Homemade Caramel Sauce

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I am absolutely thrilled to have finally found a recipe for making smooth and creamy, buttery sweet Homemade Caramel Sauce. This is the only caramel sauce recipe you will ever need. 

Homemade Caramel Sauce recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

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Homemade Caramel Sauce

When I’ve made caramel sauce at home in the past, it has turned hard and crystallized after a bit of time in the refrigerator. Not so with this caramel sauce recipe.

This sauce is quite thin when it finishes cooking on the stove and thickens as it cools. Straight from the refrigerator, it is still soft and scoop-able.

The sauce warms easily and is pourable when it is room temperature. I served the caramel warm, drizzled over fresh peaches and vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly!

As far as homemade desserts go, it’s hard to imagine anything better than cold ice cream topped with warm sauce. If you’ve been looking for the perfect easy homemade caramel sauce recipe, your search is over.

How to Make Caramel Sauce

If you’ve been intimidated by the idea of making your own caramel sauce, rest assured it’s actually a fairly easy process. It starts by heating a mixture of sugar and water on the stove top until the sugar fully dissolves then cooking it until it turns a light amber color.

When you add the butter the sauce will begin to bubble. At this stage it’s important to stick with lightly stirring the sauce rather than scraping any uncooked sugar crystals back into the pan. Any remaining uncooked sugar in the sauce will cause it to crystalize at room temperature.

After all the butter is melted and combined into the pan, remove the sauce from heat and add vanilla extract, heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Stir everything together until its smooth, velvety and well combined. This sauce stores well in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

It’s amazing served warm but is also perfectly tasty at room temperature.

If you tire of this version of caramel sauce kick it up and make Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

Homemade Caramel Sauce recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Caramel Sauce Recipe

This caramel sauce is perfection just about every which way you can serve it. I love it on Homemade Ice Cream (or store bought ice cream for that matter), drizzled over fresh fruit or drizzled over Cinnamon Baked Apples.

You could even be extra decadent and pour this homemade caramel sauce on top of Pumpkin Spice WafflesLight Fluffy Pancakes or Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for a fun breakfast your kids will go nuts over. Can you imagine how delicious Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal would be covered in a spoonful of this perfect caramel sauce?

Ice Cream Toppings

Looking for more great homemade ice cream toppings? You should also give my Simple Homemade Chocolate Sauce a try. I love chocolate and caramel together and like to keep a jar of each of these in the fridge anytime we have ice cream around.

Little jars of homemade caramel sauce are perfect for packing into Homemade Ice Cream Sundae Kits you can give as gifts.

For a special treat or birthday party, consider putting out an ice cream sundae bar with your homemade ice cream toppings, chopped nuts, cherries, and fruit. I’ve got my eye on this Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Topping from Brown-Eyed Baker to add to our next sundae bar.

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream is incredible alone or paired with this caramel sauce on top of desserts. When it comes to toppings for waffles and pancakes, my Grandma’s Waffle Sauce has zero competition.

Check out all of the homemade ice cream recipes on this site for pairing with this delicious caramel sauce!

Kitchen Tip: I use this saucepan to make this recipe.

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Homemade Caramel Sauce

4.95 from 18 votes
Recipe adapted from and with thanks to Fifteen Spatulas and Mel's Kitchen Cafe


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of kosher salt


  • In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and the water. Stir to combine and then cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves; about 4-5 minutes. There is no need to stir, simply swirl the pan over the burner occasionally as the sugar dissolves.
  • Raise the heat to medium high and cook the sauce, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is amber colored; about 7-8 minutes. Add the butter, be prepared for it to bubble and sputter, lightly stir or swirl to melt, do not scrape the sides of the pan or splash sauce up the sides of the pan. (This will cause crystallization, if you scrape the uncooked sugars back into the sauce.)
  • Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, heavy cream and salt. It will bubble again, but will calm quickly. Stir to combine (again, not scraping sides of the pan) and then let cool before transferring to a jar and refrigerating for storage. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Janis says

    Haven’t tried the fudge yet but i noticed the recipe has a can of condensed milk….14oz /398ml. Here in parts of canada we are shorted… 300ml /10oz. If i don’t double up on the recipe…. would there be a problem with the texture because of the less milk….maybe dilute or add something else to top it off? The reason I’m asking is i noticed someone else posting the same question about the can size in another recipe a bit ago.. thanks

    • Mary Younkin says

      Unfortunately, the fudge recipe simply won’t set up the same way without all of the condensed milk. That said, it’s also an option to toggle the number of servings down on the recipe card (it will automatically adjust all the ingredient amounts) and make a slightly smaller batch with the 10-ounce can.

  2. Jenna says

    I was going to make this with the white chocolate caramel fudge and i was wondering how much caramel sauce this would make because i don’t want any leftover sauce.

  3. Kathy says

    I made this and it took much longer than 7-8 minutes to turn amber. By then, the sugar water was crispy! What did I do wrong? I’m ready to try to make another batch. Thanks!

    • Mary Younkin says

      Without being in your kitchen with you, it’s hard to know, Kathy. However, my best guess is that the heat was a little lower (which is fine) causing it to cook slower. And then it burnt fast once it was done. Did you step away at any point? Caramel sauce can go from amber to burnt in less than 5 seconds.

  4. Eric Ledbetter says

    Thank you for providing this amazing recipe. It is absolutely delicious. We made it yesterday and used most of it for your white chocolate fudge recipe. The rest we used for caramel sundaes with toasted pecans. Absolutely delicious!!! I made it exactly as per your recipe and it turned out perfect.5 stars

  5. Loraine Pottier says

    I too found 7-8 minutes not long enough to turn it amber, like the other lady said, it ended up being crispy sugar. I ended up just stirring the rest of the ingredients like the cream and vanilla, although I ended up with small clumps of sugar, I just strained it, and ended up with a great tasting caramel sauce, that was smooth. I did not walk away from it, while it was cooking. I kept watching it. I don’t know what went wrong either.

  6. Lisa says

    Wow! Followed recipe exactly as written. We spooned it over haralson apple slices from our apple tree. Delicious and so easy to make!5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      I’m not quite sure, Katie. I know the sauce will thicken a bit over time, which might make it difficult to use with the squirt bottle. If you store the caramel sauce that way, let me know how it turns out!