Making homemade caramel sauce is so much easier than you might think. This sea salt and vanilla bean caramel sauce is the perfect match for any fall dessert or for adding to your morning coffee.
Sea salt and vanilla bean caramel sauce.
That's pretty much all I have to say, right? I mean, do you really need me to sell you on the idea of this recipe?
Yes? Easy enough. . .
Keep a jar of this magical homemade caramel sauce in your fridge so you can:
- pour it into your holiday coffee
- drizzle it over vanilla ice cream
- jazz up your morning yogurt along with maybe some of these pumpkin spice pecans
- drink it with a straw. . .
The homemade version will ruin you for store-bought caramel forever. It is heaven in a mason jar. And you will not believe just how easy it is to make.
The ingredients for homemade caramel are so easy:
- Vanilla (extract & bean)
- Sea salt (I used sea salt but Kosher works great, too)
All pronounceable and obviously lacking in the traditional thickeners, stabilizers, and preservatives the store stuff has.
I keep a stash of vanilla beans in my pantry. I started buying them cheaply from Amazon ages ago.
SO much more affordable than the grocery store and it allows me to make unlimited caramel guilt-free. I also like to make my own vanilla extract. It's definitely worth the purchase of the big bulk bag.
Measure and prep the ingredients including seeding the vanilla bean pod first.
If you haven't done this, just run your paring knife down the length of the pod, open it up and use the flat end of the knife to scrape down the inside to get the seeds:
Measure the cream into a cup, add the salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds to the cup so it is ready to go:
Add the water and sugar to a large sauce pan.
Hint: You want taller walls than a skillet because one of the stages is going to bubble up high and you want it contained.
Stir the water and sugar together until combined and then place the pan over a burner on medium-high heat.
Do not stir the mixture at this point. Just every now and then swirl the pan a bit.
It will start to boil and bubble a bit. You let it do it's thing until it turns a deep amber color. It takes a while for that to happen but then it goes fast. Watch so it doesn't burn on you.
When the sugar is the proper amber color (Step 3 in the photo above), reduce the heat to low and then CAREFULLY pour the prepared cream mixture into the pan, scraping the salt out of the cup with a spatula as you go.
The salt likely settled to the bottom of your cup while you were working on the sugar. Get all the good stuff in there.
The very second the cream hits the sugar, your mix is going to BUBBLE UP like crazy. It is VERY hot and sticky. If you get it on your hands the burn can be painful. So just be super cautious. This is the step you want to make sure your kids are not right next to you for.
Very carefully start to whisk the cream into the sugar.
You may feel hard chunks under those bubbles. It will feel crunchy or gritty or odd and you'll think you screwed it up. You didn't.
It will all come together. Just continue to whisk carefully until it all blends in properly.
If the bubbles just refuse to calm down, remove the pot from the heat and just keep whisking gently until it forms the sauce.
The sauce will be thin and runny at this temperature but will thicken up in the fridge when it is cold.
Homemade caramel sauce never gets that super thick texture of the dip you may have bought in the tubs at the store. It is more of a drizzly sauce than a goopy one.
This is the caramel moments after I poured it into my mason jar for cooling. The bubbles will settle from the top and you'll be left with a nice creamy sauce.
Now, off you go to caramel all the things!
You can make the caramel sauce up to two to three weeks in advance. Store it in an airtight jar in the fridge.
The cream makes this recipe NOT shelf stable and it should always be refrigerated when not in use.
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean sliced and seeded
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Measure and prep your ingredients: put the water and sugar in a large pot and set aside on your stovetop, combine the cream, vanilla extract and seeds, and salt in a measuring cup and set next to the stove.
- Heat the sugar/water mixture over medium-high and swirl until the mixture becomes amber in color.
- Reduce heat to low and CAREFULLY pour the cream mixture into the sugar, scraping the cup to get all the seeds and salt. It will bubble up like crazy and is very very hot. Carefully whisk the mixture until it forms a smooth creamy sauce.
- Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
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