Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe
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Salted Caramel Sauce is the perfect addition to so many wonderful treats. This recipe is easy to follow to create a perfectly smooth caramel.
Once upon a time there was some sugar that melted. It met up with a little bit of butter, vanilla, cream and salt. They danced and swirled around creating wonderfulness all around. And they lived happily ever after. The end.
Isn’t that one of the most special stories ever? For me it is. And thank goodness it’s no fairy tale, it’s true. Caramel is truly a glorious thing. And Salted Caramel Sauce, very much so.
In the world of sweet treats, caramel reigns. At least in my world of sweet treats it does. Seeing how popular Salted Caramel is right now, I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks so. And no wonder. Caramel is not only good on it’s own, but when made into a sauce, like Salted Caramel Sauce, it’s the perfect addition to so many treats: ice cream, pound cake, coffee, apple pie, or simply drizzled over fruit, to name a few.
While the ingredients are basic, the process can be intimidating to even the best of cooks. I’ve ruined at least as many batches as I’ve conquered. But I’m here to say, that you have to persevere to achieve the goodness of caramel. It’s worth it. Working out the kinks makes the results even more sweeter.
Tips for Making Salted Caramel Sauce
- The caramel process must be watched. Do not walk away. Do not answer the door. Do not begin to empty the top rack of dishwasher. Stay put. Keep watch. Sugar is sneaky. I’ve had the best results without using a candy thermometer, so standing watch in order to see the color change can mean the difference between a smooth result or an over-burnt sticky clump.
- Have all the ingredients and tools needed ready to go. Since a watchful eye is required, and the end of the process moves quickly, there won’t be a bunch of time to calmly gather everything.
- Avoid stirring. Stirring can trigger crystals to form. Crystals are the enemy of smooth caramel. The recipe below follows the wet caramel technique. Once the sugar dissolves in the water, don’t stir until it’s ready to add other ingredients.
- Make sure all tools being used for cooking are clean. Crystals can be triggered by any impurities.
- Make sure to use a saucepan/pot that has tall enough sides for the amount to double as it will bubble and foam up toward the end. It will get very hot! So splattering is not a good thing. A heavy-duty, non-coated saucepan or skillet with tall sides will work well.
- The recipe below lists refined granulated sugar. Other sugars, like brown sugar, can be used as well, but it can be tricky to get consistent results due to impurities. If you choose to try it with something other than refined granulated sugar, be extra vigilant.
- David Lebovitz is quite the expert on caramel. Check out his tips and tricks for making caramel. AND be sure not to miss his Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream recipe. Oh my … it’s worth all the effort. It’s the best!
- Don’t give up. If you botch a batch, try again! You will learn with each attempt and begin to see the pattern. You’ll become a caramel making champ in no time.
Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe
Salted Caramel Sauce
This Salted Caramel Sauce is the perfect addition to so many treats. It refrigerates and rewarms well too.
- 3 cups refined granulated sugar (sift if needed to remove clumps)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Spread sugar evenly in the bottom of a clean heavy duty, uncoated 3-4 quart saucepan (stainless works great). Pour in water, and heat over medium. Do not stir.
- Bring to a boil. The sugar will begin to bubble and dissolve. If any undissolved sugar remains, a gentle swirl of the pan should help.
- Watch for the color to change from clear to a golden amber, the caramel should begin to slightly smoke then deepen to a reddish-brown color. The subtle scent of caramel should be able to be detected, but not full blown scorched. (Once the mixture begins to change in color, the process moves very quickly so be prepared with all ingredients and equipment.)
- Once it reaches the proper reddish-brown color, immediately remove from heat, and stir in remaining ingredients. Be prepared for mixture to foam up. Stir with a clean heat-proof spatula or wooden spoon until smooth. If a thinner consistency is desired, stir in more cream.
- Carefully pour in heat-safe glass container for storage and let cool, or serve right away. Once cool, cover and refrigerate.
- To rewarm heat very slowly in a saucepan stovetop, stirring occasionally, OR in the microwave in 8 second increments, stirring between each until warmed and smooth.
Makes a little over 2 cups.
Gosh, I love salted caramel. Your looks just perfect and thank you for all the tips!!
Yum, I love salted caramel
Salted Caramel and I are best buds and yours looks perfect! I could dive right in with a spoon!!!
That caramel sauce looks dangerous…. All I would need is a spoon big bowl of ice cream and I would of died and gone to heaven!
Lovely!!!! I want a vat of this stat!
Oh man, that first picture is making me weak in the knees! 🙂 I LOVE salted caramel anything. Thanks so much for all of the helpful tips..I’m right there with you-I’ve ruined too many batches.
I too love salted caramel anything! And I think perseverance is so worth it for a perfect batch.
Is this recipe Gluten free?
I wish that I could think of a word that rhymed with caramel. But I can’t.
So, *I’m in lurve* with this will have ta do.
This is the most gorgeous salted caramel sauce I have ever seen. Give me a spoon and a good book and let me go to town!
Thank you so much! I tell ya what, I’ll have a spoon waiting and we can share a batch or two. 😉 It’s dangerous stuff.
This looks amazing Amy. I have to admit I’m not as good as my daughter with caramel. The girl is 20 and has the perfect swirling technique. I think she’s more patient than I am. I get frustrated 5 minutes into the process. Short attention span, lol. Going to have her give yours a twirl. xx
That’s great that she’s getting the hang of it so early. Maybe she’ll supply you with caramel for the rest of your life? 😉
Wonderful tips on how to make my favorite food!
Can this be done in a non-stick pot? I see your instructions say a non-coated pan but I don’t have one….just wondering if it will be a disaster if I try it with the other kind…? lol Recipe & photos look awesome by the way!
I LOVE Salted Caramel, so when I saw how easy it was to make . . I made it straight away. Thank you soooo much for the recipe.
Do you have an idea how long it would keep in the fridge? I am assuming with all that sugar, it would be good plenty long enough to use it all up, right? 🙂
I’m not sure exactly how long, but yes, a good long time. At least a couple of weeks?
Absolutely perfect caramel and technique! I make mine in a copper sugar pot so the burn factor goes waaaay down. I love your recipe Amy
I have been cooking a LONG time but have never tried caramel sauce. Thanks to your precise directions-what to watch for, etc, my first attempt turned out amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to post this recipe!
YAY! I’m sooooo glad to hear that, Sylvia. Caramel can be tricky even for those experienced with caramel. I botched a batch just a few weeks back. Happy for your caramel success! Now I want caramel. 😉
This was delicious, but I did something wrong….for some reason it was not pliable at all and became like hard candy almost instantly. Even when it was still warm it was hard. did I overcook it?
What did I do wrong? It bubbled for over thirty minutes. I never touched it. It’s a mess and not amber.
Without seeing it in person, I’m can’t be totally sure. It may have not been cooked hot enough? When you say it’s a mess what do you mean? Is it hard?
It did turn hard. I could tell it was crystallized on the edges, so I thought if I keep going it’s going to be rock candy. I added the butter and cream, etc, and it hardened. I was able to keep stirring and dissolve the sugar a bit and then strained it into a container. I added a little rum, called it butter rum sauce and it was a success. I’m not sure what to do next time …
I’m so sorry to hear that you had problems. Don’t be discouraged, though. I’ve tossed my share of caramel batches. It takes some practice, but once you get it, you’ve got it. Reading over your description, and without watching what you did in person, my suggestion would be to try with your heat set slightly higher. I would also recommend reading the above link to David Lebovitz’s article “Ten Tips for Making Caramel.” He’s a wealth of knowledge. Of course there are tons of articles online about why caramel can go awry.
I suspected a higher temperature may be the answer. It was boiling, but not huge bubbles, and not rising high in the pan. I won’t give up! But, I was out of sugar and couldn’t start over ???? I will check the link. Thank you for the feedback c
I can’t wait to hear about your successful caramel sauce one day, Sara. Go caramel!
Just finished making this. It is amazing and so easy. Thanks Amy
Just made this for the first time and it’s amazing! Its my hubby’s birthday and he’s not much of a cake person (I can just about hear all the gasps at that comment lol) so he asked for a chocolate cream pie and hinted that a nice salted caramel sauce drizzled over it would be the perfect thing. I only made a half batch so I was a bit nervous about how it would turn out It’s lovely and thick and gooey – just like a caramel sauce SHOULD be. No more buying that stuff from the store anymore for me! Thanks for a great simple recipe!
Ooooh, that sounds like the perfect birthday celebratory sweet! Happy Birthday to your hubby!
Just a bit of an update – that first half batch was so good it didn’t even last a week so today I made a full batch of it and yet again it was a complete success! Though I’m not sure what your definition of a “little more than two cups” is…I got three cups out of it! I mean those jars are filled to the brim lol. Good thing we love it so much, I doubt it will last too long as it is 🙂 I’m actually planning on making a Bailey’s cheesecake for Easter dessert and I’m going to drizzle this liquid gold all over the top of it!
Oh my, Bailey’s cheesecake sounds delicious, J! That will disappear fast!
Hope I’m not being a pain but I came across a helpful hint after having to toss a batch because of crystallization. I read that adding a teaspoon or so of corn syrup to the sugar and water at the beginning will keep that from happening. Corn syrup is basically sugar in a liquid form and it keeps the melting sugar from becoming crystals. Since I found that trick I’ve never had to toss a batch again! Hope this helps any other people who have gone through that lol