Salted Caramel Sauce (with Step by Step Pictures)

11.02.2017

Caramel Sauce. Is there anything better?? It’s perfect for a huge number of desserts, if it will last until serving that is. I know when I’ve got a batch of this sitting around we are all just eating it by the spoonful.

Salted Caramel Sauce

My Favorite Caramel Sauce Recipe

Caramel was one of the first foods I ever learned how to make. I was a young teenager and my mom and sister were talking about how they remembered my grandma’s caramels and how they missed them.

They went on to talk about how hard they were to make and that was when I started paying attention. I thought the challenge sounded fun, plus I’ve always been obsessed with caramel so I decided to look up some recipes and learn how to make it.

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I’ve been making it far too much ever since. And really, it isn’t nearly as hard as people make it out to be.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Only Four Ingredients Needed for Homemade Caramel Sauce!

  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Sea salt (optional)

How to Make Caramel Sauce

  • Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed.
  • In a heavy-bottomed 2 – 3 quart saucepan (something that isn’t dark on bottom so you can see the shade of caramel), heat sugar, salt and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar.

Steps for making caramel sauce

Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally* (this will take time, so be patient. See photos below for the stages to watch for).

Steps for making caramel sauce

It will first bubble vigorously and steam and it will be a clear shade, then bubbling will continue but the bubbles will become smaller and slower and it will slowly tint yellowish…

Steps for making caramel sauce

..Then orangish, then a deep reddish orange and that is what you are looking for.

Steps for making caramel sauce

Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat.

Steps for making caramel sauce

Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk with a long handled whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth.

Steps for making caramel sauce

Pour caramel into a glass jar to cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Caramel sauce will be thicker once cooled to room temperature and much thicker once chilled.

Steps for making caramel sauce

Tips for Caramel Sauce

  • If using a gas stove top I like to use a wet pastry brush to brush down sugar on the sides of the pan so it doesn’t burn from the flame. Also you can stir just briskly as needed if it browns in one spot to quickly.
  • Have ingredients measured out and ready to add in so caramel doesn’t burn in the meantime while measuring.
  • With caramel sauce I really like to push it to it’s limits. There is a prime stage with caramel sauce, if you take it off too early, it hasn’t reached that key stage and it will be lacking in flavor (it also won’t be as thick), but if you leave it on just a few seconds too long it’s can burn and become bitter
  • So really really pay attention to the shade of the caramel. A rich but not super dark color. Once you’ve gotten it right and know that shade, it’s becomes easier to get it right from then on because you know exactly what to watch for.

Salted Caramel Sauce

What Should I Serve this Caramel Sauce With?

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Salted Caramel Sauce

4.91 from 11 votes

The best salted caramel sauce! So good you won't be able to resist eating it by the spoonful! So rich, so creamy and deliciously sweet with the perfect balance of salty. 1,000 times better than store-bought.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: European
Keyword: caramel sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 159 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, diced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. 
  2. In a heavy-bottomed 2 - 3 quart saucepan (something that isn't dark on bottom so you can see the shade of caramel), heat sugar, salt and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. 

  3. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally* (this will take time, so be patient. See photos below for the stages to watch for). 

  4. It will first bubble vigorously and steam and it will be a clear shade, then bubbling will continue but the bubbles will become smaller and slower and it will slowly tint yellowish, then orangish, then a deep reddish orange and that is what you are looking for. 

  5. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. 
  6. Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk with a long handled whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. 

  7. Pour caramel into a glass jar to cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
  8. Caramel sauce will be thicker once cooled to room temperature and much thicker once chilled.

Recipe Notes

*Note that if you are using a gas stove top I've found certain areas tend to cook faster on the gas stovetop, so if you start to see a darker area on the side you can give it a brisk whisking. Also using a wet pasty brush to wet down the dried sugar on the sides helps.

Nutrition Facts
Salted Caramel Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 159 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 161mg 7%
Potassium 8mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 20g 7%
Sugars 19g
Vitamin A 6.3%
Calcium 0.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

99 comments

  • Anna: I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I made it twice and burned it both times. I never moved from the stove. When I started to turn colorist automicallt went to the burned stage. This is probably a dumb question, but am I keeping the stove top temp too high? November 12, 2018 at 12:40pm Reply

  • Lindsey: I just made this a second time because the 1st time was so straightforward & easy to do. It was a little more stressful this time knowing how quickly that change from “not yet” to “now!” takes place. I loved the salted version for hot cocoa but it was just a little too intense for my fam, so this time I omitted the additional salt (keeping the salted butter) & it tastes amazing as well! Excellent recipe & I’m SO grateful for the pictures!! I seriously always check this site first when I’m making holiday or birthday yummies. November 10, 2018 at 11:22am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m glad you found this recipe easy to make Lindsey! And I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my site, thanks for letting me know :)! November 12, 2018 at 9:00pm Reply

  • Melissa: This caramel sauce was really easy to make, it was good for iced coffee the first day we made it but after sitting in the fridge it got a bit too stiff to drizzle on so it needs to be heated up every time we use it. (Not a big deal though, 10 seconds in the microwave makes it good to go) I may try a bit more cream next time to make it looser next time September 26, 2018 at 4:09am Reply

  • Gaye Vlies: Love to try new recipes. September 22, 2018 at 7:31am Reply

  • Valerie: This caramel sauce is amazing! So super easy to make, and comes out perfect every time… September 19, 2018 at 12:36pm Reply

  • Daisy Martinez: im gonna try this, mm drizzle over pancakes with pecans..
    Thank you for the recipe. August 29, 2018 at 11:23pm Reply

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