Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe

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, let the mixture cook, 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
  • 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

  • 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, cook for 1 minute without stirring.
  4. Very slowly stir in 1/2 cup of 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.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the 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. 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

1009 Comments

  1. can this recipe be used as a caramel drip on a cake or will it run down the sides?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Afsaneh, Yes, this caramel would be great for a drip cake. Make sure the cake is EXTRA cold and give this caramel at least 15-20 minutes to cool down/slightly thicken before applying.

  2. Would I be able to can the Carmel sauce in a hot water bath to store on the shelf? I wanted to find a recipe to use for fall gifts. Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sue! We haven’t tested canning this recipe. We simply seal the jars shut and let whoever know to enjoy the caramel within a couple weeks.

  3. I ruined 2 batches – after adding the butter I had pebbles of sugar that were useless!

    1. That happened to me also. I fixed it by turning the temperature up to about 340-360. I poured as much butter out that I could. Once the mixture started boiling, everything started melting and pulled away from the pan. Once it completely melted, I poured the rest of butter back into the pan.. The butter did separate so I did as the recipe stated and vigorously whisked it until it all combined. I finished it according to the recipe and it turned out perfect. Hope it works for you.

  4. I’m surprised this is made with white sugar and not brown sugar!! Why? What’s the science?? : ) Thanks for great recipe… all the carmel sauces at store are made with high fructose corn syrup.

    1. Hi Kris, brown sugar has too much moisture to cook and caramelize properly in this recipe. I recommend sticking with white granulated sugar.

  5. Melanie Palmer says:

    Mine is clumpy

  6. Is it ok to keep reheating the caramel in the microwave to get it liquid and then put it back in the fridge…and then reheat…and then put it back in the fridge…and then put in the microwave…etc

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That’s what we do! Works perfectly.

      1. Thanks so much Trina – happy to hear that we can do that!

  7. Thank you!! I made the salted Carmel and it was wonderful!

  8. Perfect! My previous comment only reflected 4 stars. Error on my part. I would give 10 stars if I could! Followed your instructions to the letter and it was perfect!!

  9. OMG, this caramel sauce is THE BEST!!! I used organic cane sugar and Irish salted butter and it made the sauce so delicious! Definitely a keeper. Thank you!!!

  10. I make this recipe every year for Halloween, my family loves it.
    Thanks!

  11. You should use lower heat than recommended and keep stirring to avoid burning

    1. Giving 1 star because of your opinion or because you messed the recipe up is ridiculous. MIstakes happen. You learn to do better next time and move on. I am a professional baker and always make caramel by melting sugar on mid/high heat. This recipe is spot on.

  12. Perfect ratio of sweet and salty!!

  13. MARY Eileen Duncan says:

    There are much easier ways to make caramel. Mine stuck to the sides of the stainless steel pot like concrete and I could not remove it from the sides. Some spilled onto my glass cook-top and penetrated the glass; pitting and ruining the surface. Hot sugar is dangerous.

    1. I put hot water in the pan and dumped some baking soda in and let it come to a boil and that cleaned the pot perfectly! No scrubbing at all. Hope this helps

  14. Probably the best caramel sauce I’ve made! Definitely a keeper recipe, thank-you

  15. Followed this recipe exactly and it came out perfect! So yummy! A perfect addition to Sally’s pumpkin swirl cheesecake 🙂 Thank you for the recipe!

  16. I have tried caramel before. I have failed many times. I tried this recipe today and LOVE it! Thanks so much!

  17. Followed your recipe to the letter and the results are fabulous! I’ll be making more to give away over the holidays. Thank you!!

  18. Can you substitute Splenda for the cane sugar?

  19. As a pastry chef it’s always been a cardinal sin to stir sugar while its boiling- this usually creates crystallization. I’d reccommend not stirring the sugar and letting it boil; have a pastry brush and water handy to brush the sides of the pot if needed. This might help those who are having clump problems with their sugar. Sugar always wants to go back to it’s granular form and stirring it will help bring it there.

  20. This didn’t work for me at all. The sugar clumped up and butter separated and removing it from the heat to whisk made it solidify and impossible to stir. I put it back on the heat and added the cream and stirred until it came together. Ended up with a kind of caramel with hard chunks of clumped sugar in it and no wait to strain caramel. Burned my hand whisking in the hot butter. Would not recommend!! Tastes fine but this process is not one I will repeat. Why don’t you add the butter and sugar together to start with?

    1. Hi Rose, thank you for the feedback and for trying this recipe. Caramelizing sugar with the butter will give you a creamier syrup rather than a thicker-style caramel. Feel free to try that if you’d like. Were you by chance using a nonstick pot?

  21. This turned out perfectly! Although I lost sleep because I couldn’t find ‘Pure Cane Sugar’ on any bag!!! I used Roger’s white sugar- I shouldn’t have worried!!! It tastes great! And looks beautiful on the pumpkin cheesecake…!
    So happy I stumbled on your website!!!❤️

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      So glad you enjoyed it, Kathe — happy baking to you!

  22. Will this recipe work with margarine for a dairy free version?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anita! We don’t recommend it. Margarine does not have the same chemical makeup as butter. It’s much more watery. We strongly recommend using butter.

  23. Can one substitute evaporated milk for the heavy cream?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susan! It’s best to stick with heavy cream for this recipe.

  24. After making this, could you keep it warm in a small crock pot for dipping apples?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leslie! For caramel apples, we recommend using the caramel from our Homemade Caramel Apples recipe instead. That caramel must be prepared on the stove as instructed. However, after the caramel has cooked, you can keep it warm in a slow cooker on the low setting. Give it a gentle stir every 10 minutes to ensure the butter doesn’t separate.

  25. This is a very odd question but my son loves caramel but doesn’t like salted caramel. Can I reduce or take out the tsp of salt?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stefanie, absolutely! If you want to make regular caramel, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Do not leave it out completely.

  26. Kosher or table salt?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Marsha, We use regular table salt in this. Some readers have replaced it with kosher salt (1 teaspoon) and reported back with delicious results. See recipe note.

  27. My son has a dairy allergy. Can I substitute full fat coconut cream for the heavy cream?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi LS, 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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