Divine Caramel Sauce

Sweet and slightly salty, buttery and deliciously caramel, this sauce is heavenly. Fabulous on ice cream, it would also be perfect drizzled over these bars or in any type of application you can dream up (brownies, cheesecakes, cookies – oh my!). Seriously, the options are endless and this caramel sauce is a main staple in my house now. It warms my heart to open my refrigerator and see the jar of caramel sauce cuddled right up to the jar of hot fudge sauce. Two little allies in my corner when I need a healthy dose of food therapy.

Divine Caramel Sauce

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Divine Caramel Sauce

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce

Divine Caramel Sauce


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, slowly combine the sugar and water, taking care not to let any of the mixture splash up onto the sides of the pan. Set the pan over low heat and stir the mixture gently until the sugar is dissolved, 6-10 minutes. Again, don’t stir vigorously or else the syrup will splash onto the sides of the pan which can cause crystallization issues later. To be sure the sugar is dissolved, I’ll dip a spoon in the sugar mixture and then gently slide my finger over the mixture on the spoon and take a taste. If the sugar is dissolved, the syrup will be smooth and not at all grainy. If you still feel grains of sugar, keep stirring over low heat until it is completely dissolved. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before letting the mixture come to a boil. If you notice any sugar particles on the sides of the pan, gently wash them down with a clean wet pastry brush. As the caramel boils, it can crystallize if those undissolved sugar particles get incorporated into the caramel.
  2. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, increase the heat to medium or medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil. Cover the saucepan and let the syrup boil for 2 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to boil, without stirring, until the edges start to turn golden brown. It is critical not to stir the caramel during stage while it boils covered and then turns a light golden color because this is where it is most likely to crystallize if it is going to do so. Again, the crystallization happens due to undissolved sugar grains and other possible substances that fall into the syrup while it is boiling. By not stirring, the syrup doesn’t move around as much which reduces the chances of any undissolved sugar granules falling into the caramel.
  3. Once the syrup has turned a light golden brown, carefully and gently stir the syrup or swirl the pan until it turns a deep amber, caramel color. On my stove, this takes about 5-7 minutes. Do not stir vigorously or quickly and don’t scrape down the sides of the pan while stirring. Simply move the spoon or rubber spatula slowly over and around the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Gently stir until the butter is incorporated. Stir in the cream. If the sauce becomes lumpy and isn’t whisking together, set the pan over the still-warm burner and stir until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
  5. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature. Store the sauce in a jar or airtight container, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Reheat on low power in the microwave or in a saucepan, adding a tablespoon of two or water, if needed, if the sauce is too thick.

Recipe Source: from Joy of Cooking

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143 Responses to Divine Caramel Sauce

  1. Emily says:

    Mel, please help! I made your Blue Ribbon Apple Pie to serve guests (awesome!!) and was dreaming of this drizzled over it with a good quality vanilla ice cream — sounds divine, just like you named it, right?! Alas, I am failing at this one! I tried twice, following the directions so very, very carefully, but my entire pan just turned to sugar clumps! Boohoo! I can’t imagine what I did wrong, but obviously it was something! Any ideas?

    • Mel says:

      Ah, darn, Emily – I’m not sure…but my first guess would be to moderate the heat a bit lower. Any chance it could be cooking too hot?

  2. Kari says:

    I tried doubling this. After an hour of stirring, the sugar still wasn’t dissolved. I gave up. bummed.

  3. Beth W. says:

    I was going to buy a caramel sauce at the store for the Candy Apple Pie but forgot. I reeeaaaallllyyy don’t want to go to the store again so I decided to make it from scratch. Was a little overwhelmed at the length of directions, but since I know you think like me and like to share little details so people can be truly successful at what they are making, glued myself to my computer and my stove and made this. I am cooking, mostly your recipes, for a group of snobby Winter Guard judges (OK, one year there was a snobby judge, most of them are truly delightful, but we have called them snobby judges since we had to run to the grocery store to buy special foods for Mr. Snobby.) Anyway…long run-on sentence… tomorrow is the contest and the caramel sauce will truly be the icing on the Candy Apple Pie! Crimeny…what if they are all on diets?…sheesh… This is a tough job. Thanks for helping me make their diets difficult tomorrow!

  4. brooke says:

    What sauce would you recommend for dipping apples in?

  5. Eileen says:

    Thank you for finally showing me how to melt the sugar correctly! I have been making flan for many years and melting the sugar was always hit or miss with me! Low temperature and stirring is the trick, thanks so much.

  6. Allan says:

    Hi Mel, I wish to have a cold runny caramel sauce. I wish to put sauce in bottom of dario mould for panna cotta, so that when the panna cotta is cold and the dario is inverted allowing contents onto plate, the sauce will run down the sides of the panna cotta.
    Thanks, Allan

  7. Reham says:

    Can I use any caramel ce recipe for caramel popcorns? :0

  8. Melissa says:

    I just have to say, I have been making this carmel sauce for 2 years now. My family loves it. I make it so we can drizzle it on ice cream. Your directions are perfect. I’ve never had trouble with this recipe.

  9. Lorie Hainsworth says:

    Ugh. My first attempt at this caramel sauce ended up a crystalized mess. Tried it again today being very careful not to agitate the sauce too much. Again, when I added the butter, it crystalized. I don’t know what’s going wrong. I’ve read through the comments and I’m going to give it one more try.

  10. Natalie says:

    Okay, I have to say I was a little bit nervous to make this after reading the comments. I offered to bring caramel to a family gathering and was just going to buy the store bought stuff! I am SO glad I didn’t!! I tried it (and doubled it!) and it turned out AMAZING!!! Mine did take a little bit longer to boil (maybe because I live at a higher altitude??) and change color but once it did, it was perfect! And, I’m not ashamed to say I licked the spoon! 😉 Thanks for all the great recipes Mel! Love them all!!!

  11. savannah says:

    Yes,the seventh time was the charm! My perseverance paid off! I think Sara was right,the cream might have been too cold when I poured it in. I am a happy lil cook tonight. 🙂 glad I stuck with it. The challenge was fun. Plus Its DELICIOUS! Thank you.

  12. Sara says:

    savannah – you are possibly making the common mistake of pouring the cream (which is cold) into the hot caramel too fast, causing it to seize. But its an easy mistake to repair, you should be able to “fix” the caramel by place the pan back over low heat and stirring until the sugar lumps melt back into the mixture.

  13. savannah says:

    I tried this recipe SIX times today,and had six failures. The last time,I thought I was on my way to success,and stirred in the butter and cream,only to have giant sugar clumps. Which tasted lovely,btw. 🙂 I was stubbornly determined to make it work,because every recipe I’ve tried from you,has always turned out. But I had fun following your wonderful step by step instructions. Maybe the seventh time will be the charm. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Savannah – six times?? You deserve an award! I’m sorry this hasn’t worked out for you. I often get clumps of sugar when I stir in the cream and butter but they even out over low heat on the stove (are you taking it off the heat before adding the butter and cream?). Let me know if the 7th time really was the charm. Good luck!

  14. Katie says:

    I was terribly worried that this sauce would not turn out since have never made caramel sauce before. I was super OCD about my stiring (I used a large silicone rubber spatula that’s flatish on the end and it was the perfect utensil in my opinion). I was not going to get one tiny sugar crystal in that pot. It turned out smooth, the perfect color, so far so good. I tasted it and thought it was OK. Not great. Then I realized I forgot to add the vanilla and salt. Added those and re-tasted. I could not stop re-tasting haha. So delicious. It is a little thin right now, but I think it will thicken up beautifully as it cools. Success!

  15. Neida says:

    Hello Mel,

    The caramel was silky and smooth, but after refrigerating the caramel, it became grainy. I wanted to use it as a filling for my macarons. Help! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hi Neida – sounds like maybe some of the sugars crystallized which is sometimes why this can turn grainy and can happen if crystallized sugar from the sides of the pan make it down into the caramel mixture.

  16. Laurie says:

    It turned out great! The color is not as dark as yours (in the pictures), and it tastes a little burned, but the texture is silky smooth and it pairs great with your hot fudge over vanilla bean ice cream! In the end I am glad I was patient, but I’ll definitely dig out my non-non-stick pot for the next time I make it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  17. Laurie says:

    Hi Mel,

    I just finished making this and am wondering if the kind of pan you use makes a difference. I noticed in your pictures you used a metal pot. I used a non-stick pot and everything seemed to take 3-4 times longer than you mentioned in the recipe. It’s still too hot to try, so I hope it turned out 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hi Laurie – yes, a nonstick pan will definitely make a difference both in cooking time and the end result. Did it end up working out (the finished product)?

  18. Erica says:

    Hi Mel! I’m attempting to make caramel apples for the first time. Have you ever used this caramel recipe for apples? Or do you have any other caramel apple recipe?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Erica – I think this sauce will be too thin for caramel apples (it’s meant as more of a drizzle). I haven’t found a great homemade caramel recipe for apples. It might be worth a good google search. Sorry I’m not more help!

  19. Lani says:

    I just made a double batch of this to put on pumpkin ice cream, and lots of other yummy fall treats. I think the reason some are having trouble with the sauce is that they are rushing it, or they are using the wrong kind of pan. I make lots of candies during the holidays and my non-stick pans do not work well for many of the recipes. Just a thought. Thanks Mel for the great caramel sauce!! (and my hips thank you too)

  20. Shannon says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I am just starting to make everything homemade. This recipe was easy, and turned out perfectly the first time. My family gave it two thumbs-up!

  21. Erin says:

    Ok, I attempted to make this twice. The first time, it took me over an hour before my sugar dissolved. I had to increase the water and the heat but it eventually worked. I boiled it covered, then stirred it uncovered with a silicone spatula. I had to throw the whole thing out because the silicone spatula melted. Who knew that silicone could melt like that in a pot?!
    I woke up today determined to make this sauce…and it went perfect! I did have to add a little bit more water and increase the heat (I used a regular spoon too!). Also, I would agree that it takes more like butterscotch than caramel but it’s sugar, butter, and heavy cream….you cannot go wrong with that!
    Delicious! I will definitely make it again. Thank you!

  22. Heather Ann Fink says:

    Does it need to be refrigerated?

  23. Deb says:

    I was nervous making this because of all the warnings in the recipe and all the comments about crystallization, but it turned out wonderfully! I did have some crystallization along the sides of the pan even with careful stirring but in the end, they blended in the caramel and dissolved away. What a delicious final result, will not buy caramel sauce again.

  24. Cass says:

    I’m doing something wrong?! My sugar just never dissolves?? I’ve done it 3 times now. I’m cooking on a gas stove…. Maybe that is it? Not stirring it fast enough?

  25. Jordyn says:

    I was a little hesitant to make this because of the mixed reviews, but I decided to give it a go. It was going well until I added the butter. The caramel seized up almost immediately. I went ahead and added the cream and managed to smooth it out a bit, but I still had a bunch of hard sugar crystals swimming in my caramel. So, I ended up pouring the caramel through a strainer to remover the crystals, and what was left was the best caramel I have ever tasted! Very rich and buttery. Well worth the effort it takes to make it. Next time I will try harder to not let the caramel seize up.

  26. Michelle says:

    This was the first time I had ever tried making caramel sauce… and it was fantastic!! I even made a substitution, because I didn’t want to run to the store. I used half & half in place of the heavy cream, and it still worked! I followed your directions to a T. It’s delicious!!!

  27. Katie says:

    I’m going to try this again today. Yesterday I got a big lump of crystallized sugar. I think it might not have dissolved all the way when I started the boil. I was in a hurry and rushing it. I keep reading about a “heavy bottom pan”. I have calphalon contemporary stainless steel – is that heavy enough? I was using the 1.5 quart size, but have 3.5 quart too. I don’t have any copper bottom ones like in your pictures. Ready to try it again!!!

    • Mel says:

      Katie – yes, calphalon is definitely heavy enough. You don’t necessarily need copper bottoms (mine aren’t, they just look like it; in fact, they are fairly cheap pans so yours should definitely work). Good luck! Take it slow and steady. 🙂

  28. Sara says:

    Folks with the sugar clumping issues – try not stirring it at all. I make caramel all the time with some slight variations to ingredient ratios to Melanie’s recipe here. Try adding about 1/2 cup cold water to your HEAVY BOTTOMED sauce pan, then pour the sugar (I usually use about 1 1/2 cups) in a tight pile in the middle, do not stir at all. Bring to a boil on high and let it keep boiling at high until the caramel starts to turn colour, then gently swirl the pan until it reaches the colour you’re looking for. Remove from heat, whisk in the butter (I usually use 1 Tbsp., tastes more like caramel, less like butterscotch), very slowly whisk in the cream (1/2 cup thick sauce, 3/4 cup thinner) and you should be good to go. Well, don’t forget the vanilla. The issues could be coming from using a pot with a thin bottom, or from too much stirring. I love a spoonful of caramel in my morning coffee, there is always a jar on the go in my fridge!

  29. Natcha says:

    Hi Mel….. Just want to thank you for this wonderful caramel! I had a lot of problems making caramel but I could make it easily following your step-by-step methods! I made this several times and everyone love it.

  30. Mel says:

    Hi Mel…I just tried this recipe. I was nervous that it wouldn’t turn out, but it is INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! Thanks for the great photos and step by step directions, which made it so easy… it came out perfectly on the first try! I so appreciate all of the many recipes I have added to my collection, thanks to you. Happy New Year to you and your family!
    Mel from California

  31. Aang says:

    How do you reduce the splashing of the mixture on the edges? I tried stirring it gently and slowly but there is still splashing. Thus, too much washing of the those sugar crystals and getting them incorporated into the mixture thereby making my caramel a little grainy. Might that be a result of the pan I use or is it in the cooking process?

  32. Mel says:

    Hi Randal – the butter is necessary in the recipe. It helps create the perfect consistency.

  33. Randal says:

    I want it to come out like yours Mel.

  34. Randal says:

    Are you supposed to put butter to make it light and buttery/syrupy or is it alright to not add butter in your recipe?

  35. Mel says:

    Kadar – if it is too thick, you might be cooking it too long.

  36. Kadar says:

    Syrupy I mean?

  37. Kadar says:

    How do you make yours light and buttery? When I make it it comes out thick, how come?

  38. Mel says:

    Hi Jennifer – I use salted butter.

  39. Jennifer says:

    Hi there, this looks wonderful! I’m wondering though, should I use salted or unsalted butter?

  40. […] Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Divine Caramel Sauce […]

  41. Lynne says:

    I made your caramel sauce for the first time last week to top an apple pie, with ice cream, for a pie competition at work. I won first place, and one of the judges said it was the caramel sauce that put my pie over the top. Thanks, Mel! I love your blog. I’m making your sauce again tonight to go with the apple pie for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Can’t wait!

  42. NotAChef! says:

    I am the WORST cook I know! Even following recipe’s I just never get it! It NEVER turns out! I swear I have the WORST luck in the kitchen! But I keep trying anyways! So I tried this for a fruit dipfor Thanksgiving tomorrow(Because fruit platters is all they ‘ll let me provide now! :D) . I JUST finished it and it is AMAZING! I can’t wait to take it to my family! If I don’t eat it all first!

  43. Mel says:

    Ellen – hmmm, I’ve never had this particular caramel recipe separate like that. If it were me, I’d reheat over low and whisk to combine and see if it emulsifies and doesn’t separate again.

  44. Ellen says:

    Hi there!
    Just tried the recipe this afternoon and I encountered some problems with separating after I transferred the caramel to a jar. There appears to be about an inch of (butter? water? something!) at the bottom of the jar. The caramel on top hardened after I put it in the fridge which I was happy about since it seemed pretty liquidy when it was still hot. I’m just wondering if I can reheat it and try and mix it together again or if separating in general is normal. I’ve never made caramel sauce before so I’m confused! It would be great to get some feedback!
    *Other than that the caramel tasted delicious right after I took it off the heat. 🙂

  45. Tiffiny says:

    Mel, thank you SO SO much for your incredibly helpful instructions and pictures in this recipe. Last night I (foolishly) tried a caramel sauce recipe from another website, and it was a total disaster! I had never made it before, so I didn’t know about the whole don’t-stir-too-much thing. And the recipe said nothing about how to properly handle the water and sugar mixture. So I stirred the crap out of it and it was a complete failure. So I of course abandoned the recipe and ran to your website for help. Thank you for having this recipe because I did not want to run to the store and buy jarred caramel sauce. This recipe was no-fail with your photos and instructions.

    I mixed some of this sauce into your magical frosting for some caramel apple cupcakes. And after piping them, I drizzled more sauce on the top. It was amazing. You should try it! Thanks again!

  46. Laura says:

    Hi Mel! I made this caramel tonight and it was wonderful! Your directions and pictures were nice and clear – very easy to follow. It was my first time ever making caramel and it worked great. I will definitely be making this again!

    For those of you that are having troubles with crystalizing sugar. Make sure you aren’t scraping the pan at the end. I had crystals form around the edges – they didn’t get incorporated at all, just make sure you don’t stir them in at the end. As Mel says, only stir along the bottom. Hope that helps someone.

  47. Ray says:

    I finally got it right this time. The consistency was smooth and syrupy. I was doing it wrong yesterday even though it was the perfect color and tasted a bit grainy. Now I don’t taste the grains of sugar and it looks better this time. I know how to make it perfect now. Thanks 0:-)

  48. Naomi says:

    Thank you for the updated steps!!!! A year ago I made this and every time-crystallized. With the new instructions, turned out perfect. Thanks so much!

  49. ray says:

    How come my caramel is a little darker than that recipe’s color? I did everything right and my caramel is thick except I don’t put butter on mine. I wanna know how I can make caramel the perfect color like that or lighter even.

  50. Kory says:

    The best! We have been using it in our coffee for the last 3 months. It is so much cheaper than the bottled coffee syrups. Okay, we also eat it by the spoonful on really bad days. I will admit to doubling and tripling the recipe.

  51. Diane says:

    needed caramel sauce for apple dumplings being served at my son’s wedding (which were served in place of cake). I was really apprehensive about trying to make this sauce. I thought I was gonna screw it up, but I must say, following your instructions, mine turned out perfect (& delicious, I might add!) I even doubled the recipe, and it came out great! Thanks for such detailed instructions. I’m sure you saved me a few ruined batches! One thing I did differently was to mix the sugar and water in a separate container, then carefully pour it into my saucepan. That way, I was sure not to splash any on the sides. Thanks for your great recipe and instructions.

  52. Mel says:

    Hi Karly – sorry you are having trouble getting the caramel to work out. It really needs to turn dark golden before adding the butter otherwise it won’t work as caramel sauce – as you probably saw happened to your batch today. What kind of pan are you using? Sometimes if a pan doesn’t have a heavy-bottom or has a nonstick coating it can make it so the syrup takes a long time to turn amber colored (or thin bottom pans can cause the syrup to burn before it turns the right color). How long (total) did you cook the syrup for? This recipe can take a lot of patience, my guess is that you need to continue to cook the dissolved sugar syrup at medium heat (don’t turn it up too high) for even longer. It might take several minutes longer than mine based on your stovetop, temperature, pan type, etc. But eventually, the syrup should change color.

  53. Karly says:

    Attempt #2 i added 1/3 cup of water instead and all of the sugar melted got to the point of boiling and my caramel never turned brown. I started it out on medium… then went up a little… and then went up a little. So i decided just to take it off the heat after about 10 minutes and add the butter. It turned into a big glob of really chewy sugar ball. Any suggestions this time ? =)

  54. Mel says:

    Karly – You might need to cook the water/sugar mixture for longer at a lower heat. The sugar will eventually dissolve, it just might take a while.

  55. Karly says:

    So i just tried to make it and i could never even get the sugar to dissolve in the first step, what happened?

  56. Mel says:

    Tina- I wouldn’t recommend it because I don’t know the specifics of food safety when canning caramel sauce.

  57. Tina says:

    If I pour the caramel sauce in a jar when still hot and let it seal, can i store it in my pantry and for how long.
    Thanks Tina

  58. Julie says:

    awesome stuff! easy to make. love it!A++++

  59. Thank you for this! Your step by step process made my first try with caramel a success! Love your blog!!

  60. […] followed the instructions from Mel’s Kitchen to the very last word and would highly recommend it for beginners. The recipe for Beat the Heat […]

  61. Mel says:

    Jordan – ack, how frustrating! I’m sorry! What kind of pot are you using? Is it heavy-bottomed or fairly thin on the bottom? It’s surprising to me that some commenters have issues with the sugar crystallizing in the first step – I wish I could be in the kitchen with you to see exactly what is going wrong because I’ve never had that happen. I’m sorry you spent so much time on it! I’m wondering if it has something to do with type of pan??

  62. Jordan says:

    I spent half the day attempting to make this and it was a disaster 🙁 I sadly never got past the first step. I had the heat on the lowest setting and kept the sides clean as clean and stirred it ever so carefully. I waited patiently for it to dissolve , but every time my sugar would crystallize. By the fourth failed attempt, I almost chucked it across the room 🙂 Wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I’m sure it’s delicious, I’ll take your word for it! 🙂

    P.s. everything else I make of yours turns out great, so I’ll get over it!

  63. Mel says:

    Stephanie – sorry this didn’t work out for you but actually, there isn’t a flaw in the recipe. I made it tonight after reading your comment and again, it worked beautifully and I’ve made it dozens of times. A few extra notes about the caramel process may help (I’ll add these to the recipe for others):
    -the reason sugar crystallizes is if there is any lurking sugar up on the sides of the pan…as the sugar and water dissolve in the first step the sugar can crystallize if any of the hard spots of sugar on the sides of the pan get incorporated into the syrup which is why in that first step of dissolving the sugar, the mixture should be stirred very slowly and gently to minimize the syrup splashing up the sides of the pan and bringing down any of the sugar that hasn’t dissolved. If you see that there are sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan, you can gently brush them back into the water with a clean wet pastry brush.

    -It is critical not to stir the caramel during the first boiling stage where it turns a light golden color because this is where it is most likely to crystallize if it is going to do so. Again, the crystallization happens due to undissolved sugar grains and other possible substances that have fallen into the syrup while it is boiling. By not stirring, the amount of moving around is reduced which reduces the chances of any of the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan will make it into the mixture.

    -When the recipe states to begin stirring (while the mixture turns a deep amber), stir extremely gently and don’t scrape the sides of the pan, simply scrape the bottom of the pot very slowly back and forth so it doesn’t scorch. If need be, turn the heat down during this step.

    I hope that helps! This caramel sauce really is divine – I wish it worked out perfectly for everyone but it may take a time or two to really perfect the process.

  64. Stephanie says:

    I made this last night. The sugar crystallized and I was too stubborn to throw it out and start over, so I added a bit of water and melted the sugar again. It never turned color and never thickened, but it does taste really good. I put it in a jar and refrigerated it overnight and it’s nice and thick now. I think there is some kind of flaw in the recipe, so I won’t make it again, but at least I didn’t waste all of the expensive ingredients!

  65. Sonja says:

    I love this recipe! My first try was a disaster – a complete and utter fail. I used a coarser organic cane sugar and it just hardened into lumps. Then I switched to a white sugar that was lurking in my cupboard, it is a much finer sugar, and it worked like a charm. Now whenever I make it, I use white instead of cane sugar – that was the only thing I did differently the second time around and it worked. *sigh* oh well … I love having homemade caramel sauce in the house 🙂

  66. Mel says:

    Mel – I’m not familiar with the consistency of Starbucks’ caramel so I’m afraid I’m not much help if this will work or not. I’d say it is worth a try, though! Thanks for the sweet comment!

  67. Mel says:

    Would this be the right consistency to use in my homemade version of a Starbucks iced caramel macchiato? I used to buy their caramel in bottles, but they no longer sell it.
    By the way, you are my new favorite spot to find great recipes. Every one I have tried is great! Maded the baked rigatoni with sausage and spinach last night-YUM!
    Thanks for the wonderful website and recipes!

    The Other Mel : )

  68. franny says:

    This is wonderful. Mine turned out great, thanks to your pictures of each step!

  69. Bethany says:

    We have always loved your recipes, but we tried this twice today. What a waste of butter and cream. First time the sugar just hardened into clumps like other readers have said. Second time, after more than 20 minutes, it finally turned golden color. Followed step by step instructions exactly, except we added the salt and vanilla since the step by step instructions don’t ever say to add those ingredients. It is very runny and is not carmel at all. It is butterscotch. We don’t like butterscotch. Will be making my tried and true carmel sauce instead.

  70. […] Caramel Sauce adapted from Mels Kitchen Cafe […]

  71. Mel says:

    Hi Tammy – do you think you are overcooking the sugar mixture (past the golden amber stage)? That’s the main reason I can think that would add a bitter taste to the sauce.

  72. Tammy says:

    I tried this twice and both times it had a bitter taste. Any suggestions what I may have done wrong? I’m wondering if I over cooked in the last step maybe.

  73. Jenna says:

    I just made this tonight as part of an all caramel gift basket for my dad’s birthday. I must say I’m really upset that I only made enough for him! It is so stinkin’ good. Thanks for the in-depth directions and pictures!

  74. L says:

    We tried this tonight and it was PERFECT. It took a little longer than the estimated times for the sugar to dissolve and the mixture to start turning brown. Thank you so much for sharing this – this is the first time I’ve made caramel sauce successfully!

  75. Mel says:

    Monica – the graininess probably came from crystallized sugar and what that does to caramel…meaning if there are any crystallized spots of sugar on the edges of the pan that somehow get reabsorbed into the caramel, it can make the whole batch a little grainy instead of smooth and silky. Sometimes that happens if you stir too vigorously (splatter the sides of the pan) or agitate the sugar mixture too much. I hope it works out better for you if you try it again!

  76. Monica Peterson says:

    I LOVE the flavor of the caramel, but I didn’t like the texture as it was more grainy than I thought it should be. Do you think it’s because I didn’t take enough time in the first step (on low before boiling), or because I should have taken longer in the last step after mixing to clear out the clumps?
    I also intended to come with specific degree questions, but you answered that already.

  77. Naomi says:

    I too had the problem with the crystalized sugar. The trick is to use a true, heavy bottomed copper pot. You can still make it in a regular pot it just takes longer. If it does crystalize, just keep cooking it and it will turn back to liquid and then you can finish the caramel sauce. It has a slight burnt/toasted taste but is still delicious. Hope this helps!

  78. Jeanne says:

    It helps to add a bit of lemon juice or cream of tartar to this formula. By nature, sugar will try and re-crystallize after melting. To prevent sugar clumps and the like, add a bit of lemon or tartar if you see it starting to seize up. It will not change the flavor, but it will smooth out the texture.

  79. […] Divine Caramel SauceCaramel Sauce – How To Make Caramel Sauce; Sauces and Condiments – Dessert Sauce – Photo Tutorial … You never need to buy prepared caramel sauce again! Making your own homemade caramel sauce is a lot easier than you might think, and it takes practically no time at all. This sauce is so good that you be licking your spoon. […]

  80. Lindsay Nelson says:

    Love your site! I tried this today TWICE and both times right as it was turning brown on the edges it hardens into sugar clumps in seconds! SO FRUSTRATING. The second time I took nearly an hour to make it…making sure I wasn’t rushing the steps, etc. I usually love your recipes… thanks for always sharing!

  81. chelsea says:

    I tried again this afternoon and had the same issue with the taste (poisonous is the only way I can describe it..chemically)..the sauce thickened more than last time, however. I have made peanut brittle numerous time without problems..could it be my non-stick pan? ugh, so disappointed 🙁

    • Mel says:

      Chelsea – I really am not sure why this would be happening. You may be on to something with your nonstick pan – I’ve only ever used a stainless steel pot with no coating on it, but I’m not sure.

  82. chelsea says:

    Ha-I had to laugh at the comment/situation. Should the sauce thicken almost immediately after adding the butter/cream?

    • Mel says:

      Chelsea – the caramel will definitely thicken more upon cooling. Mine is always a little thin (but not overly so) after cooking and adding the butter and cream. It thickens up nicely after cooling and refrigerating. Then to serve, gently reheat. It doesn’t need to be piping hot, just gently warm so it stays on the thick side.

  83. Chelsea says:

    …and it has this odd poisonous after taste..

    • Mel says:

      Chelsea – um, poisonous = bad so I suggest dumping out that batch and trying again, if you dare. I have no idea why that would be happening.

  84. Chelsea says:

    I didn’t have any problems with the sugar clumping or turning color, however the sauce never thickened..any ideas as to why?

  85. Lisa says:

    It was when I was stirring the sugar on low. It was wierd, like it needed more water which I added and it made it worse. I actually just finished making it again with great results. I don’t know what the difference between the two times was. But I think it’s a keeper now!

  86. Lisa says:

    I tried this today and it was a sugar clump nightmare. I read that some others had a hard time and perhaps warm water would help but I kept it on low for 20 plus minutes and the water seemed to evaporate instead of the sugar dissolving. Do you stir yours while it’s on low or do you just let it sit? I will have to try again because it looks yummy!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lisa – does the caramel turn clumpy and hard after you add the butter and cream or while it is boiling covered? I stir my sugar/water mixture until the sugar is dissolved (up until I bring it to a boil and cover it).

  87. Heather S. says:

    I made this and followed your step by step instructions. It tastes delicious, but it’s very runny, I just wanted to make sure that it is supposed to be runny. Thanks,

  88. [email protected] says:

    I made this delicious sauce yesterday. The first attempt was a disaster. I couldn’t get the sugar/water to become amber and suddenly it was a big, white clump. I started another batch and used warm water with the sugar and was extremely patient. It took much longer than yours I think. However, the second batch was scrumptious. Thank you for posting this.

  89. gina page says:

    nice picture of the sauce running over.

  90. elizabeth says:

    Thanks so much for the updated step by step pics, I’ll have to try it again now! I don’t know how you find the time with your 4 boys, but I know we sure appreciate all your yummy recipes! Tonight we are having soft wrap bread pitas…. yum!

  91. Oooooooooooooh, I need to make THIS!!! I – like so many others – just want to lick my screen! I love caramel sauce over all others (I know, kooky, right?!). Also, it’s been a while since I’ve dropped in — love the new look of your blog!!! 🙂

  92. I think I’d eat that with a spoon!

  93. EMichelle says:

    Yum! Yum! Yum! My kiddos love it when I drizzle caramel over their apples! The thought of never buying caramel again brings the biggest smile to me!!! Can’t wait to try this! I absolutely LOVED your cornbread recipe! I make it atleast once a week ! I even blogged about it ~ if you have a chance to stop by my blog I hope you like my entry! Blessings, EMichelle

  94. Anne says:

    so the last picture that is labeled “beauty” I hear that word in my head via Rick Moranes (sp?) from “Strange Brew.” Tell me you’ve seen that show. And I love the term food therapy. You’re onto something big there.

    PS- I am a fairly infrequent/lame commenter, however I wanted to let you know #1 your creamy chicken and vegetable with cream cheese soup has graced our table MANY times this winter, delish! and #2- glad to see you on FB. I was out of chocolate chips the other day and as I was going to the store to buy more, I thought at least this isn’t a blizzard like Mel had to face when she was out of chocolate chips. 😉

  95. grace says:

    i always sigh when a recipe lists a pinch of salt because i know that inevitably, that pinch is gonna become a heap. some days, it even turns into a mound. i like me some salt (and i love me some caramel).
    say…cara-mel. mel’s caramel. ha. 🙂

  96. Danielle says:

    Oh wow!

    Now I feel like making this and a dessert to go with it!

  97. elizabeth says:

    I had the same problem as the miller family. I tried it twice yesterday and the second time when it turned to sugar crystals, I added the butter anyway and dissolved it again on the stove and added all the rest of the ingredents too, but it turned out more like a butterscotch sauce. Which don’t get me wrong is yummy, but also is definately not caramel. I think I take for granted that all your recipes usually work out for me on the first time, because it totally ruined my day. 🙁 Any idea what i can do better next time?

    • Mel says:

      Elizabeth – never fear! I’m remaking this tomorrow to take step-by-step photos and analyze the recipe more. I’ve made it several times with no trouble but if two of you had issues, it’s worth a retest. I’ll let you know!

    • Jess says:

      This just means your temperature wasn’t high enough. I had the same problem. Higher heat and worked great!

  98. Becky says:

    Hi this is Ashlie Stroman’s mom and we wanted ot know if you have ever canned this for storage? If so how do we do it? You are Awesome! keep up the great cooking.


    • Mel says:

      Hi Becky – I’ve never canned caramel sauce or hot fudge sauce for food storage mostly because they keep for so long in the refrigerator…that and I don’t have a pressure canner which I’m pretty sure you would have to use for something like this. You might try googling the issue since I’m definitely not an expert in the matter!

  99. wow. Now I’m craving an ice cream sundae!

  100. Miller family says:

    Hey there, just got this recipe referred to me. This looked good, so I tried to make it. Can you give me a temp for when you would see the carmel turn brown? Mine never did and it turned into hard sugar clumps. I’m used to making my own corn syrup, so I’m not sure what happened.

    • Mel says:

      Miller Family – I didn’t use a temperature to gauge the sugar – I went by the color of the sugar but I just looked at this article for reference and this is just a guess, based on that info, but I’m thinking the temperature would be around 345 to 350 when you take it off the heat and add the butter and cream. Sorry it didn’t work out for you – that’s odd that your sugar never turned color.

    • Jess says:

      This just means your temperature wasn’t high enough. I had the same problem. Higher heat and worked great!

  101. Jenny says:

    That stuff looks wicked good and not that hard to make either. The sweet and” slightly salty” gets me every time.

  102. I love caramel, and this does indeed look like a divine sauce. Yum! As Beauty and the Feast said, I could happily eat this with a spoon straight from the jar!

  103. Is it completely terrible that I feel like I could just go at this with a spoon?

    Of course, some ice cream wouldn’t be a terrible vehicle either. Great recipe!

  104. I am seriously thinking this looks just about as close to heaven as you can get! Just give me the spoon!

  105. conniep says:

    Hey Mel, cool website. Would this sauce work on popcorn and/or in english trifle. (hopefully no english trifle makers are saying ‘what in the world is she talking about….). Thanks for your and your readers experience and suggestions.

  106. holly says:

    This sounds amazing!!!

  107. Lisa says:

    I cannot wait to try this and the hot fudge recipe. I have been looking for one for a while!! As always…thanks!!

  108. Melissa says:

    I am not going to lie…I have gained 10lbs since I have started eating all your goodies in the last year! I need a dose of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Therapy!

  109. Cammee says:

    So I’ve confessed to you my aversion for chocolate. Well, this is where I make up for that. I love, love, love anything caramel and will be stocking my fridge with this from now on.

    Seriously Mel, that first picture is stunning! It made my mouth water to look at it. You multi-talented woman, you!

  110. HollyL says:

    I am a caramel-a-holic! This looks and sounds great!

  111. briarrose says:

    Nom! Delicious caramel.

  112. Kim in MD says:

    Mel- your photo makes me want to seriously lick my computer screen! I know…don’t judge, though! 🙂

    I make caramel sauce all the time, but I have never added butter. This will be the recipe I try next! YUM!

  113. Nicki says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I discovered your blog through Leigh Anne’s blog. You have so many recipes that appeal to me that I don’t know where to start!! Looking forward to making Chicken Dumpling Soup tonight!

  114. Mel, that first picture is incredible! yum, I want to eat it straight off the spoon!

  115. Melynda says:

    I have recently become friendly with Caramel, so this sauce fits right in! Thanks.

  116. Jessica says:

    A healthy dose of food therapy, and your companions comforting you from the fridge. I can relate. Lately I’ve been collecting butter, way too much, because just knowing it’s there makes me feel like some cathartic baking is a thought away. I’m making those sauces!

  117. Oh MY!! This looks soooo yummy!!! Makes my mouth water!!! :-))

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