I buy butter like it’s going out of style, four pounds at a time at Costco, partly because I love to make things like this small batch salted caramel sauce. Some links in this article are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
Can you blame me? This simple homemade caramel sauce is fantastic as a fruit dip and just as perfect as an ice cream topping.
Now… there are some foods that have become “it” foods that I never quite understood. There are some that became popular then faded away and aren’t seen much anymore – I mean, when was the last time you had a molten chocolate cake?
And then there’s salted caramel. It’s the perfect marriage between sweet and salty, and it’s everywhere and in everything from salted caramel ice cream to homemade Twix bars (hmm another recipe I thought I’d posted that I haven’t) and more.
Plain old salted caramel sauce? It’s perfect for everything from drizzling over ice cream to using in your coffee with creamer (oh yes I have!) to making a trifle.
It’s one of those things that I make regularly to ensure I have some on hand, as well as to give as gifts because homemade salted caramel sauce? I’m in your good graces if I show up with a jar of that, right?
The sauce itself doesn’t take a lot of time to make and just a little bit of care and attention. Do not walk away while it’s cooking.
This is a no fail caramel sauce, but if you ignore it… well, there’s a reason this is ready so quickly!
What to know about making homemade caramel sauce
Caramel is really nothing more than sugar, butter, and cream. Once you melt your sugar, it starts to caramelize and change color.
The key is in getting it to heat evenly and in watching it so that you add the butter when it has enough caramel flavor but before it burns. Once you’ve added your butter and cream, the longer you cook it (and thus, the higher the temperature), the firmer your caramel sauce will be.
Cook it too hot and you won’t have caramel sauce but instead caramel candies. Or really hard caramel candies (think Werther’s).
They still taste great but just might not be what you’re looking for. Also note that your salted caramel sauce will thicken as it cools a bit, so don’t expect to have the exact texture you’re looking for when you first remove it from the stove.
Beginner Tips for Making Salted Caramel Sauce
To ensure you get the kind of caramel you’re looking for, patience is required.
Don’t turn the heat up once you’ve added the butter and cream. Instead, turn it down from where you initially had it to melt your sugar so you have a little more time to get all your ingredients incorporated.
I like my caramel sauce just a little thick, so I’ll keep it on low heat and stir for a couple minutes once I add the butter and cream. If you want it thinner, pull your pan from the heat entirely once you’ve added the butter. The residual heat will be enough to melt it and incorporate the ingredients.
If you’re new to making caramel, you might want to add a little water to your sugar when you first start heating it. By little, I mean a quarter cup or less.
It always made me feel just a little better because I didn’t believe that sugar would just flat out melt without being dissolved in water. But it does. And any water you add has to evaporate before the sugar will come to temperature enough to caramelize, so it lengthens your cooking time.
Instead, have faith. Just place your sugar in a heavy pot I love my cast iron pots for this reason) and turn up the heat.
You do want to stir your sugar to ensure the heat is evenly distributed and prevent it from burning, but it’s really cool to watch it go from sugar in your pantry to little melted bubbles at the edges of your pot to chunks of melted sugar to a gorgeous amber brown liquid.
Trust the ratios, especially when you add the butter. You may feel at first that there is too much butter and it won’t come together, but it just takes a couple quick minutes of whisking and stirring and it will happen.
Lastly when pouring the salted caramel sauce into jars, I learned long ago that hot caramel doesn’t pour nicely into small containers. Instead, I got smart, and I use my 4 cup liquid measuring cup (because when I make this, why not make a double batch?).
I pour the caramel into the wide base of my liquid measuring cup where I don’t have to be exact. From there, I can use the spout in my liquid measuring cup to ensure that my hot caramel goes into the jars and nowhere else.
My best tip? Watch the video tutorial. It really helps!
How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce
Before you start, cut your butter into tablespoon or smaller pieces, which helps it melt faster. You don’t have to do this, but I find it easier.
Add sugar to a large, heavy pot and turn the heat to medium high. Whisk the sugar as it turns to chunks then melts into a beautiful amber color.
Add the butter, and continue whisking. It takes just a minute or two of determined whisking to incorporate the butter.
Then carefully pour in the cream, knowing that it will bubble furiously – which is why you want to be sure your pot isn’t just big enough to hold your ingredients.
Again, stir until it’s smooth, and you have caramel sauce. Again, once the sugar melts, feel free to turn down the temperature on your stove if that makes you more comfortable.
Remove from the heat, and stir in fleur de sel – this tastes better than table salt. You want to use a quality salt here if you can.
Carefully pour the salted caramel sauce into a liquid measuring cup, then pour into sterilized one cup jars or a single pint jar.
Place the lids on your jars as soon as you’ve filled them, and let them cool a bit before placing them in your fridge.
They do need to stay refrigerated, but they’ll last two to three weeks – if you don’t eat it all first.
The salty taste is a little pronounced in the caramel, but given that I generally am using it as an ingredient, that’s how I want it. If you plan to use it as a dip for apples without mixing it with anything else (with cream cheese would be so good!), put in just a little less salt.
Have you ever made homemade salted caramel sauce?
- 1 c sugar
- 6 T butter, unsalted
- 3/4 c heavy cream
- 3/4 t fleur de sel (or other salt)
- Place sugar in a heavy, medium-size pot and turn heat to medium high. Stir the sugar until it starts to dissolve and melt.
- Whisk until the sugar melts and turns a deep amber, but don't let your sugar burn.
- Add butter and continue to whisk or stir until the butter is completely incorporated.
- Carefully add the cream once the butter is incorporated, as it will bubble madly. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat.
- Add salt to the finished caramel sauce and stir to dissolve. Pour the caramel into a large liquid measuring cup and then pour it from the measuring cup into jars.
- Seal jars and let cool a bit, then store in your fridge for two to three weeks.
- Cut butter into smaller pieces so it melts more quickly and easily.
- If you aren't confident, turn your heat down just before you add your butter. This gives you a little more time, though your caramel may not be as thick.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g
This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.
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