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!

Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more! sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more! sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Make Salted Caramel

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. Add butter and heavy cream, then let it boil. Finally, add the salt. That’s it, the caramel is done. It’s SO EASY.

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.

4 minute, 5 ingredient salted caramel!! The best salted caramel recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Apple pie bars

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

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
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium 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 add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  3. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes. If you notice the butter separating or if the sugar clumped 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.)
  4. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of 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. Special Tools: Copper Saucepan or Stainless Steel Saucepan, Wooden Spoon, Mason Jar Mugs
  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

How to Make Easy Salted Caramel

Heat 1 cup of granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat resistant rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel

Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel-2

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add 6 Tablespoons of butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel-3

Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel-4

Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel-5

Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel-7

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool completely before using. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more! sallysbakingaddiction.com

A 10 minute recipe! You’re going to love this stuff.

10 minute salted caramel sauce-- this stuff is the BEST I've tried and it's so simple to make using easy ingredients.

The BEST and easiest homemade salted caramel sauce I've ever made! 5 ingredient salted caramel on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The BEST and easiest homemade salted caramel sauce I've ever made! 5 ingredient salted caramel on sallysbakingaddiction.com

545 Comments

  1. This recipe is great! I made it twice with huge success, and plan to use it for a friends baking contest this weekend…

    I tried to make this on a different stove three times today and it got way too dark every time. It was ruined!! My burner at home is electric and this one is gas, is it just too hot? The sugar is already too dark before adding butter and cream, it all separates and doesn’t turn out. But it’s taking twice as long to melt down so I don’t think the heat is too high! Is it the pan I’m using? (It’s a different pan too) I’m at a loss.

    1. I’ve made this 4x on 3 different stoves. The first time I let it get to dark before putting in the butter. So I have been doing super low heat to melt the sugar. It takes awhile, but worth the extra time.

  2. If i find the silicone molds, will this harden so I can cover with your hot fudge sauce to make candies?

    1. It doesn’t completely harden, but it does “set.” You can use this as a filling for peanut butter-style cups though. Use pure melted chocolate (not ganache or anything) and drop a spoonful of this caramel inside.

  3. Hi Sally! This recipe and video tutorial make this recipe so easy to make. I have a question, this recipe is different than the Caramel For Dipping in your Candy Addiction book. Is this recipe newer, and should I use white sugar instead of brown sugar?

    1. Hi Kim! The recipes are different, yes. This caramel is more of a filling and a topping and isn’t thick enough to coat a majority of treats. Follow each recipe closely, depending on what you want to use it for.

  4. Thank you so much for this recipe! I made several batches, put some in 8 oz mason jars and I gave them as Christmas gifts along with red and green apples. Everyone loved it!

  5. Do you think that you could use this recipe for a chocolate fountain?

    1. I don’t recommend it.

  6. Looks delicious! Could I substitute the heavy cream with coconut/almond half and half?

    1. Hi Sarah, You want a very thick and creamy liquid with approximately 36% fat. I have not tested a non-dairy alternative so I’m unsure how the caramel would set up with it!

  7. Rebecca Heilman says:

    Hi Sally! This recipe is truly amazing! I made this to use in another recipe (Pumpkin whoopie pies with salted caramel cream cheese filling) which came out great. The first time I tasted it after making (still warm), was over vanilla ice cream with toasted pecan pieces. Let me tell you, a perfect, divine combination. I’ve made several times now. The first two times came out perfect. However, the next two, it did come out a noticeably darker, and more chewy. Even when I warmed up in the microwave, it hardened once over the ice cream. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, can’t think of what I did differently 🙁 Any ideas? Maybe it got too hot? Try lower heat? Thanks!

    1. Hi Rebecca, I’m glad you enjoy this so much! It sounds like the second two times it was either heated up too much or too fast. Try turning down your burner a little bit!

  8. This caramel is delicious but be warned: if you attempt to double or triple it (I did for giving gifts), it will take forever to caramelize. Like, 30 minutes of furious stirring. If you want more (and who wouldn’t!), make it in batches. Your arm will thank you.

    1. Hi Priscilla! Thanks so much. Did you see my recipe notes prior to beginning? I recommend avoiding making larger batches. Best to make each separately. Glad you find it delicious and thank you!

  9. Can this be used swirled into brownies I’m making and then baked in the oven?

    1. Definitely!

      1. Thank you for your quick response! I will let you know how they turn out. I’m looking forward to trying this, as I’ve only done it by melting caramel pieces. I don’t care for how the caramel hardens so much though afterwards. I don’t want people to break a tooth.
        Thank you!!!

  10. Melody Fielder Wong says:

    Can this be made as shelf stable with canning jars and lids? Would you need a pressure canner for this purpose? Has anyone else done this? I want to prepare as gifts, but have limited refrigerator and freezer space.

  11. I just made it today, to drizzle on a apple pecan crisp, with more to serve with it. Great directions!

  12. I just made this today to top your Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding. It seems quite salty, is that normal? I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of using unsalted butter (that’s what I had on hand). I’m sending them off for a party, so alas, I can’t taste them together. I’m thinking the sweetness of the bread pudding will balance the saltiness of the sauce. I’m also sending a box of 8 varieties of your Christmas cookies. I froze the dough last week and have been baking them daily as the need (or whim) arises so everyone gets them freshly baked. Sally, you have taught me so much!!!!

    1. Yes, this is salty caramel– and a great topping for the chocolate bread pudding. (My favorite!) Thank you so much for the kind comment!

  13. I made this for a cheesecake topping and it was easy for us novices to make and it turned out perfectly.

    My question is will this caramel “set” hard enough for me to use it as a drizzle on some loaves of banana bread? I don’t want it too hard, people will have to be able to cut through it but I want it dry enough that I can wrap the loaves without smearing the drizzle.

    1. It sets into a liquid/chewy texture, but doesn’t become hard. It’s a wonderful drizzle.

  14. Thanks! I’ll look for something that will dry down a little more for this particular application.

  15. Hi Sally, I’m planning to drizzle this caramel over your Turtle Cookies; after the caramel sets, can the (refrigerated) cookies be stacked in a clear bag for gifting, without the cookies globbing together?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Stephanie, If the cookies remain cool then the caramel won’t turn into a sticky mess but it won’t completely harden.

    2. Kristin Miller says:

      Hi Sally, not sure what I did wrong, when I first made it it looked and tasted great! But then after putting it in the fridge overnight it was hard as a rock! I tried slowly warming in the microwave but then it separated and was really oily. Any idea how to avoid this for next time?

  16. I made your salted caramel and it’s scrumptious! Can I use it to make caramel popcorn? If so, should I add baking soda , as some recipes say, so it will drizzle more easily?

    1. Hi Thalia, This is my favorite recipe for Caramel Corn, and yes I do add baking soda!

  17. Can you make it with condensed milk

    1. Hi Tanya, I make a Dulce de Leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk. You can see how I do it in this recipe for Banoffee Pie.

  18. Oh my goodness this was delicious!

  19. Oh my gosh Made this heavenly caramel sauce,, and topping it on the butterscotch pudding for tonight’s dinner. Will wait patiently for the reviews to post here
    But the butterscotch pudding was finger licking good.
    Hv to assemble it exactly like Sally’s.

  20. Barb McStravick says:

    This was a fabulous and easy caramel sauce to make! Used it over brownies and ice cream. Sooo good! Directions were easy to follow. Thanks!!

  21. Thank you for making this so easy to follow. Very fun to make and oh my goodness, delicious!

  22. Hi Sally, my doubt is that in the recipe, you have mentioned salted butter and also 1 TSP salt to be added later, is that right or do we have to add salt only if we use unsalted butter? Please clarify.

    1. Hi Rose, I use both salted butter and the added salt. See the recipe notes on adding salt – you can always cut the amount for a sweeter caramel!

  23. This looks delicious, and I can’t wait to give it a shot!

    Two quick questions: Do you think this will be a good consistency for caramel filled chocolates? I don’t want them to be too runny, but I’m definitely going for something more creamy than chewy (something like Ghirardelli caramel chocolates).

    Second, I’ve seen a number of candy recipes recommend dissolving the sugar in water, then boiling the water off, instead of directly heating the sugar alone. Is there a reason for one over the other?

    1. Hi Mark! Yes, this caramel– when cooled- is excellent for filling chocolates or even baked cupcakes. 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!

  24. This is my go to recipe now so easy to make. Thank you for this recipe

  25. Melissa Bonney says:

    Super simple and fantastic!! No more store bought for us! Thank you ♥️

  26. Looks so easy! Attempting to make this. Perhaps I missed some notes above or anyone has already asked. Will there be a difference if using brown sugar?

    1. There is a difference, yes. There is too much moisture in brown sugar. Stick with regular white sugar.

  27. I made this twice (and I followed the directions). The first time, I thought it must have been user error, so I tried it again. The second time it also didn’t work. I ended up finding a different recipe on a different site that came together the first time.

    I see that it appears to work well for others. I just thought I would share my experience. I’ve enjoyed all of the other recipes I have tried of Sally’s.

  28. I LOVE this caramel!!!! I double this recipe and keep it in the fridge so we are ready to drizzle at a moment’s notice on anything. Don’t use cheap butter when doing this. I think it makes a difference. Great recipe, Sally!!!

    1. Carla McCloskey says:

      I made this recipe and it was as easy as described. After cooling it was the perfect consistency and colour. I’d make it again but I would definitely leave out the salt. I do love salted sweets but it was just too overpowering for my tastes.

      1. Hi Carla! Without salt, the caramel would taste too sweet and overall– pretty flat. Best to reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon (at least!). Thanks so much for trying it!

  29. Sherry Tucker says:

    Oh my…I’m in trouble now!

    I stumbled upon this when reading the Salted Caramel Apple Galette recipe…this is just about the easiest, most delicious thing I’ve ever tried…bar none.

  30. Came together pretty easy. Had a few lumps I boiled out with no real stress. I followed the amounts exactly and it’s a great texture for my poppyseed cake!!

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