Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe

Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. This 10 minute 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 liquid gold. It’s 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

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. Add butter and heavy cream, then let it boil. Finally, add the salt. That’s it, the caramel is done. It’s SO EASY.

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 only requires 10 short minutes, then will thicken 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

How to Store Salted Caramel

I receive this question a lot and I’m so happy to answer it. 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: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Made from only 4 simple ingredients in only 10 minutes, 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

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, room temperature cut up into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan 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.
  2. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  3. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating or if the sugar clumped 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.)
  4. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using. Caramel thickens as it cools.
  6. 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.

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. Special Tools: Copper Saucepan or Stainless Steel Saucepan, Wooden Spoon, Mason Jar Mugs
  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

How to Make Easy Salted Caramel

Heat 1 cup of granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

sugar for salted caramel sauce in a saucepan

Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

sugar melting in saucepan for salted caramel sauce

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add 6 Tablespoons of butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.

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

Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.

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

Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.

salted caramel sauce after adding heavy cream in a saucepan

Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

salted caramel sauce after boiling in a saucepan

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool completely before using. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

Salted caramel in a saucepan with a wooden spoon

A 10 minute recipe! You’re going to love this stuff.

collage of images showing how to make salted caramel sauce

The BEST and easiest homemade salted caramel sauce I've ever made! 5 ingredient salted caramel on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The BEST and easiest homemade salted caramel sauce I've ever made! 5 ingredient salted caramel on sallysbakingaddiction.com

608 Comments

  1. This sauce reminds me of the caramel my mother used to make. It’s so delicious and simple. I used 2% lactose free milk and it worked for me. Guess I’m just lucky.

  2. Joyce Thompson says:

    What is the yield in volume of this recipe?

    1. I got just over a cup, maybe 1 1/4 cups.

  3. I’ve made this recipe many times with great success! I do have a question though. We are planning on using this sauce to drizzle on apples (sort of like caramel apples in a bowl) for a youth group and was wondering how much to make? We will be making 40 servings so how many batches would you suggest?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gina, It really depends on how big your servings are and how much caramel you wish to drizzle over top. Each recipe makes one cup of caramel so use your best judgement on how many to make (we do recommend only making one batch at a time!).

  4. Heather M. Whipple says:

    Can I use brown sugar in this instead of white sugar?
    Please let me know

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heather, Brown sugar won’t caramelize properly. Stick with regular white granulated sugar here.
      A different recipe using brown sugar with similar ingredients actually makes a butterscotch sauce. If you wish you can see how it’s made in the post Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes.

  5. A-Freakin-mazing…..that’s all I gotta say.

  6. I used light brown sugar as it was all I had, with cooking cream philly cheese instead of heavy cream. It came out beautifully! A little darker in colour than the pictures, and it had a slightly bitter note to it, but was delicious – very hard to put down!

  7. I looked up your caramel recipe to give it another go since I loved it the first time and I noticed a different recipe by broma bakery. In my mind I wondered “Will this be as good as Sally’s?” I looked at the recipe ingredients and measurements and they COPIED YOU!
    https://bromabakery.com/how-to-make-homemade-caramel/

  8. This recipe is so easy and comes out perfect every time. This is my second time making it and it’s a fan favorite!

  9. If I leave out the teaspoon of salt will it taste like regular caramel? I’m not a big fan of salted caramel.

    1. Hi Cathy! See recipe note. I recommend reducing to 1/2 teaspoon.

      1. Made this today. Great caramel taste but a very bitter after taste. Did I do something wrong?

  10. Fun quick and easy recipe. Color and taste will vary slightly depending upon heat and cook timeI also added vanilla extract at the end. Experiment and have fun!

  11. This was so easy! I made the regular version so I used half the salt and it was so delicious. I could have kept eating it by the spoonful! I ate it on ice cream and it was so tasty. I gave myself a gnarly burn on the tip of my finger when I splattered the sugar and butter mixture on my finger but the sauce was still delicious!

  12. I had the exact same thing happen. I rarely have failures in my kitchen, but this one was epic. I am at altitude and I wonder if that could be a factor (e.g., taking a very long time for the sugar to melt at medium – like 20 minutes or more). Hoping someone else will know. Also, would adding a Tablespoon of water to the pan help? I’m afraid I ended up with a real mess. Not sure whether to try again.

  13. hearing all the warnings about making caramel sauce I was hesitant to try it. I am so glad I did. This is hands downs the best salted caramel sauce I’ve ever tasted. I know what I’m giving my neighbours for Christmas 😀

  14. Sally, thanks for your recipes. Huge fan of this caramel. We make it every fall and dip fresh apple slices in it!

  15. This tastes amazing! And was so easy to make.
    Silly question I know: Have you any tips on how to get it off the spoon and bowl once hardened like glass?

    1. If you’re in no way pressed for time, simply soaking it in warm water for an hour or so with NO SOAP will help the sugar dissolve. If you need to use the pan/spoon again right away, boil about three cups of water in the saucepan over the stove and stir with the affected spoon; should come off like a dream!

  16. Great recipe! I would use 1/2 teaspoon salt next time but other than that it was so simple ! Thank you so much!

  17. Sally, I use this to fill chocolate candy cups. Line a mini muffin pan with liners, melt chocolate, pour a spoonful in, add a spoonful of the cooled caramel then top with more melted chocolate. Refrigerate until set. Very tasty caramel. It’s great on apple pie too. Want to try more of your suggestions too.

  18. Easy recipe. But ⚠️ Do not add all the salt I ruined a lot of ingredients. It’s so salty, I tried making more and mixed it and it’s still bad.

  19. So quick and easy! I whipped this up for dessert with apples while the fam was cleaning up after dinner. It was my first time making caramel, and but not the last! Everyone agreed it was wonderful!! I used half and half and it turned out great. I also added a teaspoon of vanilla at the end after the salt.

  20. Ive never made caramel before. I appreciated the help with the steps. Mine did separate and I took it off the heat and kept whisking it. I used it on your pumpkin bundt cake. It was delicious. I used coarse kosher salt and it had little salt crunches which I love. I made the bundt cake and caramel sauce exactly as written. Turned out so lovely. Thank you

  21. Kristen Bridges says:

    I made this salted caramel sauce this past weekend to top a pecan pumpkin cheesecake I made. Your sauce was sooooooo good! Amazing heated up and drizzled, but also delicious to eat by the spoonful on it’s own after it has cooled in the fridge, almost like salted caramel taffy – Mmmmmmmm.

  22. Can you use coconut cream as a substitute for whipping cream?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lynne, We haven’t tested it, but some readers have had success using unsweetened canned coconut cream. Let us know if you try it!

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