An easy and versatile homemade caramel sauce that you'll want to drizzle over everything. This caramel sauce only needs 3 ingredients (4 ingredients if you want salted caramel sauce!) so there's no excuse not to make it tonight.
What you need to make caramel sauce
- Granulated sugar
- Whipping cream or heavy cream
- Unsalted butter
- Salt, if making salted caramel
How to make caramel sauce
1) Heat the sugar:
Heat the sugar on medium heat until it completely melts and turns light brown in colour. I've had success just leaving the sugar undisturbed until it has almost completed melted rather than stirring it as it tends to clump if you do so. With a spoon, scoop up some syrup and it should be a transparent brown colour with no granules of sugar left undissolved.
How long you let the sugar deepen in colour will determine the final flavour of the caramel sauce. If you want a light, sweet caramel sauce, proceed to the next step as soon as it turns brown. If you want a dark, smokey caramel, let the sugar deepen to a dark brown.
2) Add the cream
Once it reaches your desired colour, slowly pour the cream into the sugar while stirring constantly. The mixture will bubble up immediately. Don't be scared! Keep heating and stirring the caramel sauce until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or spatula.
Make sure your cream is at room temperature otherwise the caramel will seize up and crystallize the moment the cold cream touches it. If that does happen, keep it on the heat and stir to dissolve the crystallized bits.
3) Stir in butter
Once the caramel has slightly thickened to coat the back of a spoon, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the butter, a cube at a time, until it's completely melted and incorporated. If you are making salted caramel sauce, stir in the salt at this point as well.
4) Streak test
Drag a spatula through the caramel sauce across the bottom of the pan. The caramel is at the right consistency when the caramel parts on both sides and you can see the bottom of the pan briefly before the caramel slowly oozes back together. Pour the caramel sauce into a small container to cool completely.
Caramel sauce ratios
The 1:1 sugar to cream ratio in this recipe makes a caramel sauce that is thick enough for perfect cake drips and fillings for baked goods. It's spreadable and keeps its shape while being soft enough to drizzle if you heat it in the microwave for 15 seconds.
For a thinner and runnier caramel sauce, use a 1:1.5 sugar to cream ratio.
How to store caramel sauce
Store your homemade caramel sauce in a microwave-safe container and seal with an airtight lid or plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 1 week. Before using, heat it in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until it becomes warm and liquid enough to drizzle.
Recipes to make with caramel sauce
- Spiced Apple Cake with Salted Maple Caramel
- Pumpkin Crepe Cake
- Chai Spice Cupcakes
- Salted Caramel Macarons (coming soon!)