Easy Caramel Sauce

($1.68 recipe / $0.11 serving)
by Monti - Budget Bytes
4.41 from 5 votes
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If you’ve been looking for a buttery, fail-safe, easy caramel sauce that you can drizzle on all of the things, you’ve found it! Most caramel sauces are toddler-level temperamental, which is why I love this recipe. It isn’t fussy AT ALL. You don’t even need a candy thermometer!

Side shot of a spoon drizzling caramel sauce in a mason jar.

Caramel vs. Butterscotch

Technically, this recipe is for a butterscotch sauce. I call it caramel sauce because it tastes like caramel sauce without all of the to-do that comes with making one. And really, the major difference between the two is that a butterscotch sauce is made with brown sugar and a caramel sauce is made with white sugar. No matter what you call it, once your family tastes it, this sauce will become a staple in your home.

How To Store Caramel Sauce

While the sauce is still warm, add it to an air-tight heat-proof container. (Plastic might melt, so use glass.) Keep it uncovered until it has thoroughly cooled, and then refrigerate it for up to three weeks. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months.

Overhead shot of caramel sauce on vanilla ice cream in a white bowl.

Troubleshooting

Even though this truly is an easy sauce, caramel can be fickle. To prevent your sauce from separating or getting grainy:

  • Use a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot with rounded sides.
  • Keep a steady, medium-low heat so that your butter and sugar don’t separate.
  • Do not stop stirring. It’s arm’s day. This caramel sauce is worth it.
  • If the sauce separates and the butter pools on top of the sugar, or if it gets grainy, take the pot off the heat and continue to stir until the two come together again.
  • If the sauce does not come together or smooth out, add a tablespoon of water and continue stirring.

What Goes With Caramel Sauce

Drizzle this sauce on everything! I love it as a dip for sliced apples, stirred into a latte, or mixed into my oatmeal. It also pairs beautifully with:

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Easy Caramel Sauce

4.41 from 5 votes
If you've been looking for a buttery, fail-safe, easy caramel sauce that you can drizzle on all of the things, you've found it!
Side shot of a spoon drizzling caramel sauce in a mason jar.
Servings 16 tablespoons
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salted butter ($0.60)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed ($0.22)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream ($0.50)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ($0.36)

Instructions 

  • In a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once it is frothy, add the brown sugar.
  • Whisk the brown sugar and butter until the sugar transforms into a caramel sauce.
  • Take the caramel sauce off the heat and add the heavy cream. Continue to whisk to incorporate the cream into the sauce.
  • Whisk in the vanilla.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1TbspCalories: 69kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 0.2gFat: 5gSodium: 26mg
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!
Overhead shot of a spoon taking caranel sauce out of a mason jar.

How to Make CARAMEL SAUCE – Step by Step Photos

Browns sugar being put in a pot with melted, frothy butter.

In a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once it is frothy, add the brown sugar.

Whisk stirring caramel sauce in a pot.

Whisk the brown sugar and butter until the sugar transforms into a caramel sauce, about 2 minutes.

Cream being put in caramel sauce in a pot.

Take the caramel sauce off the heat and add the heavy cream. Continue to whisk to incorporate the cream into the sauce, about 1 minute.

Vanilla being put in caramel sauce in a pot.

Whisk in the vanilla. Allow the sauce to cool before drizzling over all of your favorite desserts or fresh fruit!

Overhead shot of caramel sauce on vanilla ice cream in a white bowl.
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Comments

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  1. Love this, easy and delicious! (though heads up y’all: I learned the hard way that if your brown sugar is on the dryer side, don’t bother–it won’t come together).

    I had a question: I’d like to add a little more salt to mine next time–should I add it with the brown sugar (the only other dry ingredient) or at the very end with the vanilla? Or does it not matter? Thanks!

    1. Hi, Rachel! Glad you liked it! You should most definitely add some more salt (so yummy!), and it’s best to add it in at the very end, off heat, when you stir in the vanilla. The caramel will still be plenty hot to melt the salt crystals as you stir. Add 1/4 tsp at a time and taste (carefully!) with each addition until you get it to the salt level you like.

      Also, if you have trouble keeping your brown sugar moist, I would consider investing in a little Brown Sugar Bear! It’s made of terra cotta and food safe. You can either add it dry to something in order to absorb unwanted moisture — or, soak it in some water, dry off the exterior, and then add it to the bag or container of brown sugar, and it will help rehydrate the sugar and keep it moist for longer! Amazing! They’re also SO CUTE!!!

      Here’s one on Amazon ($5.99): https://www.amazon.com/Brown-Sugar-Bear-54923-Original/dp/B000MT65BC?th=1

      — Marion :)

      1. Thank you! Adding salt a little at a time at the end worked like a dream.
        And I’ve been meaning to get one of those bears forever. Thanks for the nudge. So cute!

    1. You can find that information under the heading “How To Store Caramel Sauce”. XOXO -Monti

    1. Hahaha, I’m still here, Jill! :) I actually took all the photographs for this post, so I was there in the kitchen with Monti. Monti and I are both developing recipes now because I’ve just got so much on my plate!

  2. What a great recipe! I just made this, and it was so quick and easy, and turned out wonderfully. I’m so glad you included the troubleshooting section, since I think my heat was a bit too high and my sauce was looking grainy. Adding the suggested tablespoon of water and continuing to whisk off the heat did the trick! I consider myself a pretty good cook, but I’ve failed making caramel sauce several times before, so I’m glad to have this in my arsenal now. I see myself using this as really simple and lovely holiday/hostess gift, too!

    1. Ayyyyy!!! Thank you so much, Amelia. I love this sauce too. And it makes a great gift in a cute little mason jar with a ribbon tied around it. Thanks for making it and for commenting. XOXO -Monti

  3. Dear Beth & Monti:
    Can this sauce be used to make Caramel Apples? If not, please would you post a recipe for this: what kind of apples to use; how to store them in the refrigerator and freezer; etc… ?
    Thank you ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Kathryn, this is not a sauce for caramel apples, but I slice apples and dip them in it all the time. Strangely enough, Beth was developing a recipe for caramel apples yesterday, and it ended up being really fussy. She opted to leave it alone. Sorry, we can’t be of more help. But try brushing slices of honey crisp, gala, fuji, or granny smith with a little lemon juice (so they don’t turn brown), dip them first in the caramel, and then sprinkle them with peanuts, sprinkles, or shaved chocolate. They’re so much easier to eat, especially if you’re dealing with little kids. XOXO -Monti

  4. Tasty! Thanks again for another well-written recipe. Budget Bytes has been my go-to food blog for a few years now. I am excited to see what is next.

  5. This is butterscotch sauce, which is great and a form of caramel. It’s definitely an easier sauce than caramel sauce since you just cook off the sugar in the butter.

    No shade on butterscotch sauce, but if you’re looking for easier things that are similar to caramel sauce, you can look for butterscotch sauce recipes. You’ll usually find ones that also cook off the cream at the same time (which is easier and better in that it caramelizes the sugars in the cream) and ones that use salt, which is necessary to balance out the flavor.

    1. I mean, she mentions that it’s technically a butterscotch sauce in the text, and by using salted butter, the salt is already included, so…

    2. Which is why she has a note about it technically being butterscotch at the top? I’m not sure what’s up with some of these comments lately, but this is such a bizarre response to this recipe.

      This looks a lot how my mother made an easy caramel, and I’m looking forward to trying it!

    3. Hi Lynn. In the second paragraph, I go over how this is actually a butterscotch sauce. It’s an easier sauce for those people that are just starting out with sugar-based sauces and don’t have a candy thermometer. I call for salted butter in the recipe, so you don’t have to add salt for balance. XOXO -Monti