Salted Caramel Sauce (with Step by Step Pictures)


The beloved Salted 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

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.

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

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

I’ve updated these photos here (I originally shared this recipe July 2014) but I left my previous step by step photos below so you can see all the stages the caramel will go through. If you haven’t made caramel before I highly recommend checking them out below.

Who knew 4 ingredients could make something so incredible! The simple things in life are the finer things in life.


Salted Caramel Sauce

5 from 5 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.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 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


  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.

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Salted Caramel Sauce (with Step by Step Pictures) - my go-to caramel sauce and one of my favorite recipes! We always end up eating it by the spoonful! #saltedcaramel #caramel #dessert #recipe


  • Natasha of That looks scrumptious! I”m also loving your recipe roundup at the bottom and how everything is covered in caramel sauce. YUM! Pinning :) July 9, 2014 at 6:35pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for pinning Natasha! July 10, 2014 at 2:05pm Reply

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks: All those step shots, what a pain. In 2011 or 2012 when my blog was newer (and the only house/condo in the last 4 that I’ve lived in with a window near the stovetop) I did step shots on making caramel sauce. But the post never really caught on, but of course. So I recently made it but didn’t include any step shots to save my sanity b/c nothing worse than that panicked feeling of trying to get your shot, as your caramel is about to burn or bubble all over everywhere! That’s a long way to say….bravo, thank you for doing it, and your caramel looks awesome!! July 9, 2014 at 6:40pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Averie!! It was a little tricky trying to do it all while getting pics :), it’s just a good thing I’ve already made it plenty or I’d be in trouble. Now I just want to sit here and drink it. July 9, 2014 at 6:44pm Reply

  • Nila: Hello! i want to do this recipe so much but in my country they don´t sell Heavy cream! What other ingredient may I use? July 9, 2014 at 7:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Regular cream would be the next best thing. Hopefully you have that there. Hope you love it! July 9, 2014 at 8:04pm Reply

    • Nikki: How about using condensed milk? I’m sure you could order it from oversea’s if they don’t sell it where you are from, it comes in little tins and lasts for years! July 10, 2014 at 3:24am Reply

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): There’s nothing better than salted caramel and yours looks incredible – love the step by step photos! July 9, 2014 at 11:00pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Laura :)! July 10, 2014 at 9:15am Reply

  • Matt Robinson: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Love the shots, so helpful. And nothing beats salted caramel. July 9, 2014 at 11:57pm Reply

  • Medeja: This sauce wold go so well with so many things! Or alone :D July 10, 2014 at 2:19am Reply

  • Andy: I’ve made caramel a bunch of times, but usually when I add the cream the caramel mixture really clumps up and gets hard – any ideas? It doesn’t crystallize at all before, it’s just when I add the cold heavy cream to the liquid caramel and whisk vigorously it gets very hard very fast – I usually can eventually get it to be a fine sauce or thick sauce after continuing to leave it over the stovetop on a very low heat, but was wondering if you’ve run into this situation or had any tips? Thanks! July 10, 2014 at 8:03am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Are you using the wet method to make caramel (with water) or just straight sugar? I’ve found the water method works much better and I usually end up with no clumps. Also adding warm cream can help and trying an alternate pan. August 9, 2014 at 11:54pm Reply

  • Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts: This is SO perfect! I absolutely love salted caramel – so delicious!! July 10, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet: I admire you for taking the step by step shots! It’s so tricky to do so! I did it once and I was stressing out! lol
    I could drink this caramel sauce with a straw! Pinned! July 10, 2014 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Anna! July 10, 2014 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Shawn: I have 2 questions about this delectable sauce…

    1. Is it possible to can it using a water bath canning technique & if so for how long?

    2. How long will it last in the fridge?

    This is a bittersweet recipe…I love you for sharing it on the one hand, but on the other I think I am brokenhearted b/c of the weight gain! LOL! July 10, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I wouldn’t recommend canning this but it does keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. I hope you love this recipe Shawn! July 10, 2014 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Kelly: I’ve always wanted to make caramel sauce but it seemed too daunting. The step by step shots are really helpful and I can’t wait to try this recipe! July 11, 2014 at 11:28am Reply

  • Tegan | The Macadames: Wow this looks delicious! Thanks for the step by step, caramel is something I have always wanted to try making!

    Tegan | The Macadames July 12, 2014 at 4:43am Reply

  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress): LOOOOVE July 12, 2014 at 4:18pm Reply

  • Megan {Country Cleaver}: One of my biggest weakeness is homemade salted caramel sauce. Homerun!! July 13, 2014 at 8:00pm Reply

  • Jen H.: What a simple and tasty recipe! I made this a couple of days ago and it’s already gone. My Husband and kids are asking me to make it again! Thanks for the yummy recipe! July 16, 2014 at 5:43pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad your family enjoyed this recipe Jen! My family kept reaching for it in the fridge too, we just kept eating it by the spoonful. It’s dangerous stuff at my house :). July 17, 2014 at 7:58pm Reply

  • Layla @ Brunch Time Baker: This caramel looks delicious, love the step by step photos! July 21, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

  • Cindy: Why is it “salted” caramel? Just just caramel? Is salt a requirement in making caramel? I want to use it as. Sauce over chz cake but also as a syrup in my coffee. July 21, 2014 at 12:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: The salt is definitely optional :). If you don’t like salted caramel then you can just leave it out. July 22, 2014 at 11:18pm Reply

  • Bri: I just made this and it is SO good. I’ve always been afraid to make caramel sauce, but your instructions and pictures made it super easy. I’m sitting here eating it by the spoonful. Somebody stop me. July 28, 2014 at 8:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Haha, that’s totally what I do too :). I’m so glad you liked the tutorial! August 13, 2014 at 8:56pm Reply

  • Basically Foolproof Salted Caramel Sauce – Our Joyful Home: […] recipe I used (the second time) was this one from Cooking Classy. The instuctions are super easy to follow, and make it seem really doable. I […] October 3, 2014 at 8:08am Reply

  • Leah: This recipe was so easy and super delicious! Thank you for the step by step pictures – they were very helpful!! I’ve made caramel with a dry recipe before and it was very hit and miss, plus a lot more complicated. Thank you! October 7, 2014 at 2:24pm Reply

  • Des: Absolutely delicious. Fantastic instructions.
    It’s going over a gingerbread pear cake. Yum! Thanks so much October 7, 2014 at 9:10pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Des! Thanks for your feedback! October 8, 2014 at 6:05pm Reply

    • Denise Cottrell: Oh wow…you must share your gingerbread pear cake recipe ! please ???? November 3, 2017 at 1:02pm Reply

  • cynthia: I LOVE that you took step photos and especially that you don’t take the temperature!!! Too awesome. This sauce looks absolutely perfect. October 30, 2014 at 8:45pm Reply

  • Salted Caramel Sauce | eatsgood for me: […] here goes my research and trial from the internet, I found a truly easy and adaptable recipe from with really great and helpful step-by-step photos for guidance – especially for an idiot like […] November 17, 2014 at 8:55pm Reply

  • Brenda: Is it possible to do this in multiple batches…thinking this would be great for the holidays.. Could I double or even triple the batch?…..thank you so much for your input. November 22, 2014 at 7:59pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think you could definitely double but I’ve never tried tripling so I can’t say for sure. I’m not sure how evenly it would cook? November 22, 2014 at 8:00pm Reply

  • Christina: Hello – so exited I just found your site :) everything looks amazing! I am going to attempt your beautiful mini cheesecakes + pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes for Thanksgiving. I was wondering about doubling the caramel sauce (although you already answered it) – so let me ask this. How much caramel sauce does one batch yield? Would it be enough for those two recipes?

    Hoping to take one set to the in-laws for lunch and then present the other with pie at my house for dinner. Was hoping to knock all the desserts out in the am. Thank you + Happy Thanksgiving :) November 23, 2014 at 6:26pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: One batch makes a little over 1 cup so I would probably make two. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! November 27, 2014 at 12:59am Reply

  • Taylor: Sounds delicious, how much does it make? November 24, 2014 at 8:33pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I believe it’s just a little over a cup. November 27, 2014 at 12:40am Reply

  • Olivia: just made this recipe and it came out amazing. Love love love. Will definitely be making this again. Thank you for the great recipe and the step by step pictures. Very helpful. November 25, 2014 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Abbi: Thanks to your excellent tutorial and photos, I believe I have just made my first batch of perfect caramel sauce! I have tried before, always with disastrous results. Can’t tell you how excited I am for the caramel to cool so I can eat it! Making your pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Thanks so much! November 26, 2014 at 11:31am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad it turned out well for you! I hope you love the cheesecake! Happy Thanksgiving! November 27, 2014 at 12:18am Reply

  • Julie: Thank you! Followed all directions exactly and the caramel apple cheesecakes came out perfect! November 28, 2014 at 11:47am Reply

  • Alice V: Easy, delicious and fun to make! My only issue was interpreting the color, and getting nervous about when to pull the pan from the heat (I think I left it on a few seconds too long, and it firmed up just a wee bit too much when cooled, but as you stated, a zap in the old microwave can fix that easily). Wonderful simple recipe overall and I will definitely make it again! November 30, 2014 at 7:14pm Reply

  • Britney Chastine: HELP!!! I just followed directions step for step and premeasured everything but its just a little runny :( The color taste and everything is perfect :( What did I do> April 1, 2015 at 11:59am Reply

    • Jaclyn: It probably just didn’t quite reach the proper temp. I’d let it cook a little longer next time. If I end up with it a little thin, I will just return it to heat and let it boil a little longer even after I’ve mixed in the cream. April 27, 2015 at 10:32pm Reply

  • Teaa: Hello. Your sauce and pics look great. I am excited to make the sauce. I have some Land O Lakes rich and creamy half and half but not heavy cream. Will the half and half work? I certainly don’t mind going to the store, but I wanted to doublecheck before I did.. Thanks! May 8, 2015 at 10:02am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I definitely recommend heavy cream so you don’t end up with a runny caramel sauce, it also keeps it nice and rich. May 8, 2015 at 7:42pm Reply

  • Kris: Nailed it! Nice recipe and great photos which inspire confidence that it will work out! Thank you so much. October 6, 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Bonnie Johnson: I never buy salted butter so how much salt should I add to this recipe? I do have heavy cream and about 15 pounds of unsalted butter in the freezer so hate to buy more. This recipe is amazing – can’t wait to make it. November 14, 2015 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Bonnie o: So what about grandma’s recipe for caramels? Please. November 21, 2015 at 1:23am Reply

  • Abbey: I tried doing this recipe but the sugar just turned into clumps and never changed into any color. HELP!!!! November 25, 2015 at 8:09am Reply

    • Ruth: Yes this same thing happened to me. I was trying it for gifts and tripled the recipe so probably didn’t heat through evenly. I’ll try til I get it right!! December 22, 2015 at 4:47pm Reply

    • Tina: Hi Abbey: I also had the same results on my first try. On second try, I turned down the heat a little and swirled very gently and less often. It worked out. I still had crystals on the sides of the pan that I’d like to prevent but the sauce came out really nice. I hope this helps you and you’ll try again. March 27, 2016 at 1:46pm Reply

      • Jaclyn: You can use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush down the crystals. I recently bought a gas stove and caramel seems a little trickier on a gas stove if that’s what you’re using Abbey, I did have to stir the edges slightly or they’d burn every time and I’d have to pull it off at a lighter color – before it was a rich Amber color.
        Thanks for your tips Tina! March 27, 2016 at 6:43pm Reply

  • Deborah Swoope: Looks delish!!!
    I’m going to try this with my “sugar puddins” during Christmas break!
    I’ve changed my eating habits though since I’ve been on My Journey To Health and would like to use some heahealthier ingredients.

    How do you think this would work if I did so? i.e. organic or coconut sugar, organic butter, heavy coconut milk, etc.? December 5, 2015 at 6:41am Reply

  • Andrea: I had to let you know… your directions were so clear and concise. I still botched the first batch but that’s on me. I was so close- and then poof! It happened so fast!!!I nailed it 100% the second time. :D December 26, 2015 at 8:16pm Reply

  • courtney morris: Hey great post, I plan on making this tomorrow to pair with chocolate cupcakes. Question how do you go about reheating the caramel? April 25, 2016 at 8:36pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I just warm it in the microwave in about 20 second increments until it’s the temp I want it. For cupcakes though you’ll probably still want it somewhat cool so it doesn’t melt the frosting, if you were planning on drizzling it over the top or putting under the frosting. Hope you love it! April 26, 2016 at 11:18am Reply

  • Pam: I made this Cheesecake for Thanksgiving and my family absolutely loved it!! ‘Thank you for making me look like an amazing cook! You have a follower for life! December 1, 2016 at 9:44am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yay! So glad it was enjoyed Pam. December 7, 2016 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Sandra: Going to try this recipe. On another note, try placing a wooden spoon over your pasta pot next time. It won’t boil over. *thanks* December 17, 2016 at 11:54am Reply

  • karin galm: hi there

    i just made your recipe for caramel and i must say that the pan is spotless, from me licking it totally clean of course. it is really really yummy. now i have to not keep taste testing it ……lol. i made one the other day and please dont wait til the sugar is dark . if you wait too long, it turns and then it almost burns but has a real nasty taste. it looks dark but it isnt caramel. i watched it and took it off when it was not too dark and that is how it should be . perfecto………..thanks. its just so yummy………… February 3, 2017 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Karin – so happy you liked it! February 7, 2017 at 10:56am Reply

  • Imgoog: I will definitely try it! Thank you for the recipe! The step by step photos are very helpful, especially how is the “deep reddish orange” color look like :D June 22, 2017 at 8:17am Reply

  • Debbie: This turned out great! Delicious! Thank you for the color changing photos, they’re a big help. My pregnant daughter has been craving caramel dip apple slices since the weather has turned cool. She comes over every Friday for a home cooked meal so I need everything wholesome and organic for the mother-to-be (which usually means cooking from scratch). The only thing I did differently is the addition of 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla at the very end. I’ll be checking your blog often! September 7, 2017 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad to have you following along Debbie! Glad you liked it! September 11, 2017 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Andrea: can I use half and half ? October 15, 2017 at 9:01am Reply

  • Anneris: Esa esa la receta que me gusta de Dulce de leche

    Gracias November 3, 2017 at 4:35am Reply

  • Kathleen Wallace Price: Excellent! Best and easiest I’ve ever made. You don’t have to use a candy thermometer and it doesn’t burn. Excellent flavor and I use it on lots of things. November 3, 2017 at 10:35am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you’ve liked this Salted Caramel recipe Kathleen! Thanks for your review :)! November 3, 2017 at 11:12am Reply

  • Tarah: I LOVE caramel! Thank you for showing step by step directions, it takes away the fear of making this! November 3, 2017 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re very welcome :)! I hope you love this recipe Tarah! November 3, 2017 at 8:29pm Reply

  • Tanesha: Wow, never seen a recipe with water. I’m going to have to try it. What type of glass jar is ok? I’d be worried about the glass shattering. November 3, 2017 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: The water just reduces the possibility of it burning. This method takes longer because it takes time for the water to simmer off but it’s the easier method especially for those new to making caramel. And I haven’t had a glass jar shatter yet, but definitely wait to cover it until it’s cooled down. November 4, 2017 at 9:59am Reply

  • Melly: I’ve made this repeatedly. Super easy and WAY better than any store bought caramel. Thank you for sharing with us! November 5, 2017 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this recipe Melly! Thanks so much for your review! November 5, 2017 at 10:10pm Reply

  • Marilou: I like how you make the process looks simple by taking photos of every step. Great recipe to keep 👍 November 5, 2017 at 7:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Glad you enjoyed the photos :)! November 5, 2017 at 10:08pm Reply

      • Ellen: Can I store it in a squeeze bottle and then microwave it prior to using it as a fancy drizzle? November 19, 2017 at 1:32pm Reply

        • Jaclyn: As long as the squeeze bottle is microwave safe that should be fine. November 21, 2017 at 11:28pm Reply

  • Lori: I have a daughter with a milk allergy. Do you think this recipe would work with soy milk? November 18, 2017 at 1:58pm Reply

  • Dave: Don’t step away from the boiling sugar, unless you want a kitchen full of smoke, a ruined pot, and molasses. Whoops.

    Attempt number 2 was flawless. November 23, 2017 at 10:34am Reply

  • kode bank: Wow, nice i love caramel sauce tnks.. December 10, 2017 at 11:39pm Reply

  • Nan: Does this recipe double well? December 12, 2017 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’ve done 1 1/2 but not double yet, I’m guessing with a larger pan it should be fine. December 15, 2017 at 4:18pm Reply

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