Best Salted Caramel Sauce

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Homemade salted caramel sauce is delicious and has so many uses! Best of all, you only need 4 simple ingredients and it’s ready in about 15 minutes!

Are you a salted caramel junkie like me? Then you need my homemade salted caramel sauce recipe - it's the absolute best salted caramel sauce recipe around! It's perfect for dipping apple slices in, pouring over warm apple or pumpkin desserts, drizzling over ice cream or using in your favorite fall recipes that call for caramel sauce.

I seriously can’t get enough salted caramel. Salted caramel mochas. Salted caramel sauce over ice cream. Salted caramel over anything, really.

Unfortunately, most traditional caramel sauce you can buy at the grocery store is full of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup that we try our very best to avoid. So, I started making my own delicious caramel sauce at home.

And, oh my – it’s absolutely delicious! Better than anything you can buy – and it’s made with far better ingredients. Next time you’re craving salty caramel, try this easy recipe!

Ingredients

Granulated sugar, heavy cream, butter and sea salt in small bowls.
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large saucepan
  • Heavy wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Half pint mason jar

By the Numbers: How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

Follow these simple step by step instructions to learn how to make the best salted caramel sauce you’ll ever taste.

Step 1: Melt Sugar

The first step is to add 1 cup of granulated sugar to a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. I don’t recommend using a small saucepan or your caramel sauce could boil over the top of the pan and make a huge mess.

Be aware that this sauce will burn easily if it’s not consistently stirred or whisked, so do not leave it unattended or you’ll end up with a burnt taste to your sauce. If it separates or you get clumps of sugar in any step, you can remove the pan from the heat and whisk for about 3-4 minutes, or until it’s smooth and combined.

Melting granulated sugar in a large saucepan.

Step 2: Whisk in Butter

As soon as the sugar is melted, add 6 tablespoons of salted butter and stir until it’s fully melted and combined with the melted sugar.

Butter added to melted sugar in saucepan.

Step 3: Stir in Heavy Cream

Next, slowly stir in ½ cup of heavy whipping cream and bring the sugar mixture to a full rolling boil. One minute after it reaches a rolling boil, turn off the heat.

Salted caramel sauce at a rolling boil in a saucepan.

Step 4: Add Sea Salt

Whisk in 1 teaspoon of sea salt until it’s well combined. For a fun variation, try adding a little bit of vanilla extract to a batch!

Sea salt whisked in to salted caramel sauce.

Step 5: Cool and Store or Serve

Next, allow the salted caramel sauce to cool slightly, then pour it into a heat-safe jar. It will thicken as it cools. It’s now ready to use your favorite way!

Salted caramel sauce being poured from the pan into a squat glass mason jar on a dark wood table.

Tips for Making Salted Caramel Sauce

Answers to all of your questions about making this delicious salted caramel sauce recipe, including tips, serving ideas and substitutions.

What kind of sugar should I use?

Granulated sugar is the most commonly used sugar in making caramel sauce. It gives the final product a nice amber color. However, you can also use brown sugar, which will give the sauce a slightly different flavor and color.

Light brown sugar will result in a dark amber color and dark brown sugar can sometimes make it look almost like chocolate sauce! It can be fun to mix up the flavors too.

Can I use unsalted butter instead of salted butter?

Yes, you can use unsalted butter, but keep in mind that it will change the overall flavor of the sauce. If you use unsalted butter, you may want to slightly increase the amount of salt you add to the sauce.

How to make regular caramel sauce?

If you want to make unsalted caramel sauce, all you have to do is to use unsalted butter and leave the sea salt out!

Can a different type of salt be used?

Absolutely, you can use your favorite salt – some options include regular table salt, fleur de sel, flaky sea salt, coarse kosher salt or any other type of fancy salt you like. Just don’t choose a savory seasoned salt!

Wet method vs dry method

There are two ways to make homemade caramel sauce – the wet method and the dry method. I prefer the dry caramel method because you’re sure that the sugar crystals are fully melted before adding the other ingredients when you melt it dry.

I have tried a few caramel sauce recipes using the wet caramel method and it always comes out gritty and grainy. There just isn’t enough liquid in caramel sauce to consistently melt sugar into cream with the wet method. You can add more liquid to make it work, but that adds more time to the cooking process.

What can I do if my caramel sauce is too thick or too thin?

If your caramel sauce is too thick, you can add a little more heavy cream to thin it out. If it’s too thin, you can gently simmer it for a few more minutes to thicken it up.

Can I make a vegan version of this sauce?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of this sauce by using a plant-based butter, such as coconut oil or Earth Balance, and substituting a non-dairy milk in place of the heavy cream.

Ways to serve caramel sauce

This sauce can be used for a wide variety of your favorite desserts, such as ice cream sundaes, apple pie with vanilla ice cream, cheesecake and brownies. You can also drizzle it over apple slices, pancakes, waffles or add it to your coffee or latte for a delicious treat. Or use it for your favorite caramel desserts that call for caramel sauce like homemade salted caramel frosting.

Can I make this sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can make salted caramel sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Be sure the sea salt caramel sauce is cooled fully to room temperature before placing the lid on the jar.

Refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 1 month or freeze it for up to 3 months. To reheat it, simply place it in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave for a few seconds.

Close up shot of salted caramel sauce in a squat glass mason jar with a spoon dipped in it. Caramels are in the background.

Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe

This easy salted caramel sauce recipe is perfect for dipping apple slices in, pouring over warm apple or pumpkin desserts, drizzling over ice cream or using in your favorite recipes that call for caramel sauce.
4.67 from 21 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Recipe Servings: 8

Ingredients

Equipment

Instructions

  • In a large heavy bottom pot or saucepan, melt granulated sugar, stirring constantly. Don’t leave unattended or it’ll burn.
    Melting granulated sugar in a large saucepan.
  • Once the sugar melts, add the butter to the hot sugar and stir until melted and combined. If it separates or clumps, remove the pan from the heat and whisk for 3-4 minutes, or until smooth.
    Butter added to melted sugar in saucepan.
  • Next, slowly stir in the heavy cream and bring to a rolling boil. After one minute, turn the heat off.
    Salted caramel sauce at a rolling boil in a saucepan.
  • Stir in sea salt until well combined.
    Sea salt whisked in to salted caramel sauce.
  • After the salted caramel cools, it will thicken. It’s ready to use or store.
    Salted caramel sauce being poured from the pan into a squat glass mason jar on a dark wood table.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 362mg | Potassium: 17mg | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.03mg

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