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 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

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: 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. 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. 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

956 Comments

  1. I feel like I didn’t get as much edible product as I should have. When I transferred from pan to jar, so much had hardened and stayed on the pan. Suggestions?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, it sounds like your caramel cooked for too long. Try reducing the temperature next time to cook lower and slower so it doesn’t harden.

  2. Hello Sally & team! I need your recommendation, please. I’m planning to drizzle caramel sauce over my homemade macarons. I’m hoping the final product isn’t too runny/sticky for packaging and while eating. Would you recommend this “Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe” OR your “Homemade Caramel Apples” caramel? I’m looking for something that will dry, but not crunch. Thank you for your awesome recipes!

    1. Hi Mallory, for some reason your question/comment is just popping up now so I apologize for the delay. I recommend this caramel recipe, however you can keep it on the thicker side by reducing the heavy cream (try 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup).

  3. I need to make a chocolate cake with salted caramel sauce filling. I plan to dam the layers with buttercream – would this make a good cake filling? Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tiffany, 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.

  4. I made the mistake of only reading your written directions, as opposed to the shorter picture directions below. I followed the EXACTLY and ended up with a house full of noxious smoke at the very end. Why dont you have the MUCH BETTER directions FIRST?? I’ve by no means given up…I’m an experienced cook as far as savory food and am exploring sweets for grandkids. Not, however, recipes from this site.

    1. Hi Kimberly,
      More like an experienced complainer than a cook. I sure wont being using your manners and hope your grand kids develop better ones than yours.
      I love this site and if I have an issue with the recipes I find its more my fault than the one who published. cooking is about confidence patience and the ability to laugh at yourself when you screw up.
      Have fun!!

  5. I haven’t tried this yet, but I want to try making a spicy caramel sauce like this – if I was to add spice to it – do you recommend liquid or powdered spices? and when should I add them, at the end with the salt?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hello! We haven’t tested a spicy caramel sauce so can’t say for certain. Powdered spices would most likely work best added in at the end. Would love to hear what you try!

    2. Mine didnt go amber not thick either. Think I went wrong somewhere

      1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Ann, you make need to continue cooking the caramel or turn the heat up a bit. Hope this helps!

  6. Andrea Nrowich says:

    DELISH!! I just made the sauce in preparation of making a rendition of Caramel Latte cupcakes. I thought a nice caramel drizzle over the top would be a nice addition….

    IF THERE IS ANY LEFT BY THE TIME I MAKE THE CUPCAKES. I keep eating it to “taste” it to make sure it is right. hahaha. Didn’t change anything in the recipe. As is, it’s perfect.

  7. Thanks very much for the detailed instructions and pictures – this is the first time I have successfully made caramel! I’ve ended up burning it on every other attempt from other recipes. I have a batch made now for the fridge ready for any bake that calls for caramel!

  8. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times and it has not once worked. It either sets up too hard or, like it did just now, separated at the butter step and wouldn’t come together no matter how hard I tried. It’s really disappointing as I can’t find a single caramel sauce recipe that works.

    1. Hi Jayden,
      The ratios in this sause are okay, but you really need a candy thermometer. I don’t believe that anyone could make this sauce successfully without one, until, at least maybe once they have repeated it multiple times. I always use my thermometer.
      The temperature reads are:
      240 degrees F for caramel sauce
      275 degrees F for soft caramel candies
      300 degrees for peanut brittle.

      1. I nailed it on my first attempt. Left my thermometer in the drawer. It’s pretty simple if you read the directions! 🙂

      2. I make this recipe every couple of months and it works perfectly. You don’t need a thermometer, just follow the instructions carefully.

  9. Domani Manuelpillai says:

    I have made this recipe a few times and it has always worked. It’s my go to recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce. Thank you.

  10. Can you use this to make caramel popcorn? I see all the different things it’s used for in the comments but I didn’t see anything about popcorn.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lyle! We don’t recommend it. This caramel won’t harden into the CRUNCH you need for caramel corn. Instead you can follow this recipe for caramel corn.

  11. Hello Sally. I love your recipes! I can definitely say I have made many without fail, but for some reason, something always seems to go wrong when I make this recipe. My caramel ends up much darker in colour and is often grainy/lumpy in texture. I have played around with stove temp, temperatures of the cream and the butter, and stirring – what do you suggest? 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adriana! Thank you so much for making this recipe! What kind of pan are you using? Something as simple as that can make a big difference in this recipe. You want a thick, heavy bottomed pan so prevent it from burning the caramel.

  12. I loved this recipe so much that it broke my heart not to put it in cake. But found a way out: I mixed 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of water and added just at the end of the cooking: it did not change the taste and made it less runny to be used between cake layers as frosting. Thanks for the recipe

  13. I read all the directions & watched the video and it turned out perfect! I had no idea it was this easy to make homemade caramel…. I regret all the years I bought bottled Carmel and those little caramel candies. This was awesome

  14. I made this recipe and about half way through my carmel was already starting to look really dark. I already had the heat turned down on low and continued to take it off the heat because I thought that it was cooking to fast. It turned out good but the taste is very dark and nutty. Any ideas of what happens?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emily! Sounds like it was cooking a bit too fast. Turn the heat down just a bit next time so it cooks a bit lower and slower.

  15. Made this for the first time tonight. It turned out perfectly and was unbelievably good on your coconut cake.

    Now that the salted caramel sauce is in a jar in the fridge, will it tolerate multiple reheatings (i.e. jar in the microwave) or is it recommended that I spoon out only as much as I need and reheat that portion?

    Thanks much!!

  16. Hi there! Help! I’ve made this recipe twice now, and find that the sauce isn’t as runny as I thought it would be. Any recommendations? I’m using this to drizzle on top of a chocolate covered pretzel cookie that I’ve been making, and I’m finding that it gloops and and glops on rather than drizzling of the spoon. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Lissa, the caramel solidifies into a chewy texture as it cools. You can gently reheat it so it is liquid again. If you make the caramel again, increase the heavy cream to thin it out. (I recommend an extra 2 Tbsp.)

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I followed the steps meticulously and the final product turned out perfect and so yummy. Also a big thank you for providing the measurements in the metric system also 🙂 Usually, that’s where I struggle with US recipes. Keep it up!

  18. Simple, easy to follow recipe that turned out great. I always find great recipes at Sally’s Baking Addiction!
    I used flaky sea salt and used a full 2 tsp! Maybe this is obvious, but because the caramel requires so much attention, read all the steps through before you start and prep/pre-measure all your ingredients.

  19. Well what can I say
    I’ve always burnt sugar in the past But this time I was determined to do it, I needed a recipe for my chocolate pots and didn’t want to buy an already made one And I succeeded there’s only 2 issues I had 1) it’s extremely hard not to eat it all before you use it 2) my pan, I hope I can clean It as there’s some sugar up the side that obviously didn’t want to become Part of my sauce thank you for a great recipe

  20. Love this!!
    First timer and it turned out perfect!
    Question though…when I pour it over ice cream it hardens quickly.
    Is there something I can do to keep it soft on top of ice cream?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Teri, The cold ice cream will solidify the caramel, but it shouldn’t turn rock hard. If it’s very hard the caramel may have been overcooked, which is an easy fix for next time. You can also try thinning it out a bit when cooking. I 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!

  21. I wish I had read the reviews before trying this recipe… I’ve made so many other easy homemade caramel sauces without issues & just decided to give this one a shot because of the high reviews. Like others have commented, it didn’t work. I read everything & followed everything to a tee.

    Waste of time, ingredients, & effort.

  22. Hi is this caramel suitable for caramel cornflake cakes. All the recipes online seems to be chocolate or have marshmellow in them. I used to buy caramel crispy squares from a uk bakerys. Just sticky and chewie. Fairly dark in colour. Yum. I see this recipe is used for the dipped pretzel sticks so guessing mixed with conflakes and set should be what I’m looking for ? Or do you suggest one of your other caramel recipes? Many thanks.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Gem! We’re unfamiliar with caramel cornflake cakes so can’t say for sure. We fear this caramel may be a bit thick, the caramel recipe from this caramel corn may be closer to what you’re looking for. Let us know if you try anything!

      1. This sauce is amazing!! I made it for a pumpkin cheecake and it was to die for. I found my new salted caramel recipe!! Thanks so much

  23. Robyn Barefoot says:

    Made this twice now! I even tried with 18 % cream and it worked but was a little thinner. My most recent batch was so dark in colour. Beautiful.

  24. Erika Andersen says:

    Morning!
    I’m looking to make Carmel > then chocolate covered pretzel rods… looking at your temperatures… could this recipe work if boiled to the 275 temp (soft candies) then dipped…? I’m assuming the sauce itself will be too runny. Any suggestions? Or if you can direct me to a better recipe for pretzels. Thank you!
    I’ll be back to the the sauce and those apple pie Carmel bars… YUM!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Erika, Here is exactly how we make Caramel Dipped Pretzels!

  25. Super easy to make and absolutely delicious. Make sure to not only read the recipe, but look at the pictures. It separated when I added the butter, and like Sally said, I took it off the stove and whisked away. The end result is amazing!! So delicious!! Thank you, Sally!
    I also made your mini cheesecakes (which turned out amazing as well)- is it best to heat the caramel before topping the cheesecake? Thank you

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura! So happy you love this caramel recipe. Yes, we would heat the caramel so it’s pourable to top the cheesecake.

  26. Doesn’t work

  27. Can I stir this into a cheesecake batter and if so does it need to cool first?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anthony, we recommend beating in slightly cooled salted caramel (still soft, but not scalding hot). You could even sub some brown sugar for white sugar in our cheesecake recipe (use 1/2 cup each) to really intensify that caramel-like flavor.

      1. Perfect I’ll try it thank you!

  28. girl i- *frantically googles how to get burnt sugar off pot*
    i followed the directions exactly and it got burnt 🙁 oh well, i’ll try again but definitely on low heat next time and with a LOT more research

  29. Hi, found your salted caramel recipe & gave it a go… 1st time ever! Am so pleased with the result (albeit I did splash myself with the butter as I was mixing it in the melted sugar). I know your recipe said granulated sugar but I only had caster in my cupboard so I took a chance… am glad I did! It did take a long time stirring sugar to melt (my arm felt like it was going to fall off) but oh my! The end result is absolutely gorgeous! So creamy & salty. Thank you for such a fab & easy recipe!

  30. Everyone loves this caramel! It comes out perfectly every time. Your directions are so easy to follow. Tonight, I made dark chocolate bon bons filled with the caramel, and they were heavenly. Thank you so much for all of your recipes. Now, if I can only figure out how to stop burning myself when I make the caramel . . .

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