Conquer your fear of homemade Salted Caramel Sauce with this how-to! You’ll find all my tips from numerous trials. Then with just five ingredients and some patience, you’ll be ready to make your own caramel sauce in no time.
Deep amber, intense flavor, sweet and salty balanced perfectly. Salted caramel is half of the duo that I can literally never turn down. (The other half is chocolate, in case anyone wants to make me a treat.) It all started when my great uncle gave me one of his Nips caramel candies to try. I’ve been hooked ever since that first taste. My teeth stuck together as I tried to chew and I’m sure any attempt at a “thank you” was unintelligible.
When Uncle Abe lived with us he used to sit next to the lovebirds’ cage in the living room. He’d listen to them sing and then whistle back, having a conversation I couldn’t understand. He’d shuffle around the house and ask “Whatcha doing?” I can always hear his voice, kind of gruff but soft underneath, when I say it now. Years after he passed away, there are many things I can’t remember about him, although one thing stands out. Uncle Abe always made sure that I knew who I’m named after. His mother, my great grandmother.
I have to thank him for that. And for that Nips candy. This recipe for homemade Salted Caramel Sauce is my way of saying so.
In fact, I’m sure if you gave someone a jar of this liquid gold then they would be eternally grateful. It’s that good. Especially when you pour it on top of a fudgy brownie and sprinkle extra flaky sea salt on top. You know you want some.
Making caramel from scratch intimidated me to no end. It lived on the list of baking challenges I’d love to try one day, along with homemade puff pastry and pie. Forget about the one pot and only 5 ingredients needed. Recipes kept calling for a candy thermometer, but I don’t even have one to take my own temperature, let alone that of melting sugar! Multiple Google searches and YouTube videos later, I felt comfortable enough with the color the sugar should be that I decided it was time to tackle salted caramel.
Was it easy? As much as I’d love to say yes, the truth is… no. In one day I made four batches. By now I’m tallying nearly three times as many, with a far from perfect success rate. Practice makes progress, though, and I have oodles of tips to share with you.
- Prepare all of your ingredients before starting. Your caramel sauce may seem to be melting slowly, but I promise it will go from beautifully golden to burnt black in the one second you look away. Whatever you do, keep your eyes on the caramel.
- Better to cook low and slow if you’re nervous. I start melting the sugar on a medium flame; when the bubbles look too angry or I’m worried about it crystallizing (been there, done that), I’ll lower it.
- DO NOT STIR. I cannot repeat this enough. As you’re melting the sugar, staring really hard because you’re doing a fantastic job at following tip #1, you’ll be tempted. You’re so used to stirring and mixing when you bake that your hand may unconsciously creep for the spoon. Resist the urge. Disturbing the sugar will cause any unmelted sugar granules to seize up and crystallize, ruining your batch of salted caramel. The only thing you may do is gently swirl the caramel in the pot when it’s turning golden.
- Remain confident. Even the best among us mess up and start over.
Then, once you finish, you’ll have a jar full of salted caramel sauce that you made with your own two hands. It’s perfect for drizzling over ice cream and brownies. Dip apple slices into it. Mix it with peanut butter and chocolate for a DIY Snickers bite.
The possibilities are pretty endless. For the rest of February we’ll be making our way through some recipes using this Salted Caramel Sauce. Balancing the sweet with the salty and giving you the incomparable satisfaction of a job very well done. Welcome aboard the salted caramel express!
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp salt
- Combine the sugar and water in a tall light-colored pot, making sure that none of the sugar gets on the sides. Put it on a medium flame and leave it alone. The sugar will begin to melt and start bubbling after several minutes. If you see sugar granules on the sides of the pot brush them carefully with a wet pastry brush. Do not put the brush into the remainder of the sugar.
- When the caramel begins to turn a golden amber color, reduce the flame to medium-low. Swirl the caramel carefully in each direction, then let it continue cooking. You want it to turn a medium to deep amber. The darker the color, the stronger the caramel flavor. Be very careful not to let it burn, which can happen quickly at this point.
- Once it's reached the desired color, add in the butter and salt, whisking quickly to melt it. The caramel will bubble up a lot, so be careful. Once the butter is fully melted add in the heavy cream and continue whisking. Cook for 1 more minute, then pour into a clean glass jar.
- Let cool off and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The salted caramel sauce will continue thickening as it cools. Warm it gently to bring it back to a pourable consistency.