Caramel Sauce

This Caramel Sauce Recipe is rich, creamy, buttery, sweet and 1,000X better than any store bought caramel sauce! 

This easy Caramel Sauce recipe is FOOL PROOF, ready in 5 MINUTES and lick-the-spoon delicious!  Homemade caramel sauce makes for a fabulous gift and makes everything better from cakes to brownies, to ice cream to popcorn – and everything in between!  Pictures updated 2019

How to Make Caramel Sauce Video

top view of a spoon dipping into easy caramel sauce in a jar


Caramel Sauce Recipe

In anticipation of the Toffee Pecan Caramel Pound Cake I am sharing with you this weekend (in time for Easter!) and my Poke Turtle Brownies, I thought I would start with the wonderfully decadent, creamy homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe because this caramel sauce deserves it’s very own post.

far away of a spoon full of the best caramel drizzling down into a glass jar

Just like this easy Caramel Sauce makes the pound cake better, this Caramel Sauce makes everything better.

This homemade Caramel Sauce recipe makes apples, bananas, pretzels and popcorn better.

It makes waffles, French toast, crepes and pancakes better.

It makes cookies (especially in a skillet!), brownies, cheesecake, and ice cream better.

the best caramel sauce drizzled over brownies

You get the idea.  This easy Caramel Sauce recipe pretty much makes everything better.  At some point though,  it becomes not about making a food taste better but rather just finding new vehicles to douse with caramel so there are more “legitimate” reasons to put caramel in my mouth.

Be cautious though, its a creamy, lip smacking, finger licking slippery slope.  First its drizzled on ice cream, next its bathing carrots.

I am asked for the recipe every time I bring it anywhere!  Its rich, creamy, buttery and sweet and 1,000 times better than any store bought Caramel Sauce Recipe.

far away top view of caramel sauce with evaporated milk in a saucepan with a wooden spoon

What is caramel sauce made of?

Caramel Sauce is traditionally made of granulated sugar that cooks at a certain temperature until it caramelizes. It is combined with heavy cream, butter and vanilla extract. Caramel sauces made with granulated sugar are not fool proof as the sugar can burn easily AND they take longer to make.

This Caramel Sauce recipe is unique in that it starts with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar which not only cuts down on cooking time but boasts a richer flavor in way less time!

Here is a breakdown of the pantry friendly ingredients

  1. BUTTER: Use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your caramel sauce. Do NOT use any substitutes!
  2. BROWN SUGAR: When a recipe doesn’t specify a type of brown sugar to use, it means to use light brown sugar. For this Caramel Sauce recipe, I use light brown sugar, but it comes down to personal preference. Make sure it is packed for the correct ratio of brown sugar to butter.
  3. EVAPORATED MILK: I love using evaporated milk in this Caramel Sauce Recipe because I always have it on hand which means I can make caramel at a seconds notice. It also delivers fool-proof results because it incorporates into the caramel easier.
  4. VANILLA EXTRACT: Use pure vanilla extract, the better quality, the better the taste.
  5. SALT: You can use more or less salt to taste but I find salt essential otherwise the Caramel Sauce is too sweet.
up close of the best caramel sauce stirring with a wooden spoon

Can I use Heavy Cream Instead of Evaporated Milk?

I suggest you always keep evaporated milk on hand so you can always make this caramel any time, which means you can eat this caramel any time, because as previously discussed, you  never know when you might need to “make something better…”

I use evaporated milk because it incorporates more easily into the caramel so you are left with creamy caramel sauce every time. That being said, if you only have heavy cream on hand, then yes, you can definitely use it instead of evaporated milk.

homemade caramel sauce being poured over brownies


Now to making this easy Caramel Sauce recipe.  I am not going to lie.  I have burnt caramel before.  But not this caramel.  This caramel is FOOL PROOF!  If you can boil butter, brown sugar and a smidgen of water then stir in evaporated milk and vanilla, than you can make this caramel in 5 minutes!   SO EASY!

Here is a step by step breakdown of how to make easy caramel sauce:

Step 1: Add butter, brown sugar, water, and salt to medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until butter melts.

showing how to make caramel sauce by adding butter, brown sugar and water to saucepan

Step 2: Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, whisking constantly until thickened, approximately 5-8 minutes. Keep in mind, the caramel sauce will thickens more as it cools.

showing how to make homemade caramel sauce by melting butter with water and sugar

Step 3: Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup evaporated milk (it will bubble a lot) and vanilla. Add additional evaporated milk to reach desired consistency.

showing how to make caramel sauce by simmering caramel

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce

You can transform this Caramel into Salted Caramel Sauce by simply adding more salt! Follow the recipe as directed then stir in additional salt to taste – I would start with ⅛ teaspoon then add more if desired.

For even more gourmet Salted Caramel Sauce, omit the salt in the recipe and stir in ½ teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste).

Tips for the Best Caramel Sauce

  • Use a thick-bottomed, sturdy pan: the sugar needs to cook evenly which is much easier to do in a thick-bottomed, sturdy pan that is made to evenly distribute the heat. A thick bottomed pan will also help your sugar from burning.
  • Size of pan: Use a medium saucepan with high sides. If the pan is too wide, the caramel is more likely to burn; to small, and the evaporated milk will overflow when it is added and bubbles up.
  • Prep ingredients: have your evaporated milk and vanilla ready so you can add them as soon as you remove the caramel from the heat; this will prevent it from burning.
  • Brown sugar: don’t replace the brown sugar with granulated sugar otherwise this will require a different method/recipe.
  • Heat: Don’t simmer over too high of heat otherwise your caramel can burn. It is better for your caramel to take longer to thicken over lower heat than for it to thicken quicker and risk burning.
  • Oven mitts: I suggest wearing oven mitts to protect yourself against any spatters, especially when you add the evaporated milk.
  • Consistency: The caramel sauce will look thick and then it will thin again once you take it off the heat – don’t worry, it will thicken again as it cools to room temperature and even more once refrigerated. For thicker caramel sauce, cook for longer and add less evaporated milk. For a thinner caramel sauce, cook for less time and add more evaporated milk.
  • Don’t double/triple: I don’t recommend doubling or tripling the caramel sauce recipe as it could prevent the sugar from melting evenly.
easy caramel sauce drizzled over caramel apple pies

Can you thicken caramel sauce?

You can completely control the consistency of this caramel sauce. For thicker caramel sauce, boil for longer and add less evaporated milk at the end.

Why is my caramel sauce grainy?

I have never had a problem with grainy caramel using this Caramel Sauce recipe. I believe using brown sugar is the key.

Grainy Caramel Sauce is caused by undissolved sugar crystals. This can happen when either 1) the sugar in the caramel sauce has not fully dissolved or 2) some of the crystallized sugar that forms on the sides of the saucepan as the caramel boils have been incorporated into the caramel.

homemade caramel sauce in a glass jar

How Do I fix Grainy Caramel Sauce?

  1. Stir:  This is the method I use. You can prevent the formation of sugar crystals by stirring your caramel sauce often with a rubber spatula, including the sides of the saucepan where the crystals like to form.
  2. Oil (EASIEST): Before you add your ingredients, grease the sides of your pan with vegetable oil. This will prevent the sugar from ever sticking and crystallizing.
  3. Dissolve sugar: Your Caramel Sauce might be grainy just because the sugar isn’t fully dissolved. Try cooking on low so all the granules break down completely.
  4. Corn syrup: To prevent sugar crystals from forming you can add 1-2 tablespoons corn syrup to the pot with the butter and brown sugar. Corn syrup keeps the sugar together and minimizes the possibility of stray crystals forming. Corn syrup is used in candy making for this very purpose. It is also often added to ganache recipes to keep them silky. You can also try adding corn syrup after your caramel has become grainy and cooking on low until smooth.
  5. Acid: You can add a ⅛ teaspoon of lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar before cooking. The acid breaks up some of sucrose which makes the sugar more cohesive.
  6. Water: After the butter is melted, brush the inside of your pan with a damp pastry brush or paper towel. This will dissolve any sugar crystals and keep them from becoming part of the caramel sauce.

How Do I reheat Caramel Sauce?

Microwave Caramel Sauce for 30-60 seconds, stirring at 30 second intervals, repeat as needed. You may need to stir in additional evaporated milk as the caramel will thicken up on refrigeration.

You can also reheat caramel sauce on the stovetop but I find this is more of a hassle to transfer the caramel to the saucepan than it is worth.

homemade caramel sauce drizzling from a spoon into a jar of caramel

Does Homemade Caramel Sauce Go Bad?

Homemade Caramel Sauce can be kept at room temperature for 3 days or for a longer shelf life, in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or frozen for up to three months (see below).

Does Caramel Sauce need to be refrigerated?

This Caramel Sauce utilizes evaporated milk which is further stabilized by the sugar and therefore does not have to be refrigerated immediately – just think about caramel apples!

That being said, I do suggest refrigerating leftover caramel sauce because it will keep for longer but it is perfectly fine to be left at room temperature on cakes, brownies, etc. or as caramel sauce gift jars.

side view of a spoon dipping into a jar of best caramel sauce

How Do I store homemade caramel sauce?

Let Caramel cool completely then transfer it to a jar or airtight container. Refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Can I freeze Caramel Sauce?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze Caramel Sauce! Freezing Caramel Sauce is fabulous when you make a double/triple batch and store the leftovers for a later use. It also works great when you don’t use all the Caramel Sauce at once or only need part of it for a recipe.

Caramel Apple Pie Blondies - these are amazing and so much easier than apple pie! A soft buttery blondie base topped with apple filling and topped with pecan crumble and caramel

How to Freeze Caramel Sauce

  1. Let Caramel Sauce cool completely.
  2. Transfer caramel to an airtight container that is NOT glass because the milk expands when frozen and can rupture the glass.
  3. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. When ready to use, let caramel defrost completely in the refrigerator overnight.

What Can I Use Caramel Sauce for?

As previously discussed, this homemade Caramel Sauce makes EVERYTHING more delicious. Use this easy caramel sauce for drizzling, dipping, or even filling your favorite desserts. Here are a few options to use it with:

How do you make caramel syrup?

This Caramel Sauce recipe can be made into any consistency by adding more or less evaporated milk. To make caramel syrup or runny caramel, follow the recipe then add additional evaporated milk until it reaches desired consistency.

caramel sauce with ice cream in a blue bowl

Want to Try this Caramel Sauce Recipe?

Pin it to your Homemade, Easy or Dessert Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

top view of a spoon dipping into easy caramel sauce in a jar

Easy Creamy Caramel Sauce

This Caramel Sauce Recipe is rich, creamy, buttery, sweet and 1,000X better than any store bought caramel sauce! This easy Caramel Sauce recipe is FOOL PROOF, ready in 5 MINUTES and lick-the-spoon delicious!
Servings: 2 .5 cups
Total Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins

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  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup (optional but recommended)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk plus more as needed depending on desired consistency
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Add butter, brown sugar, water, corn syrup and salt to medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring until butter melts.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a vigorous simmer, whisking CONSTANTLY until thickened, approximately 5-7 minutes. It will become very thick and frothy, but keep stirring, reducing the heat as needed as it thickens so it doesn't burn. If the caramel sauce still looks thin after you remove it from the heat and the bubbles subside, then return to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat and carefully stir in ½ cup evaporated milk (it will bubble a lot) and vanilla. Add additional evaporated milk to reach desired consistency, keeping in mind it will thicken as it cools.



Don’t miss the “how to make” recipe video at the top of the post!
  • Corn syrup: helps prevent sugar crystals from forming (the caramel sauce from becoming grainy) and creates a silkier sauce. Corn syrup is used in candy making for this very purpose.
  • Consistency:  the type of pan, size of pan, and level of simmer all affect the caramel consistency, consequently, the end result will not be the same for everyone.  To that end, I suggest  starting with ½ cup evaporated milk and if you would still like thinner caramel, then you can stir in additional evaporated milk.  
  • Storage:  Store Caramel Sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three weeks.  Caramel is safe at room temperature on cakes, brownies or gifts for up to three days. 
  • Freeze:  You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. Just make sure to use an airtight container that’s NOT glass because the milk expands when frozen and can rupture the glass. Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge and warm gently before using.
  • Reheat:  This caramel reheats beautifully in the microwave or stovetop.

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a thin stream of creamy caramel sauce being poured into a glass jar

Reader Interactions

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  1. Liz Chrisman says

    How long can this be kept? In the fridge? Sounds yummy & can’t wait to try it.

    • Jen says

      I checked carnation’s site to see how long evaporated milk lasts in the refrigerator (since its the main perishable item) and they said 5-7 days. So I would go with that to be safe. Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Paula says

        Help! I just made this caramel sauce and when I took it off the heat and add about half a cup or less of a evaporated milk it got very liquidy it’s like water will it set up in the fridge or how can I save it?

        • Jen says

          Hi Paula, it sounds like it needed to have been either simmered longer or at a higher temperature, but yes, it will definitely thicken some in the fridge.

    • Jan C says

      Because sugar is a preservative, you can keep this a lot longer than a few days in the fridge. It would be like any other topping or fruit preserve. I’m sure you could check the caramel toppings at the grocery store and get an idea. Most just say ‘refrigerate after opening’. No huge rush to use…although I doubt this would last very long in my house!

      • Jen says

        This is so helpful Jan, thank you so much!! I will do just that and compare to other caramels and add the info to the recipe. Thanks again!

      • Josee says

        Most store-bought caramel containers I’ve checked at the grocery store have some weird names listed as “preservatives” under the ingredients. That is why you can keep MOST commercial caramel spreads for up to 6 months in the fridge once opened, as there is no REAL cream or milk, but most likely a milk substitute that offers a longer lifespan.

        If you refer to fruit jams, pectin or lemon juice are considered as “natural preservatives” and are a mandatory ingredient for “canning purposes” (some fruits contain higher pectin – i.e. strawberries, so some jam recipes will require adding lemon juice and some won’t).

        The reason behind storing the caramel from 5 to 7 days is because the evaporated milk has been submitted to high heat, and like any dairy product contained in a dessert, the quality of the product tends to spoil (or rot) beyond 7 days. Hope this clarifies a bit. 🙂


        • Jen says

          Awesome, thanks so much Josee!!!

  2. Sarah @ the magical slow cooker says

    Hi Jen! I’m Sarah. Nice to meet you. What a great recipe for caramel. I’ve been looking for a great caramel recipe to go over homemade ice-cream! I’m so excited I found one.

    • Jen says

      Hi Sarah! Nice to meet you too, thanks so much for stopping by! Happy you find this caramel, you will love it!

    • Jen says

      Thank you, especially from a graphic designer!

  3. Marybeth Schaefer says

    I was wondering if you could freeze the sauce ?

    • Jen says

      You can definitely freeze the sauce! Just make sure to use an airtight container but not a glass container because the milk expands when frozen and can rupture the glass. Defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge and warm gently before using. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Linda says

    The pound cake and caramel sound delish—I’m having this for Easter!!! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you and your family love it! Happy Early Easter!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for asking Jackie! It should be light brown sugar.

      • antuonette says

        I didn’t realize I only had a little light brown sugar so can I use dark brown and light comined?

        • Jen says

          Absolutely! The caramel might have a hint more of molasses taste but probably so subtle you won’t even notice. Enjoy!

  5. Becca Dyer says

    Hi Jen!

    I just made this caramel and am letting it cool before putting some on some ice cream. It smells heavenly! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Happy Sunday!


    • Jen says

      Hi Becca, Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and let me know you tried my caramel! I am excited for you and your ice cream – sounds delicious! Happy Sunday to you too!

  6. Carri says

    Hi! What is the best way to heat up the Carmel sauce?

    • Jen says

      Hi Carri! If you store the caramel in a glass container then the easiest way is to just microwave the whole container for a minute or so (time will vary depending on how much caramel is left. It heats up beautifully! If you have stored in plastic or don’t have a glass container to microwave in, then I would add the caramel to a saucepan and heat on medium low until warmed through, stirring frequently. Thanks!

      • Carri says

        Great thank you! Yes it’s in a glass Pyrex dish 🙂

        • Jen says

          Perfect! I am excited just thinking about you licking the pyrex dish clean! Have a beautiful day!

  7. Renee says

    I LOVE caramel. Not that I consider myself to be an expert, but this has to be some of the best caramel sauce I’ve ever had. It’s so silky and smooth. DELISH! Thanks for the recipe. Definitely a keeper!

    • Jen says

      Hi Renee, if you love caramel, that’s enough to call you an expert in my book :)! I am so happy you loved the caramel! Thank you so much for letting me know, I love it when people share my enthusiasm!!!

  8. Sandy says

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. I made this tonight. It was very easy to make a delicious!!!!

    • Jen says

      You are most welcome Sandy! I am so happy you loved it! It always makes me smile when I hear others are smiling from my recipes – thank you so much for letting me know!

  9. Lucy says

    I just made this for a chocolate toffee cake. It’s AMAZING! I will be using it for the salted caramel frosting too! I will ALWAYS make this, and never buy caramel sauce in the store again! Thank you!!

  10. Dylan says

    Could I use plain milk?

    • Jen says

      Hi Dylan, milk would not give the caramel the same rich, creamy texture. The closest substitute would be light cream. Hope this helps!

  11. Pauline says

    Do you man real butter or can it be margarine?

    • Jen says

      Hi Pauline, yes it should be real butter – essential for the buttery flavor 🙂 Enjoy!

  12. Rachel says

    This looks absolutely divine!! I love all things caramel– even more than chocolate! Thanks for such a great recipe.

    • Jen says

      Me too! I have to try and diversify the recipes I post otherwise it would be nothing but caramel dessert in one form or another 🙂 You are most welcome for the recipe, thanks for visiting my blog!

  13. Marsha says

    My questiion is after the butter melts do you turn up the heat or leave at medium until it boils. I’ve made caramel sauce before that comes out grainy and not smooth. Tks.

    • Jen says

      Hi Marsha, After the butter melts, you want to turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once its boiling you can turn the heat down some, but you still want to keep a rapid boil. It shouldn’t turn out grainy at all. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

    • Deb Blecha says

      I have a butterscotch bourbon sauce that goes grainy if you eat it cold but turns smooth as soon as I heat it. It stays smooth on the ice cream… but returns to grainy in the fridge.

  14. Giovana says

    Hi! What’s means evaporated milk?
    Seems delicious!

      • Giovana says

        Thanks for your answer! Unfortunately in my country we don’t have evaporated milk. But i will try with something similar;)

  15. Mari says

    Could I use Splenda instead of sugar ?

    • Jen says

      Hi Mari, I am sorry but I don’t think Splenda will work in this recipe because it does not caramelize the same as real sugar. Good luck!

  16. Lois Christensen says

    Oh this looks so good! My hubby would love some on ice cream! Thank you for linking up with Foodie Friends Friday. Hope to see you next week!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for having me!!!

  17. Sheree Gaughan says

    It’s hard not to just open the fridge & eat with a spoon. Honestly, I did it more than once! So delicious

    • Jen says

      Hi Sheree! I am so happy you love the caramel! I am right there with you – I like the saucepan. Its addicting! 🙂

  18. Jeanne says

    Will the caramel thicken after it cools??? Tastes great and I boiled it for about 3-4 minutes and it’s still really thin…

    • Jen says

      Sorry for my delay in getting back to you as I’ve been under the weather. The caramel will thicken slightly when it cools but if its still thin, then next time I suggest boiling it for the full 5 minutes at a rapid boil and using a medium saucepan so there is more surface area being heated. That should do the trick! If for some reason it is still thin, then you can try boiling it 6-7 minutes, but this should be necessary. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

  19. Teresa says

    Thank you for recipe. I am a senior and love learning new recipes from all you young ladies.

    • Jen says

      You are most welcome Teresa! I am so happy you enjoyed it!

  20. Sara says

    If I reduced the evaporated milk to 1/4-1/2 cup, could I use it to dip apples in?

    • Jen says

      Most definitely Sara! You can simple stir in the evaporated milk until it reaches the consistency you desire. It is delicious on apples!

  21. Matrine Leger says

    OMG just found your caramel sauce on pinterest , just finished making it and it is sooooo good !!!!! Thanks☺

    • Jen says

      Hi Matrine, you are most welcome! I love it when someone shares my same foodie enthusiasm – so happy you love the caramel!!

  22. Danielle says

    I LOVE this caramel sauce but I boil it for another 5 minutes after adding the evaporated milk so it will thicken up. I also add salt and it really brings out the flavor. I served this sauce with apple crisp on Thanksgiving and it was a hit! Thanks for this awesome recipe!

    • Jen says

      Hi Danielle, I am so happy you love this caramel sauce, it seems to go with everything! I am glad that boiling it longer thickens it up right away. It will also thicken upon standing if you leave it to finish preparing your apple crisp 🙂 That combination sounds amazing!

  23. Angie Iser says

    I just made this and it is absolutely the best caramel sauce. It does not take long to make and it is so easy.
    I am using it for caramel apples today at our church Barn Fest.
    Thanks for a great recipe!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Angie, I am so happy you love it! It will be perfect for caramel apples – that sounds so fun and delicious!

  24. Kat says

    I want to know if I can make a big batch of this & store it in a cool dry place like the cabinet, as if canning it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Kat! Once air reaches opened evaporated milk, it acts like regular milk, so this caramel could only be stored out of the refrigerator if it goes through the canning/sealing process. If you want to store it for an extended amount of time, I suggest freezing it in a plastic container. Hope that helps!

  25. Ann says

    Hi there, your caramel sauce looks wonderful!! Just a couple hints for you, as I make goats milks caramel sauce from our goats as well as cheese. Once you cook down milk, no matter what kind it is, you remove the risk of spoiling so soon. You can keep your caramel in the fridge for about 6 months in an air tight container…I use mason jars, (again, once you have brought it up to boiling levels) which is what you are doing. In the freezer you can keep it fresh tasting after defrosting for over a year. It’s a much more of a hardy goodness than you can imagine. I just happen to stumble on this blog and glad I did so you all don’t toss out your yummy caramel sauce for no reason. 🙂 I certainly hope this helps you and you hold on to your caramel sauce for a longer time knowing you are safe!!! Enjoy!!! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Ann, thank you so much for this helpful information!!! I will now have caramel stocked in my fridge year round :)!! I will edit the recipe to include your insights. Thanks again!

  26. Ashley s says

    How much should evaporated milk should I add for a very thick sauce

    • Jen says

      Hi Ashley, you can eyeball the sauce as you stir it in to get exactly the consistency you want. I would start with just a couple tablespoons for very thick then add a tablespoon more at a time. Hope this helps!

  27. Katherine says

    I found a salad recipe of yours on Pinterest last night and had to come back to look through the rest of your recipes today…. I couldn’t stop thinking about it! This looks so delicious and I can’t wait to make it!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Katherine! I hope you find lots of recipes to love here 🙂

  28. Bonnie says

    i made this sauce to pour over ice cream in banana splits I had for my 56 birthday. It was awesome and easy! Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Happy 56th Birthday!!! I hope you had a beautiful day! I am so happy you enjoyed this caramel and it helped make your birthday festivities more delicious! 🙂

  29. maude says

    I’ve simply died and gone to heaven. caramel is my to die for food. I just got introduced to your site and came upon my best of best: caramel. no wonder you’re together. i’d follow u 2!!!! just to get the caramel. late here, so i’m making this 1st thing tomorrow if I can sleep. thx so much for your recipes & ideas = my dream heaven: caramel. maude

    • Jen says

      Hi Maude, I’m so happy you found your way to my site and more importantly to my caramel recipe! I am so excited for you to try it tomorrow! and I wish you sweet, caramel dreams until you taste the real spoonful of heaven:) Welcome to Carlsbad Cravings!

  30. Beth says

    Was wondering if I could add sliced bananas to this recipe? If so at what step? And would it keep in the fridge with the bananas overnight if I prepared it ahead of time? Making a caramel banana sauce for my pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. But need to make ahead of time.
    Thank you

    • Jen says

      Hi Beth, I wouldn’t add bananas directly to this recipe, rather add the prepared caramel on top of your bananas. Hope this helps!

  31. amber says

    have you ever made this recipe in bulk? I’d like to do something like this as Christmas gifts for my neighbors and would need to make enough for 15-20 small jars.

    • Jen says

      Hi Amber! I have only ever tripled the batch and it has turned out perfectly. I am sure you could increase it and it should turn out great. Such a great gift! enjoy! and Merry Christmas!

  32. Beth says

    I made this recipe using milk that I heated on the stove for 10 minutes or so (instead of evaporated milk) and it turned out delicious!

    • Jen says

      Hi Beth, what a great alternative to evaporated milk, so glad you enjoyed it!!

  33. Nicole says

    Hello I can’t wait to make this recipe! Should I use unsalted or salted butter for the recipe?

    • Jen says

      Hi Nicole! You can use either and then salt to taste at the end. I personally use salted butter 🙂

  34. sania says

    Can i do this without brown sugar?

    • Jen says

      Sorry, it definitely needs the brown sugar!

  35. Jade says

    Hi Jen! I ran across your blog site and my mouth started to drool with all the yummy recipes. The toffee pecan cake is on the top of my drool list! I do have a question about the caramel sauce though. You said to use real butter not margarine for the caramel sauce, can you use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt to it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jade, welcome my site, I am so happy you stumbled up on it, I hope you find some new favorites here – and the Toffee Pecan Caramel Cake is a very wise choice 🙂 As far as the butter goes, you can absolutely use unsalted butter and add salt to taste – a pinch or more if you wanted more “salted” caramel. Enjoy!

  36. Ronnie says

    Hi, we don’t have in my country evaporated milk. We do have condensed milk here, but it’s sweetened. Should I use this one but not add the sugar in the recipe or for the sauce I need sugar as it’s mentioned?

    • Jen says

      Hi Ronnie, I would substitute heavy cream instead of evaporated milk. Enjoy!

      • Ronnie says

        Ok just did it as you said, with heavy cream and oh my god. So good and so easy! I guess because it’s cream and not evaporated milk it’s thinner (used less then half a cup of cream). Next time I’ll try evoprating the milk myself. Thank you!

        • Jen says

          you are so welcome Ronnie, so happy it worked and you loved it!!

  37. Janis says

    Just made this but I was skeptical on the vanilla . 1 T seem to be a lot. I used 1t instead. It’s very good and easy to make. Next time I will try with salted but so it will be more of a salted caramel . Pouring this over my caramel pound cake. Thanks for sharing

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Janis, so happy you enjoyed it and I LOVE this recipe with pound cake – yum! I am sure yours was delicious!

      • Janis says

        I met to say salted butter. This recipe is definitely a keeper

  38. Jan Ohlssen says

    Can hardly wait to make this. I’m sure it’s delicious. I just want to clarify one thing for myself. When you list the ingredients, under condensed milk, it’s typed 1-2 – 3/4 cups. Does that mean 1/2 up to 3/4 cups of condensed milk? I would hate to screw it up. Thanks, Jan

    • Jen says

      Hi Jan! yes, the 1-2 should be 1/2 – thank you for catching that! In over 2 years no one has ever said anything so I appreciate you spotting that! I just corrected the recipe so hopefully you can make it soon and love it!

    • Elizabeth says

      Jen was so glad you asked, I was reading through the comments in hopes of someone already asking that question! Thanks

  39. Antineic says

    Would i need to add anything ( like Karo syrup) in order for it to coat an apple ? Trying to make caramel apples for a baby shower.

  40. Palrao says

    I made this with dark jaggery powder and Daamn it tasted like eclairs. This is certainly a winner!

    • Jen says

      mmmmmm! Thanks Palrao, so happy it is a hit!

  41. Hannah says

    Just made some of your caramel… I really shouldn’t have! I love caramel and this tastes so good and I just can’t wait to put it on ice cream tonight! Great way to use up leftover evaporated milk too, thanks 🙂

    • Jen says

      hahaha – I know the feeling – very dangerous to have that around the house! But I’m so glad you loved it! Thanks Hannah!

  42. Sue Camins says

    Your caramel sauce sounds wonderful but I’m lactose intolerant. Is there a almond or soy substitute for the evaporated milk?

  43. Marios says

    Is it possible to use it as a cheesecake topping ?

      • Marios says

        A quick question after the butter melts on med turn it up to high to boil for 5 mins?

        • Jen says

          After the butter melts, you bring it to a boil for 5 minutes, but it might not necessarily be on high – it will probably be on lower heat as it boils.

          • Marios says

            just finished it and its great bit runny but i guess it ll thicken as it cool down to top my cheesecake with, turned the heat to high cause i didnt see any bubbles while on mid heat :).

            bottom line : Great caramel recipe got an awesome taste from 1st try def will make it again ^_^

          • Jen says

            You definitely need to let it boil – so the heat should be high enough to boil and then reduce heat but still so it boils. Glad you liked it!

  44. tom says

    I just tried making this for the 1st time and I burned it. When you say “bring to a boil” that means to use high heat, correct? I did everything as per the directions but the final product was like a hard candy and smelled and tasted burned.

    • Jen says

      Hi Tom, “bring to a boil” means to use whatever temperature brings it to a boil – could be medium heat or medium high heat and then you will want to reduce the heat to maintain the boil. Sorry yours burned!

  45. Kate says

    Could you clarify how much caramel sauce this recipe makes? It looks like 1 cup from the recipe (2 servings of 0.5 cups) but it seems like it would make more when looking at the ingredients list. Making this for Christmas baskets this year. Love your recipe (and your caramel ice cream cake was To. Die. For!)

    • Jen says

      Hi Kate, it makes 2 1/2 cups. enjoy!

  46. Fern says

    Is the 1/4 teaspoon salt called for in the recipe, just plain table salt?

  47. Florence Baria says

    Can this yummy sounding caramel be used as a pretzel dip? Will it harden so that I can dip in chocolate as well? Can’t wait to try it!

    • Jen says

      Hi Florence! This would be fabulous as a pretzel dip! Unfortunately, it won’t harden to the point of being able to double dip it with chocolate. Sorry!

  48. Bobbi Sherman says

    I can’t believe how easy the caramel sauce was! Better yet the taste is incredible! The container I put it is was just about a tablespoon too small… husband and I just shared the remainder out of the cooking vessel. The Toffee Pecan Pound Cake is baking now. It smells wonderful! Thanks for sharing! Hope all is well with you. Merry Christmas!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Bobbi! I’m so happy you loved this caramel sauce and I hope you equally loved the Toffee Pecan Pound Cake! Merry Christmas!

  49. Maham says

    Hi jen

    Im so tired of every banoffee pie recipe being too sweet (unfortunately the tin of sweetened condensed milk has to be boiled as a whole and i can’t reduce its sweetness). I was looking for a way to control the sweetness of the caramel and came across this recipe – it looks divine! I was wondering if there’s a way to make this caramel harden so that it will not flow out of my pie?

    Would be grateful for your opinion on this 🙂
    Many thanks!


    • Jen says

      Hi Maham, this caramel will be liquid when hot and will set once cooled so I think it should be fine. You can add less evaporated milk to it so its thicker and less runny if you prefer. Hope that helps!

      • Maham says

        Hi Jen,

        Many thanks for taking out the time to reply! I think im already a big fan of Carlsbad cravings 🙂

        OK so 1/3 cup of evaporated milk?
        And how about i simmer for a bit longer too? Since you’ve said up there:

        “You can even control the consistency for thicker or thinner sauce by simply adjusting the amount of time you boil the ingredients.”

        Oh and would omitting the water help to make it thicker too?

        I would totally love to try out your banoffee pie so if you ever give it a try, please do share the recipe with us!

        Wish you lots of health and success,

        • Jen says

          Hi Maham! Yes, I would try 1/3 cup evaporated milk, keep the water and simmer it until it reaches your desired consistency. Please let me know how it goes!

  50. Anis Azemi says

    omaigod.tenkiu for the recipe. ive tried it. o dont have evaporated milk so i substitute with whipping cream and since i dont have enough brown sugar i added in white sugar as well.. it taste delicious.. not too sweet. and i made this to eat with apple spring rolls… yummeh

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Anis! I’m so happy you loved it and that your substitutions worked out great! It sounds fabulous with your Apple Spring Rolls!

  51. nada says

    I dont have evaporated milk .is there any substitute?

    • Jen says

      Yes, you can use heavy cream. Enjoy!

  52. Maria says

    if I were to use the canning method to preserve this recipe
    Would it keep longer then 5-7 days

  53. Jessica says

    I dont have any vanilla can it be made without the vanilla?

    • Jen says

      Yes, it will just be missing the element of vanilla 🙂

  54. Jonathan says

    I am considering making some chocolates for Christmas gifts, do you think this caramel would work as a filling for chocolates?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jonathan, no, I would look for a recipe with corn syrup in it for that purpose. Sorry!

  55. Carol says

    Hi! I’m not clear as to how much evaporated milk. It doesn’t seem to be an exact amount. Please if you could clarify I would appreciate it! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Carol, in step 3 it says to “stir in 1/2 cup evaporated milk.” You can add additional evaporated milk for a thinner sauce if you would like. Enjoy!

  56. Taylor says

    As written, could this be used in a carmel stuffed brownie recipe? Or would I need a thicker carmel sauce? What is your suggestion?

    • Jen says

      Hi Taylor, you could use less evaporated milk to create a thicker caramel sauce and then it should be great!

  57. Norma Patterson says

    I don’t have evaporated milk

    • Jen says

      You can substitute heavy cream. Enjoy!

  58. Ralph Garrett says

    This recipe sounds easy to make and I have done so many and still have no caramel sauce so I am somewhat antsy to say the least. I have one question about ingredient.
    Recipe states:
    1-2 – 3/4 cup evaporated milk depending on desired consistency
    Please explain

    • Jen says

      Hi Ralph, I hope you finally have success with caramel with this Caramel Sauce recipe! There are many factors that affect the end consistency of caramel – the type of pan, size of pan, level of simmer, consequently, the end result will not be the same for everyone, that is why I advise starting with 1/2 cup evaporated milk and if you would still like thinner caramel, then you can stir in more. I hope that helps!

  59. Linda Sigler says

    Just made this caramel sauce. It is delicious and fool proof. Thanks.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome! I’m so happy you loved it!

  60. Susan Beatty says

    Jen, I have never made caramel sauce before. But I love caramel. This was fhe easiest recipe and the best. caramel sauce I have ever had. I put it in the freezer and used it on many desserts, ice cream and coffee. I couldn’t keep my spoon out of it. Super creamy delicious and not sickening sweet.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m thrilled this caramel sauce was a huge success! I love the idea of keeping it in the freezer. Thanks Susan!

    • Joyce says

      I love this recipe. The sauce is perfect every time. I now keep a jar in my refrigerator and have used it in cookies, pineapple upside down cake, bananas foster and am thinking of using it on apple dumplings soon. Thanks for a great recipe!

      • Jen says

        Thanks so much Joyce! I’m thrilled it’s a favorite and that you’ve found so many uses for it!

  61. Leanne Hortin says

    I made my caramel sauce in tin in water for 6hrs.. it seemed to be set perfectly.. i stored my tins in the fridge for a few days.. i made my individual banoffe pies and put the banana and cream on.. the first day they were great but second and third days the caramel started to weep… any ideas to prevent this from happening.i stored them in fridge from the beginning.. just the weeping ruins the dessert..

  62. Nicola says

    do you have these measurements in UK measurments please??

    • Jen says

      Sorry, I don’t. i’m sure you could use an online converter. Good luck!

  63. Mary says

    Hi Jen, quick question on the evaporated milk. Should I buy the whole or can I use fat free?

    • Jen says

      Whole is recommended for creamer caramel sauce 😉

  64. Gail says

    Just made this caramel sauce and omg it’s delicious
    I did have to to change recipe a bit as I didn’t have vanilla extract so used a small packet of vanilla sugar and used dark brown sugar instead of light. Also can’t get evaporated milk where I live so used condensed milk and it was a complete success.
    Will be making this again so much better than shop bought

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Gail, I love hearing this caramel recipe is better than store-bought!

  65. Phoebe says

    Can I use sweetened condensed milk in place if evaporated milk?

    • Jen says

      No, unfortunately that will make it way too sweet.

  66. Michelle says

    I have made this 4 times. 3 of the times it has been grainy! I’m feeling like an idiot since it says fool proof…? I’m not sure what the problem is. The flavor is beyond delicious but the crunchy sugar crystals are a bummer. I’m going to try to cook at a lower temperature like you recommended….

    • Jen says

      Hi Michelle, did you check out my section in the post on how to avoid grainy caramel? I have a bunch of tips but my top 3 suggestions would be 1) rub the sides of the pot with vegetable oil before cooking, 2) replace one tablespoon of brown sugar with corn syrup (works like a charm, 3) cook at low heat until for a generous amount of time to ensure the sugar is fully melted. I hope that helps!

  67. David says

    Hi – can I use castor sugar instead of brown? Thanks

    • Jen says

      No, sorry, only brown sugar please.

  68. Annie King says

    I made this and it is incredible. I might as a little bourbon next time.

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you loved it, thanks Annie!

  69. Angela says

    I was taught how to make candy caramel from a young age, so my review has an unfair advantage. Still I just wanted to say, this was so simple that I hollered the instructions to my 8 year old daughter while I nursed at the table. She completed it so easily and it was great! I made some more this morning to drizzle across some pancakes.

    • Jen says

      That is awesome your 8-year old daughter made this Caramel Sauce with just your guiding voice -love it! I’m so happy you found it simple and delicious! Thanks Angela!

  70. Rose says

    Hi, I made this sauce on a whim since I had some leftover evaporated milk. I was kind of sceptical about making it and here’s what happened: as I was cooking the butter and sugar, I was simmering at a low boil. After about 3 minutes, it started to get quite thick and grainy – oh no, I thought, there goes 3/4 of a cup of butter! I took it off the heat and added the milk and vanilla and it immediately went to a very liquid state and I could feel that it had “burned” to the bottom of the pan as I was stirring it. I put it back on the heat and miracle of caramel miracles, it got glossy, smooth (no grains) and whatever was on the bottom of the pot loosened up and disappeared. I continued to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring all the while. I ended up with golden, smooth creamy caramel sauce – delicious!!! Thanks so much for the recipe and I’ll definitely make it again. Now off to check out your other recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Rose, welcome to my site! I’m so pleased this Caramel Sauce worked out for you in the end – phew! I hope you enjoy exploring my site!

  71. Chnadrika says

    Can I use soft brown sugar

    • Jen says

      Chnadrika, I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to?

      • Chandrika says

        Hi Jen
        In NZ we get brown sugar in 2 forms. I tried it with thicker granular brown sugar and my caramel sauce turned out very grainy instead of taking all the precautions you mentioned in your notes 🙁
        Also wondering if I can use reduced cream ( again reduced cream might be unique to NZ 🙂 )
        instead of evaporated milk ?

        • Jen says

          Hi Chandrika, is reduced cream similar to half and half? Assuming it is like lighter heavy cream, then it should be okay but you will want to start with less because it won’t be as creamy. Hope that helps!

  72. Chloe says

    Hello, would the recipe be suitable to use for a millionaires shortbread? 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Chloe, no, this recipe is for pouring. You will want to look for one with less butter so it thickens up more. Sorry!

  73. Chandrika Shetty says

    Hi Jen, Tried it with reduced cream and it came out all right. Thanks again 🙂

    • Karen says

      Silly easy… and my first try. I have always been afraid of melting sugar because the burn is so bad. My input is that at around 7 minutes the sauce changed to a deeper and smoother consistency.. it TOLD me it was almost ready. Fool proof for a beginner!!! TY

      • Jen says

        You’re so welcome Karen, I’m so happy it was a winner!

  74. Chris says

    Love this recipe. I use salted butter so didn’t need to add any salt.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Chris, I’m so happy you loved it!

  75. Tanya says

    Does this caramel become hard in fridge? I want to fill with it cupcakes that need to be refrigerated.

    • Jen says

      Hi Tanya, it will harden slightly in the refrigerator but should be fine for cupcakes if you bring them to room temperature first, or better yet microwave them for 10 seconds- yum! I would definitely make the caramel on the thinner side, adding more evaporated milk.

  76. Becca Skaggs says

    Easy to make and rich flavor! Love that you can use evaporated milk for caramel. Will be making caramel a lot more now 🙂

    • Jen says

      YAY! I agree that the evaporated milk is a game changer – dangerous to always have all the ingredients on hand!

  77. Nina Lane says

    Do you think this caramel could be made thinner to drizzle on coffee?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! You can completely control the consistency by adding more evaporated milk after simmering.

  78. Christine Barnes says

    Thanks for this amazingly thorough recipe with all of the tricks and hints! I would love tonmake this and send to friends and families some shortbread cookies. Can it be canned? If so, how would I go about this?

    • Jen says

      Thanks Christine! I am sure it can be canned but I haven’t personally tried it, I would suggest googling that specifically. I also would avoid doubling or tripling this recipe because the added volume can prevent the sugar from melting evenly and properly, so make single batches instead. Good luck!

      • Erica says

        If I added to much of the canned milk can I reboil it to thicken it back up?

        • Jen says

          Yes, you can continue to gently simmer and it should thicken up.

  79. Kathleen says

    I’ve returned to your site for this recipe for a couple of years now, and I always recommend/link for friends. Out of the gazillion sites and recipes available online, this recipe and your site stand out!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Kathleen, I’m honored you’re loving my site! Thanks for recommending it!

  80. Sydney says

    I only have dark brown sugar will it still work?

    • Jen says

      Yes, it will just have a stronger molasses flavor.

  81. Bonnie says

    I made this recipe, but left out some of the brown sugar. Can I reheat it, adding the rest of the sugar?

    • Jen says

      Hi Bonnie, I’m afraid if you add the brown sugar later it will taste grainy. You could try adding a little and bringing it to a gentle simmer so the sugar dissolves. Good luck!

  82. Joan k says

    The best tasting and fool proof sauce ever
    Don’t let the use of evaporated milk put you off, its better than heavy cream and easier to work with

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the review Joan, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

  83. Katie G. says

    This is SO good! I used salted butter (what I had), so mine was more like salted caramel, but my husband commented without prompting that it was just the right balance of salty and sweet! Yum!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Katie, I’m so pleased you loved it!

  84. Olaniyi Oluwapelumi says

    I made this recipe. . Very easy to make and indeed foulproof….was my first time with caramel sauce but this recipe made me feel like a pro. Wish I could send you videos…been licking it non-stop. Too delicious for how extremely easy it was. Thank you, thank you, thank you

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Olaniyi, I’m so pleased this was a huge hit! I don’t blame you for licking the bowl 😉 You can always tag me on IG!

  85. Ludivina Martin says

    Can salted butter be usedd in this caramel sauce instead of unsalted?

    • Jen says

      Yes! Just reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon and add additional salt to taste if needed.

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