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How to make an easy homemade caramel sauce with cream and butter, no corn syrup. Perfect caramel sauce for apples or other dessert toppings.
Caramel Sauce is a rich and creamy smooth recipe that no household should be without during the fall. This incredibly easy recipe uses only 3 ingredients and will make the best caramel sauce that you’ve ever had.
Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce
I LOVE caramel dip in the fall for my apples! What I don’t love are the high prices of the store version and the added corn syrup and other ickies.
This recipe is so good. The butter really brings out the caramel flavor and gives it the richness that a wonderful caramel sauce deserves. I also like that this recipe is so easy to make. A few minutes on the stove and you have a wonderful fall treat.
Ingredients for Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe
- Butter. You can use salted or unsalted; it’s your preference based on taste. I usually have salted on hand, so that’s what we use in this recipe to make a salted caramel sauce.
- Heavy Cream. You can use more or less of this, depending on how thick or thin you want your sauce to be. Any extra cream can be frozen for future recipes.
- Brown Sugar. If you have raw sugar, you can use that in place of the brown sugar, but the most important thing is that you have a sugar that will dissolve into the mixture. If it doesn’t, you will have a gritty mess. You can use light brown sugar or dark brown sugar, whichever you have.
You could also add in a bit of vanilla extract or a pinch of sea salt for variations on the flavor of the basic recipe.
What does adding butter to caramel do?
Butter not only helps develop the rich flavor in this caramel recipe but also helps ensure that your caramel will stay nice and soft and will not harden. Since we are making a sauce or dip here, we don’t want to make hard caramel.
What are the two types of caramel?
A dry caramel is made from sugar and water. A wet caramel is made from butter, and cream, and other ingredients. This recipe is for a wet caramel.
Can I use oil instead of butter in caramel sauce?
You can if you need to but be aware that it will change the flavor. If you absolutely need to use oil instead of butter, be sure and use something mild flavored and not something like extra virgin olive oil.
What to Serve with Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Apple Slices. Just use it as a dip for apples (or crisp pears or other fall fruit!) and you will have a delicious snack!
- Ice Cream. This makes a wonderful ice cream topping although you might want to add a bit more cream to make it thinner for that purpose.
- Cake. This caramel sauce makes a wonderful drizzle for topping a cake or bars.
- Cheesecake. Try this as a drizzle over a New York Cheesecake or on my Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake.
- Apple Pie. Use as a drizzle over apple pie or add inside the filling for a Caramel Apple Pie!
Why Make Homemade Caramel Sauce?
This homemade Caramel Sauce uses just 3 ingredients. It’s incredibly fresh and delicious tasting and only takes a few minutes to make. This recipe costs about $1.03 to make.
Smucker’s Caramel sauce contains 8 ingredients (the first one being corn syrup) and costs $3.29 for a similar amount.
Step By Step Instructions for Making Easy Caramel Sauce
Combine all the ingredients on the stovetop in a small pot and heat on medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk.
If you are going to use turbinado sugar (turbinado sugar is raw sugar) you will want to grind it up before you add it, otherwise, it will be slightly gritty.
Heat the ingredients together until they are at a smooth consistency.
Cook the mixture until it starts to boil, keep stirring constantly, and let it boil for 2 minutes before you remove it from the heat.
Make sure it gets up to about 200 degrees during the boiling time. You will need a Candy Thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Getting the caramel sauce up to the correct temp will help it get nice and thick and make a good thick caramel topping. If you do not get it to the correct temp it might still have sugar crystals in it and make the sauce gritty.
Add a pinch of salt for an extra burst of flavor.
Let it cool slightly before you serve. This amount makes about enough easy caramel dip for 2 or 3 apples.
The finished sauce should be an amber color and smooth. Total time to cook is only about 5 minutes.
Pour the finished caramel sauce from your saucepan into a jar or another heat-safe container. Store any unused sauce in the fridge in the jar. This sauce won’t do well in the freezer so just make sure you only make enough that can be used within a week.
Tip: Love caramel? Try this Old Fashioned Caramel Icing next!
I would keep going on about how amazing and easy this caramel sauce is, but I think you should go ahead and make some for yourself today! Make sure to let us know in the comments what you decide to use it for!
Need to print the recipe for this Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce? Grab it below:
Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe
How to make an easy homemade caramel sauce with only 3 ingredients.
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup heavy cream depends on how thin you want your sauce to be
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
Combine all the ingredients on the stovetop and heat on medium heat, stirring constantly.
If you are going to use turbinado sugar (turbinado sugar is raw sugar) you will want to grind it up before you add it, otherwise, it will be slightly gritty. As long as you get it up to temperature though this shouldn’t be an issue.
Cook the mixture until it starts to boil, keep stirring constantly and let it boil for 2 minutes before you remove from heat.
Make sure it gets up to about 200 degrees during the boiling time. You will need a Candy Thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Getting the caramel sauce up to the correct temp will help it get nice and thick and make a good topping.
Let it cool slightly before you serve. This amount makes about enough dip for 2 or 3 apples.
How to Store Leftover Caramel Sauce
Any leftover sauce should be stored in a jar with a lid or an airtight container. The sauce can be left at room temperature on the countertop (for up to 2 days) or you can place it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Common Questions About Making Caramel Sauce
Butter helps to add a richness of flavor to the caramel as well as keeping it smooth and silky.
Yes, you should stir the sugar in the recipe to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pan.
More Caramel Recipes
- Easy Homemade Caramels Recipe
- Caramel Popcorn in a Jar
- Chocolate Caramel Rolls
- Homemade Butterscotch Sauce
- Amish Cinnamon Rolls or Caramel Rolls Recipe
- Old Fashioned Caramel Icing Recipe
Do you like to make an easy homemade caramel sauce in the fall? What do you like to use it for?
Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce recipe was originally published on Little House Living in October 2012. It has been updated as of October 2023.