How to Make the Best Homemade Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce turns an ordinary dessert into something amazing. It can be drizzled onto cheesecake, a dip for fruit, used to top an apple pie and let's not forget about our favorite - spooning over ice cream. Yes, you can buy it in a jar or bottle. But why? It takes a little practice, but it's not hard to make at home. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can make the best caramel sauce.


  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How to Make Caramel Sauce

1. Pre-measure the heavy cream and have it next to the stove.

2. Cook the sugar, a pinch of salt and water over medium-high heat. Initially, stir to combine the sugar and water; then only stir occasionally.

3. Once it comes to a bubbling boil, watch and stir occasionally not constantly (or it will take too long for the sugar to change to an amber color). It should take 8-10 minutes after it starts boiling to turn an amber color.

4. After it turns amber, turn the heat down immediately to low and add the heavy cream. Stir the caramel very briskly. The caramel will bubble up but keep stirring until it calms down.

5. Next, add the vanilla and stir until it’s nicely combined.

6. Insert a candy thermometer and turn the heat up to medium. Stir occasionally. When the thermometer is between 225-230 degrees it’s done. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.

7. Take it off the heat and stir until it stops bubbling. Pour into a container to cool.

Click here to save this recipe to your Recipe Box.

Test Kitchen Tips

  • Time is of the essence when making caramel, which is why we suggest measuring out the cream first. It's best to have all the ingredients handy while preparing the recipe.
  • Letting the chill come out of the cream will help ensure a successful caramel.
  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, it's fine. After adding the cream and vanilla, cook for 3 to 5 minutes at medium heat. You can’t go wrong - thinner or thicker homemade caramel is divine.

Connie Tucker - 18 hours ago
Linda Lindsey and others, keep it in the fridge. It has so much sugar in it, it will not go bad, and it probably won't last too long since it's so good! I always hand write my recipes anyway, so no printer is required. Smile!
Linda Lindsey - Sunday at 1:00 AM
Do you have to use a wooden spoon?
Linda Grannan - Saturday at 5:02 PM
Why can't I print just the recipe? Don't want to print a 13 page article.
linda hance - over a year ago
I made it with evaporated milk and it turned out great! It MAY be thinner than with heavy cream but was thin enough to pour but thick enough to stay on apples and cake.
sallyjo mason - over a year ago
Geez, spoiled children =/ Screw a pinch button.....ever had to copy anything - ever? Oh boohoo! How about the recipe??? Was it good? And could somebody please comment on storing it? And WHO is Rob? This is a great site with world class recipes. How about untwisting your panties and showing some appreciation?
Karen Lilley - over a year ago
There was no Step 8 that I could see but I’m still delighted that the button has returned! I know I could have written it down or printed it but I really count on the “Pinch it” button.
Nancy Brennan - over a year ago
I too say "Thanks" to the kitchen crew. Just don't know why so many of us missed this. I will look more carefully next time. Have a great week and bless all of you for all your hard work checking out all of these tasty dishes. LOL
Karen Lilley - over a year ago
Thank you Kitchen Crew!
Kitchen Crew - over a year ago
Hi everyone! You asked and we answered, here is a link to the recipe for this caramel sauce that you can Pinch for later (you'll also find the link in step 8): Caramel Sauce

We'll be sure to include this in our posts from now on. Happy cooking!
Robbie Anderson - over a year ago
You're welcome Karen. Rob
Karen Lilley - over a year ago
Thanks so much Robbie. I don’t think I was on the Facebook site for Just a Pinch but I might have been! I can find other Caramel Sauce recipes that can be pinched but not this specific one. I’ll keep trying!!
Robbie Anderson - over a year ago
I went into the pinch site rather than the f@cebook link, found the recipe and pinched it - as normal. Rob
Karen Lilley - over a year ago
I have tried to download the pinch much as I’m ticked off that I have to...but still couldn’t get it! Has this site been taken over by Pinterest? I am not happy
Robbie Anderson - over a year ago
This site is getting annoying! Where is the pinch button? Don't want to download a button! Always messing with stuff and freezes up sometimes. Why can't you leave well enough alone! I'm ready to just drop this site and find another recipe site. Life is too short for this aggravation.
Nancy Brennan - over a year ago
Where is the pinch button?? Why is it different than usual and why can't I get it with my regular JAP icon in my tool bar? Help !!!
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