This is the best salted caramel sauce. It’s, buttery, salty, and perfectly decadent. The texture is smooth and creamy, and it is perfectly acceptable to lick it right off of your spoon. This caramel sauce goes perfectly with ice cream, apple pie, chocolate cake, french toast, cookies, and so much more…the options are endless!
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What is Salted Caramel Sauce?
The best salted caramel sauce is made up of four simple ingredients:
Sugar– The sugar is what creates the actual caramel flavor. The caramel comes to life as it cooks and deepens in color and flavor.
Butter– Butter is essential for any good caramel sauce. It adds a silkiness that makes caramel so satisfying to eat. For this recipe, we use European style butter because European butter has a higher fat content, and therefore a richer and creamier taste.
If you do not have any European butter(Plugra and President are 2 great brands), then use regular unsalted butter.
Heavy Cream– Gives caramel that creamy silky texture we all love so much!
A Note About Making Salted Caramel
Don’t be intimidated by this recipe! Making caramel sauce can seem a bit intimidating the first time, but the method in this recipe makes it much easier. I found the method in David Lebovitz’s salted butter caramel sauce, and it is so easy. The method calls for combining the sugar and butter right from the start, which promotes even cooking.
Most recipes call for cooking the sugar first, and then the butter is added later. By combining the butter and sugar at the beginning of the cooking process, the sugar cooks more evenly and will not suddenly go from light amber to a burned mess.
Tips for Making This Caramel Sauce
- ALWAYS bring the heavy cream to a light boil before making caramel sauce. Cold heavy cream causes the hot sugar to seize up and harden. The sauce will take a while to melt back down, and the sugar may continue to cook and darken more than is desirable.
- Use a heavy bottom sauce pan. I like to use all-clad because of the even heat distribution created by the copper and high quality metal layers. Any good candy-making pot will work too.
- If you don’t have either types of pots, you can still use a normal sauce pan. The results, however, may not be as consistent in a normal pot if it does not conduct heat evenly.
- Have a pastry brush(these are the BEST) and a bowl of water on hand to wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pot. The sauce will become grainy and crystallize if little grains of unmelted sugar make their way into the sauce after it is done cooking. Then all of your hard work will be for naught!
- Cook sugar and butter on medium heat. Cooking the sugar and butter on a higher heat might be tempting, but the sugar can burn very quickly on high heat. This recipe definitely calls for a little patience!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tbs unsalted European butter, at least 82% fat (or American butter if you can’t find European)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp fleur de sel or flaked sea salt
- Bring heavy cream to a soft boil and turn off heat. Set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in a medium size heavy bottom pot on medium heat. Do NOT use a small sauce pan, otherwise you will have a mess when the heavy cream goes into the hot sugar.
- Allow butter and sugar to melt, stirring often. If sugar granules stick to the sides of the pot, wet a pastry brush with water and gently push the sugar down into the bottom of the pot. This may need to be done repeatedly until the sugar is fully melted.
- The sugar and butter will look somewhat grainy for about 5-7 minutes, but eventually the sugar will start to turn amber and will begin to look smooth.
- Once the sugar and butter mixture is a deep amber or almond color, remove from heat and vigorously stir in heavy cream. The caramel will seize up a little, so return the pot to medium low and continue to stir. The caramel and heavy cream will blend together after a minute or two.
- To finish off, remove caramel from heat and add salt. Stir until combined and let cool for 30 minutes before transferring to a storage container. I recommend a glass container that can easily be reheated.
- Refrigerate the caramel sauce for up to 3 weeks. This sauce is thicker, so place it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to loosen it up if you are using it as a drizzle for ice cream or pie. Otherwise, it is very spreadable and can be used for any assortment of desserts!
Inspired by David Lebovitz’s recipe.
Keywords: salted caramel sauce, caramel sauce, caramel ice cream topping