Learn how to make Caramel Sauce at home with only 5 simple ingredients and one pan! No candy thermometer needed with this simple recipe. Homemade caramel is thick, luscious, sweet and perfect for dipping apples in, ice cream topping, or use as a garnish to your favorite dessert.
Caramel Sauce Recipe
Do you pronounce it caramel or carmel? I am on team caramel but either way, you'll be wanting to make this homemade caramel sauce on repeat! Simple ingredients like heavy cream, white sugar, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla is all it takes to make this easy caramel sauce in your own kitchen.
It's perfect served over vanilla ice cream (warm caramel sauce + vanilla bean ice cream is amazing! Try it!), use it as an apple dip, drizzle it on top of desserts like apple pie or apple crisp, or use it in any recipe that calls for caramel sauce.
It stays fresh for up to 2 weeks in the fridge so there will be plenty of time to find ways to use it.
- Heavy Cream - No subs for this ingredient! This caramel sauce needs that really high fat content that only heavy cream can give it.
- Granulated Sugar
- Light Brown Sugar - Make sure the brown sugar is packed when measured. Meaning, fill the measuring cup and then press down on the sugar and really pack it into the measuring cup. When you dump packed brown sugar into the saucepan, it should keep its form from the measuring cup. That's when you know you have packed it properly.
- Salted Butter - Use real butter, no substitutions with this one either. If you use unsalted butter make sure to add a pinch of salt.
- Vanilla Extract - For the best flavor I only recommend using pure vanilla extract for all your baking recipes. It makes a difference.
How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce (The Easy Way! No Thermometer Needed)
Learn how to make this recipe with the easy steps below. Be sure and read to the bottom of the post where there is a printable recipe card, a pin it button so you can save it for later, along with all my tips.
- Saucepan : In a medium size saucepan, over medium heat (n0 higher), add the heavy cream, white sugar, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. Once the butter has melted be sure and whisk everything together to combine.
- Gentle Boil : Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. This is not a roaring boil, but rather a gently one where there are small bubbles even as you stir the caramel sauce.
- Set Timer : Set the timer for 2-3 minutes and continue cooking, while stirring constantly, making sure to leave the heat at medium. The caramel is supposed to still be boiling during this entire cook time. Once the caramel has thickened like corn syrup, remove the pan from the heat, and allow it cool at room temperature.
- Cooling : As the sauce cools it will thicken more.
- Storing : Once cooled, store the caramel in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks.
Caramel Sauce FAQ's
Serving Suggestions for Caramel Sauce
- This homemade caramel is perfect for any recipe that calls for caramel. Drizzle it on top of this Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crumble, use it inside this Caramel Chocolate Turtle Dump Cake that calls for caramel sauce in the recipe, or drizzle some caramel over a slice of my Perfect Cheesecake Recipe.
- It's also really amazing served as an apple dip. Slice some green and red apples (like Gala) and you'll have the most delicious apple dip for Fall or anytime.
- One of my personal favorite things to do with this caramel is to put some warm caramel sauce over vanilla bean ice cream. It is seriously one of those "heaven on earth" desserts that is so simple but crazy delicious.
How To Store Leftovers
- This caramel sauce can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.
- When ready to use, heat it up on the stove top over medium-low heat, but don't cook it for longer than it takes to warm it up to your desired temperature. If you overcook it, it will cause the caramel to harden.
Why Is My Caramel Sauce So Thick?
- If your caramel sauce becomes too thick, simply add some additional heavy cream to thin it out, reheat it and whisk it together until it's smooth again and the correct consistencey.
- Usually the caramel will become too thick (hard to pour) if you overcooked it on the stove top.
- Because this recipe requires no candy thermometer it can be tricky to get it right. But, it's also really easy to fix by adding some additional heavy cream to get it back to where you want it.
How Does Caramel Work?
- At it's simplest form, caramel is just sugar crystals being heated to a high enough temperature that they brown and break down. You can make all different types and consistencies of caramel depending on the amount of heat, liquid, protein, or sugar that you include in the process.
- In this recipe, we use both brown sugar and white sugar, which will give it a lighter color and a sweeter more mild flavor. If you use all brown sugar, the caramel will be a darker color, and have a richer more molasses type taste to it.
Here are a few of my tips so that you can have success recreating this recipe in your own kitchen ♥
- Don't Substitute Any Ingredient : This is so important when making this caramel recipe. All the ingredients are there for a reason and substituting can lead to the recipe not working. For example, the caramel needs all that fat from the heavy cream. You cannot get that high fat content with any other milk, so don't use another milk. Always use real butter.
- Don't Turn Up The Heat : You may be tempted to turn up that knob to increase the heat, to speed up the process, but don't do it! Leave it at medium heat and be patient, whisk frequently, until it reaches a gentle boil. Then set the timer for about 2 minutes and let it continue to boil, without raising the heat.
- Stir Constantly : When you are cooking the caramel for the 2-3 minute cook time, make sure that you are stirring it constantly. This will avoid the sugar from over cooking and becoming like crystals.
More Caramel Recipes You'll Love
- Easy Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls - Frozen bread dough gets rolled up like cinnamon rolls and they sit overnight, in the fridge, in a heavy cream caramel sauce and chopped pecans.
- Caramel Pumpkin Bundt Cake - A soft, fall-spiced pumpkin bundt cake frosted with the most delicious caramel frosting on top!
- Caramel Pretzel Bites - Dress these up for any Holiday! Pretzels, Rolo caramel candies, topped with an m&m and sprinkles.
- Caramel Apple Muffins - Cinnamon & sugar muffins with chunks of apple and caramel candy inside.
- Carmelitas - A layered dessert bar with a crumble base and topping and then filled with chocolate and caramel.
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- In a medium sized saucepan, over medium heat, add all the ingredients. Once the butter melts, use a whisk or a wooden spoon to stir everything together until combined.
- Bring the caramel to a gentle boil. It should still have bubbles even when you are stirring it and the edges should be bubbly, that's how you will know that it's at a gentle boil. * This will take several minutes to bring the caramel to a gentle boil. Leave the heat on medium, do not turn it up to try and speed up the process.
- Once boiling, set the timer for 2-3 minutes, and let it cook while stirring constantly. The caramel should be gently boiling this entire cook time.* Again, leave the heat on medium for the entire time. * I set the timer for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- Once the caramel has thickened to the consistency of corn syrup, remove it from the heat, and let it cool completely at room temperature. As the caramel cools it will thicken. It's important to not overcook the caramel (during the 2-3 cook time) or else it will continue to thicken to the point of too thick while it's cooling. * If after the cool time the caramel is not pourable and too thick, return it to a saucepan over medium heat, add some additional heavy cream, and mix it until it's a smooth sauce consistency. Don't cook it longer, only leave it on the stove until it's mixed through and smooth.
- Once cooled completely, store the caramel in an airtight container or jar, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.