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
I make this same caramel sauce but use brown sugar. And if I don’t have heavy cream I use can evaporated milk and a little extra butter. It’s amazing
I am not a confident cook. I was asked very sweetly to make caramel for dipping apple slices by my oldest daughter and I found this recipe. I cut it in half and the entire batch was scarfed down. It turned out beautifully
The directions are stellar. Thank you!
Can I add vanilla extract to this recipe somehow? If so, how much, and when? Thanks so much!
Hi John, Feel free to stir in 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract when you stir in the salt. It’s delicious with or without the added vanilla. Hope you enjoy it!
My friend loves caramel. She spends a lot of money on buying it. I tried this for her.
I’m now hooked. So easy to follow the instructions. Thank you for such a yummy but easy recipe.
Made this for cupcakes and it was beautiful , my son loved it and wants me to make more so he can have it with everything thank you ☺️
Easiest and best salted caramel recipe EVER! I’ve made several other recipes and this one is by far the easiest and most fail-proof. It’s so delicious and addicting, I can’t stop eating it!
Question: Haven’t made it yet, but looking forward to using it in a frozen yogurt recipe. Can it be made with Truvia? Thanks!
Hi Rosemary, We’d love to help but we are not trained in baking with sugar substitutes. For best taste and texture (and so you don’t waste your time trying to adapt this recipe since it may not work properly), it may be more useful to find a recipe that is specifically formulated for sugar substitutes. Thank you!
I have made it a personal goal to find the simplest Salted Caramel Sauce recipe. This is it. If you read all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that Sally advises against doubling and tripling. the recipe. This very very good advice. I have doubled it, and it takes FAR too long. And I agree, eating it by the spoonful is a perfectly acceptable method.
I love this recipe!!! I do find it a bit too salty, but I decreased the salt to 1/4 teaspoon and now its perfect.
Can you use golden granulated sugar instead of granulated sugar?
Hi Adam, I haven’t tested it. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work though.
I did it!! Omg! The caramel frosting and sauce were so easy to make! I am so happy to have another recipe in my regular rotation!
What is the difference between your Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe and your Salted Caramel Frosting recipe. Which recipe will be better with the Apple Spice Cupcakes? You Drizzle both
Hi Arlene! The frosting is piped onto cupcakes – we would make that recipe!
This recipe is amazing and I use it all the time! Wanted to ask, have you tried a dairy free version of this, could I just substitute everything and follow the same method?
Hi Michelle! We haven’t tested a dairy-free version of this recipe. While full fat coconut cream should work in place of the heavy cream, we aren’t sure how a vegan butter will hold up (and we don’t recommend margarine). It may be best to search for a recipe that is specifically formulated to be dairy-free. Thank you!
Served over my bread pudding. It was perfect
Hi! This recipe looks amazing! I was wondering if this type of caramel would be good to add to the middle of cookie dough? I have never attempted such an endeavor and was wondering if I were to maybe freeze small discs to add to the center of the cookie dough ball? Thank you in advance!
Hi Jennifer! This caramel is too loose for stuffing cookies. You can make a thumbprint style cookie, like we do with these caramel apple thumbprints. For a stuffed cookie, we’ve found that soft caramel candies work best – like we do in these caramel stuffed nutella cookies and salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. Hope this helps!
PLEASE HELP. I made this recipe in my stainless steel pot and it got really hard around the edges of the pan. It’s like hard candy all over the sides of the pan. Please help me remove it!
Hi Kristi! Cooked on food can usually be removed from stainless steel pans with a good soak in some soapy water. It’s always done the trick!
Can this be used as a filling for chocolate candies?
Hi Olga, we often use this caramel as a filling, including for homemade chocolate candies. Shouldn’t be a problem. It solidifies into a chewy consistency.
Filling the pot with water and bringing it to a boil dilutes the sugar and helps clean the pot for you = no scrubbing required 🙂
I made the chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes that were attached to the salted Carmel recipe . I bought some Carmel sauce but decided to at least try and make it. I followed the directions and was able to make it with no hiccups. I let it cool a little then had to taste test-of my! It was really good. My kids and grands are coming over tomorrow so I will find out if it is a do again. Thanks for sharing your recipes.
Can you use bake sauce to make pecan rolls?
Can I add some dark rum and use as a glaze on your butter rum cake?
Hi Dawn, we haven’t tried it, but can’t see why that wouldn’t work. You could also try making the caramel topping from this pecan pie cheesecake and adding rum to that, then using that as your glaze. Hope your cake turns out great!
Wonderful recipe! All I had was half and half, so I used it (it was an emergency, ok?) and it came out a little thin but soooo delicious! Thank you! Love your recipes!
Love this stuff! I made a double batch and single , I am onto my second that I stored in the freezer. Such a delicious topping for so many treats!
Whenever I need to get a recipe for any baked item I also go to your site first. Everything I have ever made turns out perfect. I made your Bouche’ de Noel for Christmas this year and it was awesome. Thank you so much for all of your recipes!
I added a slug of baileys to mine it’s delicious
Can you ice a vanilla layer cake with this? I am looking for old fashioned caramel icing without confectioners sugar as an ingredient.
Hi Jenn, 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.
The best and easiest caramel sauce recipe, hands down!
I came to this recipe off of your no bake cheesecake (which is currently setting in the fridge hopefully it turns out!) your notes were very helpful, the butter separated but I just lifted the pan off the heat right when I added it and whisked like mad. I used regular white sugar as that is all I had. I think it turned out ok! It tastes delicious and seems smooth! We’ll see how it looks after it’s been in the fridge and I pull it out tomorrow! I added some more salt to taste afterwards hopefully it’s not too salty!
Better than store-bought! Amazing recipe.
I love this recipe so much, I’m really truly grateful for this good recipe only thing is I’m worried I may make it too many times it’s really that nice. Is there a way to combine this with chocolate, to make like an ice cream chocolate caramel cap?
Thank you very much for this I tried finding it in stores but without any success.
Hi Yvonne, We’re so glad you love this recipe! We haven’t tested a chocolate + salted caramel version of this recipe. It might be best to find a recipe that is specifically formulated to incorporate chocolate into the salted caramel — let us know if you find one you love!
Hi I’ve been using this recipe for a couple of years now and it always comes out perfect every time. My 19 year old son loves it. I made three batches today. I was too scared to double the recipe so made one after the other.
I am disappointed with my first attempt. The caramel has a bitter taste and I used a medium heat and followed the directions.
It didn’t seem to burn so not sure why this happened.
can this be canned either in a pressure cooker or water bath?
Hi Patty, we haven’t tried canning this salted caramel before so we’re unsure of how it will work/preserve. Let us know if you do give it a try.
Very easy and quick to make. Turned out great. I used coarse kosher salt and you hit pieces everyone few bites. Delicious. Going in my recipe book
Excellent. I make a double batch in a 3qt cast iron saucepan. Perfect everytime.
This salted caramel sauce has become the talk of the town I make it and bottle it and sell it and I have customers who buy a 500ml bottle every month I found a little secret to add a heap spoon to your coffee if u take sugar and you don’t need to add sugar and u get a salted caramel latte it’s omg a few friends are crazy over addition to there coffee you will thank me later
That’s a great idea. I assume you don’t “can” the caramel. But curious what type of bottles do you use, glass or plastic ? And do you recommend your customers keep it refrigerated or frozen upon receipt? Thanks, I think it’d be a wonderful addition to our fall bazaars here and just wondered how you manage it not being shelf stable so to speak
I have been making this recipe for years and it’s always come out great (after my first try). If you are cooking the sugar down at too high a temperature at first, your batch it may come out too dark and bitter. If cooking with a double or triple batch, or too slowly, or not constantly stirring the sugar, it will lump up. The trick is to stir stir the sugar instantly until it completely melts (at a medium temp). Then, complete the rest of the recipe as written. I’ve had perfect results and give this as Christmas gifts every year!