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 Cheesecake
- Salted Caramel Apple Pie & Apple Cake
- Cheesecake Pie
- Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 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
Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 1 cup
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: American
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 (90g) salted butter, room temperature cut up 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 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.
- 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.
- 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. See “What is the Texture of This Salted Caramel?” above.
- 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.
- 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.
- Butter: Unsalted butter may be used instead, though I prefer salted. No other changes need to be made to the recipe if using unsalted.
- 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: 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 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, 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.
Reader Comments & Reviews
do you think i could half it
Hi Gemma, many readers have successfully halved the recipe. In step 3, you may need to reduce the time to 30-45 seconds. And in step 4, you may need to reduce the boil time down to 30-45 seconds as well.
Very salty! Maybe because I am not used to added salt in anything anymore. If I try again I will use only 1/2 teas salt.
I’ve made this recipe in the past and always spot on. I was just wonderIng, can I double the recipe?
Hi Patrizia, we recommend to avoid doubling this recipe. The added volume could prevent the sugar from melting evenly and properly. Make a couple batches instead.
Can this sauce be used in a frozen ice cream dessert? Or does it turn too hard?
Hi Alisha, We don’t suggest it — it will turn pretty hard inside frozen ice cream. However, you could use it as a topping — it will solidify when topped on the ice cream, but you can also try thinning it out a bit when cooking. We recommend adding 2-3 extra Tablespoons of heavy cream to the recipe when you stir in the heavy cream. This will thin out the caramel so it’s softer!
This caramel never fails! It is easy and delicious. I’ve put it on Sally’s apple pie, butterscotch pudding and more! It is a staple caramel recipe.
Been enjoying your recipes lately and have a question for an alternate method to make caramel. Pressure cook (crockpot) a can of sweetened condensed milk on low temperature for 8 hours.
Have you tried this? What are your thoughts?
Best! Caramel never fails me 🙂 I adjust the salt to my taste the only thing I change.
Hi Sally , does fresh cream works just the same as heavy cream ?
Hi Ruth! Fresh cream doesn’t have as much fat content as heavy cream. Best to stick with heavy cream!
I always mess up caramel. Not this time! Yum!!!
I have made this carame before and I swear by it! I just want to ask if I can turn it into a spread so I can sandwich it between sponge layers without it soaking into the sponges or hardening.
What is the process of doing this? Apologies if this is a silly question!
Hi Charley! This salted caramel isn’t ideal for between cake layers. You may love this salted caramel frosting, though!
Why is it bitter it’s not even very sweet I followed the instructions and ingredients to a T
Solved my own problem, 2nd time round taste great I didn’t keep the sugar moving so took longer to melt and than over cooked ,, this batch is lovely .. thankyou
Hi Teresa, 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.
Oh, please forgive me Sally. Yesterday I failed at making some home-made salted caramel. But the reason why I failed was because it wasn’t YOUR recipe. When I searched, I came across one that looked fairly easy and delicious. In fact, all the ingredients and measurements were the same as yours. However, your directions were much better and of course the video is always a great tool. When I told my daughter about my failure, she said hmmm, I’m surprised because Sally’s recipes are usually spot on. That is when I had to admit it wasn’t yours. So, I tried your recipe this morning, and oh yum! Shame on me.
First time ever – success!
I just put this over some homemade butter pecan ice-cream….there are no words….
This is a great salted caramel recipe. Look no further!
Love this recipe. I have been dreading making caramel and this was the first recipe I tried. No issues at all. I used a heaped teaspoon of himalayan crystal salt. Will reduce that to 3/4 teaspoon next time
This recipe is great. First time making it and it turned out better than expected. Actually, first time making caramel at all. It is bussin bussin respectfully on god.
I love this recipe! I’ve made it in the past many times. I was wondering, would this make a good cupcake filling or will it get absorbed by the cake?
Hi Morgan, you can use it as cupcake filling, yes! You’ll need to let it cool for about 30 minutes first. Follow the instructions from this recipe for chocolate caramel coconut cupcakes.
hello sally, if I remember correctly this recipe was used with a jack daniels cake about a week ago and I can’t find it anymore
Hi Carolina! We do not have a Jack Daniels cake recipe, perhaps you’re thinking of our Guinness chocolate cake recipe? Or you can browse all of our cake recipes here.
I’d like to try swirling this sauce into homemade ice cream. Would it work for that?
This is awesome recipe. Grateful that i can now prepare my own caramel syrup
It tastes incredible, but I still struggle with clumps of hard candies in the final sauce. I can get it smooth at the butter stage, but as I add the cream it hardens into chunks. Some it stirs out, some stays chunky.
Try letting your cream come up to room temperature first, or even heat it gently in the microwave for a few seconds. Cold cream will cause your caramel to seize and separate before it warms up.
Fantastic! Never having made caramel I recently purchased a store brand and was very disappointed, figured I could definitely do better. Found this recipe, read it numerous times and finally decided today was the day! Wow! it came out amazing! The flavor is delicious, the process exactly as written in the recipe. Thank you for this, I will never purchase caramel syrup again!
Just made it. It was pretty intimidating and a bit scary haba but I trusted the process and it came out great! It was my first time making caramel and it was a success! The only complaint i have and the reason i didn’t give it five stars is I think it is a little bit too salty. I would probably only add a pinch of salt. Otherwise it’s all great!
Delicious!! I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfect with no issues. Thank you!!
Hi! I love this recipe, and havs used it before. I’m in a pinch and was wondering if I could use half and half instead? Thanks for all the great recipes!
Hi Ellie, for best results, we really do recommend sticking with heavy cream. The caramel may not set up properly with a lesser fat content. So glad this is a favorite for you!
I’ve made this with half and half today, and it still turns out beautifully. It will be a thinner consistency, however depending on what you’re using it for that may be fine. I drizzled some cupcakes with mine, and I’ll also be using it as a coffee syrup (since the thinner consistency means it will dissolve nicely)
My caramel cooled into a completely solid block. Do you have any ideas for what I could have done wrong? Thanks!
Hi Ellie, the caramel will solidify as it cools. Were you able to warm it up again to bring it back to a drizzling consistency?
I think I messed it up because my caramel is very bitter and I am not sure why
Hi Dani, 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.
I’m making your chocolate layer cake and wanted caramel between the layers. Would this be the recipe to use or is there another caramel I should make. I have made this several times before to rave reviews but didn’t know if there was something better for layer cake. Thanks Sally, you’re the best.
Hi Marycarol, This caramel isn’t ideal to layer between cake layers – it will just spill out the sides under the weight of top layers. It’s great as a filling for cupcakes, though. Or you may wish to use this salted caramel frosting between your layers.
Can you use evaporated milk?
Hi Sarah, It’s best to stick with heavy cream for this recipe.
Couldn’t get past the mixing in butter stage. Sugar clumped + butter separated. Even after vigorously whisking for 5 minutes, the amount of butter burns on my hands, arms, legs, and even dangerously close to my face – (note: you basically have to wear a hazmat suit to be protected for this recipe), I threw in the towel and decided to use my own recipe. Can’t say I recommend a recipe that comes with burns, wasted ingredients, and an impossibly sticky mess.
I’m sorry you got so burned but really most caramel recipes add butter to the melted sugar. I have to wonder if your heat was too high. Patience is key when melting sugar. I know the only times this recipe hasn’t worked for me or my mother was only when we got impatient and turned the heat up to speed up the melting.