You’ll never buy jarred Salted Caramel Sauce again once you realize how easy it is to make at home. Plus it tastes so much better without all the additives. It has a million uses, one of which is to be eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon while no one is looking.
Is salted caramel the best thing ever? “Bah”, you’re thinking. “Best? No way.” Is it better than fluffy kittens in a basket? Is it better than Tyrion Lannister looking at you like this? Is it better than doggie derp face? Who’s to say. Well, I am and the answer is yes. It is better than all those things.
Okay, so now we know that salted caramel sauce is the one true god, I’m not going to insult your intelligence by telling you it’s the easiest thing to make. I mean, it’s simple enough. There’s only 4 ingredients. The thing about caramel though is that there is a very fine line between deliciously dark and acridly burned. You have to be brave when browning the sugar but not foolhardy. The best caramel teeters right on that line between sweet and bitter.
It definitely helps to have the right tools (I found this link to a tumblr that’s just people posing with giant spoons and had to include it here. Thank you for understanding). Seriously though, you’ll need a good, heavy saucepan. It should be larger than you’d think, 2 or 3 quarts is perfect. A rounded bottom is ideal but not required. An instant-read thermometer would also be extremely useful. It will help in that panicky moment between perfect and ruined.
Note: I’ve added a tablespoon of corn syrup to the printable recipe below because corn syrup helps to keep the sugar from crystalizing. It’s not a necessity and I don’t use it every time but if I have it around I think of it as an extra insurance policy against a grainy sauce.
Add the sugar and corn starch (if using) and heat over medium-high, whisking it as it begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form clumps, but just keep whisking as it cooks. You’re trying to melt it all evenly so keep moving it around.
Once the sugar has pretty much melted, stop whisking and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. If you keep whisking once it’s melted, the sugar can seize up and crystalize.
Continue cooking and swirling until the sugar has a lovely reddish-brown color, and a slight toasted aroma. This is the critical point where you want to make sure it’s dark enough but not burned. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, check it now. You want it at 350 degrees F.
As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. It’s going to bubble like crazy so be careful. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. The sugar and melted butter may not be completely combined yet but that’s fine.
Turn off the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. It’s going to bubble up again but just keep whisking.
Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Add the salt and whisk to incorporate.
Be warned: the caramel sauce is HOT at this point so you will need to let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you…do whatever you’re going to do with it (not judging. This is a safe place). Once it’s cooled some, use it or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge. You will want to warm it up a bit once it’s chilled.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup optional
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon maldon salt or any flaky sea salt
- Add the sugar and corn syrup (if using) and heat over medium-high, whisking it as it begins to melt. Once the sugar is mostly melted, stop whisking and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. Continue cooking and swirling until the sugar is reddish-brown and has a slight toasted aroma. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, you want it at 350 degrees F.
- Once the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once and whisk until butter is completely melted. Turn off the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. It’s going to bubble up again but just keep whisking. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Add the salt and whisk to incorporate.
- Let it cool, then use it or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge. You will want to warm it up a bit once it’s chilled.