How To Make Caramel Sauce


This recipe teaches you how to make caramel sauce just in time for fall treat season! This homemade caramel sauce is smooth, rich, and only takes three ingredients to make!

Photo shows a spoon drizzling homemade caramel sauce over a jar

When we were teenagers, my sister and I used to have certain recipes that were “our recipes” if we wanted to make homemade egg noodles, that was my recipe, but if we wanted caramel, that was hers. 

She was actually kind of famous with our family friends for her caramel, and I don’t think I ever made a single batch myself when we lived near each other. 

But now that we live states away and have our own families, if I want caramel, I’m on my own, and it makes me kind of nostalgic for the old days when my sister would make her famous caramel, then we’d slice a bunch apples, and sit around the table eating caramel-dipped apples and chit-chatting about nothing in particular. 

But it’s a fun fall tradition I can carry on with my kids. 

Photo shows a hand dipping an apple slice into a jar of caramel sauce

This recipe is probably simpler than you think it is. If you’ve never made caramel before, the idea of purposely burning sugar may sound intimidating, but when you try it, you’ll find out it’s addictively fun.

How to Make Caramel Sauce

Here are some tips to make sure your homemade caramel sauce comes out perfect even on the first try:

  • Use a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. This will make heat spikes and hot spots easier to control so that you end up with a more even temperature, which helps keep the sugar from burning in some places before it’s had a chance to caramelize in others. 
  • You’re going to judge the doneness of your caramel by color, not temperature. The deeper the color, the deeper the flavor. If you want a nice, light caramel, take it off the heat when it’s nice and light. If you want a deep flavored caramel, keep going until you get a darker brown. I promise you, you can’t go wrong either way. 
  • Your caramel can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for up to 3-4 weeks. Because we’re using all fresh ingredients and no preservatives or inverted sugars, it’s possible that if could partially crystalize. I have had mine develop a layer of crystals over the top. If this happens, just zap it in the microwave or heat it in a double boiler set up to melt the crystals. 

Photo shows a jar of caramel sauce on a white table

P.S. This caramel sauce recipe makes a great ice cream topping along with our homemade hot fudge sauce, which we used in our no-churn cherry cheesecake ice cream!


How To Make Caramel Sauce

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This homemade caramel sauce is SO easy to make, and tastes so good. You’ll love it!

  • Author: Elise


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  1. Add sugar and water to a sauce pan with at least 1 quart capacity 
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves (this should take between 3 and 5 minutes)
  3. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, and watching closely until the sugar because a nice, deep amber.
  4. Remove from heat immediately
  5. Add butter and stir until butter has melted
  6. Next, add cream in a thin stream while stirring – be careful and the hot caramel can cause your cream to bubble over!
  7. Add in vanilla and salt and stir until caramel is smooth and creamy
  8. Let caramel sauce cool 10-15 minutes before pouring into a heat-proof glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. 
  9. Use immediately, or keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 weeks
  10. Enjoy!

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