Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. This salted caramel recipe requires only 4 easy ingredients. It’s perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pound cake, ice cream, cheesecake, scones, salted caramel apple pie, and more!
What once intimidated me became the subject of my 2nd cookbook: Sally’s Candy Addiction. As it turns out, homemade candy isn’t all that difficult. And salted caramel is one of the easiest recipes. This truly the best salted caramel I’ve ever had and there’s only 4 ingredients required: sugar, butter, heavy cream, and salt.
This salted caramel is a reader favorite recipe, marking its spot in the top 10 most popular recipes on my website. It’s sweet, sticky, buttery, and tastes phenomenal on anything it touches. (Though you really only need a spoon to enjoy.) Trust me, after trying this 1 time, you’ll be hooked like the rest of us!
How to Make Salted Caramel
Use the written out instructions below, but here’s the basic process: The first step is to melt sugar, which is called caramelization. This requires 1 small pot and a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Stir until melted. Stir in butter, then stir in heavy cream and let it boil for 1 minute. Finally, add the salt. That’s it, the caramel is done.
Remember to use caution when cooking over the stove as the hot liquid, butter, and cream may splatter. If needed, kitchen gloves come in handy.
No Candy Thermometer Salted Caramel
Unlike most caramel recipes, this salted caramel doesn’t require a candy thermometer. Instead, I encourage you to follow the recipe and use your eyes to determine when to add the next ingredient. The caramel thickens as it cools.
What to Eat with Salted Caramel?
You will love homemade salted caramel with recipes like cinnamon rolls, cheesecake, and apple pie bars. Use it as a caramel dip for apples, spoon over ice cream, or pour into decorated jars and gift it for the holidays.
The possibilities for salted caramel are endless:
- Turtle Brownies
- Burnt Sugar Caramel Cake
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
- Butterscotch Pudding
- Snickers Caramel Tart
- Apple Cupcakes
- Caramel Dipped Pretzels
- Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
- Salted Caramel Apple Pie & Apple Cake
- Cheesecake Pie
- Chocolate Bread Pudding
- Dessert Nachos
- Apple Cider French Toast
- Drizzled on cookies like Shortbread, Brownie Cookies, and Snickerdoodles
50 Ways to Eat Salted Caramel
I have plenty more ideas too: here are 50 Ways to Eat Salted Caramel.
What is the Texture of This Salted Caramel?
The caramel is liquid as it comes off heat. As the caramel cools, it solidifies into a chewy texture. After refrigerating, the caramel is hard and you must heat it up to bring it back to a liquid consistency. Do you need a thinner caramel? Feel free to add 2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream to the recipe.
You can’t really turn this sauce into a homemade wrapped candy. Instead, try my soft caramel candies recipe which is a little different.
How to Store Salted Caramel
After the caramel cools down, pour it into a glass jar or container. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. The caramel solidifies as it cools, but you can reheat in the microwave or on the stove so it’s liquid again. You can freeze the salted caramel, too. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm up before using.
What About Caramel Apples?
This caramel is not thick enough to coat apples for caramel apples. Instead, I recommend my homemade caramel apples recipe.
Quick Salted Caramel VideoPrint
Made from only 4 simple ingredients, this homemade caramel is salty, sweet, and irresistibly buttery. No candy thermometer required and the possibilities for serving are endless. (Though just a spoon is acceptable!) Use caution as the cooking caramel may splatter. Stand back and wear kitchen gloves if desired. Review recipe notes prior to beginning.
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar (make sure it’s labeled “pure cane”)*
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and sliced into 6 pieces
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat granulated sugar in a medium heavy-duty saucepan (avoid using nonstick) over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat-resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. On my stove, this takes about 6 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
- Once sugar is completely melted, immediately stir in the butter until melted and combined. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added. If you notice the butter separating or if the sugar clumps up, remove from heat and vigorously whisk to combine it again. (If you’re nervous for splatter, wear kitchen gloves. Keep whisking until it comes back together, even if it takes 3–4 minutes. It will eventually—just keep whisking. Return to heat when it’s combined again.)
- After the butter has melted and combined with the caramelized sugar, stir constantly as you very slowly pour in the heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the hot caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. After all the heavy cream has been added, stop stirring and allow to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. If you’d like to be precise and use a candy thermometer, the temperature will rise to about 220°F (104°C).
- Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. Caramel thickens as it cools.
- Cover tightly and store for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Caramel solidifies in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove to desired consistency.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make this caramel in advance. Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe. See “What Is the Texture of This Salted Caramel?” in the post above. This caramel is OK at room temperature for a day if you’re traveling or gifting it. You can freeze the salted caramel, too. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm up before using.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Medium Heavy-Duty Saucepan | Wooden Spoon or Spatula
- Sugar: This recipe is most successful using granulated sugar that’s labeled “pure cane” on the packaging. I usually use and recommend Domino brand regular granulated sugar which says “pure cane granulated” on the packaging.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream (approximately 36% milk fat) may also be sold as whipping cream. Light whipping cream (30% milk fat), or double cream (48% milk fat) may be substituted. Do not use milk. Room-temperature cream is best.
- Salt: Use regular table salt or kosher salt. If using larger flaky salt, add 1 teaspoon, taste, then add more if desired. This recipe works with 1 teaspoon of any variety of salt. You can always add 3/4 teaspoon, taste, then add more if desired.
- Caramel Candies: This caramel is great as a sauce, topping, or filling, but won’t set up properly to make soft caramel candies. Here is my soft caramels recipe.
- Regular Caramel Sauce: If you want to make regular caramel, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Do not leave it out completely.
- Larger Batches: Avoid doubling or tripling this recipe. The added volume could prevent the sugar from melting evenly and properly. Make a couple of batches instead.
Keywords: caramel, salted caramel
The sugar will be clumpy as it begins to melt:
It will begin to turn amber in color:
Once sugar is completely melted (takes about 6 minutes or so on my stove), stir in the butter:
Very slowly, drizzle in the heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added. Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in the salt.