says. Keep the boiling water up high on the cans, covering them is best. Mine takes just 3 hours. YUM!
Condensed milk is the only ingredient
I always make caramel sauce successfully,but there is a big problem. When I use it as coating on the cake or ice cream or other materials,it gets hard and destroy whatever i have cooked please tell me what should I do?
I would make caramel icing instead.
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1⁄2 cup butter
• 1⁄4 cup milk
• confectioners’ sugar, as needed
1. Cook brown sugar and butter for two minutes.
2. Stir in 1/4 cup milk.
3. Bring to a boil; cool.
4. Stir in 10x (confectioner’s) sugar, until thick enough to spread.
5. Makes enough for 2 large cake layers.
My mom always uses white granulated sugar, then it has a really good caramel taste. We feel the brown sugar is a tad too almost burned or strong tasting.
dilute it slightly with water or cream or half and half.
What is the temperature with a candy thermometer that you add the butter? I don’t trust myself to be an accurate judge of color.
Hi Dufty, I don’t think there is enough to get an accurate read with a candy thermometer, and it so quickly changes you would barely have enough time to read it. That and I don’t know the temp.
I made this with brown sugar and it worked well. This would be a great dark sauce for a sticky date or sticky toffee pudding.
Have made this sauce many times now and have poured it over pineapple in the bottom of the dish when I’ve made a pineapple upside down cake. It started as an experiment, but family go mad for it! The flavour of the pineapple seeps into the caramel sauce.
I work for a bakery and I am trying to find a caramel recipe that doesn’t pool once added to churning ice cream. Does anyone have any experience with this? Or have tips? I’ve tried bring the caramel back up to 350 degrees on made- which thickens it a little,,,,but still pools in the ice cream pint.
This recipe is awesome! Have you ever doubled or even tripled this recipe with success?
Hi Elaine, I have not yet tried doubling the recipe.
I double it every time I make it. Works perfect with no adjustments to ingredients.
Thanks for the recipe. Could I substitute 1/3 cup of the sugar with maple syrup? I believe I also have to reduce the cream and butter a bit to compensate for the liquid. My goal is to use this as a filling in molded chocolate. Thoughts? Suggestions?
Hi Jackie, I’ve never attempted to make caramel sauce with anything other than straight sugar. From what I understand, any thing else added to the sugar can disrupt the caramelization process, and given how expensive maple syrup is, I haven’t wanted to test it. But if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you!
Thanks. I have seen some recipes but there is always one thing off about it. Either it is too thick or too saucy, maybe that just has to do with the cook time. I do have a plan to try out next week sometime so I will let you know how it goes. My goal is to get a thick enough sauce to hold up in chocolate molds, but runny enough to be piped.
I made this caramel sauce and was very pleased with the results. I have another recipe that starts out with adding the sugar with 1/2 cup of water and boiling for 15 minutes until amber in color, so I was a little skeptical when this recipe didn’t call for the water. But I found I like it better without the water! its a more intense real caramel flavor! Followed the directions exactly and it turned out great! I put some in a cup of espresso to make a caramel cappuccino, (wonderful)! Also used it as a topping over vanilla bean ice cream and I’m going to use it over a apple oatmeal cake tonight for dessert ! It has so many uses indeed! Thanks for another great recipe!
I keep burning the sugar. It has a bitter taste. And when I try it with water, it never gets dark.
I’m obviously doing something wrong!
John, If you are burning it the heat is too high. You have to stay right there watching it the entire time. You can always turn down the heat as the sugar melts to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Try it again and make sure everything is right there ready to go into the caramel as you can’t wait or it will burn. Good luck.
No, John. You followed the recipe exactly and the problem is the instruction to “bring the sugar to a boil.” You cannot boil the sugar because it will burn. I did the same thing. Twice. Just keep an eye on the pot while the sugar is coming up to temperature and add the butter once there is a good color to it. Otherwise the instructions are good enough to get the job done.
I must have made some mistake mine is runny :( It still tasted delicious though. Any idea what I could have done wrong? Perhaps I didn’t allow the sugar to cook long enough or the water to evaporate?
Elise- I am definitely going to try this recipe. I wanted to comment on the previous comments I’ve read. Very entertaining, I just had to read every single one. I do have one suggestion that hasn’t been mentioned; if you don’t have a heavy bottomed sauce pan, but do have a large cast iron skillet it should do the trick to keep the sauce from burning. Because it is shallow it needs to be a large one to keep the sauce from boiling over and causing burns to fingers, etc.
Thank you for your website.
Question, Ive tried this but when I add the cream the sugar turns to rock! I beat it and wisk it but its no good :( can anyone tell me what im doing wrong?
Let the cream come to room temp and it won’t freeze your mix
Love this site! I made the blueberry cake for Easter this year and it went over amazingly…so simple to make and tastes exquisite! A little sweetened homemade whip cream on the side topped with a little lemon zest for color!! :D
Now just wondering about the caramel sauce. Can you use this as a base for caramel frosting? I have a yummy Dutch Apple Cake that I think it would be fabulous on.
Keep doing what you do best!!
Hi Terry, what a great idea! I don’t know how it would be used as a frosting, but if you figure it out, please let me know!
Great recipe. I made this caramel sauce for a tart I made and it turned out perfect.
Fabulous site!!!! We loved the caramel sauce, but it took two attempts to get it right. Like Janelle my first caramel sauce smelled great but tasted bitter. On attempt number two, I switched to a wooden spoon and removed sauce from heat prior to adding the butter. Definitely worth the second effort!
Note from Elise – the bitterness on your first effort might be due to the exothermic reaction from adding the butter and cream. According to this article, “adding water to extremely hot sugar produces an exothermic reaction. What’s an exothermic reaction? An exothermic reaction is one that PRODUCES heat. When you add the water to the sugar, molecules are broken up and new ones are created. (If I understand this correctly) The energy used to break up the bonds of the old molecules is less than the energy created in forming the bonds of the new molecules. Thus, when you add water to your sugar, in a truly counter intuitive blast of steam and spattering white hot sugar, the temperature of the mixture suddenly increases.” I don’t know but perhaps adding the butter and cream initially produces more heat, cooking the sugar to the point of bitterness. So taking the caramelized sugar off the burner before adding the butter does the trick.
I put it in the brownie mix, and they are delicious and moist!!! They took about an extra 10 minutes to cook, but they taste delicious. The caramel sauce tasted burnt, but when I added it to the brownies and baked it, the burnt flavor just vanished. :) thanks.
Could I put this in a brownie mix, and then bake it? I want to make caramel brownies, and this looks like a great sauce, but I didn’t know if it would burn from being cooked in the oven after its made.
Great question. I think it would work. We’ve made caramelitas with homemade caramel without a problem. ~Elise
Thank you so much. I have failed at caramel more times than I can count and this one was a success. You rock!
Great recipe!!! Mine turned out lovely. I did, however, make one slight change. Instead of using cream I used vanilla yogurt in my fridge. It made a lovely flavor.
I have made this recipe in the past successfully, but the last 5 times I have made it, I have been unsuccessful. What happens is that once all of the sugar has melted into dark amber syrup and I add the butter, the butter fails to bind to the sugar and I am left with a lump of melted sugar floating in the middle of the butter, regardless of how many times I stir vigorously. Then when I add the heavy whipping cream, the entire sugar mass tightly contracts leaving all of the butter and whipping cream.
I have alternated taking long periods of time to melt the sugar, lower heat as well as higher heat, and nothing makes a difference. It seems as if there is some chemical issue keeping the sugar from the binding to the butter and then the cream.
What am I doing wrong?
Hello Elizabeth, great question, I have no idea. You might try just skipping the butter and only adding the whipping cream. ~Elise
I’ve made your caramel sauce many many times, but tonight was the first time it didn’t turn out gorgeous and gooey, but rather globby/ gelatinous almost like a commercial gravy. Any ideas? Still tastes lovely. Followed directions to a “T” as always.
Well that’s weird. No idea what could be causing that. ~Elise
hmm… why do you think the caramel sauce turned to glass when I put it on top of ice cream?
I had just got done making it and it looked good and the consistency seemed great. I let it cool for a few minutes but wanted it to still be warm.
Once it hit the cold ice cream it got suuuper hard and stuck to everything (except the ice cream). Also, it didn’t taste too good.
I halved the recipe in the beginning. do you think that caused it to be off? The taste probably had to do with cooking the sugar too long, based on other comments people made; that part is tricky! Also, how important do you think it is for the cream and butter to be room temperature as someone else suggested?
No idea why it turned to glass. If it didn’t taste good you cooked it too long. No idea on the room temp question. ~Elise
I made it tonight with whole milk. It seized up a bit at first, but adding a little more sugar and butter. More heat and patience, it came together quite well
Hi ,,, thankx for the amazing caramel sauce…finally i had the perfect icing for my carrot cake after so many failures
Omg…this is absolutely amazing!! I did it on the first try…although i did have to strain it. I slowly added the cream to avoid foaming up to quickly..then poured in the rest. Heavenly!!!!
This recipe was a complete success! much better than Ina’s on food network.
So glad I found your recipe and detailed instructions. I’ve now made this 3 times with NO problems (I used the water right from the first try because I’ve burnt sugar a time or two) and have given it as gifts to some people who loved it so much. We are hooked on it for our ice cream. It does distress me that people don’t read the comments before they do things that have been mentioned repeatedly don’t work. It must be frustrating. Good luck to the beginning cooks out there…be brave, because it’s worth it…but please read ALL the directions. They are very specific!
I used 1% milk and an extra 25 g of butter. I had to put in back on a low fire till the butter melted and the milk blended in.
I don’t have whipped cream at home, is there any alternative to using the cream?
Some people (see comments) have made it with milk. I haven’t tried this approach. ~Elise
I am making a homemade caramel sauce for shortbread-based cookies tomorrow. I opted to not buy that “caramel” flavored sauce (ice-cream topping) stores sell. I just realized all the recipes with good ratings mention to use Heavy Cream… I only have half-n-half!
Anyone know if this will still work out? Any protips for utilizing half-n-half for a caramel sauce appreciated!
I actually use this recipe to make salted caramel soft candies. Here’s how:
-Follow the recipe (only pull caramel off when it’s light amber, not dark)
-Whisk until caramel sauce is smooth.
-Put back on the heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until thick, keep whisking. I use a candy thermometer and wait for it to get in between a soft and firm ball.
-Take off the heat between 240-245 degrees and pour into a 9×13 pan lined with parchment. Do not let it get past 250 degrees unless you want very crunchy caramels.
-Cool for a couple hours in the fridge
-Cut into pieces with pizza cutter, I use mini cupcake liners to put the caramels in
– Add the fleur de sel after the caramels have cooled as they tend to get melty when the caramel is still hot.
– This should yield about 40-50 bite sized caramels
Everyone RAVES about my salted caramels. Give it a try!
this recipe is the best caramel sauce recipe i have used although i didn’t use whipping cream it turned out fab
This is so amazingly delicious. Love the smooth buttery taste. My sugar looked good…boiled, etc, but was not turning amber. It crystalized before it turned light amber. I stirred the crystals and pulled it off the heat and put the mostly melted butter in. Stirred that. It looked clumpy. Then I poured in the cream and just kept stirring. It eventually became very creamy, but it left some rock-like sugar crystals in the bottom. I just strained those out and it was amazing. Not sure what caused the crystals, because I followed the directions to a “T”. I kept having my hubby read them to me to make sure I was doing it right. And I did put just a tiny bit of water in the sugar so that it would all dissolve. Any suggestions?
No idea. This does happen to some people sometimes. Perhaps it has something to do with the brand of the sugar, or the size or shape of the sugar crystals. Or perhaps you needed a bit more water so that the sugar dissolved in the water first. Sometimes if a household uses both splenda and sugar, they get mixed up and the caramel making doesn’t work with the sugar-substitute. I really don’t know what might be going on. ~Elise
I’m so so sorry…I lost three batches.one from stirring too much. I wonder if it’s the pan…
Could be the pan. You need one with a thick bottom so the heat is even.
Whenever I try making caramel sauce with butter it always separates. What can I do to prevent this from happening?
No idea. Sounds like it might have something to do with your butter. ~Elise
I just tried your recipe (after having a failure with a recipe using brown sugar and corn syrup) and it was great! I did get some sugar crystals because I forgot and kept stirring after it was boiling. When I remembered I stopped stirring and finished the rest exactly according to directions. It is wonderful and I’ll do it perfectly next time. The other version I tried was sweet, but flavorless. No real caramel flavor.
I think I will add a little sea salt when I heat it up to put on our apple pie for Thanksgiving. I always love a little salty with my sweet. Thanks!
I used your sauce over Blue Bell peppermint ice cream (which they make only around Christmas) and it was a spectacular combination! btw – used light brown sugar instead of white and salted butter, which seemed to make the sauce even richer.
brikka brakka…. i burned it.
back to the kitchen to try again. :)
it smelled so good until, well… it didn’t.
Summer, what you are talking about is Dulce de Leche. As pointed out by an earlier poster, it undergoes a slightly different, though similar, chemical process than caramelization.
But hell yeah, I absolutely recommend to anyone to try what Summer suggested. You can also adjust the cooking time for different consistencies. I used to cook it down long enough to use it as an icing for a Tres Leche cake (which was actually 5 different forms of milk by the time I got done with it).
Don’t worry about exploding cans, they were packed under high heat already, they’re built to take the pressure.
Wow. Wow. Not sure what else to say. Best caramel sauce I’ve ever had. And the fact we used organic ingredients made it healthy??? Maybe not but yum!
I was wondering if you could use a sugar substitute for a diabetic version? I have a relative that would LOVE this but he is a diabetic. I thought that a jar of this made in a sugar free version would be a great gift
I do not. ~Elise
An even easier way to make caramel is to place a can of sweetened condensed milk unopened in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 4 hours and then let cool.
Lenore, That is really more Dulce de Leche than it is caramel.
The first time I made this I accidentally added the cream before the butter and it caramelized incorrectly or something, but it tasted great. The second time I did everything right and it was SOOOO bitter! Yuck! Maybe if I try again I will take it off the heat before I add the butter like above.. I ended up just going to the store and buying caramel…
This is the best caramel sauce I have ever had! Thanks for the excellent step by step instructions and photos. I’m at high altitude, so it took me a little longer to get the sugar caramelized, but it was wonderful! Served it with apples to some friends – it was devoured VERY quickly! :)
The caramel sauce was lovely with stewed apples! It was a perfect pudding for my family. It improved my cooking skills that i will use at school… thankyou for the recipe.
This was the first recipe that came up on google for caramel sauce. I burned my first batch, but then I added 1/4 c. water on my second attempt and it turned out PERFECTLY! It’s going to be hard to refrain from eating all of it right now. Thanks so much for your recipe!
I just made my first batch of caramel sauce using your recipe. It has a bitter taste, can I add anything to the sauce to fix it or do I need to pitch it and start over?
If it has a bitter taste, it sounds like it cooked a little too long. There’s nothing I know you can do to fix it. ~Elise
Made my first ever caramel sauce using this recipe and it actually tastes more like toffee instead of caramel. Is this normal? I followed the directions to the letter.
Toffee is made with caramelized sugar, so I’m not surprised the tastes are similar. ~Elise
ZOMG, I made this last night and added 2 TB dark rum after the cream. AMAZING!
To the people who had their sugar seize up: were you using superfine sugar? That’s all I had and it eventually worked fine, but it did clump up. I just smashed the clumps with my spoon and it all melted together. (Loudest.caramel.recipe.ever)
(And yes, I know I blog about low-carb, but when you go off the wagon, you’ve got to go big :)
Fantastic recipe E – thank you!
To start off, the end product turned out perfectly tasty for me and I followed instructions as close as I could. But, in the beginning, I didn’t notice my sugar boiling before it turned that dark color, but I still took it off in time. Did I just miss it or is there something I might have done wrong? Also, when I poured out my mixture, there was a lot of hard caramel on the edges of my (heavy-bottomed) pan. I was sure that I scrape the edges well while the sugar was melted. Did I just not do that properly or did I do something else wrong? Thanks!
If the end result turned out well, it seems to me that you didn’t do anything wrong. ~Elise
I am wondering if I make this sauce, will it work for a caramel syrup for iced caramel coffee? The coffee like you purchase from Mc Donald’s.
Yes, it should work fine with coffee. ~Elise
I don’t know how you can make caramel sauce without salt and vanilla. Try adding 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt and a half teaspoon vanilla extract. Try adding a little water at the beginning and more cream at the end to make thinner. Also, if you have a problem with it turning to rock candy, try adding a few teaspoons of light corn syrup at the start.
This looks great! Do you know if this would work as a top layer for turtle brownies? When hardened, does the caramel sauce become soft and chewy like it should be for turtle brownies or hard and sticky (and tough to chew)? Thanks!
It never becomes tough to chew. ~Elise
I’ve got a bit of the same problem as Sarah, made my sauce last night put it in the fridge and this morning I went to check on it and it had separated. There was a layer of oil on the bottom of my jar. I used real unsalted butter and half and half. I thought it strange it would do that.
I’m going to try this again. I think this is one of those things that takes a couple of trys to get just right for some of us. Do you suppose the actual brands of things might have something to do with it? I used the chinamart brand of sugar and the same of unsalted butter and half and half?
Any way back to the stove for me! I’ll get it right!
The recipe calls for heavy cream. That might have something to do with it. ~Elise
I’ve loved every recipe of yours and I’m excited for this to work for me…but I’ve tried it twice and each time my sauce has separated :(. It is very runny and oily rather than thick and smooth, with little bits of what appears to be cooked butter or milk floating in it.
Am I cooking the sugar too hot, too long, too short? I LOVE caramel sauce and I’m really looking forward to making this work. Thanks!
Hi Sarah – That is totally weird. Are you sure you are using real butter (not margarine) and heavy cream (no reduced fat or anything with additives)? ~Elise
Thank you for sharing your lovely recipe and assistance.
My question is how well/long would you think this sauce may keep at room temperature? I would love to fill a wedding cake with caramel, but I would need to fill it on the Thursday for serving on a Saturday evening, so I guess 3 full days at room temperature, would this work? I wouldn’t want the cake to not be food safe.
No idea. It’s sugar, butter, and cream, and something tells me that perhaps with all that cream you shouldn’t be keeping it at room temp for 3 days. ~Elise
WOW. This was fantastic! The first time I made it I burned the sugar and the caramel came out very dark and bitter. I did not have the patience for the water trick, so I just turned the temperature down the second time. It took longer to melt the sugar, but I was able to add the butter before any of it burned. It came out perfectly! Thanks so much.
In any event, pretty darn close to the candy shoppe and 100% organic, for tiny amount of time and money, relative to what you pay for “store bought.”
I did follow this except used “mimicreme” (R) in place of the heavy cream to cut down on dairy. It produced a relatively smooth sauce. There were some particles in it look a bit like cooked egg…from the nuts, could probably be machine blended out or maybe when cooled slightly will not be perceptible (particularly if goal is to use it for pecan rolls)
End result is syrup which is dark amber in color and has a slight caramel taste…but not quite the smoky taste i was after…it barely reached boiling and did not smoke…but color exactly as David Leibowitz’s photograph…red amber liquid. so next time i will push it maybe 30 more seconds. i did use a 5 gallon stainless steel pot expecting a great deal of foam after reading this, there was not much foam, perhaps with dairy cream result is foamier and lighter?
I needed caramel sauce for a recipe and since I didn’t feel like running out to the store, I decided to make homemade for the first time. It came out delicious. I think I may have messed something up along the way because it’s slightly bitter, but I kind of like it that way.
I tried another recipe and it was a total fail. i needed 2 + cups of caramel, but with my previous results i proceded with caution, only making one bacth to start. WOW!! it turned out amazing!! i know i am famous for burning caramels, so i added the 1/2 c. water to start. Perfect on the first try. So, i went ahead and made the second batch…perfect too. this will now be my go to recipe for caramel sauce. thanks!!!
Tried this twice, both times in a heavy bottom pan. Sugar burned both times before it boiled, and I broke my best glass measuring cup in the process. Sad waste if two cups of sugar.
I found this recipe a few weeks ago after my boyfriend challenged me to make epic brownies that included cream cheese, marshmallows, and caramel sauce. The first batch of sauce I burned, but it still had the right consistency. I saved it thinking that I could do some research to save it somehow. I ended up adding about 4 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate to it. It cut the burnt taste enough that it was actually pretty good tasting on vanilla ice cream. The second batch of caramel came out perfectly after I figured out what kind of color to look for. This is something that my boyfriend now requests that I make on a regular basis. We have drizzled it over crepes, ice cream, brownies, fruits, and cookies. One note, I added a little bit of sea salt to the cream before warming it up a bit. It adds just a hint more of flavor that complements the buttery richness of the finished product. Thank you so much for making this an easy recipe to follow, and as so many others have said, the pictures were a huge help.
I can’t stop making this caramel. I keep thinking of new ways to use it. Today it’s caramel sauce poured over chocolate bread pudding. I do find that I like it better if I catch it right before the amber colored stage. I’m a Minnesotan and I like things pale!! Thanks for the recipe. So yummy, so fun.
I’m very disappointed. My arms are killing me stirring while the sugar melted too :) Anyway, I got it to just boiling, took it right off the burner and added my butter, then added my cream. Still very bitter and I am so disappointed :( What did I do wrong? I had the stove on between medium and medium high and followed everything exactly. Now I am out of sugar so cannot try again… I guess it is off to the store to buy caramel sauce
Leah, you are cooking it too high and don’t stir but rather just move the sugar around lightly with a spoon as it melts as you do this you may have to adjust the heat but usually if it is medium heat everything should be fine. Might take a try or two to understand the right color and heat setting, but in no way should you be stirring from the beginning.
Thanks for this recipe. I tried making caramel sauce with condensed and fresh milk instead of cream. It was yummy. :D
I’ve tried to make caramel sauce before and failed miserably, so I was crazy cautious this time. I added about 1/4 cup of water to the sugar as you suggested. It did take a while to do anything other than bubble whitely, but then it magically worked! It was so amazing when I added the cream and suddenly got caramel sauce. I’m now officially obsessed with this recipe and have been trying to come up with excuses to eat all the sauce I made so that I can make it again.
I just made this, but instead of heavy cream, I used an Eggnog flavored Coffee creamer, and it is the most amazing carmel sauce I’ve ever had!! the color is beautiful, the taste rich but not too over powering.. Simply amazing!
Hi Elise :) I used your recipe for my second attempt at making caramel sauce (first was an epic fail). I’m happy to say this time it worked! I did overcook the sugar a bit, but that was nothing a little vanilla extract and cocoa powder couldn’t fix. It tastes great on the cranberry apple tarts I’ll be featuring on my blog next week!
This is *the* best caramel recipe!! I have used it a lot. Even at a bakery I used to work at and people rave about it.
I always put a tiny amount of water in with the sugar (think wet sand) and it helps!
You can use this recipe for salted caramels (soft caramel candy). Just follow this recipe exactly and put back on the heat until a candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees F! Then let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours in a baking pan lined with parchment. I let mine cool over night and cut into squares with a pizza cutter!! Then top with hawaiian sea salt!
So great and it doesn’t involve yucky Karo syrup!! :)
This has got to be the best and quickest caramel recipe I have ever made. Thank you ever so much for the detailed explanation. I had tried Gordon Ramsey’s one twice before trying yours without success, actually a total failure! Not me, his recipe!!! :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have just made a banoffee pie with this caramel…. Out of this world. :)
I’m living in corporate housing abroad right now and was trying to come up with something tasty to put on French toast for breakfast because my kitchen is depressingly sparse. I used regular milk (3%) and it was liquid enough to pour on the French toast instead of syrup. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the sauce as it was easy to make and tasted great! Thanks!
This only took me two times to “sort of” get it correct. I smelled “burn”, the first time, when I was just melting the sugar, so I added some water the second time around. I was whisking, even in the beginning, which maybe I should not have. My sugar started to turn amber, and was melted (I think all the way), then I put in the butter, and a dash of vanilla,, while whisking… I counted to three and slowly added the cream. I still had some “lumps” in my sauce. I kept whisking, while off the heat. I decided to turn the burner back on “low”, and kept stirring, and actually it got out a little bit more “lumps”. So, I decided to strain it.. and it was SMOOTH.. Thanks.. Not sure what I did wrong the second time.. I will definately try this again. I cut up some apples, and squirted some lemon juice on top of them. After the sauce cooled, just a bit, I added some sauce to them and put them ontop of my homemade cheesecake!!! OMG!!!! The only thing I would do different is to cook the apples down a bit, with the lemon juice, and caramel sauce… and then put on top of the cake.. Oh well,,, practice makes perfect! Thanks again.
I have used a similar recipe several times before and for the first timers making this sauce this is extremely hot so be careful. Use a med low-med heat till you get the hang of it. When it reaches 350 degrees(candy therm) its done take off the heat. If you need a thinner sauce then just add a bit more butter and cream like 1tblsp for but, 1/4c cream. I made this sauce thinner and added pecans and a splash(2tbl);) of makers mark. Make some homemade french toast using brioche and top with sliced bananas, dust powdered sug and bam! Stole that from Diners drive-ins and dives! The bourbon sauce pairs great with apple desserts(pie,tatin,dumplings), bread pudding,cinn rolls! enjoy and experiment esp with the liquors(rum,grand marnier,chambord,kahlua)
makinjg a caramel sauce is very easy,i thought it was difficult,but it`s not difficult….by the way thanks for teaching me/us to cook carrmel sauce…BYE…
This sauce is great, and the recipe worked well for me. After 2 failed attempts at using another recipe with a sugar/water mix to start, I decided to try this one instead (it was either that or give up and go to the grocery store for caramel sauce). I cooked my sugar a tad too long, but it was still good, and I added a dash of Triple sec for a bit of orange flavor. I’ll use this recipe from now on. Thanks for the very detailed instructions and photos!
This is a great basic recipe.. thank you for posting :) I actually went to use cream, however, my cream was off (really smelly off.. eeewww), so I substituted with sour cream, and also made half the quantity (using about 1/4 cup of sour crm & about 50gms of butter). I poured this on top of a freshly baked (cooled) banana cake and allowed it to cool in the fridge. OMG it turned out beautiful.. many compliments all round. Thanks again :)
PS: for those who asked about using half and half, I tried it and the recipe worked fine!
This recipe was great. I am just trying to figure out how to get it to stay hard once I put it on my cakes. Please help. It drizzles down.
It will harden a bit as it cools, especially if you put it in the refrigerator. Do note that it is a sauce, and is supposed to be fluid. ~Elise
Thanks for the recipe, I had forgotten the proportion of sugar to cream and this was very helpful. Note – to prevent the sugar from foaming up, try heating the cream beforehand. If you warm it in a saucepan on med. low heat, it will be at a good temperature when the time comes to add it.
TKS for this recipe!! I made this week and it was a hit!!
Thank you for posting pictures with your recipes! I have been trying to figure out how to make caramel for a week now and every recipe I tried did not work and then I found your recipe and was able to make the best caramel sauce I have ever tasted!! I will use this recipe over and over again and will probably only look on this website from now on for recipes!
My sugar never turned amber, it stayed white and then turned into hard rock crystals of sugar, so I never got to the “add butter and cream” stage…I likely will not be trying to make this recipe again.
Made this caramel sauce last night to drizzle over flourless chocolate cake. I got it right the first time, but I made some modifications. I didn’t have any heavy cream in the house so I a little less than 1/2 cup of whole milk and it came out delicious. I also added a splash of blackberry brandy instead of water while melting the sugar so the final product came out fruity, buttery, and delicious.Thanks for another wonderful recipe!
My caramel came out bitter. Why?
That can happen if you overcook the sugar. ~Elise
Elise, could you add some kosher salt at the very end to make a salted caramel sauce? I know this is a new culinary trend and I am dying to try it. Also, would you cook the sugar longer to make the caramel harden more if you wanted to spread it out on a silicon mat and cut it up and wrap it in wax paper to make candies with it? Thanks in advance.
Yes on the salt. Not sure on the candies. Most of the caramel candy recipes I’ve seen call for the use of an invert sugar like corn syrup. ~Elise
Hi just wondering my son is dairy intollerant and most recipes I just swich the butter for soya butter and any milk for soya milks.
Soya have not yet produced a cream, do you think soya milk will work as well? or do I need a thicker consistency.
As far as I know, you cannot make caramel with soy milk (at least not with this recipe). ~Elise
I made this tonight to put over brownies. I toasted some almonds and then drizzled the cool caramel over. It was wonderful! Reminded me of a chocolately Heath bar. My guests were dipping their fingers into the pan for the leftovers! Thanks!
So I make a modification of this using a brandy and spice reduction instead of water at the beginning. The only problem is that because the brandy reduction is brown it is hard to tell when the browning of the sugar occurs unless you have made caramel before, either that or you will have a slightly softer sauce. Either way this is so fantastic:
1 bottle brandy
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
1 vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if you don’t have vanilla bean)
Boil down an ENTIRE bottle of cooking brandy ( I use the smaller size E & J or Christian Brothers). Add all the seasonings toward the end to let them meld and then follow the above recipe with the water modification.
What an interesting variation, thanks for sharing! ~Elise
This was a great recipe. My mom and I tried a recipe from a different website and it turned out bad but this was very easy and tastes really good.
This really brought back childhood memories. As soon as I as I brought the spoon to my mouth to lick the smell and then the flavor took me back. I had forgotten my Mom used to make this, she also made her own chocolate sauces, and am so glad that I finally got around to making this sauce. Nice bowl of vanilla bean ice cream topped with this finished off the night nicely.
This is a great recipe for caramel sauce.. Step by step instructions really helped in the process. Yummy Sauce!!
I just made this caramel sauce and will never use store-bought, again. I thought it would be a daunting process, but it’s so easy and the flavor is wonderful. Thanks, Elise.
Followed the recipe exactly, turns out the sugar is too thin & watery for coating caramel apples, it keeps running down, and granola nuts would not stick on adequately, tastes lovely though. So for caramel Apple, the recipe may be:
* 1 cup of sugar
* 2 Tbsp butter
* 1/6 cup heavy whipping cream
I drizzled your caramel sauce onto my homemade creme brulee and sugar cookies and it was the perfect addition. People went absolutely crazy for it. Thanks!
This is my first time making caramel like this. My sauce is a bit runny though. :( I’m really hoping it thickens a lil bit when it’s a little cooler.
It will thicken as it cools. ~Elise
I made the caramel sauce but I made a slight change. Instead of 1/2 C of heavy whipping cream I used 1/4 c and added 1/4 cup pumkin spice coffee creamer. It was delicious!
I used it on my apple filling cake and it just tasted wonderful!
So I decided to try my hand at this recipe today. It looked and smelled very good. I was really impressed with how easy it was, until I tasted it. It was nasty! I guess I burnt it :(
After reading all the comments I decided to attempt it once again. It seemed to go much better this time. I followed the advice above and removed it from the heat as soon as it was light amber. When I added the butter it looked very smooth this time. The end product however still tastes burnt (even with the tip of adding vanilla extract!) I am using 18% creamer and wondering if this is making a difference? (Although it seems others have made out just fine using all types of cream/milk). Any suggestions?
Hi Nicole, you cannot make this recipe with creamer. It has all sorts of fillers in it that will not work when you heat it at the high temperature required for caramel. ~Elise
I made this last night and it was terrific! I poured the warm caramel into a bowl, sprikled with chunky sea salt. We dipped apples and pears into it!
Do you think this recipe could be canned in a cooker to give away as gifts?
No idea on the canning. I kinda doubt it given that you are dealing with cream and butter. But you might want to look online for canning guidelines. ~Elise
Does anyone know if you can keep reheating the Caramel in the same jar after it has been refrigerated?
The danger of doing that is that it may start to crystalize and get gritty (this has happened to me before), but there is no harm in it that I can think of. ~Elise
Can this recipe be used to put on a banoffe pie?
I don’t see why not. ~Elise
I just made this tonight and turned out wonderfully! Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe!
^ Cindy, I think this is a great substitute for Starbucks’ Caramel Sauce. I halved the ingredients today, and it came out well. The only thing that is a bit different is that the sauce I made today is thicker than Starbucks’, so I’m going to try adding a bit of milk to see if that helps.
So Starbucks has taken away the ability to purchase their caramel sauce that drizzles on the caramel machiatto, my favorite drink. I bought a machine to make them at home and now can’t find my sauce. Does this one match up pretty well? I’ve tried Hershey–it’s a completely different taste, I am thinking home made is the way to go!
Love it LOVE it LOVE IT!!!
Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t realize I had burnt the sugar until I tasted it in the final product. Second time was a winner; the trick really is to take it off the heat as soon as the last clump has dissolved and the color is a golden amber, and to have the butter and cream onhand at room temperature. From there it is a cinch.
I made this caramel sauce the other day and it is delicious! The cooking went smoothly and I think it went correctly but it tastes like butterscotch… I looked up the butterscotch recipe and made it last night and it tastes like a saltier version of the caramel recipe… both taste like butterscotch though. I wonder if perhaps what I thought caramel tasted like was wrong? Is the only difference in flavor the saltiness?
Thanks in advance for any help or light you may be able to shed here!
Butterscotch is going to have more going on, the brown sugar has molasses in it, and there is vanilla added to that recipe too. I think if you try both sauces side by side you’ll more easily be able to distinguish the differences. ~Elise
We made this tonight to make some homemade iced caramel coffee… it worked wonderfully! Didn’t have any cream so we just used 1% milk and it still worked wonderfully! Not as thick, naturally, but it had the most fantasically rich, buttery flavour… we’ll definitely be making it again.
Thanks Elise. I actually used the wrong sugar, caster sugar. It didn’t caramelized and turned lumpy. So I added more water to get a thick consistency, then added the butter, and eventually the plain YOGHURT, not whipping cream. For the color, I put a dash of molasses syrup. End product looks exactly like caramel, taste great too. Just got to relax & not panic while trying to improvise with every resources in hand. Love it!
Always the culinary adventurer, I not only used brown sugar, I also used margarine and melted LIGHT butter pecan ice cream to half a cup to fulfill the heavy cream requirements of the recipe. I removed most of the pecans. I found a few in the final product though which TURNED OUT TO BE DELICIOUS! Caramel-ly with a touch of pecan flavoring. Talk about a recipe that holds – Thanks Elise!
I was wondering if I could use this caramel sauce as a glaze on top of a plain pound cake. If so, do I put it on the pound cake while it is still warm or do I apply it after the cake has cooled completely.
OMG, I will never buy store bought caramel sauce again, this was amazing! I used half & half and it was absolutely fine.
made it twice— both times it was horrendous. SO bitter. Im following the recipe exactly the way it tells me. Bummer..
If it’s bitter, you are cooking the sugar too long and letting some of it get burnt. Or using a pan with a too-thin bottom so that the heat isn’t even enough to prevent burning. ~Elise
i tried this recipe as soon as i found it but it was a total disaster!! i think i did not let the sugar to come to a boil before adding the butter. One more thing that might have effected it is that i tried to make the quantities of my ingredients in 4ths. Like- 1 cup of sugar becomes 1/4 cup of sugar. Since I used powdered sugar, some parts of the sugar began to turn brown before all was even dissolved!! I guess I shouldn’t have messed with the quantities. I also exchanged milk for cream. Can i use condensed milk instead of cream. It is really thick! However, as I read all these comments and how they worked great I think I’ll try again! I first said I will never cook again :P
thanks for posting and sorry for long msg.
Hi Maya, to be successful with this recipe you must follow it exactly. NO substitutions. Especially powdered sugar for granulated. It simply will not work.~Elise
I’ve been making caramel sauce for vanilla ice cream as our fave family treat lately and using a similar recipe calling for brown sugar.
This was a lovely, lighter recipe, but my family prefers the more “caramelly” taste of the brown sugar. The directions are not terribly specific either – exactly how long should you boil the sugar? Should it reach a certain stage?
Lovely sauce but not one I will make again.
Elsie, the recipe is amazing! I had some heavy cream I wanted to use up and googled caramel sauce with cream, and your recipe popped up. Am I ever glad. After looking at some time consuming recipes that involved cooking to soft ball stage (ho hum) or needing corn syrup (which I was out of), I was delighted to find such a simple and quick recipe. And it also has one of my recipe criteria—3 ingredients! I cannot wait look at some of your other recipes. Thanks. Verlene
I’m looking for a recipe for butter toffee almonds. Could I use this Caramel Sauce to coat the almonds?
No idea. This is more of a sauce for ice cream and desserts than a candy filling. ~Elise
I was looking for a caramel sauce recipe for my mango crepe. I decided to use your recipe. I was wondering what type of butter you use- salted or unsalted? Also, how do you measure the butter? Should you melt it on a saucepan first? Thank you.
Usually I use unsalted butter for everything, however in this recipe, caramel does benefit from a little added salt (think salted caramels), so if you have it, I would use salted butter. Most butter comes in sticks with the measurements listed on the side of the stick. You can also measure it by scooping it into a measuring cup. Should you melt it in a saucepan first? No, that isn’t necessary. ~Elise
I was wondering, would this work on the bottom of a pan of cinnamon rolls? I have a horrible time trying to get caramel rolls that aren’t grainy. Thank you!
Don’t know, haven’t used it for that. We use a different topping for cinnamon rolls. ~Elise
Thank you sooo much for teaching me to do it!
The question I have to ask is why do we have to put it in the fridge for 2 weeks??
I am asking you this because it’s my birthday in about 2 months and I want to put the caramel sauce on an apple to give to my friends at my birthday party!
Hello Caterina, this caramel sauce will only keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, meaning you should eat it up before then. If you want to put it on apples, I recommend a different approach, see our caramel apples recipe. ~Elise
I didn’t have any cream on hand, so I used some evaporated goat milk. It was amazing!
I had no idea making caramel sauce would be so quick and easy. And very halal too, by the way…. makes me and my husband very happy. :)
Thanks so much for the help Elise. I’ll be trying the pastry brush technique shortly as I’ve used almost all my caramel up in my coffee. I have a new addiction. I didn’t even know there was a way to make a simple cup of coffee even better!
This recipe burnt the first time, and was starting to turn out great the second time, with the helpful suggestion of adding water. (I think I jumped the gun and didn’t wait quite long enough before adding the butter, since it is soooo sweet, but still very tasty). Unfortunately it is just a touch grainy now. I wasn’t so careful with the butter measurement. Do you think if I used more or less butter it would become smoother? Thanks for any help you can offer.
The graininess likely comes from sugar crystals not completely dissolving in the pan. You can use a pastry brush, moistened with water, to brush down the sides of the pan to dissolve any stray sugar crystals as the sugar is cooking. ~Elise
Is it possible to use margarine in this recipe? I don’t usually keep real butter handy but after reading the comments, would like to make this correctly. Sounds great.
Hi Dee, margarine is nothing more than solidified vegetable oil with artificial flavoring. It is completely different chemically than butter. Personally I would not attempt to make caramel with margarine, as I seriously doubt it would turn out. If you do try it, please do let us know how it worked for you. ~Elise
Would it be okay if I used light whipped cream? or would that not work the best? I know the fat contents are different, but is there any other difference? Because it’s hard to find heavy whipped cream when practically NONE of the products tell you which one it is.
You could try it. I have no idea how it would turn out. Just make sure what you’re using really is cream and not some dairy substitute. Also, what you want is “whipping” cream, not already “whipped” cream. ~Elise
Hi. :) I thank you for this sauce.
I am looking for a caramel sauce like Starbuck’s. This one tastes better, but the problem I am having is I would add Starbucks sauce to iced drinks, and it would not clump up. Yet with this it does, is there anyway to make it so it doesn’t? Other than heating it back up?
This is DELICIOUS! I know how to make caramel, but I wanted a smaller quantity, so I decided to look up the measurements. I made grilled nectarine ice cream and put this on top… perfect. Thanks Elise!
I used this sauce on a peach crisp and adapted it a little for that purpose:
I added half and half rather than cream, and used 3/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup so that it would be liquid at room temperature.
I made it into a Rum sauce by adding 3T of dark rum and a t of vanilla to the cream before stirring it in. It got rave reviews poured over a warm peach crisp! The rum complements the peaches perfectly!
hi im a diabetic and i was thinking i could substite sugar blend splenda for baking for the sugar would that work? and can it be used to top a chocolate cake like a carmel toping
This caramel sauce cannot be made with Splenda. ~Elise
The sauce was great but I found it hardened up when I put it in the fridge, which was ok since I just warmed it up before pouring over ice cream but that’s where the problem became that as soon as the sauce hit the cold ice cream, it hardened again and wasn’t at all like a sauce. It was more like sticky toffee. Very chewy. Any ideas about how to keep it from getting so hard on top of ice cream? Thanks!
I would warm it up even more, so that it is runny, that way it will take longer to cool down so much that it hardens. ~Elise
About what quantity of caramel sauce will the recipe make?
It makes a little over one cup. ~Elise
Hi, I did not have any heavy cream left in the house and did not desire to brave 100+ degree temperatures to go out and purchase some. So, I used the milk that I had on hand. The sauce was delicious. I am sure that it would have been more velvety with the cream, but the milk worked for my purposes. You see, I found myself with an abundance of apples and peaches and decided to cut the apples and peaches into slices, top with caramel sauce, pecans, and chocolate chips. Tasted just like the $10 gourmet dipped apples at a fraction of the cost. Thank you for the recipe.
I thought I was careful, using the oven mitts as suggested. But I took one off when the sugar boiled to pick up a table knife, intending to scrap off what had accumulated on the wodden spoon. Not exactly sure how, but the knife slipped off the wooden spoon, sending my un-gloved hand right into the boiling sugar. I don’t recommend this – wow! no kidding it is hotter than boiling water! Be careful.
Plus this is much harder to make one-handed. (How am I supposed to heal without dessert?)
Ouch! I hope you had ice close by. ~Elise
I was wondering if milk would work in this recipe?
I rather doubt it, but if you try it, let us know how it works for you. ~Elise
Would this recipe work as a dipping sauce? Like for fruits? Or is this strictly for things such as ice cream?
My mom ate a half jar of this straight up. You can do whatever you want with it. Sure, use it for dipping fruit, apple slices would be great. Actually, it probably works better as a spreading sauce for fruit than a dipping sauce. It’s not like chocolate dipped strawberries for example. It won’t solidify like that. But you could easily scoop some sauce onto a slice of fruit. ~Elise
In response to Anna Harris-Sampson
Banoffee is made with dulce-de-leche, which is NOT the same thing as caramel
even though they do taste mighty similar.
Cornstarch is cornflour.
Confectionars sugar is icing sugar = it is very finely ground sugar that is generally mixed
Heavy cream in the US is 35% fat as mentioned by a previous poster.
For Banoffee i would look up a recipe for Dulce-de-leche, the flavors are similar
to this caramel sauce but the reactions are different, there is no carmelization occuring in the
process of Dulce-de leche, instead it is a maillard reaction which occurs between
amino acids and the reduction of sugar under heat, similar to caramelization but not the same.
Dulce De Leche requires the slow cooking of milk + sugar (and other ingredients) to get the caraml milk
flavor- where as caramel is made as noted above.
I love this recipe… Delish… I made it with apple tart tatin. My family loved it.
Well, I must not be a great carmel sauce cook or maybe I wasn’t patient enough. I was melting the sugar and it melted, but never turned amber, then all of a sudden it turned to a dry flaky mass. I guess it crystalized. What did I do wrong? I then added some water to break it down again, it dehydrated again — pure white no amber. I added more water and finally just stated adding the buttern. I let it head to burn the butter slightly then removed it and added the cream. It tasted okay, but I never achieved tea deep caramel color which I so wanted. What should I do differently? HELP!! Thanks!
Are you sure you were using white granulated sugar? Pure cane or beet sugar is the best. Sometimes people put sugar substitute like Splenda in their sugar jars and forget about it, and this recipe just doesn’t work with sugar substitutes. ~Elise
I LOVE this recipe! I have made it at least 4 times in 3 weeks. I love it on vanilla ice cream and by the spoonfulls right from the fridge!
I have shared the recipe with everyone I know!
I did burn it the first time.
Oh my gosh! I just tried the caramel sauce….it is to die for. Wow that is so good.
I used to work at a coffee shop that made its own caramel sauce for the special coffee drink called a “Caramello.” This tastes just like the caramel sauce that they make! Now, I can FINALLY make my own homemade caramello & not spend more than four dollars on one drink!
I never knew how easy it is to make caramel, or I would have done it a lot sooner!
Thank you for the most awesome recipe & for making my mouth so very happy.
I LOVED THIS!! I tried making it before but burned the sugar and lost all hope.
But any ways I came across yours and it worked great. I don’t have any cream but I did use sweetened condensed milk. It tastes a little different, and I had to use 1/3 cup of 1% to thin it out a bit but its amazing. I can’t wait to use it on EVERYTHING.
This is what l have been looking for. Have been cravng homemade caramel and just couldn’t remember how to make it. Like Ann-Harris Sampson my mother to made it from condensed milk.
By the way Ann, 1 cup = 250 ml and 1/2 cup = 25 ml. As for the heavy cream. Here heavy cream consists of 35% fat. Whipping cream. And cornstarch is a velety powder. (sometimes used on a babies bottom for rashes) also used to thicken gravies. And lastly, confectioners sugar is the sugar you put in your coffee regular sugar.
PS, gonna make this in the morning. thanks for having it on the net.
PSS hope if you read this ann,, it helps you
I have tried to make this before by using just water and white sugar, but it never works out for me, do you know why? I saw on TV the guy said just to use a cup of sugar and a 3/4 cup of water, boil until water goes away until sugar thickens. Your recipe says to cook on hi heat? Well when I did that long time ago it just burnt the sugar. So would I cook it on med low till sugar melts? Or cook it on hi but just keep standing there and stir like a mad man?
If you cook it on high heat as I’ve suggested you need a thick bottom pan and you have to stir it to keep the sugar from burning before it’s all melted. You can cook the sugar on medium heat if you want, it will just take longer. Also, if you are cooking it more slowly, don’t stir, just swirl a few times. Stirring will encourage the sugar to crystalize which you don’t want. ~Elise
Me again sorry! One other thing, I dont use “cups” for measuring and dont know how! I use ounces or grams. Please can you tell me how much a cup is in weight? Thanks Anna
The measurement converter in the left sidebar of this website should help you with some of the conversions. See How to use the converter for more conversions. ~Elise
Hello, I hope someone can help me out.USA cooking terms are slightly different to British so I dont understand some of the things that are mentioned about this recipe. However firstly I would like to know if this caramel sauce recipe is suitable to use in banoffee pie, I would normally use boiled condensed milk to make the caramel sauce but I live in Turkey and such a thing is not available, nor is evaporated canned milk or fresh cream so Im looking for something to substitute. Please can you tell me what is “heavy cream” is this what we would call full fat fresh double cream in Britain? could I use UHT 50% fat cream? (all that I can get here) What is “cornstarch” is it the same as cornflour? and lastly, what is confectioners sugar, is it the same as castor sugar which is finer than granulated, or is it icing sugar which is a powder type. I can only get brown sugar, granulated sugar or coarse icing sugar here, would they be ok use? Also could I use UHT milk for this? I would really appreciate your help with this as I have promised someone a banoffee pie but just ruined my last can of condensed milk by opening too early!!!!! Thanks and have a nice day, Anna
I used light cream and it was horrible, then I put the horrible mixture in the fridge and when it came ou, it was the best caramel sauce I have ever made!! I did it again and found out to only put 5 tbsp of butter.
I just saw a similar recipe in the paper today for an English dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding. Small cakes are made in ramekins. They are placed on a pool of, and drizzled with the following toffee sauce:
BRING TO A BOIL OVER MEDIUM HIGH HEAT AND THEN SIMMER THE FOLLOWING FOR 5 MINUTES
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup heavy cream
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp rum extract
What I really want is the recipe for the caramel cream sauce they use at Grillfish Restaurant (Miami) in their dessert Bananas with Creamed Caramel. (Bananas, vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, whipped cream and chopped pecans). It’s the best dessert I have ever had with ice cream. The restaurant wouldn’t share the recipe for the sauce, but I suspect it’s a variation of Elise’s. So Good!
Can this sauce be doubled or tripled? I’d like to give it as a Christmas gift to neighbors.
I had no cream and used sour cream instead – worked perfectly and gave the caramel an interesting sideways kick.
Thank you for sharing this recipe. It is fabulous. It is even better because of the photos at every stage. It came out right the first time itself. A recipe to treasure.
I made this caramel sauce tonight to go on top of bread pudding (made out of leftover hamburger buns). It worked like a charm. Thanks!
I was thinking about wrapping this up for gift purposes. Do you have any suggestions about flavoring the sauce, say with lemon or lavender?
What a great recipe. Thank you for sharing it. I did what you said and waited ’til the spuds were all in bed before attempting it. I can’t wait for snack time tomorrow!
Along with several others I burned the first batch, but the second one came out fantastic. The only thing I still messed up was having some hard clumps of sugar left at the end. I probably stopped it too soon, but after reading the comments, I think I will try adding a bit of water and karo to the next batch to see if that helps.
Note from Elise: Adding a little water to the sugar in the beginning will help the sugar all melt and cook more evenly.
This sauce is easy and delicious. However, if you are planning to put it on ice cream, plan ahead! It stays hot for a while and if you put it on too soon it melts the ice cream and everything gets thin and runny. It was even better the next night when I just melted it slightly in the glass jar before putting on the ice cream!
Hi Michelle – I’m quite sure that this recipe only works with real fat found in cream. I’ve never heard of nonfat half-and-half, perhaps it is some sort of non-dairy creamer? If you simply cannot consume any dairy fat, you might consider finding some fat-free caramel candies (if such things exist) and melting them down.
For those who can’t have cream, do you know if the sauce will work with non-fat half & half? If so, would you use the same amount or less?
This is great! I’ve never made anything caramel before and it turned out wonderful. I used organic sugar from Costco, which has a nice taste. Thank you for the pictures, they really helped.
This recipe is so awesome! So very easy and tastes much better than store-bought. I’ll never buy caramel sauce again. I did sub the heavy cream for evaporated milk since that’s all I had on hand. It’s kind of runny but has a great consistancy! I’m going to put it on brownies topped with fresh crushed pecans. Thanks a million!
Does anybody know how to improve the color of the Sauce? I would like to use it as a top layer for a cheesecake, but it has a mat color (from the batter and cream, I believe).Please,please….Thanks
I have made this recipe several times and loved it everytime. So easy. I would like to make it as a layer in an ice cream cake (between the crust and the ice cream), but I wonder if it will be too hard to eat if sandwiched under the ice cream like that. Any thoughts? Thanks.
I make some caramel sauce like this but it adds balsamic vinegar.It’s an Italian thing! This is how I do it:
1c heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1 cup sugar granulated
2 TBS water
4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
1 lemon juiced
1/2 tsp salt
Dissolve sugar with 2 tbs water and cook for 8-9 minutes until dark golden. Carefully add cream to mixture stir, add lemon, vinegar and salt. EASY! Yummy!
I put it on ice cream or over baked apples.
Hey, I was looking for the perfect caramel sauce recipe and googled it . Yours was on top of the page, and so I copied it down and made some. It was just perfect! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! God bless you and this recipe!
Hey! My partner and I were fixing up some apple sticks for my nephews, only to find no caramel in the house! I was in a tizzy but Trent immediatley went to this site and scrounged up this amazing simplistic and delicious recipe. From scratch too! The kids loved it, and I love this site.
One reason why some of you experienced the sugar clumping was because your sugar crystalized. As you make the caramel, wipe down the insides of the pot with a brush dipped in water, I recommend not whisking until you add the butter and cream. You can also add just a little bit of water to help as you make the caramel, (dont worry, it’ll evaporate, although it will take a bit longer)
You can stop the sugar from coloring anymore by dipping the bottom of the pot in some water, it’ll stop the cooking and allow you enough time to add the butter and cream.
Hmmm…also, adding some lemon juice and/or corn syrup will help invert your sugar and prevent crystallization.
Heres a recipe with those ingredients:
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Corn Syrup/glucose
1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 oz butter
You pretty much follow the same procedure as Elises’ but with the sugar, water, lemon juice, and corn syrup in the pot.
Okay, the sugar melted, I whisked in the butter and everything looked okay. Then I whisked in the cream, and sugar + butter ended up in a clump that would not dissipate. What did I do wrong?
Sometimes if your cream is very cold, it will cause the caramelized sugar to seize up. That sounds like what happened here. To prevent in the future you can heat the cream first, before adding. ~Elise
Absolutely heavenly!!! Great with bread pudding!
Thanks for the caramel recipe.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy good caramel . And I was proud to show this recipe off
The caramel is excellent. I will make it again.
Very very tasty!
Just a few pointers for people who are going to make this:
1) Make sure you do not burn the sugar! If you burn the sugar, then the end product will taste burnt. I suggest when there are still a few sugar clumps in the pot, immediately add the butter and immediately take off the element. If you do burn it slightly, then add a few teaspoons of vanilla extract.
2) Add 1 tablespoon or so of cocoa powder if you like chocolate. This also decreases the taste of burn if you have slightly burnt it.
I will definitely try this recipe again! :)
YUM! Thanks for this. Took a couple tries to get it right (I burned the sugar the first time). Very tasty and easy!
This is a great recipe! I had never made caramel sauce before, so this was my first attempt, it worked great! The pictures helped a lot too! Thank you!!
I hope these comments are still being read.
Can you use this sauce for a caramel slice?
As you would want it to set to the base.
Thank you in advance,
When I made this, caramel had a very strong flavor..perhaps I used too much heavy cream? Next time, I will cut the amount of cream down and increase the sugar a tad, to make it sweeter. It has an almost alcoholic edge to it.
Thanks for this recipe! I looked all over for a simple but perfect caramel sauce recipe. This was the perfect topping for the caramel eclairs I made. Thanks so much and especially for adding the pictures in.
I tried this and it was amazing. The only problem was that a small bit of it hardened on the bottom of the pan. This wasn’t that bad because I scraped them off and they tasted just like caramel candy. Thanks so much for this recipe it worked really well.
This sauce was the easiest and best that I’ve made to date – and I’m definately sticking with this recipe. My arm got a bit tired whisking as I waited for the sugar to melt…good thing my husband was nearby!
Thank you-you saved me on Christmas day. You have no idea what I was going through trying to follow another recipe. I found yours and it turned out perfect! My in-laws will be pleased lol!
I used brown sugar and it tastes good, but it’s really dark.
WHat difference does brown sugar make?
I didn’t have any white at home with me at the time but will be sure to try it again the way it is supposed to be!
Note from Elise: Brown sugar has the addition of molasses in it. I suspect a caramel sauce made with it wouldn’t be as smooth, but we do use a brown sugar based caramel sauce for our pineapple upside down cake which works well with the cake.
Just a note, I make a homemade candy recipe that calls for adding butter to the brown, melted sugar and I have found that melting the butter in a seperate pan and having it boiling hot when it is added will keep the sugar from re-crystalizing and burning while remelting.
I tried this and was hooked all over again,seems i was a caramel junkie in my youth :-)
Nice and easy with a big sweet payoff
Sugar crystalizes if you stir it once it has melted. I don’t stir the sugar after it starts boiling and start stirring once everything has been added with a wooden spoon. The sauce is velvetty and wonderfully smooth then
i just made my first caramel sauce with this receipe. It smells so good but the after taste is a little bitter. i’m sure the sugar was not burnt. Was anything done wrong?
OK. First, I love the site. The recipes are simple and good. This was the first one I actually tried and it worked exactly as you said it would. Boy, is this tasty! I am not sure if the sauce will actually last the 2 weeks ;)
It worked ok with milk too, although it was pretty runny. Mixed with some chocolate ice cream (left over from birthday party), coconut, and chopped pecans. Yum!!!!
Mmm… fantastic! This worked fine with half-and-half, though I’m sure that cream would have made it that much more decadent. Thanks!!
Try adding last a litle rum or brandy to the caramel sauce…its a good way to vary left over sauce…just warm left over sauce over hot water, stir and warm to hot add rum and stir with wooden spoon,
Can this sauce be use to make candy apples? Or does something else need to be added or deleted? Thanks in advance.
Note from Elise: Usually caramel apples have the addition of corn syrup which acts somewhat like a stabilizer. See our caramel apple recipe
GREAT sauce! Nice and easy as long as you have everything near by and pre measured. I LOVE it.. SO GOOD. Wait till all the sugar is melted and add butter right away, or let it brown just 10-15 seconds after all sugar has melted to intensify the flavor.
I personally like it lighter.
This is the recipe I was looking for! I try to make caramel sauce last month, but I didn’t know about the cream, so my caramel sauce was just caramel, like candy. Nice, but not a sauce, like I wanted… Thanks for the useful pictures too! Very, very helpful!
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!
Ah. We were eating it at room temperature. I will try heating it up in bain marie tonight. Thanks again!
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.
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!
Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.