Caramel Sauce – How To Make Caramel

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Homemade caramel sauce is made with simple ingredients. When Fall is right around the corner, it’s time to arm all your favorite caramel recipes. You can use it for dipping apple slices,  Grandma’s Apple Dumplings, and my Delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.  But it might be best with vanilla ice cream and a big slice of warm Apple Pie. You decide!

caramel sauce in a mason jar dripping off of a spoon

Caramel Sauce Recipe

This easy caramel sauce recipe only requires a few simple ingredients and less than 15 minutes. Once you earn to make your own caramel sauce, you’ll never buy the store-bought kind again.

Ingredients for homemade caramel sauce

ingredients for caramel sauce
  • Granulated sugar. You can use plain white granulated sugar or caster sugar, which is a finely granulated sugar.
  • Water
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Unsalted butter
  • Bourbon (OR Vanilla)
  • Sea salt

I will also talk about a few modifications you can make if you are vegan. And we will also talk about a few troubleshooting tips to keep in mind.

What You’ll Need

  • medium saucepan with high sides. I use a 2-quart all-clad saucepan.
  • whisk.
  • pastry brush. to dissolve any crystals that may form on the sides.
  • mason jar or a squeeze bottle for storing your homemade caramel


The method of making caramel is known as the wet caramel method. The sugar is dissolved in water. The wet method of making caramel helps to protect the sugar from burning but can also be subject to crystallization if you don’t pay close attention.

  1. Heat the sugar and water: Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan and set it to medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a low boil. You can stir a little bit here. But mostly, just let it sit as it comes to a boil.
  2. Wait for the sugar to turn a deep amber color: The caramel will start to darken; you are looking for a warm honey color. (No matter what you do, DO NOT TOUCH or try to taste the hot sugar at this point. It is molten hot.)
  3. If crystals start to form on the sides, use a brush dipped in water to brush the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Turn OFF the heat: Add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble ferociously. It’s okay! Whisk gently until the mixture calms down.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of butter and whisk it into the caramel.
  6. Add one half of a shot of bourbon: Stir to incorporate. You can add vanilla extract if you don’t want to add the bourbon.
  7. Add a few pinches of sea salt.
a jar of homemade caramel sauce


How to Make a Vegan Caramel Sauce.

For this recipe, you only need to make one modification: substitute coconut cream or canned coconut milk for heavy cream.

How to store caramel sauce.

You can store caramel sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for at least a few weeks. It will technically keep longer, but the consistency will suffer.

I like to store mine in a squeeze bottle. I put plastic wrap between the bottle and lid before storing it in the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes before drizzling on all your favorite treats.

Can you reheat the caramel sauce?

Yes, Absolutely! Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. There is nothing better than warm caramel sauce.

How to keep the caramel from crystallizing.

As the sugar heats, you will sometimes see little sugar crystals forming around the edges of the pan. To re-dissolve, simply use a wet pastry brush. Run the brush around the sides of the pan, and the crystals will dissolve back into the caramel.

It’s important to deal with any crystallization as soon as you see it. Once it starts to happen, it can create a chain reaction. Crystallization can lead to grainy caramel.

Corn Syrup
Adding a little corn syrup or golden syrup will also help protect your caramel from crystallizing. These types of sugar syrups are invert sugars, and they discourage crystallization.

Lemon Juice
A few tablespoons of lemon juice will also help to prevent crystallization. The acids in the lemon juice help to combat crystallization.

How to fix crystallized caramel?

Sometimes you may get a reaction, and your whole caramel sauce crystallizes.
So, now what? Do not toss the entire batch. Simply add about a quarter cup of water and boil the mixture again. The addition of water and reheating of the mixture should dissolve the crystals.

More Caramel Recipes

homemade brown butter caramel sauce. Perfect for your next bowl of ice cream.

Caramel Sauce

Easy to make and easier to eat. This bourbon caramel sauce is the perfect addition to ice cream or apple pie. Sweet, bourbon-y, and just a pinch of salt. 10-minutes to the perfect caramelly goodness.
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 20 servings
Calories 64 kcal



  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
  • 1 shot bourbon, Or 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt


  • Add the sugar to a small saucepan.
    1 cup granulated sugar
  • Turn the heat to medium-high.
  • Add the water.
    ¼ cup water
  • Heat until the sugar mixture is bubbly and turns a deep amber color. Do not stir.
  • PRO TIP: If crystals form around the edges, use water and a pastry brush to re-dissolve the sugar.
  • When the sugar is a deep amber color turn the heat off and immediately add the heavy cream.
    ½ cup heavy cream
  • The mixture will bubble violently. Whisk gently until the caramel sauce is fluid and the bubbling has stopped.
  • Add one shot of bourbon (or one tbsp of vanilla) and a pinch of salt.
    1 shot bourbon, pinch sea salt
  • Stir to incorporate.
  • Add a few tablespoons of butter to the caramel, if desired.
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter



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Calories: 64kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 3mgSugar: 10gCalcium: 4mg
Keyword caramel, fall, sauce
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  1. 5 stars
    I can eat this caramel drizzle by the spoonful without anything else! It is that amazing. I made one batch perfect. Then I tried for a dairy free batch using coconut milk. It was still delicious but a different texture. Love it all so much!

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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