How to make homemade caramel sauce

Julie Guest Alloway

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Homemade caramel sauce is a great condiment to have on hand. The beauty of making your own sauce is how simple it truly is. A candy thermometer is helpful but not necessary if you have attentive eyes and a wooden spoon or whisk ready to be used in a second's notice.

Homemade caramel sauce

Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer

Caramel is basically sugar, water, butter and cream blended together – all simple ingredients. The most problematic part of making caramel sauce is the sugar water burning, making it inedible or hardening to rock candy stage, which leaves you with (ahem..) candy.  However if you are concerned about this, I would recommend purchasing a candy thermometer such as the Taylor Classic Candy and Deep-Fry Analog Thermometer. The clear benefit of having a candy thermometer is knowing when to turn off the heat so your caramel does not burn.  

Homemade caramel sauce will be better on dessesrts than anything you can purchase from the store.  I recommend using it for dessert recipes, sliced apples, beverages, ice cream or straight out of the jar for a late night pick-me-up-treat-myself-with-a-large-spoon.  Once you make homemade sauce, be warned.  There's no returning to store versions (never ever again).  And if you're feeling really adventurous, add a few tablespoons of rum and you will have elevated your caramel sauce to "Gourmet" status.  Enjoy!

Simple caramel sauce recipe

Makes 2 cups


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated to luke warm in microwave (30 seconds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, heated to luke warm in microwave (30 seconds)

*optional 2 Tablespoons Rum
*optional ¼ cup corn syrup – for those of you who are concerned your caramel sauce will turn to candy)


  1. In a medium sauce pan, add sugar and water (and optional corn syrup).  Stir and cook on medium-high heat until the sugar syrup starts to change colors around the outer edge to an amber-brownish color, or if using a candy thermometer – 350 degrees.
  2. Remove from heat immediately and using a wooden spoon or whisk, quickly stir everything to keep the sugar water from burning.  Your simple syrup should be a golden ale brown. 
  3. As you continue to stir, pour in 1/2 cup of warm heavy cream and pats of butter.  When the cream makes contact with the sugar water it will start bubbling violently.  Continue to stir until the sugar crystallization dissolves.
  4. Finally, add 1/4 cup of additional warm heavy cream (and rum) until caramel sauce is nice and smooth.
  5. Transfer to a heat proof jar and allow the sauce to cool on the counter slightly covered with plastic wrap for an hour.  Use immediately or seal the jar and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy this with one of your new favorite dessert recipes!

Make a noteNote: *As caramel sauce cools, it will thicken.  Before serving, re-heat in the microwave for 30 seconds for 1 cup.

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