Making a caramel sauce is easy, and homemade sauce tastes so much better than the sauce you buy at the store. Using homemade caramel sauce is a great way to make desserts more exciting and delicious!
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Caramel sauce is all about the sugar, and making your own means you can let the flavor of the caramelized sugar shine through. With recipe you don’t need to use a candy thermometer or any specialized equipment.
Caramel sauce tastes amazing drizzled over ice cream, apple pie, crostata and many other desserts too.
This is a recipe with only 4 ingredients.
- Sugar – This recipe works with white sugar, not brown sugar. You wouldn’t be able to judge the color change as the sauce caramelizes with brown sugar.
- Half and half
- Unsalted butter – make sure to use unsalted!
Salted Caramel or Not?
By varying the amount of salt you can choose to make this recipe a salted caramel sauce or not. I personally love salted caramel sauce and usually make it that way.
The combination of sweet and salty is irresistible and gives a depth of flavor to the final sauce. But not everyone loves it, so I include instructions for both in the recipe card.
The only difference between the two recipes is the amount of salt used. Even if you don’t like salted caramel sauce you need to include at least a small amount of salt in the recipe or it won’t taste right.
Step by Step Instructions
This sauce takes about 10 minutes of hands on time to make. It isn’t difficult, but you do have to pay attention to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn.
Keeping a close watch and stirring constantly is the only tricky part of this recipe! This is not a recipe you can make while multitasking.
1. Room Temperature Ingredients
The first step is to take the half and half and butter out of the refrigerator. They should sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you make the recipe.
If you skip this step the cold butter or liquid can shock the sugar mixture when it is added, which can make it harden.
2. Melt the Sugar
Put the sugar in a medium sauce pan. This caramel sauce will bubble and foam and expand to be larger than you expect. If you use too small a pan it can bubble right over the sides.
Melt the sugar in the sauce pan by stirring it constantly over medium heat. It will form into clumps and then melt after about 8 minutes.
Once it has melted continue to stir it, watching it closely. After a minute or two the color will change to a dark amber color.
The sugar can go from caramelized to burnt quickly. It is better to be too early than too late with this process, so once the sugar color darkens assume it is done.
3. Add the Butter
Once the color changes add the butter and stir so that it melts. The sauce will foam up at this point. Continue stirring and take the pan off the heat.
4. Add the Half & Half
Keep stirring and slowly stir in the half and half. More foaming will occur. One the half & half is stirred into the sauce add the desired amount of salt and stir to mix that in.
Pour the caramel sauce into a glass jar like a Mason jar and let it cool at room temperature. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate it once it cools.
How to Store
The caramel sauce will keep for 3-4 weeks in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. If it hardens too much in the refrigerator you can microwave it for 30 seconds, and then stir before serving it.
Does This Work for Caramel Apples?
This is not a sauce that will coat caramel apples. It works great for dipping apple slices, but it won’t harden around the apples.
DIY Holiday Gift
Make some batches of each of the sauces and package them in a Mason jars or Weck jars for lovely gift idea, perfect for relatives or a teacher.
How to Serve
There are many desserts that are even more delicious with caramel sauce! Here are some suggestions.
- Drizzle on ice cream or gelato
- Use it on top of apple pie or apple crostata
- Stir it into a cup of coffee for a sweet treat
- Drizzle it onto cupcakes
- Top off cheesecake
- Use it as a layer in ice cream cake
- Top off a Thanksgiving apple bread with caramel sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 Tablespoon salt for salted caramel sauce or 1/8 teaspoon salt for basic caramel sauce
- Decide if you are making salted caramel sauce or not. Use 1 Tablespoon of salt for salted and 1/8 teaspoon of salt for basic caramel sauce.
- Measure the half and half and butter and take them out of the refrigerator. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Put the sugar in a large sauce pan (larger than you think you will need) and melt it over medium heat.
- Stir the sugar constantly. It will form clumps and then melt after about 8 minutes.
- Once the sugar has completely melted continue to stir it slowly, and watch it carefully. With in a minute or two the color will change to a dark amber color. If you wait too long the sugar will burn. Err on the side of taking it off too soon!
- When the color changes add the butter and stir to melt. The caramel will foam quite a bit at this point.
- Then remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the half and half. More foaming will occur. Once the half and half is added stir in the amount of salt you decided to add.
- Then pour the sauce into a glass jar and cool completely.
- Refrigerate once cooled.
Nutrition facts are estimates.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 85Saturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 594mgCarbohydrates: 17gSugar: 16g