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

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 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, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium heavy-duty 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 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.

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. Butter: Unsalted butter may be used instead, though I prefer salted. No other changes need to be made to the recipe if using unsalted.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Regular Caramel: If you want to make regular caramel, reduce salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Do not leave it out completely.
  7. 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

878 Comments

  1. I swear, most recipes I tried on Sally’s worked! I’m an amateur cook, and it saddens me every time things don’t work out but whenever I use Sally’s recipes, I feel like I’m rewarded for my efforts. I had a lot of anxiety going in because I had some experiences with burnt sugar, so I watched the video at least 3 times and kept re-reading the instructions. And my salted caramel turned out perfect! I had it with cafe latte and it tasted just the way I wanted it to. Now I’m thinking of making a dessert to go with it soon. Thank you, Sally!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We’re so glad this caramel turned out for you, Izzati!

  2. Could I sub coconut cream for the heavy cream?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  3. Made this tonight but didn’t have cream and just want to confirm that whole milk substitutes fine (I know, cream is always used in caramel) and turned out delicious and with the proper viscosity after cooling.

  4. The texture is great but the taste has kind of a burnt sugar taste. What did I do wrong ?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jo! You’ll want to turn the stove down to cook it lower and slower next time. This will prevent burning.

  5. I made the classic cheesecake with chocolate ganache and salted caramel using Sally’s recipes and things turned out perfectly. I didn’t manage to create a perfect water bath for the baking of the cheesecake but put a pan of hot water underneath. I mixed the ingredients for the cheesecake all by hand. I used digestive cookies and butter for the crust. Everything turned out great. Thank you.

  6. This recipe tasted amazing although hardened a bit too much in the refrigerator, and was slightly darker than in the picture.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Leona! Thank you so much for giving this caramel a try. Sounds like it simply cooked for too long. Try cooking it a bit lower and slower next time.

  7. Sue Teunissen says:

    These are the best scones and so easy to make!! I made them for the first time for a Christmas brunch and everyone raved! I have made them 3 times since. I love this website and have never been disappointed.

  8. It turned out great!! I used it to make a caramel macchiato. Question- can I reheat the refrigerated caramel more than once without it affecting the quality or date of expiration?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hannah, absolutely — you can reheat as many times as needed for up to a month when storing in the fridge. Glad it was a hit!

  9. Thank you for this delicious recipe! I made it and loved it, but I would like to make it ever so slightly thicker/firmer but still runny. Would adding a teaspoon of corn syrup to the sugar at the start achieve this?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess! You can make this recipe a bit thicker by reducing the heavy cream (try 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup).

  10. Genna Zavocki says:

    This is the best caramel sauce ever! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  11. Tastes good, not sauce.
    While it is a delicious caramel, I wouldn’t call it a sauce, it solidifies into a soft caramel candy. Next time I may add more butter and cream but not what I needed this time.

  12. Can I use this recipe to make caramel popcorn?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can!

  13. This caramel sauce is delicous. It is best served with ice cream and cream or simply dip your apples in them. I would certainly reccomend!

  14. Hi Sally! I’m excited to make this tomorrow, paired with your salted caramel icing for some cupcakes. If I drizzle this ontop of the icing a day before they will be eaten, do you think it will be ok or will it harden too much?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      That should be just fine, Elaina! This salted caramel is a great for drizzling on cupcakes.

  15. Hello! Do you have any tips for making this with a vegan sugar (organic cane or beet sugar)? Organic cane sugar is great but the natural color makes it hard to determine readiness in recipes relying on color appearance for next steps.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jennifer, we haven’t tested this recipe with any vegan sugars, so it’s hard to say. Keep an extra close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. If you give it a try, we’d love to know how it goes!

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