Salted Caramel Sauce

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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.

A jar of homemade caramel sauce sits on a table runner next to a bowl of cinnamon sticks.

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:

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.

Jump to:


The ingredients for homemade caramel are so easy:

The ingredients for the caramel sauce are on the kitchen counter.
  • Cream
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla (extract & bean)
  • Sea salt (I used sea salt but Kosher works great, too)
  • Water

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:

A fresh vanilla bean pod has been sliced open and a knife is showing the vanilla seeds.

Measure the cream into a cup, add the salt, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds to the cup so it is ready to go:

The measuring cup with cream, vanilla, and vanilla seeds is ready to make caramel.

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.

Step by step photos show how to brown the sugar for the caramel sauce.

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.

Finished Texture

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.

The finished caramel sauce is stored in a mason jar.

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!

Storage Tips

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.

More Caramel Recipes

You'll find plenty of ways to use this delicious caramel sauce, but one of my favorites is as a sweet and salty cheesecake topping.

Once you have a jar in the fridge you won't be able to stop yourself from drizzling it over these fun caramel recipes.

๐Ÿ“– Recipe

A mason jar filled with homemade caramel sauce with a spoon.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

4.98 from 46 votes
This addictive homemade caramel sauce makes an excellent ice cream topping or dessert sauce for fall treats.
TOTAL TIME 15 minutes
PREP TIME 5 minutes
COOK TIME 10 minutes
YIELD 1 jar of sauce


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean sliced and seeded
  • 1 tsp 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.
COURSEDessert Sauces

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The photo collage shows a jar of salted caramel next to a photo of it cooking in the saucepan.


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