The easiest ever salted Caramel Sauce, 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!
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 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.
More Great Recipes to Try:
- Chocolate Sauce (AKA Hot Fudge Sauce)
- Caramel Cake
- Millionaire’s Shortbread
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
- 1 cup light brown sugar tightly packed (200 g)
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 8-10 pieces (113 g)
- ½ cup heavy cream (118 ml)
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon finely crushed sea salt (or substitute ¼ heaping teaspoon table salt)
- 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
Can I use this for baking in brownies?
Hi Lilly! I’m not sure exactly what you mean here, or how you would add it in. If you wanted a caramel ripple you would probably be better off using store bought caramels. 🙂
Could I use golden syrup instead of corn syrup? And if not do you have any other substitutes?
Hi Morgana! I believe the golden syrup will work just fine here. 🙂
i don’t have any syrup, can i use water?
Hi Cecilia! I really don’t recommend that here. 🙁
Perfect Caramel recipe!! Absolute deliciousness!! Thank you!! 🙌🏽😃 used on top of huckleberry ice cream.. and many taste testings!! Yummmmmm
Yum! That ice cream sounds amazing! Thanks for letting me know how it turned out with you, Emily, I appreciate it!
I am going to make this tonight because I plan to make the mini caramel Apple galettes in a few days. Is it ok to cook this in advance and store in the refrigerator? How long will it last in the refrigerator?
Sorry one more question! Can I omit the salt to just make it caramel sauce? My husband is not a fan of slated caramel but he loves caramel!
Sugar Spun Run
Yes, it can be omitted. 🙂
Sugar Spun Run
Hi, Jen! Yes, you can make it in advance. If stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, it will keep for 2 weeks. 🙂
Ok. Just tried this with full fat coconut fat (1 can minus the little water in the can) and added 2 T coconut oil(MCT oil), and it turned out awesome! I did add about 1T of unsalted butter for shininess. Yumm!!!!
Sugar Spun Run
I am glad that the substitutions worked so well and you enjoyed the caramel, Linda. Thanks for commenting. 🙂
This stuff is liquid gold. I gave out jars for Christmas and kept one for myself to drizzle over ice cream and whatnot…… and instead, ate the entire thing bite by bite with a spoon directly out of the jar.
Sugar Spun Run
I am so glad that you enjoyed the caramel sauce, Dee! I love it! I too have found myself eating by the spoonful. 🙂
Made this stuff quite a few times now. Awesome.
Also tried it with dark corn syrup/ brown sugar and it’s a deeper, molasses-ey delicious.
One thing I’ve noticed is that when I scraped down the sides of the pot to get every single bite of awesome, jars that included even the smallest amount of crystallized sugar began to crystallize. Still delicious but not silky smooth. Just a note.
Anyhow, I was wondering if you’d ever tried freezing pucks of this stuff to then include in a lava cake or something?? (Why reinvent the wheel in my experiments if someone already knows..)
So glad you enjoyed! I have not tried this but it honestly sounds like a pretty good idea. I have a lava cake recipe already, I might try experimenting with a caramel interior for it, thanks for the suggestion! 🙂
Another great recipe! Thank you.
At what point should I dip an apple in the sauce for best results? Befor or after it is fully cooled?
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you for trying my recipe, Yasmin, I am happy that you enjoyed it. I would recommend dipping it in once it has cooled some but completely cooled. Enjoy. 🙂
Will this work drizzled on your cheesecake recipe?
Yes, definitely. Make sure to let it cool completely before drizzling. Enjoy!
Looks so good! Can I use this along w/ pecans to top chocolate cake? Kind of like a turtle kind of dessert
Sugar Spun Run
Hello, Misha! Yes, it should work well. Enjoy! 🙂
Dawn Thompson Bridgeford
Do you have a recipe for Salted Caramel Buttercream frosting using your lovely sauce? Thank you!
Hi Dawn! Unfortunately I do not have one specifically using this caramel sauce, but I do have a salted caramel frosting on my Dark Chocolate Mini Cupcakes. The flavor combination is out of this world good! 🙂
All I have is table salt and pink Himalayan salt… can I use those instead?
I think the pink Himalayan salt would work well as a substitute.
Does this sauce get hard when frozen? Can it be swirled into homemade ice cream, without having hard chunks when you eat it? Looks delicious!
I’ve actually used it in ice cream before, it firms up a bit but it’s not hard, it’s a soft ripple. Enjoy! 🙂
Can I use full fat coconut creme instead of heavy creme to cut calories?? I want to add to my coffee. Yum!
Sugar Spun Run
Hi, Linda! I have never tried it. If you do, I’d love to know how it turns out for you! 🙂
What can I substitute for corn syrup?
Unfortunately I do not know fo a substitute for the corn syrup that will work as well. 🙁
I just made this caramel sauce and it is so delicious! Also was fast and easy. Can’t wait to put it over ice cream or just eat it by the spoonful. Thanks so much for the recipe.
I just made this. I cannot stop eating it… SOOOOO GOOD.
Awesome, so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
This looks delicious. I think now I finally have no excuse to try the vanilla/caramel ice cream (maybe with some brownie pieces thrown in for good measure). I think that might be my ice cream candidate for Christmas this year. But just to make sure I’ll have to make a batch before that 😉
Haha! Definitely let me know what you think when you make it! It’s very sweet, for sure, but very good! 🙂