If you’ve ever wanted to know how to make caramel sauce, you’ve come to the right place! My 3-Ingredient Caramel Sauce is super simple to make, has a gorgeous golden hue, and will bring a deliciously creamy caramel sugar flavor to everything from ice cream and cake to macarons and buttercream. Oh, and you can easily turn it into homemade salted caramel with one extra ingredient: salt!
About This Recipe
If you’ve ever wondered about how to make caramel, you’re in for a real treat. This 3-Ingredient Caramel Sauce recipe is super simple to make and will transform even the most ho-hum dessert plate into a spectacular feat of gastronomy.
With deep notes of caramelized sugar flavor and a lusciously creamy mouthfeel, you won’t believe how easy this caramel sauce is to make. Oh, and did I mention that it is made with just 3 (!!!) ingredients in about 20 minutes time?
I’ve always been fascinated by the alchemy of making homemade caramel — simple white sugar turns into a mysteriously dark syrup over heat, and then adding cream and butter makes it bubble and splutter wildly before settling down into a gorgeous, pourable sauce. It’s magic!
In this “how to” post, I’m going to walk you through each and every step of the caramel-making process. By the end, you’ll be a caramel sauce pro! Now let’s get to the kitchen so we can get started.
Ingredients & Substitutions
You don’t need much to make restaurant level caramel sauce at home. Here’s your shopping list:
- Granulated Sugar - I always use granulated sugar to make caramel, because – fun fact – if you use brown sugar, you’re actually making butterscotch!
- Heavy Cream - I recommend grabbing a container with a minimum of 36% milkfat for the best mouthfeel. Qualifiers like organic and grass-fed will generally result in the best taste. If needed, you can use slightly lower fat whipping cream, which has a milkfat of 30-36%.
- Unsalted Butter - Since there are so few ingredients in this caramel sauce, be sure to get the best quality items possible. For butter, organic, cultured, and/or grass-fed are all great options.
- Sea Salt - An optional yet glorious addition!
Not only does this 3-ingredient caramel sauce have a short ingredient list, it also requires very few pieces of equipment. You’ll need:
- Heavy-Bottomed Saucepan - Now is not the time to skimp on materials; don’t use your thin college-starter-set pans here! Heavy bottomed pans are better at capturing and evenly distributing heat. Thin pans, on the other hand, are more prone to having “hot spots” where ingredients can scorch and burn. Candy making is a delicate process, so be sure to use a high-quality, heavy pot or pan.
- Thermometer - If you’re new to making caramel, I suggest investing in either a candy thermometer or an instant-read thermometer. This is kitchen science at its finest, and being able to reliably measure heat will increase your odds of success.
- Whisk - A balloon whisk will incorporate the cream and butter into the melted sugar much more evenly (and easily) than a spoon.
- Tempered Glass Jar - Once you make your caramel sauce, don’t be tempted to pour it into anything other than glass. When you first make it, it’s like magma! It’ll melt through even the sturdiest plastic containers, or heat metal to an unsafe temp. I suggest a good ol’ mason jar here.
How To Make 3-Ingredient Caramel Sauce
Not only does this caramel sauce have only 3 ingredients, it also only has 3 steps:
Melt sugar. Pour the sugar into a saucepan, and over medium heat, allow the sugar to slowly melt and eventually shift in color to a deep amber-brown color, tilting and gently shaking the pan for even cooking.
Add dairy. Add the cream and butter to the sugar – expect the ingredients to bubble and foam for about 30 seconds or so. Then, over low heat, continue to melt down any large bits of caramel until the mixture is completely fluid and smooth before removing from heat
Store. Pour caramel into a glass container and allow to cool completely before
This simple 3-ingredient caramel sauce is pretty spectacular as is, but there are a few different ways to customize it to your liking:
- Add salt. Want to turn your delicious golden syrup into homemade salted caramel sauce? Simply add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Add flavoring. I think this caramel is pretty perfect as is, but you’re welcome to add in some extra flavor if you’d like. Try adding a bit of vanilla extract for a simple upgrade, or get a little wild by first infusing your cream with any herbs or spices that you’d like before making the caramel. To infuse cream, bring it to a simmer, remove from heat, then add your flavoring elements. Let it steep for 30-60 minutes, then strain and discard the solids.
- Make it vegan. Don’t worry, just because you’re plant-based doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! Simply swap in cultured plant-based butter, and use full-fat canned coconut cream in place of the dairy.
Making homemade caramel sauce is a pretty easy process, but you shouldn’t take it lightly. Be sure to keep these things in mind:
- Feel free to wear some protective wear! Making caramel sauce is serious business! Melted sugar is one of the most dangerous substances you’ll encounter in the kitchen — if some gets on your skin, it’s quite dangerous. Protect yourself with appropriate attire. If you’re super nervous, add gloves to the mix.
- Be aware of any kiddos or 4-legged friends out of the kitchen. You don’t want to accidentally spill caramel on yourself, and you DEFINITELY don’t wanna spill it on those precious littles.
- Use a deep pot or pan. When you add the cream to the sugar, it’ll bubble up A LOT. Make sure you’re using a deeper vessel than you think you’ll need.
Frequently Asked Questions
You don’t want the sugar to go above about 375F, or you’ll end up with some bitter notes. After adding the cream and butter, a temperature of about 170F is ideal.
Try not to! When the sugar is in the melting stage, leave it be and swirl around the pan gently without mixing to promote even cooking. Once you add the butter and cream, stirring is totally encouraged!
As soon as you pour your sauce into a glass jar, hit your pan with some hot water to fill it ⅓ of the way. If there are any stuck on bits, heat it over medium, using the hot water to melt away the caramel.
I’d suggest using it within 2 weeks of making. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding lots of ways to use it!
More How To Recipes
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try making this homemade 3-Ingredient Caramel Sauce, please leave a review or share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
How To Make Caramel Sauce — With Only 3 Ingredients!
- Glass Containers for storing
- 125 g (⅔ cups) Granulated Sugar
- 90 g (⅓ cups) Heavy Cream
- 28 g (2 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter , room temperature
- Pour the sugar into a saucepan, and over medium heat, allow the sugar to slowly melt and eventually shift in color to a deep amber-brown color. Swirl around the pan gently to ensure that the sugar cooks evenly.125 g Granulated Sugar
- Add the cream and butter to the sugar – expect the ingredients to bubble and foam for about 30 seconds or so. Then, over low heat, continue to melt down any large bits of caramel until the mixture is completely fluid and smooth before removing from heat.90 g Heavy Cream, 28 g Unsalted Butter
- Pour caramel into a glass container and allow it to cool completely before adding to a recipe. You can always place the caramel in the fridge to help it cool more rapidly!
- What is the right temperature for making caramel sauce? You don’t want the sugar to go above about 375F, or you’ll end up with some bitter notes. After adding the cream and butter, a temperature of about 170F is ideal.
- Should I stir my caramel as it cooks? Try not to! When the sugar is in the melting stage, leave it be or gently agitate the pan by creating a swirling motion. Once you add the butter and cream, stirring is totally encouraged.
- What’s the best way to clean my pan after making caramel? As soon as you pour your sauce into a glass jar, hit your pan with some hot water to fill it ⅓ of the way. If there are any stuck on bits, heat it over medium, using the hot water to melt away the caramel.
- How long does homemade caramel sauce last? I’d suggest using it within 2 weeks of making. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding lots of ways to use it.