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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, apple pie, and more!

Salted caramel in a glass jar with a handle

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!

Salted caramel in a glass jar with a spoon

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.

Salted caramel in a glass jar with a spoon

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:

50 Ways to Eat Salted Caramel

I have plenty more ideas too: here are 50 Ways to Eat Salted Caramel.

stack of apple pie bars with salted caramel sauce on top

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 Video

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Salted caramel in a glass jar with a spoon

Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar (make sure it’s labeled “pure cane”)*
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium heavy-duty saucepan (avoid using non-stick) 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. Be careful not to burn it.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. Caramel thickens as it cools.
  5. 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. See “What is the Texture of This Salted Caramel?” above.

Notes

  1. 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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Butter: Unsalted butter may be used instead, though I prefer salted. No other changes need to be made to the recipe if using unsalted.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Regular Caramel: If you want to make regular caramel, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Do not leave it out completely.
  8. Larger Batches: Avoid doubling or tripling this recipe. The added volume could prevent the sugar from melting evenly and properly. Make a couple batches instead.

Keywords: caramel, salted caramel

 

The sugar will be clumpy as it begins to melt:

sugar for salted caramel sauce in a saucepan

It will begin to turn amber in color:

sugar melting in saucepan for salted caramel sauce

Once sugar is completely melted, stir in the butter:

chunks of butter and melted sugar in a saucepan for salted caramel sauce

sugar and butter melted together in a saucepan for salted caramel sauce

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.

salted caramel sauce after adding heavy cream in a saucepan

Remove from heat and stir in the salt.

Salted caramel in a saucepan with a wooden spoon

Reader Questions and Reviews

    1. I have not used this recipe yet (I will soon), but in another recipe for salted caramel I used h&h and it worked just fine. It may be a teensy bit less creamy.

  1. My butter always separates when I add it. I whisk vigorously like you say and it comes back but not homogeneous like it should be. Why is my butter separating? What can I do to prevent this happening? When I watch other videos their butter just bubbles and never separates. HeLp!

    1. Hi Melinda, it can take a few minutes of whisking to bring it back together! It may also help to use slightly cooler butter, it may be too soft and greasy.

  2. This is a perfect Salted Carmel. I’ve made it three or four times to rave reviews. It’s easy if you just follow the recipe. We love it!

  3. This is my go to recipe as it’s so easy and produces the best flavor. However, I’m wondering if there is a way to thin this out? I pour it into a squeeze bottle to drizzle on my coffee but it’s so thick that I have to run it under how water every time I use it

    1. Hi Jessica, for a thinner consistency feel free to add 2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream to the recipe, but it will still thicken/harden in the refrigerator.

  4. I can’t rate the recipe because I know I didn’t do something right. It ended up being a solid mass. Yummy, but a solid mass. Could not use it for my recipe.

    1. Hi Tonia! Cooking the caramel for too long or at too high of a heat is the likely culprit. Try turning the heat down a little next time.

  5. I’ve always heard that you never stir the sugar when you’re making caramel because it’ll crystalize, but you stir yours constantly and it seems to work! Am I missing something here?

    1. Hi Sue! Stirring works best for this method. Let us know if you give it a try!

    2. Love the recipe! But the texture became too thick when I put into squeeze bottle. Can I now put it into pan again to add heavy cream?

      1. You can reheat it to thin it out. Feel free to add a splash of heavy cream, or even milk as well.

  6. I have made this with success and I have had some fails. Sometimes I get hard lumps of sugar in the bottom, not sure why. But it’s insanely delicious—we drizzle it over the caramel apple pie bars.

  7. I thought I did everything correctly. It was gooey when warm. I let the caramel cool and put in a glass jar. I just noticed after about an hour in the fridge it appears there is a white film around it. Does this mean the butter has separated? Will heating in the microwave fix this? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jamie, it sounds like the caramel may have needed another minute on the stovetop to fully incorporate. Heating in the microwave and giving it a good mix before using will help incorporate that butter back into the caramel. Hope you enjoy it!

  8. I made this to go with the apple galette. Even though the texture was great the taste was bitter. I’m going to try again perhaps using a different pan and spoon. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Rachel, If it tastes bitter, it’s likely been cooked for too long – an easy fix for next time! Try turning your heat down a bit.

  9. Amazing taste, easy to make. Perfect for my Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake . Your instructions are very clear and easy to follow, thanks especially for the videos.

  10. I keep meaning to comment and tell you thanks! This recipe is delicious and perfect. Your instructions are clear, and if followed correctly, result in amazing caramel sauce. I’ve been using this for a few years and anyone who tries it raves about the flavor and texture!

  11. OMG – This worked like a dream….I believe the caramel gods were there with me! Even better, I got rave reviews. I made it to top an Apple Harvest Cake and – my oh my – was it great. Even though I served the cake with sauce four hours after I’d made it, it was the absolute best consistency. Not sure why it worked so well…maybe the ingredients? I used unsalted “Fond o’ Foods German Butter” with 85% fat; Clover Heavy Whipping Cream, and Whole Foods 365 Organic Cane Sugar, with Divina Coarse Sea Salt.
    This recipe is going into heavy rotation for the holidays!!! And beyond.

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