Forget store-bought! Nothing is better than this four ingredient homemade Salted Caramel Sauce that is made in just 10 minutes! This luscious but also ridiculously easy homemade salted caramel sauce is perfect for topping ice cream, pies, brownies, cookies, cheesecakes, and pretty much whatever else you can think of!
There is just something about a sweet & salty combination that drives tastebuds crazy - pretzels & chocolate, maple & bacon, milkshakes & fries, even peanut butter & jelly. But I submit that nothing tops salted caramel. It's amazing stuff.
This homemade salted caramel sauce keeps well in the fridge for 2 weeks and is a wonderful gift to give a friend. You could use it to dip apples for a quick treat or drizzle it over toasted almond ice cream and sprinkle it with chopped almonds to have one of the best sundaes ever.
Why this recipe works
- It's only a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes of work to make!
- No thermometer required so it's great for beginners.
- Perfect for dipping apples or drizzling over all kinds of desserts!
There are just four simple ingredients to making homemade salted caramel sauce: granulated sugar, butter, heavy cream, and coarse kosher salt.
How to Make Caramel Sauce
Start by melting the sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat. It's easy to burn the sugar so using quality cookware is super helpful.
Stir the sugar with a wooden spoon and it will start to clump, then turn really crumbly. This is where I always think I'm doing something wrong, but just keep going.
After just a few minutes, the sugar will melt into an amber-colored liquid. Keep stirring until the sugar crystals are dissolved.
Add in the cubed butter and stir until the butter is melted and at least mostly incorporated into the melted sugar. It's okay if it still doesn't completely combine just yet. This should only take a minute or two.
Pour in the heavy cream while stirring and let the mixture come to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. If you want plain caramel, you've got it at this point!
But since we want salted caramel sauce, go ahead and stir in some coarse kosher salt off the heat.
Transfer the caramel sauce to a container and let it cool before serving. I like to sprinkle a little extra coarse salt on top for presentation and a little pop of salt to finish.
The sauce will thicken more and more as the caramel cools. You can always stick it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to warm it up and make it pourable again.
This sauce lasts for about a month in the fridge, thanks to the sugar and salt which do a good job of preserving the flavor of the caramel. Just be sure to keep it in an airtight container and warm it in the microwave when ready to serve so it's pourable.
Yes, it sure can! Let the sauce cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat in the microwave and stir before using.
- The biggest secret is to stay right by the stove when making this so that you can keep an eye on the sugar so it doesn't burn.
- Medium heat is pretty crucial. Any higher than that and the sugar tends to burn and take on a bitter taste.
- As long as you watch your sugar and stir it frequently, you will see it change from white, to light clumps, until it finally starts to melt into an amber-colored liquid.
- Use your salted caramel in all kinds of baked goods! Like this easy caramel pecan brownie recipe or my salted caramel apple pie! Or drizzle it over a pear pie for a decadent treat!
More Dessert Sauce Recipes
- Flood Mud Microwave Hot Fudge Sauce
- Homemade Marshmallow Sauce
- Peanut Butter Ice Cream Topping
- Pan Fried Butterscotch Bananas & Walnuts for Ice Cream Sundaes
- Easy Raspberry Coulis Dessert Sauce
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 Tablespoons salted butter cut into 6 pieces
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt + extra for sprinkling on top
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula while it melts. At first the sugar will start to clump together, then it will eventually melt into a light amber-colored liquid. Make sure the heat isn't too high and keep stirring until completely melted so that it doesn't burn.
- As soon as the sugar is completely melted, stir in the butter until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. The caramel will bubble up when you add in the butter, so be careful.
- Slowly drizzle the heavy cream into the caramel, stirring continuously. It will bubble and sputter again. Once it is combined, let the caramel boil for 1 minute without stirring, then remove from heat and stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
- Let the caramel cool before serving. It will thicken as it cools. Keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, just microwave it for 30 seconds or so to warm it up before using.
- Feel free to increase the amount of salt if you prefer an even saltier taste to your salted caramel. Fleur de sel makes a wonderful finishing salt, if you can find it for sprinkling on top.
- Storage: You can store leftover caramel sauce in the fridge for about a month. Just warm it in the microwave and give it a stir so it is pourable before using.
- Freezing: You can even freeze this caramel sauce for 2-3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge, then warm in the microwave.
- If you don't have heavy cream on hand, you can substitute evaporated milk instead.
- Variations: Feel free to add pumpkin or apple spices to your caramel for a twist!
This post was originally published in September, 2016. The photos and content were updated in September, 2021.