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How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

How to Make Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce is a delicious sauce that can be great on its own. The sauce can be used as a delightful topping for pies, cakes, and other desserts as well. It’s a great recipe to have in your collection, so give these instructions a try!

Homemade Caramel

What is caramel?

Caramel is a mixture of sugar, water, and cream. The ingredients are just that simple. The complexity of this sweet sauce appears in the attention to detail you will use when making the sauce. The water evaporates when making caramel, and the remaining moisture and sugar leave a thick sauce. If cooked for an extended time, the water will completely disappear, and a hardened candy will be the final result. The complexity of this sweet sauce appears in the attention to detail you will use when making the sauce.

How to make caramel sauce?

Caramel sauce is made by combining sugar and water, cooking the mixture until it reaches a dark brown color, and adding cream. Simply melt the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and watch these ingredients caramelize. It is crucial to keep a close eye on the water and sugar instead of stirring these ingredients.

Caramel Ingredients

Stirring the water and sugar before they thicken and caramelize will develop crystallization. Crystallization happens when the sugar and water clump together, similar to the texture of a grainy candy. That is the opposite result of what this sauce should be. Watching the sugar and water caramelize requires a little patience and restraint. Do not be tempted to stir those ingredients if it takes a while to caramelize. Also, do not increase the heat. Place the sugar and water into the pot, heat, and wait until the golden color develops.

Developing Caramel

Remove the saucepan from the heat when it has reached a deep golden color. Add in butter and cream, stirring to combine. The mixture will foam up quickly once you add the cream. This is a normal reaction.

Can caramel sauce be made without cream?

Yes, this sauce can be made without cream. Heavy cream is not a kitchen staple for everyone. It is also a rich and thick dairy product. Use milk if you do not have heavy available or if you want to use an ingredient that is not as rich as heavy cream.

Heavy Whipping Cream


Why is the caramel sauce grainy or crystalized?

Here are 3 reasons why the caramel sauce is grainy.

Caramel can be prevented from developing because the sugar and water mixture became grainy due to stirring the wet ingredients too soon.

The sides of the saucepan will most likely form grainy crystals regardless of is you did not stir the mixture, and the color still forms. When this happens, did a brush into room temperature water and tap the brush against the sides of the saucepan where the crystallization is. This will melt the crystals, preventing them from being stirred into your mixture once the cream is added.

Brush to avoid crystallization

Sometimes the mixture of water and sugar just crystalizes. It could be the temperature of your stovetop that causes this, or the sugar water ratio could be slightly off. There is a way to fix your caramel if it crystalizes and never make and golden brown color. Pour about a 1/2cup of room temperature water onto your crystalized sugar. Place the lid of the saucepan onto the pan. Wait for the steam into the saucepan to cause the sugar and water to loosen and dissolve again. Once the crystallization has melted, remove the lid and start creating the caramel color over again.

Why did the caramel sauce harden?

Cooking caramel sauce for too long and at too high of a temperature will cause the sauce to harden. Be mindful of how long you leave the caramel on the stove after adding the cream. Also, adding too cold cream can cause the caramel to harden. If your caramel becomes too stiff, return it to low heat and add a few tablespoons of water. Allow the water to dissolve into the caramel sauce a remove it from the heat.

Will the caramel sauce thicken as it cools?

Yes, the sauce will thicken as it cools. The caramel is ready once the cream is added, and it returns to heat for about 2 minutes. Allow the sauce to seem thin, thicken once it cools, and the sugar seizes and thickens with the cream.


Homemade Caramel Sauce

This caramel sauce can be used as a topping for pies, cakes, and other desserts. It's a great recipe to have, so give these instructions a try!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 1 cup


  • 1 small sauce pan
  • 1 wooden spoon


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  • Add sugar and water to a saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Turn the heat to medium.
  • Allow the sugar mixture to dissolve, bubble, and turn golden-brown in color. Do not stir the mixture and do not let the sugar get too dark in color
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the heavy whipping cream. The mixture will rise and bubble over. Return to the heat for about 2 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Remove the pan from the heat again. Add the butter and salt to the caramel and stir until it is incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Keyword dessert, homemade, simple

Can caramel sauce go bad?

Caramel sauce can expire because of the addition of dairy. This sauce can be left out at room temperature for about 3 days. However, it is better to store caramel in the refrigerator to keep it for about 2-3weeks.

It is essential to store your homemade sauce in a heat-proof and air-tight container. This container needs to be heat-proof because the sauce will harden slightly in the refrigerator, and caramel sauce is usually warm. The heat-proof container will allow you to quickly reheat your sauce in the microwave. I like to store my caramel sauce in a glass mason jar.

How to freeze caramel sauce?

Yes, caramel sauce can also be frozen. Frozen caramel can last up to 3 months. However, you should not store this sauce in a glass container such as a mason jar. Select a sturdy plastic air-tight and resealable container for freezing caramel.

Can caramel sauce be reheated?

Caramel sauce can be reheated by placing the sauce in a microwave-safe container and heating for about 45 seconds to 1 minute on high. Stir the caramel to evenly distribute the heat and repeat until the sauce is heated to the desired temperature. This sauce can also be reheated on the stovetop. Create a double boiler by simmering a small amount of water in a saucepan. Place the bowl of caramel over the simmering water. Slowing heat to the desired temperature.

Recipes to Try

Here are some great recipes to try with your homemade caramel sauce! Click on the link to grab the recipes.

Homemade Whipped Cream

Easy Apple and Oatmeal Crumble

Coffee Cake From Scratch

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