How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

Because of some concerned comments on our recent whiskey caramel marshmallow bacon bark, we figured it was time to roll our sleeves up and get down to basics with a homemade caramel sauce recipe. The method we used for this post is a wet vs. dry process (dry process being no water added to dissolve the sugar – this method is a bit trickier).

To begin, let’s talk safety. Wear an oven mitt if you can to protect yourself from any steam or splatters. To prevent anything from boiling over, make sure to use a pan that is at least 2 quarts in size.  We also recommend that you keep a bowl filled with icy water nearby. Should any splatters hit your arm or hand, you can plunge it into the bowl. Resist the urge to put your mouth to any splatters that hit your skin or you will have a burnt tongue and lip as well.

If this is your first time making homemade caramel sauce and you biff it, no worries, we’re pretty sure most people do and did on their first run. Luckily, sugar is cheap and you’ll nail it on the second time.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

Makes approximately 14-16oz

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ c heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional, for salted caramel sauce)


1. Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to dissolve any crystals that form on the side.

2. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high.

3. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute.

4. After 3-4 minutes the mixture will turn from a light amber to medium amber and then finally to a dark reddish brown color. Once the mixture starts to smoke, add the butter and heavy cream. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Set aside to cool completely.


  • The longer the caramel cooks the harder it will become as it cools.
  • If after cooling the caramel is too hard, re-heat it and add more water or heavy cream to thin it.
  • If after cooling the caramel is too liquid-y, make a second batch and cook the caramel slightly longer, then mix the two together.
  • For a deeper caramel flavor add your butter and cream after the mixture has smoked for about 30 seconds. If you take it too long passed the smoking and it’s burnt, well, at least one cup of sugar is pretty cheap.

Caramel Recipes:
Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow and Bacon Holiday Bark
Samoas Holiday Bark
Salted Caramel and Chocolate Stout Whoopie Pies
Chocolate and Salted Caramel Pudding Pops
Pumpkin Caramel Mousse
Caramel Pear Torte

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