The easiest ever salted caramel sauce is made from scratch on the stove-top in five minutes, no candy thermometer required. Pour it over your favorite brownie recipe, ice cream, or just about anything! Includes a video tutorial!
Salted caramel sauce is my preferred condiment of the dessert world. It’s not really meant to be eaten on its own (though I can’t keep my spoon out of it, ever), but it tastes good drizzled on just about everything.
Confession: I’ve even dipped my caramel popcorn in this before… sooo good!
This stuff is liquid gold, and unlike traditional caramel, it’s simple to make and there’s no candy thermometer needed. Let’s get to it.
What You Need
Today’s recipe uses only a handful of pantry staples. Please note that this is simply an overview of the ingredients used (and why they are used, for my fellow food nerds!). Detailed amounts are listed in the recipe card below!
- Butter. I use unsalted butter and then add salt to have the most control over the flavor.
- Brown sugar. Technically, caramel sauce is traditionally made with granulated sugar (which is what I use in my more conventional, slightly more advanced caramel sauce) but the process is more complex and often necessitates a candy thermometer. By using brown sugar, we simplify and expedite the process without compromising flavor!
- Heavy cream. Makes the sauce creamy and gives it a full body.
- Corn syrup. Light corn syrup is necessary to keep this recipe from being too runny. I know many people balk at corn syrup (which I use in several of my recipes like my pecan pie), but it is not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup.
- Vanilla extract. For flavor, of course.I use pure vanilla but have had success using Baker’s brand imitation (just in case your store is perpetually out of stock of the real stuff, like mine often is!). It’s the only imitation vanilla I like.
- Salt! I prefer to use flaky sea salt in this recipe for the best flavor, but if you don’t have any you can use regular table salt instead. If you’re using table salt you’ll need a bit less as the granules are much finer (I indicate amounts for each in the printable recipe below).
Six ingredients that you probably already have on hand. No candy thermometer (but do use a timer to make sure that you boil the ingredients for no more and no less than two minutes, as the recipe specifies), just simple instructions that yield perfect homemade salted caramel sauce every single time.
How to Use Caramel Sauce
- Serve warm over vanilla ice cream!
- Drizzle it over a hot batch of homemade brownies (or flourless brownies!).
- Use it for dipping apple slices! While this caramel won’t harden properly for traditional caramel apples, it makes a great dip for slices! Try pears, too, they’re delicious with caramel!
- Dip pretzels (regular crunchy pretzels or soft pretzels!) in warm sauce! A sweet and salty snack!
- For a decadent breakfast, drizzle over waffles or crepes!
- A caramel glaze over tres leches cake.
- After it cools, stir a spoonful into your cream cheese frosting for caramel cream cheese icing!
- Eat by the spoonful 😉
What I love most about this caramel sauce recipe is how easy it is, but here are a few tips to make the process even smoother for you:
- There is no candy thermometer needed for this recipe but you should use a timer to make sure you boil the ingredients for precisely the right amount of time.
- Keep your heat on medium-low. Do not crank up the heat to speed up the cooking process or your caramel will not turn out (if your butter separates, this is most likely the reason). This is a common problem when making candy (like my toffee recipe) and applies here, as well.
- Stir constantly while cooking to keep the caramel from burning.
Let your caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container for up to a week (I’ve never been able to get it to stay around that long 😅). I recommend warming before re-using.
Let’s bake together! Be sure to check out my video in the recipe where I’ll show you exactly how I make this in my own kitchen!
Easy Salted Caramel Sauce
- Combine brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Stir frequently until butter is completely melted.
- Increase heat to medium-high and stir constantly until mixture comes to a full boil.
- Boil for two minutes (use a timer) stirring constantly and then remove mixture from heat.
- Continue to stir so that the caramel doesn’t burn and add in your sea salt. Stir until the bubbling stops and the mixture is smooth.
- Allow caramel to cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla extract. Stir well.
- Allow caramel to cool for about 20-30 minutes, it’s best served when still warm, but you can store it in your refrigerator in a heatproof container and reheat as needed. Enjoy!
Storing:Allow caramel to cool completely then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one week. I recommend reheating the caramel before using.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I originally published this recipe on 10/31/2016, re-published with text and photos updated 08/18/2020