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Homemade Easy Caramel Sauce (Salted & Unsalted)

Have you ever wondered how to make homemade caramel sauce? This easy and delicious recipe will have you wondering how you ever tolerated the jarred version!

Caramel sauce is a delicious topping for your favorite desserts or the perfect homemade holiday Christmas gift. Plus, this recipe comes together in just 10 minutes with only 4 ingredients.

This sweet and delicious caramel sauce can be used as topping to add flavor to cakes, ice cream and many other desserts.

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

This caramel recipe use only 4-ingredients and only 5 if you’re making a salted version!

  • Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt you’re adding whether it’s salted or unsalted caramel sauce.
  • Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds complexity with notes of molasses.
  • Heavy Cream: Heavy cream adds creaminess to the caramel and consistency to be used as a sauce. Use full fat heavy cream for best results.
  • Vanilla Extract: A touch of vanilla enhances the flavor, use real vanilla extract if you can.
  • Sea Salt (optional): Adding sea salt is the only difference between salted and unsalted caramel sauce. Add sea salt if you prefer a sweet and salty combination or a recipe calls for salted caramel vs unsalted caramel.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make Caramel Sauce

This recipe is ready in under 10 minutes!

Use a small heavy bottom sauce pan to allow for more even and quicker cooking. 

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add the brown sugar; whisk for two minutes
  3. Add the cream; whisk for another two minutes.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract and sea salt, if making salted caramel
  5. Pour into a container and refrigerate.

Use for Caramel Sauce

There are plenty of uses for homemade caramel sauce, including:

  • Burnt Sugar Caramel Cake
  • Butterscotch Pudding
  • Snickers Caramel Tart
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Caramel Dipped Pretzels
  • Pumpkin spice or Chai spice Cheesecake
  • Chocolate Bars
  • Salted Caramel Apple Pie
  • Chocolate Bread Pudding
  • Caramel Apples
  • Cheesecake
  • Pancakes (great with chocolate chips)
  • Popcorn
  • Coffee Based Ice Cream
  • Bacon

Some scoff at that last entry, but caramel bacon is an amazing brunch item and could be a major hit for your next gathering. Pro-tip on that dish–fry the bacon FIRST and add the caramel AFTER the bacon is done cooking.

You add bacon to caramel or pour the caramel on top of the bacon. And some adventurous souls like to pour a bit of cayenne pepper onto the bacon before the caramel comes out.

One quick and easy use for caramel sauce not found in the list above? Making turtle brownies and turtle cheesecake.

The most no-frills version of this is to make an ordinary cheesecake or brownie recipe and top it with pecans and caramel sauce. The preparation can be more elaborate than that, but in a pinch these two desserts with their usual ingredients can be greatly enhanced with the caramel sauce.

This sweet and delicious caramel sauce can be used as topping to add flavor to cakes, ice cream and many other desserts.

How to Store Caramel Sauce

You can store homemade caramel sauce in an airtight container or mason jar, in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks and up to 3 days at room temperature.

You can store caramel sauce in a jar or freezer-safe container for up to 2 months. Let the caramel sauce completely cool at room temperature before freezing.

How to Reheat Caramel Sauce

Reheat caramel sauce in a microwave-safe bowl for 30 second bursts at 50%, stirring in between. It should take about 1 to 2 minutes to reheat, depending on if it’s at room temperature or cold.

Caramel sauce can also be reheated on a stovetop at a low-medium heat by adding a little water and stirring frequently until desired warmth.

Vegan Alternative Caramel Sauce

For caramel sauce without cream you can substitute full-fat coconut cream or coconut milk for the heavy cream in this recipe. It may be possible, depending on the brand, to substitute regular butter with vegan butter but try this experimentally before you need to make a dessert for a party or a gathering–you may have to do some trial and error to get the balance right.

Not all vegan substitutes are made in the same way and your experience may vary depending on the brand and other variables.

This sweet and delicious caramel sauce can be used as a topping to add flavor to cakes, ice cream, and many other desserts.

Enjoy!

This sweet and delicious caramel sauce can be used as topping to add flavor to cakes, ice cream and many other desserts.

Easy Caramel Sauce (unsalted & salted)

Yield: 20 tablespoons
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This 4 ingredient sweet and delicious caramel sauce can be used as topping to add flavor to cakes, ice cream and many other desserts. This is the best homemade version I've tried, and it just so happens to also be the easiest.  It's a rare day that there isn't a jar of this in my fridge!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or add to taste)
  • 2 tsp sea salt (optional, for salted caramel version)

Instructions

    1. Melt the butter in a small heavy bottom sauce pan. 
    2. Add the brown sugar; whisk for two minutes
    3. Add the cream; whisk for another two minutes.
    4. Mix in the vanilla extract and sea salt, if making salted caramel
    5. Pour into a container and refrigerate.



Notes

Use a heavy bottom sauce pot to allow for more even and quicker cooking. 

Your caramel sauce will thicken as the cooling process continues, don’t worry if the mix seems a bit thin when it’s still very warm.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 41mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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