This homemade Salted Caramel Sauce is a breeze to make and immediately elevates anything it’s drizzled upon. All you need is five ingredients that you likely have on-hand and 10 minutes to make this recipe from start to finish.
Easy Salted Caramel Sauce (Perfect for Snowy Days!)
Snowy mornings are always an extra challenge around here, especially with Hudson. Hudson is six and has Down syndrome. He has no interest in wearing hats, scarves, or mittens, and he pulls them off (and chucks them) as quickly as you can wrestle them on.
On one particular snowy morning, school was canceled for everyone except Hudson, so I was rushing to get him ready for a busy day of learning and fun while making sure he stayed warm along the way. But to make matters worse, the bus arrived eight minutes early this morning, and I was already running behind. By the time the bus arrived, I still had Hudson’s lunch to finish, sippy cups to fill, his speech device and charging cord to pack, pull-ups to find, along with the snow boots in his room upstairs and another winter coat in the basement closet. (His little red one got left at church on Sunday.) I pulled my down jacket on over my flannel pajamas and raced out to the bus to ask about the road conditions and if they had time to wait. (They kindly obliged.)
Once the the little yellow bus left with my small charge on board, I collapsed on the living sofa for a minute, then quietly asked Charlie, my 10-year-old who was staying home with me that day, a very important question. “If I were to make Salted Caramel Sauce for the blog today, would you be willing to hold the spoon so I can get drizzly caramel pictures?” Charlie slowly looked up from his book and surveyed the situation.
“Mom, I really think you should just re-publish something today,” he said gravely. “You don’t look well. Your eyes are all dark. Maybe you should just rest.”
There I was, still in pj’s, having rolled out of bed late, still lagging from our late night super bowl party on Sunday and doing the Hudson Hustle to the bus this morning. Yesterday’s mascara racooned underneath my eyes. And my hair. The boy wasn’t lying!
So, on Charlie’s excellent recommendation, I crawled back into my cozy bed and took a nice winter nap. And now I’m up, bright-eyed and ready to share this wonderfully easy and addictive Salted Caramel Recipe with you. It only takes 10 minutes and five ingredients to make from start to finish. It’s the perfect addition to hot chocolate, coffee cake, pies, cookies .. pretty much anything. Make it today to see for yourself!
You only need five ingredients to make this delicious, rich salted caramel sauce! And I bet you have them in your fridge and pantry right now — granulated sugar (aka white sugar), cold water, heavy cream, sea salt, and unsalted butter. That’s it!
Table salt will also work in place of the sea salt in a pinch, but be careful to not add too much. Always start with less, like 1/4 teaspoon, then add more to taste as needed.
How To Make Salted Caramel Sauce
- Make the Syrup: In a medium-sized sauce pan stir together 1/4 cup cold water and granulated sugar until combined.
Set over medium-high heat on the stove top and cook 9 -11 minutes without stirring, or until mixture is a deep amber color.
Start checking closely at the 7-minute mark.
- Add the Butter and Cream: Meanwhile, separately warm heavy cream and butter together with sea salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat. When sugar and water syrup mixture is a deep amber color, turn the heat down to low. Slowly whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture. Whisk over the heat until it’s smooth and lump-free (only a minute or two), then remove from the heat. (Remember that this Salted Caramel Sauce will thicken up as it cools!)
- Serve: When sauce is still warm, spoon over ice cream, cake, pie, cupcakes or cookies. Store extra sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and just reheat on low to thin before re-serving later.
Tips and Variations
- Make sure your sauce pan is big enough. While the recipe makes only a cup of salted caramel sauce, when the butter, cream and salt mixture combine with the boiling syrup, it bubbles up a lot. Be careful, it’s very hot! The bubbling up is normal, but you’ll need plenty of extra space in your saucepan so it doesn’t spill over. (The voice of experience speaking…ha.)
- Pay close attention to the boiling sugar and water mixture at about the 7-minute mark. You are watching for a deep amber color.
- When the boiling syrup turns a deep golden amber, immediately turn the heat down to low (so it doesn’t burn!) before stirring in the warm cream and butter mixture. (Be careful – this is when it will bubble up a lot.)
- This caramel sauce thickens beautifully as it cools, so if you want that thick sauce, wait until it’s nearly cooled to pour over desserts, ice cream etc.
- If you want to turn this into a praline-style sauce, add some chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts.
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
- Store salted caramel sauce in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- Freeze cooled caramel in an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. I like to freeze in an ice cube tray so I can easily pop out a serving or two as needed. (You can also do this to turn the salted caramel sauce into salted caramel candies! Just wrap individual candies in wax paper.)
- Reheat over low heat on the stovetop (or in the microwave) to thin before serving.
More Delicious Dessert Recipes To Try
- Salted Caramel Apple Cake
- Sugared Pecans
- Blueberry Pound Cake
- Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
- Fresh Peach Custard Pie
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a medium-sized sauce pan stir together 1/4 cup cold water and granulated sugar until combined.
- Set over medium-high heat on the stove top and cook 9 -11 minutes without stirring, or until mixture is a deep amber color.
- Start checking closely at the 7 minute mark.
- Meanwhile, separately warm heavy cream and butter together with sea salt in a small sauce pan over medium heat. (Absolutely do not boil.)
- When sugar and water syrup mixture is a deep amber color, turn the heat down to low and slowly whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture. (Bee careful - this is where it will boil up a lot!)
- Whisk over the heat until it's smooth a minute or two, then remove from the heat.
- Salted caramel sauce will thicken up as it cools.
- When sauce is still warm, spoon over ice cream, cake, pie, cupcakes or cookies.
- (The salted caramel will become thick when cooled, but it easily re-heats it in the microwave or on the stove top.)
- Store extra sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator, just reheat on low to thin.
Wow! What a morning. And this sauce looks amazing!! I think I need to make it this week. My children than you in advance. 😉
I’ve heard of this salted caramel sauce before but I’ve never had any, I think I should and in case I want to take pictures of it, I am sure my Bruno would hold the spoon as well. And lick it clean afterward. That’s a morning you had, I get exhausted only reading about it… 🙂
Is there a way to can this or does it have to stay refrigerated? It looks like it would make an awesome gift.
Hi Debi – I’m so glad you asked this – I was seriously thinking the same thing but hadn’t done the research yet. I googled about the safety of canning caramel sauce and this is the response I got, which is a resounding and disappointing no, because it has dairy in it. Here is the link with some really good information: https://food52.com/hotline/22527-canning-caramel-sauce — I am disappointed too, because it would look great in my Christmas gift baskets, but I absolutely would not want to risk making anyone sick. Thanks for this great question and I wish I had a better answer. I give homemade peppermint bark (that has to be refrigerated) in gift baskets at Christmas and I just add a label that says please refrigerate. I know that does not work for gifts that you need to send, but maybe it is an idea if you make some caramel sauce for friends/family locally. Thanks so much for dropping by!
Who knew it was easy enough to make?! This looks and sounds absolutely divine!
Aunt Pinkie says
Looks sooo good! Yum!
Aunt Margie says
Carmel and salt…could there be a more wicked combination? Sweet and salt, I love it! There went the diet!
I’d love this drizzled over vanilla ice cream or your gorgeous apple cake! It looks amazing!
Susie Mandel says
I just love your stories! And the recipe sounds yummy, too, by the way, but you know how I love your stories. 🙂
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
Great drizzly spoon shot — kudos to you and Charlie 🙂 Your posts make me smile to think of someone else running around like that – very cute – and happy I’m not the only one! What a nice treat here!
cynthia | What A Girl Eats says
This would be delicious on so many things! Ice cream, brownies…or all by itself with a spoon!
Allison - Celebrating Sweets says
That nap sounds very well deserved! And what better to do after a rest than to make caramel?! Yay! This looks perfect!
Dear Allie, what a morning! So glad that you took a nap and rested a while – AND somehow still wound up publishing this great post, too! (Ps: I had never before considered all the things that bus drivers must see… Haha, they must have some entertaining stories!) That caramel looks amazing! I love it. Actually, it reminds me of ‘dulce de leche’, which I love and make sometimes. I actually wrote a post on it, but it involves boiling sealed cans, so I was never sure if I should publish it! Nonetheless, maybe that could make a lovely gift as the dulce de leche is prepared in the can and kept in the can till one opens it? Anyhow, great post. You are such a trooper! Take good care of yourself, friend. Xoxo
Oh hi Carina – loved hearing from you. Glad you like the caramel, I remember you telling me about that ‘dulce de leche’ some time ago. I am so interested to learn more about how you do that. Also about how you boil the sealed cans. Are you by any chance boiling sweetened condensed milk? I had a friend who used to do that. She would boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 3-4 hours and when she opened it, oh my. It was SO delicious. She used to make a caramel pie with it. I guess you read the comment from Debi above wondering if you could can my salted caramel recipe. I did a little research and learned it is not safe to can anything with dairy in it at home. I don’t know all the stats or why, but it is not necessarily the lack of acidity with the caramel, it is the dairy component. So boo. I would have loved to can this and give as gifts, I know it would be popular. I guess you could give locally and make sure they refrigerate, but the shelf life is only a few weeks in the fridge – as long as the cream you put into it would last. Guess what? Another big storm here. We got 16″ today and then we are supposed to get another 4″ on Saturday and another bigger storm on Sunday. Wow. We will be buried by Monday. The wind is just howling and it’s very exciting. 🙂 I know you like a good storm. Me too! Have a great weekend! XO
Anu - My Ginger Garlic Kitchen says
We also have the tough mornings here, especially in winters when there is no sun on most of the days. And you know waking up early in cold and dark is a fight not only for Adoria, even for me. I am not a morning person. These morning minutes….each and every minute matters, Allie. I so wish to take a nap in my working hours and sometimes even coffee doesn’t help. So glad that you could take a nap. 🙂 And that delicious salted caramel is calling my name. I just want to lick that golden goodness with my fingers. SO good. Wishing you a lovely week my friend. 🙂
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
You make me laugh! I’ll bet the bus driver has some good stories to share! We’ve had two snow days this week….tons of snow and then freezing rain and now everything is melting and we are in a flood warning! This caramel sauce looks so delicious! It would be perfect drizzled over ice cream!
Shashi at RunninSrilankan says
Haha – Oh Allie, racoon eyes or not, you are one gorgeous gal! And yup, am with ya – I can get a lot done in 8 minutes – though 8-minutes under pressure might have me forgetting half the things I could have done – so thumbs up to ya! And – speaking of thumbs up – dang – this sauce needs two thumbs up for sure – so so sweet and sticky and caramel-y! When I saw that first picture only one word came to mind – GLORIOUS! So glad Charlie held the spoon – am hoping you didn’t have to do the Hudson Hustle today and y’all are all bundled up and staying warm today! XOXO
P.S. So sorry I’ve been MIA – been trying to juggle a few classes at the local community college with work and home stuff…I hope all the painting is going well and am hoping y’all find a good buyer, quick!
Jay Jones says
just saw the recipe. I had the munchees so decided to make it. I made it twice. the second one I put in a little peanut butter. I will never by caramel sauce from the store again. it was relatively easy (the pot I used wasn’t big enough and I lost a little)
PEANUT BUTTER????? GAHhhhhh….now we’re talkin’! Super to hear from you Jay, thanks for dropping by.