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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.

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: 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. Can I double the recipe or should I make two batches. I plan to thin it a bit with extra cream as I am using it as a layer in an ice cream cake.

    1. Hi Maureen, we recommend to avoid doubling or tripling this recipe. The added volume could prevent the sugar from melting evenly and properly. Make a couple batches instead.

  2. hi there, i have a batch of caramel sauce which has hardened in the fridge. if i wish to soften it before using, what is the best way, given that my current jar cant be used in the microwave? also, is it safe to soften the whole jar but only use some and return the rest back into the fridge?
    thanks!!

    1. Hi cc, yes, that’s exactly what we do! Just warm up the whole jar in the microwave.

  3. We have been just useing evaporated milk is that nfine to add instead of cream?

    1. Hi Claire, It’s best to stick with heavy cream for this recipe.

  4. To soften hard Carmel in a jar you cant microwave put it in a pot with water and heat until very hot. Do it gradually on low heat so as not to crack the bottom of your caramel jar. Leave until carmel is soft enough to remove.

    1. Hi Mariana, Caramel can be prepared a few different ways. Dissolving and boiling off the water usually results in a firmer caramel as opposed to the softer caramel here. Hope this helps!

  5. HI @joanna, thanks for your reply! is it okay to soften the entire jar but only use a portion of it, and subsequently return the jar back to the fridge?

  6. Is the the kind of caramel that harden in a ice cream cake my son loves peanut butter reese and carmel ice cream cake and I want to make home made cake. Will this caramel stay solid in a ice cream cake?

    1. Hi Colleen! Yes, this caramel will harden when frozen – probably a bit too hard to bite into in an ice cream cake. It’s best to use as a topping for ice cream cakes.

  7. hello! how should i then make caramel that doesnt harden that much in the fridge? heat for a shorter time when making it?

    1. Hi CC, 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.

  8. Do you know if this can be used to swirl into ice cream as a caramel ribbon (not a topping, but layered into the container prior to ripening the ice cream)? Does the texture allow for that? I am going to be experimenting with some ice cream flavors and would like to use this caramel. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jennifer, 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!

  9. So I made this and it turned out perfectly. I removed from heat added the salt and let it sit fir a few still in the pan and now it tastes burnt. Should I remove it from the pan immediately?

    1. Hi Tiffany! You can cook the caramel for a couple minutes less next time or remove it from the pan right away. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Sugar melted fine. Added butter and it started to get away from me, so I picked up the pot from the burner and instantly had a big chunk of browned sugar inside my whisk. No way to incorporate the butter now. Still soaking the pot in hopes I can use it again!

  11. I want to make homemade vanilla ice cream with caramel swirled into it. Is this the kind of caramel I would use? If not, what would I need to do differently?

    1. Hi Abbie! 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!

  12. So last weekend I attempted to make a caramel sauce for a caramel cheesecake and it did not turn out. Unfortunately the recipe I was using had very minimal information/steps and basically when it was time to add the butter it separated and I tossed it. I wish I had used this sites recipe bc you provide in depth information and clear cut instructions. As a novice baker I have made two pies and two birthday cakes from your site and they turned out perfect. Next time I want to try a caramel sauce I will definitely be using this site to do it

  13. My salted caramel taste like toffee. What can cause that to happen? Xx

    1. Hi Tracey, if the salted caramel was a bit tough and tasted like toffee, it sounds like it was simply overcooked. An easy fix for next time!

  14. Hi how do I make a thicker and firmer caramel icing golden color so it don’t run off the cake.. all the other recipes takes hours

    1. Hi Marquis, this caramel solidifies into a chewy, thicker caramel at room temperature. You can make this recipe a bit thicker by reducing the heavy cream (try 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup).

  15. WOW, WOW, WOW! I don’t leave comments on all of your amazing recipes enough, but this is INCREDIBLE! It was my first time making caramel and had no problems! I did cut the salt in half to start off just trying a regular caramel, versus salted. The whole family thinks it’s amazing! Thank you!

  16. I made this tonight and I would say the recipe is foolproof. The hardest thing is judging the color of the caramel so you don’t burn it, but that is something where practice makes perfect and will be easier to achieve the more times you make it. I did add one teaspoon of vanilla, off the heat at the end, and I think it is a welcome addition. When storing this, I think it helps to use a jar that flares out at the top, to make it easier to remove from the jar. (The jars that Bonne Maman preserves or jam come in are very successful for this.) And I think this recipe is easier than those that call for water. I had great results making this in a Le Creuset enameled cast iron saucepan.

  17. I thought I had ruined it, but I stuck with it and slowly drizzled in the cream. In the end after several minutes of stirring that and a strainer is what got the job done for me! Thank you for putting this words in the notes, don’t give up, keep stirring!

  18. Hi, A couple of things, please.
    I saw that I could use this for ice cream at the beginning of this recipe. But, it turned very hard. Did I do something wrong? The recipe went smooth, I thought, for me.
    I ate the ice cream, then microwaved the caramel and ate it warmed up, though. So, must I always use in a warmed scenario? Like on a hot apple pie.

    Second, mine is a little darker in color than yours. Is that a problem?

    1. Hi Paula, this caramel is best served warm, simply microwaving to use it as you mention. The caramel 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! If it’s especially dark, it’s possible the caramel was cooked a bit too long. Hope this helps!

  19. Thanks for your quick response! Is it too late to add a couple tablespoons of heavy cream to the Salted Caramel that I made already to think it was you said? I’m enjoying all your recipes very much. I just made the Blueberry Cream cheese twist danish. AWESOME! Turned out Perfect! Do you have a Raisin Bran muffin recipe? I made your Blueberry one already and the cooking on high heat first and lowering the temp works perfect for higher domed muffins! Thanks so much! Paula

    1. Hi Paula, it would be pretty difficult to add more to your finished batch, but definitely give it a try for next time! We’re so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying our recipes. We do not have a bran muffin recipe at this time, but let us know if you find one you love. Thanks again!

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