Easy 4 Ingredient Homemade Caramel Sauce

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We’re breaking down exactly how to make a super easy homemade caramel sauce recipe. This caramel dessert is the best and easiest recipe you’ll find.

It’s foolproof and only uses 4 ingredients. It always turns out creamy, unique, and perfect for desserts. It’s one of our most popular recipes for a good reason.

5-star rating for caramel sauce.
easy caramel sauce - medium heat, vanilla extract, caramel recipes, whipping cream

Our delicious caramel sauce has a creamy, rich buttery flavor and can be used as a topping for desserts like pound cake, chocolate cake, and apple crumble bars or as a dipping sauce for fruit.

Caramels are so versatile, right? From candies to dipping sauces, you can even pour it all over bananas, an ice cream sundae cake, or brownies for an extra gooey kick.

It also makes the perfect topping for an ice cream or waffle bar or drizzled all over our gooey monkey bread.

how to make caramel sauce - medium heat, heavy whipping cream

History Of Caramel

We also love the rich history behind caramel. It’s part of our history with food. Early findings date caramel back to at least the 1650s when American settlers made hard caramel candies in a kettle.

Our updated version has added extras like fat and milk, making the modern caramel we know and love today.

If you have an event, birthday party, or dinner coming up or just want to play around in the kitchen, try making your caramel sauce.

quick caramel sauce - medium heat, caramel apples, hot caramel, room temperature, easy caramel sauce

What We Love About Homemade Caramel Sauce

What we love about this recipe is that it’s straightforward and foolproof to make. Using these 4 ingredients, you will get a creamy sauce perfect for dipping and desserts.

No Candy Thermometer Needed

Another great thing about this recipe is that you don’t need a candy thermometer to make it. A lot of recipes call for a thermometer, but this recipe is so simple and makes a creamy caramel without it.

brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup on a marble counter.

Ingredients Notes

You only need 4 simple ingredients to make this easy caramel sauce! There is no heavy cream in this recipe, which makes it even easier.

Butter – Gives it a buttery, creamy flavor. Use pure butter for this recipe. You can use salted or unsalted.

Brown sugarCreates a sweet flavor and a dark amber color. It gives the caramel a sweet taste.

Sweetened condensed milk  – The base of the sauce. It has a thick texture and is used in pies and desserts.

Corn syrup – Helps give it a smooth texture and thickens it.

butter melting with brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk.

How to Make Creamy Caramel Sauce

This recipe is as easy as it gets. Here are the steps you’ll take to make a homemade caramel sauce. It’s perfect for anyone making caramel for the first time!

  • Melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat 
  • Then, add in the sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup. 
  • While the sauce thickens, use a whisk to mix until it thickens and the sugar melts gently. Scrape the sides of the pot too. Please pay close attention to the texture of the caramel as it’s simmering.
  • Lastly, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool a bit.

Tips for Making The Best Caramel Sauce Recipe

Make it ahead of time. Store it in an airtight glass container and leave it in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. If you’re gifting it, it can stay out for 1 day.

Never leave the sauce unattended. It can quickly burn, so you want to watch it closely as it’s cooking.

Use salted butter for the salted caramel sauce or add a little salt over the top. Something like fleur de sel is lovely sprinkled over the top.

Use a wooden spoon or heat-proof silicone spatula to stir.

How to Store Caramel Sauce

Once the caramel cools, add it to a glass container that you can seal with a lid. For example, Weck Jars are perfect for storing caramel sauce.

Once it’s cooled, any airtight container will work. However, it would be best to be transferred to a heatproof container to reheat it.


Then, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. However, it will become hard in the refrigerator, so you must reheat the sauce before serving.

It can be reheated in a microwave-safe container in the microwave or on the stovetop. It will change the texture a little but will still work as a good dipping sauce.


You can also freeze homemade caramel sauce for up to 3 months. Place it in a freezer-safe container, properly sealed. Just note that when reheated, the texture will become a little more liquid.

caramel sauce in a saucepan on a marble table.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between Caramel Sauce and Caramel Topping?

Admittedly, there is not much difference between sauce and topping. The biggest difference between the two is in the thickness.
Caramel sauce is thicker and usually richer, whereas a topping is thinner and sweeter. 

What Is the Shelf-Life?

It keeps nicely for up to two weeks. It must be in an air-tight container and stored in the fridge. You can also freeze caramel sauce for up to three months while maintaining its quality.

To use after it’s been in the refrigerator, simply warm the sauce up.

How Do You Make Caramel Sauce Thicker?

To make that classic, thick caramel sauce, what needs to happen?

First, keep in mind that caramel will thicken as it cools. If it’s still not as thick as you’d like, simmer it on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. This should thicken it without changing the flavor or color.

This recipe will also thicken as it sits. You won’t have any problem getting a perfect caramel sauce with the easy 4 ingredients we share below.

Is Dulce de Leche the Same as Caramel Sauce?

There’s a common misconception that caramel sauce and dulce de leche are the same, and understandably so. They are often used interchangeably because of how similar they are.

The main difference between the two is in their ingredients. Dulce de leche means “sweet milk,” and the making of it requires heating condensed milk. The sugar in the milk browns, giving it that caramel color.

Caramel, on the other hand, typically uses ingredients like butter, brown sugar, evaporated milk, salt, and sometimes vanilla extract. Recipes vary, however.

Uses for Caramel Sauce

One fun way to use your homemade caramel sauce is for dipping. Add it to a fruit board with apple slices, pears, and other delicious fruit, and dip away! It also makes the perfect dip for a dessert platter.

We even added a bowl of flaky sea salt to sprinkle on the caramel for salted caramel.

You might want to try this bourbon caramel apple recipe, as well.

Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, ice cream sundaes, or coffee drinks.

It works wonders paired with any of these recipes too:

Sweet sauce in a glass.

As you can see, making caramel sauce is as easy! 

It requires minimal ingredients, time, or labor, and the end result is a fantastic treat you can drizzle over your other favorite desserts and snacks!

Let us know your thoughts

Now that you know how to make one of our personal favorite recipes, let us know what you think!

Leave a comment and review if you make this caramel recipe. We’d love to know your thoughts!

You can also FOLLOW US on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious recipes, cocktails, desserts, and parties!

how to make caramel sauce

Easy Caramel Sauce

An easy recipe for a creamy the buttery caramel sauce!
4.51 from 146 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 1702kcal
Author: Eden


  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 14 ounces
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup


  • Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and brown sugar and a medium saucepan.
    butter and brown sugar in a saucepan
  • Add the sweetened condensed and corn syrup.
  • While the sauce thickens over the next 5-7 minutes, continue to gently whisk the mixture until it thickens and the sugar melts. 
    butter melting with brown sugar
  • Take it off the heat, allow it to cool a bit. It will thicken as it cools too.
    how to make caramel sauce


  • Make it ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container and leave it in the refrigerator for 1 month. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. If you’re gifting it, it can stay out for 1 day.
  • Never leave the sauce unattended. It can quickly burn, so you want to watch it closely as it’s cooking.
  • For salted caramel sauce use salted butter.


Calories: 1702kcal | Carbohydrates: 281g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 40g | Cholesterol: 189mg | Sodium: 740mg | Potassium: 881mg | Sugar: 280g | Vitamin A: 1947IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 678mg | Iron: 1mg
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Easy caramel sauce.

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52 thoughts on “Easy 4 Ingredient Homemade Caramel Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! I used it as a caramel layer for a Frankenstein batch of homemade twix bars after my first recipe for the caramel layer turned out so hard it was inedible! I will definitely make this again!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! For the 1/2 cup of corn syrup I used mostly molasses and some dark corn syrup. I also added some coconut oil, vanilla, and a bit of salt and it is absolutely divine. I will totally be making it again!

  3. 5 stars
    Yum! Anything with condensed milk is seriously so good. I’m going to use the caramel sauce to try to get my son to eat his fruit!

  4. 4 stars
    So we made this during quarentine for a pumpkin cheesecake topping and with slight modifications it was delicious. I followed all instructions all the way to to cooking 5-7 minutes. We found that at 5 minutes over low to medium heat the sauce still just tasted like sweetened condensed milk so we put it back on a low flame and cooked an additional 8 minutes with constant stirring. We also added salt to taste. We love salty with sweet. We didn’t measure the salt but probably put at least a teaspoon of sea salt and half a teaspoon of kosher salt. Mmmm. Delicious!

    • 5 stars
      This sauce is so easy! I’ve made it twice and will make it again. I agree with the reviewer who cooked it an additional 8 minutes and added some salt. I’ll try that next time. It’s very good, but I think extra cooking would add more depth to the flavor. Great recipe…thank you!

    • 5 stars
      Almost did the same thing, but I added 4 tbsp of dark baking cocoa at the butter and brown sugar stage…. pretty much our go-to topping now.

  5. So easy to make; I’ve been using it in my lattes and its 10x better than the fake tasting sauces from the store.

  6. 5 stars
    This is so easy and absolutely delicious!
    We’re under COVID-19 stay-at-home order and I didn’t have the ingredients for the carmel glaze I wanted to use on a cake. I found this recipe and used it as a cake topping. It was a hit and there’s more in the fridge. I’ll definitely be making it again.


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