Making your own caramel sauce from scratch is a lot easier than you might think! It takes practically no time at all.
I learned how to make caramel sauce this way years ago from my friend Suzanne and now make it any time a recipe calls for caramel sauce. There's really no reason to buy it when you can so easily make it with just three simple ingredients — sugar, butter, and cream.
How to Make Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce
To make caramel sauce, first you start by heating white granulated sugar. (Make sure you are using real sugar, not a sugar substitute.) As the sugar heats, it will melt and start to "caramelize" (hence the name "caramel"), changing color and creating caramel flavors.
Once the sugar has all dissolved and turned brown, we add butter. The heat of the caramel will melt the butter and create even more wonderful flavors.
Finally, after the butter has melted, we add heavy whipping cream. This will allow the mixture to be loose enough to be used as a sauce.
Use a Thick-Bottomed, Sturdy Pan
Making caramel requires that you cook the sugar evenly, which is much easier to do with a thick-bottomed, sturdy pan that can distribute the heat.
If you find that your sugar is burning and not melting, the culprit is most likely the pan heating unevenly. In this case you can either lower the heat and cook the sugar more slowly, or you can start over and add some water to the sugar in the beginning.
Use a pan with high sides as well. When you add cream to the caramel mixture the hot caramel will bubble up. You want to make sure you have a pan that will not overflow when this happens.
To Use Water or Not to Use Water
If you are having problems with sugar burning before it is all melted, you might try adding a half cup of water to the sugar in the beginning of the process. This will help the sugar dissolve and heat more evenly. It will also take quite a bit longer to caramelize the sugar, which is why I usually don't use water.
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. It helps to wear oven mitts and long sleeves to prevent burns if the caramel splatters.
Try Caramel Sauce on These Recipes:
- French Vanilla Ice Cream
- Apple Pie
- Classic Cheesecake
- Coffee Bourbon Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- Caramel Brownies
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 1/2 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.
We don't recommend doubling this recipe.
1 cup (210g) sugar
6 tablespoons (85g) butter (salted or unsalted)
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
Assemble the ingredients:
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.
Heat the sugar:
Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. The sugar will begin to melt in a minute or two. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. The sugar will form clumps and will start to melt at the edges of the pan.
As the sugar starts to melt, lower the heat a bit to keep the sugar from burning.
Keep whisking until all of the sugar has melted. It will clump up quite a bit, but just keep stirring. Once all of the sugar has melted, stop stirring. You can swirl the pan a bit if you want.
A stray grain of sugar that didn’t melt can seed your caramel and cause it to crystalize. To avoid this, use a wet pastry brush to mop down the sides of the pan as the sugar melts, ensuring every crystal is incorporated.
Add the butter:
As soon as all of the sugar crystals have melted (the liquid sugar should be medium amber in color), immediately add the butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
If your caramel clumps up after adding the butter, keep stirring it over the heat until it’s smooth again before adding the cream.
Add the cream:
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 that when you add the butter and the cream, the mixture will foam up considerably. This is why you must use a pan that hold at least 2 quarts, preferably 3 quarts.
Whisk until smooth:
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.
To reheat the caramel, microwave for 30-second intervals, heating just until warm and pourable. Alternatively, add to a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a pot with a small amount of simmering water and heat until warm.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 14g||18%|
|Saturated Fat 9g||45%|
|Total Carbohydrate 27g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 27g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|