This easy buttermilk caramel syrup is a tried-and-true favorite for everything from pancakes to waffles to ice cream to cake. It’s amazing!

If you haven’t ever heard of or tasted this syrup, you might be a little bit skeptical of anything called “buttermilk syrup,” but please believe me when I say this delectable, caramelly syrup is life changing.

It’s been a go-to family favorite for decades!

Caramel syrup drizzling into glass jar.

Buttermilk Caramel Syrup Basics

This is a 5-ingredient recipe, and it is so simple to make.

The biggest tip I can give you for this recipe is to use a larger-than-you-think pot. The baking soda in the recipe causes the syrup to foam and expand. If you are a reasonable human who does not enjoy bubbling syrup overflowing all over the stove, use a 2- or 3-quart pot.

To the pot, add:

  • granulated sugar
  • buttermilk
  • butter (I use salted)

Stir over low heat until the butter is melted and then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.

*For a darker, more pronounced caramel flavor, add the baking soda in this first step.*

Sugar, buttermilk, and butter in saucepan.

Cook the syrup over the lowest heat that will still keep it at a simmer.

Cooking the syrup at too high of heat can cause it to turn into a sticky, thick caramel that will caramelize or be too thick to pour.

The edges will stay foamy for a bit, but eventually, the entire surface will be rolling and bubbling.

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Cream colored syrup bubbling in saucepan.

Baking Soda + Vanilla

Off the heat, stir in the baking soda (if it wasn’t added in the first step) and vanilla until the baking soda is fully dissolved and the ingredients are well-combined.

The syrup will foam and expand as you stir in these two essential ingredients.

For some reason, this step is the most satisfying part of this syrup-making process for me. I could do it all day. Not interested in stirring your own syrup? Call me. I’ll be right over.

Stirring vanilla and baking soda into syrup in saucepan.
Stirring syrup in saucepan with red spatula.

Double or Triple Batches

This buttermilk caramel syrup can easily be doubled and tripled.

Add 1-2 minutes extra minutes of simmering time for double or triple batches.

And remember: USE A LARGE POT FOR BIGGER BATCHES. For a double or triple batch, I use a 6-quart pot.

Below you can see how golden and caramelly the syrup gets if adding baking soda at the beginning vs adding it at the end.

Wooden spoon drizzling caramel syrup into glass jar.

How to Use Buttermilk Caramel Syrup

I mean, obviously, this syrup is decadent enough to be eaten by the spoonful.

But for practical reasons, let me share our favorite breakfast foods to drizzle this on:

To be perfectly honest, it also makes an excellent topping for ice cream or cakes or apple dipping. But I try not to dwell on that element too much or it puts me down a dark path of questioning its viability as a “breakfast” topping. 😉

Pouring cream colored syrup over two pieces of French toast on white plate.

A Tried-and-True Favorite

This buttermilk caramel syrup (or butter syrup, as we sometimes call it) has been part of our family’s favorite recipes for over ten years.

For a long time, this syrup recipe existed solely in this post with the German pancakes recipe, but it was high time, it got a post all its own. (You can read LOTS of rave reviews for this syrup in the comments of that post.)

It’s a recipe that will be passed down from generation in my family – it’s that good!

Fork piercing two pieces of French toast on white plate.

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Fork piercing two bites of French toast.

Buttermilk Caramel Syrup

5 stars (24 ratings)


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup salted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • In a 2- or 3-quart saucepan, add the sugar, buttermilk and butter (see note). This syrup will foam and expand, so don't use a smaller pan.
  • Over medium-low heat, stir until the butter is fully melted. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. You want the heat on the lowest setting that still maintains a simmer. The longer the syrup simmers the thicker and darker it will be. If it cooks too long or at too high of heat, it is more likely to crystallize as it cools (and be too thick to use as syrup).
  • Off the heat, add the vanilla and baking soda. The syrup will foam and expand. Mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Serve warm.
  • The leftover syrup can be refrigerated and warmed up before serving. Sometimes a layer of foam develops on the syrup. It doesn't affect the taste; however, you can stir to recombine the syrup or skim off the foam, if you prefer.


Baking Soda: adding the baking soda at the beginning to simmer with the buttermilk, sugar and butter produces a darker, more caramelly syrup. I don’t always make it this way because I also like the lighter, less intense syrup, but it’s a delicious option for deeper caramel flavor and color. 
Larger Batches: add 1-2 minutes to the simmering time for double or triple batches (also don’t forget to use a large pot – I use a 6-quart pot for large batches). 
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 161kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 32mg, Sodium: 244mg, Sugar: 13g