Recipes

make your own caramel sauce

I’m just gonna say it: I’m a caramel sauce girl.

While I love chocolate to death, there’s just something about that creamy burnt sugar that I just can’t live without.ย  I love it on ice cream, cake, apples, cupcakes and fingers. Most definitely fingers.

….and let me just ask you this one question.

Have you ever tried a piece of bacon with warm homemade caramel sauce drizzled on it?

(pause)

(pause)

(pause)

That’s what I thought. Now follow me to victory!

We’re going to make homemade caramel sauce today step by step. I figure it’s a good skill to have when, say, Thanksgiving is a few days away. It’s the perfect finishing touch to any holiday dessert and, yes, is quite good drizzled on crispy bacon as well. There are some great storebought varieties but, like anything, nothing beats homemade!

The star of the show here today is cream.

Hello, lovely. We meet again!

All caramel sauce really is is just boiled sugar and water with cream. So to start, measure out a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of water and put it in heavy saucepot over medium high heat.

And please watch out. This stuff WILL burn the living daylights out of you. I speak from experience.

While the sugar and water are boiling, gently wipe the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush so they don’t burn:

And don’t stir this. Just let it go. You may shake the pot gently (with a hot pad!) but no stirring is allowed.

Again—please watch out for boiling sugar water! This is serious business.

After a few minutes of simmering, the sugar water will begin to change color, going from a pale pale gold to a golden brown. I like a more “robust” caramel sauce, myself, so I keep cooking until the color is nice and rich and deep…like so:

Be careful not to let this burn! Now turn off the heat and slowly pour in a cup of cream.

As you add the cream, the caramel will bubble up! No worries, my friend, you are doing the right thing.

This is a really good idea.

Whisk the caramel and let it cool. It will thicken up, don’t worry!

Your next job is to drown whatever baked good you currently have on hand. I chose a cinnamon toast muffin.

And that, my friends, is what true love looks like. When it comes to caramel sauce, the more the merrier.

And don’t forget the bacon.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

makes about 2 cups

1 cup sugar

2 T water

1 cup cream

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a heavy saucepot, wiping down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush. Continue to boil for about five minutes, or until the mixture turns a deep golden color.

When that happens, immediately turn off the heat and slowly add the cream, whisking well to combine.

Let sauce cool and thicken up. Drown baked goods and bacon.

Love.

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87 Comments

  • Reply
    Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    November 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

    I love making my own caramel sauce! Sometimes if I want to have caramel corn, I’ll just heat up 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar over a pan and then add a splash of cream to soften it up at the end. It’s amazing and I only recently found out how simple it is to make!

  • Reply
    Jessica @ How Sweet It Is
    November 19, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Now you KNOW I’ve had bacon and caramel sauce together. I can die happy.

  • Reply
    Tab - Just Weighing In
    November 19, 2010 at 7:51 am

    mmmm…. caramel sauce looks perfect! I wonder how it would go with the pumpkin muffins I just made?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Liza
    November 19, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Jenna- thank you so much for this recipe! I have tried in the past to make caramel sauce and it didn’t work out. I can’t wait to try this as your recipes always work!!!

  • Reply
    Jenny
    November 19, 2010 at 7:52 am

    I’ve been waiting for a recipe for this stuff! SO simple..wow. yum.

  • Reply
    Heather (Heather's Dish)
    November 19, 2010 at 7:55 am

    i was just thinking the other day that i need to make my own caramel sauce…holy yum!

  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    November 19, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I’ve never made caramel sauce but I love it. Seems easy enough (she said before trying and burning a batch). Here’s a question for you: What’s the difference in cooking method between caramel and butterscotch sauce?

  • Reply
    Angharad
    November 19, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Yes please! On bacon. That’s the only way I want this. Sod syrup. From now on I am only having my pancakes and bacon with caramel sauce. Tres decadent, no?

  • Reply
    Moni'sMeals
    November 19, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Lovely!
    super simlpe, great post and good to have for the holidays. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    molly l.
    November 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

    ahhhh, you’ve done it again, jenna! i have been salivating over caramel sauce since i was slightly disappointed with TJ’s caramels and knew i needed to make my own.

    now i need to find a vehicle to eat the caramel sauce with….

    thank you!

  • Reply
    grocery goddess jen
    November 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

    During my bacon consuming years of the 80’s and early 90’s, I loved bacon with maple syrup, so I probably would have liked it with caramel sauce, too.

  • Reply
    Gillian
    November 19, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Mmmm sweet heavenly caramel. Can I put this in a jar and give it as a gift? How long will it last?

  • Reply
    Lauren @ KeepItSweet
    November 19, 2010 at 8:20 am

    i love homemade caramel sauce, but i have no idea why i’ve never had it with bacon!

  • Reply
    Mara @ What's For Dinner?
    November 19, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I love you.
    Wonder how this would be on a bacon cupcake…?

  • Reply
    Ana
    November 19, 2010 at 8:25 am

    do you think i could sub out almond or coconut milk? i’m recently allergic to dairy and its seriously the worst.

  • Reply
    Joyce
    November 19, 2010 at 8:25 am

    holy yum. I just ate some of my (ok, yours) leeky tart, have your mom’s pulled chicken in the crock, and your molasses cookie dough cooling in the frig… I think I have an “eatliverun” problem…. now caramel sauce is calling my name…therapy..nah ..some exercise…I’d better!

  • Reply
    Joanna
    November 19, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Yum yum!

  • Reply
    betsy
    November 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I love caramel sauce and this was a fantastic tutorial!

  • Reply
    britt
    November 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

    that looks absolutely amazing! thinking of making some homemade vanilla ice cream just to top it with some sauce!!

  • Reply
    betsy
    November 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

    and, if you have to store-buy do you prefer caramello, milk way (the new caramel-only bar!!) or what? just curious….

  • Reply
    Liz @ IHeartVegetables
    November 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I didn’t used to be a huge caramel fan, (Chocolate is where it’s at!) But since I’ve been on a huge apple kick, I’ve been wanting some caramel for dipping! I might have to try this recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Natalia - a side of simple
    November 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Oh bacon, Oh MY. Cracker Barrel is going to go out of business with your clever bacon adventures ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun
    November 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

    My husband is a huge caramel guy. I used to not be a fan but he has converted me.

  • Reply
    jenna
    November 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

    okay. i’ve been wanting to make my own caramel sauce lately. last night i found directions on how to do it by just boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for hours. how does that taste compared to this? (they seem to be around the same level of difficultly when you take into account the danger/nervousness factor.)

  • Reply
    Elisabeth
    November 19, 2010 at 8:49 am

    This looks amazing… Coincidence or conspiracy that I was craving caramel popcorn last night, and this morning you provide me with the means to make it? Awesome. BTW, I think the recipe should say 2 T water instead of 2 T granulated sugar?

  • Reply
    Tracey
    November 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I tried making caramel sauce, once. I think I left it on the stove for too long because it turned out chunky and dry. I should try it again but I’m a little frightened.

  • Reply
    Jillian @ Reshape Your Life
    November 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Oh my! I can’t wait to add this to some of my baked goods! I totally would have ruined it by stirring it! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Emily
    November 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for this! My last attempt at caramel sauce was a disaster. I don’t even know where I went wrong, but it was not right. And I threw in the towel when I realized I got sugar sauce on our ceramic top stove- which I hate! Sugar burns can leave pits in it, which is really nerve-wracking as a renter. Next time: bigger pot, more patience.

  • Reply
    Ella
    November 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Yum! When I was little I used to make carmel candy with my au pairs, the recipes look pretty similar, I’ll have to give this a try!

  • Reply
    Shelly
    November 19, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Jenna, you have the best habit of taking everything I’ve avoided making b/c it looked too intimidating and blogging about it in a way that makes me wonder why I haven’t been making this stuff for years. Thanks for taking the fear out of it!

  • Reply
    Amber K
    November 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I find bacon to be quite disgusting…..BUT I am totally with you on caramel. WAY better than chocolate. Although the two mixed together is amazing!

  • Reply
    jenna
    November 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

    oh my this looks amazing! how thick and creamy…….with flu season all i’ve wanted are potatoes and bread…but now i’m craving caramel sauce sauce on my potatoes and bread..

  • Reply
    chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    November 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Question: Could I use full fat coconut milk in place of the cream?

    • Reply
      Heather @ Life, Gluten Free
      November 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

      Yep!! I just commented about that actually:

      “I make really yummy caramel sauce and toffee with coconut milk, since we are casein intolerant. Itโ€™s a great substitute ๐Ÿ™‚ For sweetener I use maple syrup and maple sugar and itโ€™s so good!”

    • Reply
      jenna
      November 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      you could try! I’ve never done that so I’m not 100% sure how it would work out.

  • Reply
    Salah@myhealthiestlifestyle
    November 19, 2010 at 9:34 am

    OMG I am definitely a caramel sauce girl!!! Love this!

  • Reply
    Krystina (Basil & Wine)
    November 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I find caramel so beautiful; I just love looking at it.

  • Reply
    Heather @ Life, Gluten Free
    November 19, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I make really yummy caramel sauce and toffee with coconut milk, since we are casein intolerant. It’s a great substitute ๐Ÿ™‚ For sweetener I use maple syrup and maple sugar and it’s so good!

  • Reply
    Cathy B. @ Bright Bakes
    November 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

    yeah, this post makes up for you bein’ a cake sorta girl(as opposed to pie) ๐Ÿ™‚
    crunchy salty little pretzels…dip it into homemade caramel and eat. Repeat as needed.
    It happens….
    love,
    cathy b. @ brightbakes

  • Reply
    Katharine (Meal Muse)
    November 19, 2010 at 10:15 am

    MMMMM. I prefer my caramel on top of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. That’s just how I roll.

  • Reply
    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    November 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Iโ€™m a caramel sauce girl = ME TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love chocolate but any time I can have caramel, even better!

    Growing up my mom made homemade caramels and I am very familiar with the boiling sugar, candy thermometer, soft ball stage of candy making…yep. Love caramels and caramel sauce of any kind!

    This looks delish, of course ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    amanda@thegrainsofparadise
    November 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Mahalo for this! I live with an Argentine that lives for Dulce de Leche! This is perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jen
    November 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Oh you paired it with the perfect partner – a cinnamon muffin! Divine. My favorite is coffee-cake with caramel sauce.

    Hmm, could you showcase a coffeecake at some time?

    The final picture is stellar – fit for a magazine cover! You should consider submitting this stuff.

  • Reply
    OC2Seattle
    November 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Hmmm . . . never thought of caramel as a muffin topper, but now I don’t know how I ever went without. Any suggestions on making the clean-up easier?

  • Reply
    Maria
    November 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Caramel sauce FTW!

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble
    November 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Yummy! I’m with you, I’m a caramel girl! I’ve tried chocolate bacon but the caramel and bacon I’ve got to try!

  • Reply
    Liz @ Blog is the New Black
    November 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Wow. wow. wow.

  • Reply
    tina
    November 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    can’t say i’ll try the bacon, but holy heck this looks A-MA-ZING

  • Reply
    Amanda
    November 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Your blog makes me so happy. I cannot wait to this this caramel sauce out! I will definitely try it with bacon. Bacon makes pretty much everything better.

  • Reply
    Alicia
    November 19, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    oooh baby! This looks fantastic. I have never made my own caramel sauce, but it seems like something I can really get behind!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    November 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I had no idea it was that simple! Definitely making some soon! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)
    November 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    You just gave me confidence to make my own caramel syrup sauce for the next time we have an icecream social. If only I had known how simple it could be! ๐Ÿ˜€

    (p.s. I’ve never honestly tried caramel sauce on bacon, but I’m seeing how that could really, really work. ๐Ÿ˜€ )

  • Reply
    Camille
    November 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Looking at your photos are making my finger hurt due to the fact that I burned it on caramel sauce today. I will take the pain to gaze at that deliciousness, though.

  • Reply
    Mari
    November 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Looks like a great addition to my Thanksgiving day apple pie!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Backstage Pass
    November 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Oh.My.Goodness. This sounds divine!
    Here I was wondering what I would plan to do for the evening. Well friends, my plan now is to make some homemade caramel sauce.

  • Reply
    the salty girl
    November 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    awwwwsssss where’s the baconnnnnnnnn!!!!?????

  • Reply
    Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather
    November 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    I’ve gotta try that bacon caramel – oh yum! Usually i’m not a huge caramel fan because it’s the store bought kind almost every time, but homemade? I could dig that.

  • Reply
    Dee
    November 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I am seriously speech-er-commentless right now!

  • Reply
    Kristi
    November 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Mmmm… homemade caramel sauce. Looks amazing. I’ll have to try it. I’m always afraid with stuff like this I’m going to burn and ruin it ๐Ÿ™‚ Your step by step instructions will def help ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Mom
    November 19, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I do this recipe ever Xmas eve ~ pour it over a circle of brie, let it harden. It is AMAZING!!!

  • Reply
    jessica
    November 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I had the BEST caramel latte today. This little coffee shop I went to makes their own caramel in-house and even though I’m allergic to dairy I thought a touch in my coconut milk latte couldn’t hurt ๐Ÿ˜‰ So delicious!

  • Reply
    Jewel @eatdrinkshoplove.com
    November 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    OMG! Just look at these photos makes me want to taste the screen. I love caramel. Thanks for the recipe, I will be using this on my cheesecake for Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Ryane
    November 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Eff. Me.

    That’s what I just said outloud… but not all censored like.

  • Reply
    Gracie
    November 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Absolutely excited!! I am also a huge caramel sauce girl, not much of a chocolate person. I will, in more ways than you can imagine, make this and enjoy ever last heavenly liquid bits of it.

    Thanks!

  • Reply
    Liana @ femme fraiche
    November 20, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Ummm caramel sauce, with a bit of fluer de sel, on a fudgey brownie!?!? Just like at Baked!? You just opened up a new world for me!

  • Reply
    Tessa
    November 20, 2010 at 5:04 am

    im so happy i get to satisfy half of my sweet tooth cravings with pictures from your blog. looks so good you can taste it!

  • Reply
    Mom
    November 20, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Minus the cream ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Mom
      November 20, 2010 at 5:30 am

      This was supposed to go directly under my last comment…

  • Reply
    Hangry Pants
    November 20, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I would like to drink this.

    • Reply
      jenna
      November 20, 2010 at 6:47 am

      yes. with a straw.

  • Reply
    A Teenage Gourmet (Sami)
    November 20, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Jenna, you really can’t do this anymore.
    I’m going to have to stop coming to your blog.
    Heart palpitations are unavoidable!

  • Reply
    Ben
    November 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

    “Yes, it’s true — caramel sauce can be this easy.”

  • Reply
    Jil @ Big City, Lil' Kitchen
    November 20, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Ohhh, Jenna – this is soo, sooo dangerous(ly good looking). haha It looks amazing!

  • Reply
    Liz
    November 20, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    YUM. I just got a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake (which is probably common but I had never heard of)…. then happened to see at the store Cheesecake Factory’s pumpkin cheesecake…. picked that up… I think I will be offering up caramel sauce to go with it! (And vanilla ice cream.)

    BTW for the poster who asked about butterscotch sauce… I think the main difference is that butterscotch is made with brown sugar.

  • Reply
    taylor
    November 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    you made my night! i love caramel, but i’ve never made it. tonight i will. thank you! i love your blog! it’s always exciting to see what you’re posting everyday. cannot wait for your book to come out…next year sometime, right?

    • Reply
      jenna
      November 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      at the beginning of 2012…so almost a year!

      • Reply
        taylor
        November 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

        how exciting. a must-read! it seems like sooo long to wait, but time goes fast…thanks for telling me.

  • Reply
    katie
    November 21, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    When I added the cream & whisked, the sugar totally seized! Help?!

    • Reply
      jenna
      November 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

      was your sugar boiling? It has to be boiling when you add the cream…and you should add it slowly!

    • Reply
      Holly
      February 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Very bummed, mine completely seized up too. Only thing I can guess happened is that I let it boil too long though it looked the color of the photo. When you say add it slowly, how slow is slowly?

  • Reply
    Cathy
    November 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Question. Can you use this recipe to make caramel popcorn? I’ve tried to make it twice using a different recipe and it failed both times. I over cooked the caramel the first time and then it seized up the second time.

  • Reply
    emily
    December 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Oh my gosh! I made this, and it worked, and I was so proud. This recipe is amazing, Jenna! It has this great deep flavor!

  • Reply
    A Festive Fall Dinner Party.. For Under $10 Per Person «
    October 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    […] Homemade caramel sauce […]

  • Reply
    Dana
    January 16, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    this looks amazing! Can’t wait to try!

  • Reply
    Dana
    January 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Made this tonight. INCREDIBLE! Easy and best recipe ever for caramel sauce! I can’t stop thinking about it. I really cannot have a 2nd bowl of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, sliced bananas , whipped cream and this sauce. But I really want to. amazing!

    Thanks!
    I will be using this recipe forever now. ๐Ÿ™‚

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