Homemade Caramel Sauce

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This sauce is so versatile and takes so many recipes to the next level when it’s made from scratch.

You may think that making this iconic sauce is more of a challenge than you want to take on. Think again. If you follow a few very important steps, you’ll get a perfect caramel sauce every single time. And just wait for that first bite. Incredible!

A person pulling a small spoon out of a jar of caramel with caramel dripping from the spoon back into the jar.

How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

This deliciously sweet concoction is comprised of only a handful of ingredients.

It’s the way you treat those ingredients that ensures you’ll get a perfect caramel sauce every time you make it.


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The Ingredients You Will Need

There’s nothing fancy with what you’ll need to make this yummy sauce. Most of it you’ll probably already have.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Have on Hand

Sugar – Granulated
Water – Cool
Butter – Unsalted
Cream – Heavy (or Whipping) is best, but half-and-half will work in a pinch
Vanilla extract – Optional, but we love the flavor it brings
Salt – Coarse Kosher is excellent

EXPERT TIP: Stir the sugar and water in the pan vigorously until it comes to a boil. This helps to dissolve the sugar. Once you’ve reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium-high and stop stirring. Swirl the pan until the mixture is amber in color.

A stainless steel saucepan filled with sugar water that is bubbling intensely and is an amber color.

Tips For Perfect Homemade Caramel Sauce

Swirl, Don’t Stir – This is really important. Once the sugar water mixture has reached boil, stop stirring! It will take the mixture about 15 to 20 minutes to turn a dark amber color. Lift the saucepan by the handle every couple of minutes and give the mixture a swirl.

Wait Until Amber in Color – After about 15 minutes of bubbling and a little swirling, the water sugar mixture will start to turn a light amber color. Don’t pull it off the heat too soon. Let is get to fairly deep amber color first, then remove from the heat. This could take up to 20 minutes.

Stir Thoroughly After Adding Butter and Cream – Toss the butter in first, and then carefully pour in the cream, and then finally the vanilla and salt. At this point, the mixture will bubble and gurgle quite a bit. This is normal. Use your wooden spoon to mix vigorously. Be sure to allow the mixture to rest at least 15 minutes before using.

A person pouring heavy cream from a small milk jug into a silver saucepan filled with bubbling sugar water and melting butter.

How To Serve and How To Store

This sauce is wonderful served warm or at room temperature.

If the sauce becomes to thick to pour, simply place it in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it on HIGH for about 15 to 20 minutes.

It will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. We don’t recommend freezing the caramel sauce.


Recipes To Use Caramel Sauce In or On

This sauce is great over a bowl of vanilla ice cream, but it’s also great when used in (or poured over) the following recipes:

Grilled Peaches with Caramel Sauce
Apple and Caramel Pie
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cake
Best-Ever Blondies
Banana Caramel French Toast Casserole

The sauce is also perfect for dipping whole apples into. Simply insert a popsicle stick into one end of the apple and then plunge it into a bowl of the caramel sauce. Let it cool completely before serving.

A person using a small spoon to drizzle homemade caramel sauce of a platter filled with grilled peaches.

Ready to make the most delicious caramel sauce in town? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

Caramel sauce

Homemade Caramel Sauce

Homemade Caramel Sauce is wonderful on ice cream, or mixed into ice cream, as well as other desserts like pies, cakes, and grilled fruit. It's easier to make than you might think and will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy caramel sauce recipe, how to make homemade caramel sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 295kcal


  • Medium saucepan


  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt


  • In a medium-sized saucepan, over high heat, stir together the sugar and water. Stir vigorously to dissolve as much of the sugar as possible.
    2 cups sugar, ½ cup water
  • Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and stop stirring the mixture. Every couple of minutes, lift the pan up by the handle and swirl the sugar/water mixture around in the pan. Once the mixture has turned a brownish-amber color, turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the butter, and then carefully pour in the cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir vigorously (it will be very bubbly and gurgling). Once fully mixed, let the sauce rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour.
    ¼ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • Transfer the sauce to a heatproof container and serve at once or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • The sauce can be reheated in the microwave on high for about 20 to 30 seconds.


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Don't take the sugar/water mixture off the heat until it is almost dark and amber in color. It shouldn't be extremely dark brown, but a deep amber color. (See video for reference). 
The caramel can be made up to several days in advance. Reheat in the microwave until desired consistency (be careful, it heats quickly). 
Leftovers will keep for about 1 day, covered, in the fridge. But, these are definitely best served straight from the grill. 


Calories: 295kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 18mg | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 396IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.04mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in October 2014, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in June 2023!


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