Salted Caramel Sauce – Barefeet in the Kitchen


Homemade salted caramel sauce is ridiculously decadent and delicious. This sweet sauce makes a terrific addition to countless desserts.

From ice cream to cakes, coffees, and brownies, it is delicious. But this sauce also makes a great food gift for any occasion.

caramel sauce in short jar with spoon

Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe

I LOVE this sauce. I made it for a special dessert and loved it so much, I just kept making it. I’ll be sharing that dessert soon, but first, here is the sauce.

I made this three times in a month when I first started making this and it rapidly became a favorite addition to a cup of Cafe con Leche. (Authentic? no. pure heavenly caramel latte deliciousness? yes.)

spoon over jar with caramel sauce

This no candy thermometer required caramel sauce is the perfect balance of salty and sweet. While many homemade salted caramel sauces boast of just having 4 ingredients. I am quite okay with this version having 6.

The addition of a little bit of water and vanilla is just right. I like dissolving the sugar completely in the water and cooking it down to an amber color. This will decrease the likelihood of burning the sugar.

My other secret ingredient is vanilla. Whether you use the extract, paste, or scraped vanilla bean it gives it such a warm rich depth, I can’t imagine making salted caramel sauce without it.

caramel sauce ingredients

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

You’ll need these ingredients to make this recipe:

  • sugar
  • water
  • butter
  • heavy cream
  • fine sea salt
  • vanilla beans OR vanilla extract OR vanilla paste
sugar and water boiling for caramel sauce

To make the caramel sauce, you’ll start by combining the sugar and the water in a medium size saucepan. Stir to combine and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; about 3-4 minutes.

There is no need to stir, simply swirl the pan over the burner occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

sauce simmering on stove

Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is amber colored; about 6-8 minutes. Watch closely!

Caramel sauce can go from perfectly amber colored to burnt in just moments, so keep a close eye on the pan! Set the butter next to the stove, so you’re ready to drop it in the pan the moment the sauce turns amber.

butter added to caramel sauce in saucepan

Add the butter, be prepared for it to bubble and sputter, lightly stir or swirl to melt. Do not scrape the sides of the pan and try not to splash sauce up the sides of the pan.

Scraping the pan can may cause crystallization when the uncooked sugars are added back into the sauce.

Easy Caramel Sauce

Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla, heavy cream, and salt. It will bubble again but will calm quickly.

Whisk or stir to combine (again, not scraping sides of the pan) and allow the sauce to cool before transferring to a jar and refrigerating for storage.

pour shot adding cream to caramel sauce

Easy Salted Caramel Sauce

Not that I think you’ll have issues using up a batch of this caramel sauce, but just in case, I highly recommend trying it in this Creamy White Chocolate Fudge filled with pecans and swirled with caramel might be the ultimate treat for a holiday tray.

Stir the salted caramel sauce and brownies into your next batch of homemade ice cream for the most amazing Caramel Swirl Brownie Chunk Ice Cream.

finished caramel sauce in sauce pan

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes start with smooth and creamy cheesecake over a simple graham cracker crust, then they are topped with a swirl of caramel sauce just before baking.

For the frosting of your dreams next time you’re baking a cake, try this Salted Caramel Frosting. It is absolutely finger-licking delicious.

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Servings: 24 (1) tablespoon servings, about 1 ½ cups total

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  • In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Stir to combine and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; about 3-4 minutes. There is no need to stir, simply swirl the pan over the burner occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

  • Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is amber colored; about 6-8 minutes. Watch closely! (This will go from amber colored to burnt in just moments, so keep a close eye on the pan!) Set the butter next to the stove, so you’re ready to drop it in the pan the moment the sauce turns amber.

  • Add the butter, be prepared for it to bubble and sputter, lightly stir or swirl to melt. Do not scrape the sides of the pan and try not to splash sauce up the sides of the pan. (This will cause crystallization if you scrape the uncooked sugars back into the sauce.)

  • Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, heavy cream, and salt. It will bubble again but will calm quickly. Whisk or stir to combine (again, not scraping sides of the pan) and then let cool before transferring to a jar and refrigerating for storage.

Calories: 83kcal · Carbohydrates: 8g · Protein: 1g · Fat: 6g · Saturated Fat: 4g · Cholesterol: 17mg · Sodium: 60mg · Potassium: 4mg · Sugar: 8g · Vitamin A: 191IU · Calcium: 4mg

{originally published 5/9/13 – recipe notes updated 1/26/23}

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
Homemade Caramel Sauce is better than anything store-bought!


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