Why buy caramel at the store when you can make this homemade salted caramel sauce? It only requires a few ingredients, and it's delicious when enjoyed with ice cream, cakes, cupcakes, and more!
If a dessert has caramel involved, it's always a win in my book. What is it about caramel that is just so, so addicting?!
And there's nothing more delicious (and satisfying) than making caramel sauce at home. Whip up a batch, then store a jar in the fridge and slather it on anything you'd like. Seriously — it makes everything taste better.
If you've never made caramel before, this is your chance. I'll walk you through the entire process step-by-step so you can become a caramel-making machine!
What You'll Need
Here's a quick overview of some of the ingredients and tools needed to make this caramel sauce. The full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post!
- Heavy cream - Heavy cream adds a delicious creaminess to the caramel and makes it loose enough to be used as a sauce.
- Unsalted butter - Even though we're making salted caramel, I recommend using unsalted butter. That way, you can control the amount of salt by adding it in later.
- Granulated sugar - Sugar is one of the key ingredients when making caramel.
- Water - We'll be making a wet caramel for this recipe, so you'll need a little bit of water.
- Kosher salt - Last but not least, we'll add in some salt to finish off this delicous sauce.
- Medium saucepan - To make this recipe, you'll need a medium saucepan for heating the cream/butter mixture and another saucepan for making the caramel. It's important to use saucepans with higher sides since both mixtures will bubble up as they cook.
- Whisk - Towards the end of this recipe, you'll need to whisk the cream/butter mixture into the caramel. This balloon whisk is perfect for that!
How to Make This Recipe
When it comes to caramel, you can either make dry caramel or wet caramel. Dry caramel is made by heating up just sugar, while wet caramel is made by dissolving sugar in a little bit of water and then heating it up to go through the caramelization process.
In this recipe, we're going to make wet caramel! I personally prefer making wet caramel because it's a bit more forgiving. The water helps the sugar cook a bit more evenly, and it's more difficult to burn the caramel.
And if you haven't made caramel before, don't feel intimidated — it may take you a few tries to get the hang of it, but you'll get there. I have burned many batches of caramel over the years, so don't get discouraged if you don't get it right the first time.
Here's a quick overview of how to make this caramel sauce:
1. Heat the heavy cream and butter. Bring it to a boil, then set aside. (Image 1 and Image 2)
2. Pour the granulated sugar into a separate pot, then evenly pour the water on top of the sugar. Swirl the pot until all the sugar has been moistened. If you get sugar on the sides of the pot, dip a clean pastry brush in water and wash the sugar off to avoid crystallization. (Image 3)
3. Start cooking the caramel on medium-high heat and let it come to a boil. Don't disturb the pot until the mixture comes to a boil. Once it starts boiling, gently swirl the pot occasionally, but don't stir it with a spatula. (Image 4)
4. Continue cooking the caramel. Continue to cook the caramel, swirling the pot occasionally, until the caramel turns a medium amber color and it smells slightly nutty. (Image 5)
5. Remove the caramel from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and butter mixture. It will bubble up pretty violently, so make sure to do this very slowly. (Image 6)
6. Once all the liquid has been evenly incorporated, transfer the caramel sauce to a heatproof bowl and whisk in the salt. Let the caramel sauce cool at room temperature before using. The sauce will thicken quite a bit as it cools. (Image 7 and Image 8)
Tips to Make Perfect Salted Caramel Sauce
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making this recipe:
- Brush the sides of the pot with water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. After moistening the sugar with water, dip a clean pastry brush in water and brush the sides of the pot to remove any leftover sugar. This will help prevent any sugar crystals from forming while the caramel cooks.
- Don't stir while the caramel is cooking! Since we're making a wet caramel in this recipe, it's important to not stir the caramel while it cooks. Once the caramel comes to a boil, you can occasionally gently swirl the pot to help the caramel cook evenly.
- Pour the cream and butter mixture in very slowly. After the caramel has finished cooking, remove it from the heat and gradually whisk in the cream and butter mixture. The mixture will bubble up rather violently, so I recommend doing this in several additions to prevent any spillage or burning.
Common Questions About This Recipe
These are some questions I frequently hear about this sauce. If you have a question that isn't answered below, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Don't walk away! As the caramel cooks, it's important to gently swirl the pan occasionally to help the caramel cook evenly. And caramel can quickly go from light to dark, so it's important to keep an eye on the pot to prevent any burning.
Since we're making a wet caramel with this recipe, it's important not to stir the caramel while it cooks. Instead, you can gently swirl the pot to help the caramel cook evenly.
When you're making caramel, the caramelization process can happen very quickly, which makes it really easy to burn caramel. You can tell that the caramel is ready when it's a medium amber color and starts to smell slightly nutty. Keep in mind that the color will look darker once it's removed from the heat.
How to Store & Freeze
To store: You can store this sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.
To freeze: Let the caramel sauce cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a jar or freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.
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