Bake To Basics: Never Buy Caramel Sauce Again

Your dessert just got much better

by Brittany Bennett

Everything tastes better when it's homemade. Even if you’re not a Michelin-starred chef and maybe sometimes forget to add the salt, don’t let fear of home cooking send you down the ready-made aisle—particularly when it comes to sweet, decadent caramel sauce. Because while mass-produced bottles of this sweet, golden sauce may be tempting for a quick fix, we beg you to try making your own.

What is caramel? What are the ingredients? How is it even made?! Don’t worry, dessert’s finest condiment is pretty simple to whip up. All it takes is what you likely take in your coffee, so you should probably have everything already in stock. No, really: To get the dessert started, all you need is water, sugar, and cream. Surprised? Inspired? Intrigued? You can have caramel in the time it would take you to get to the store. So skip the lines and turn on your burner. Soon, you’ll shower every ice cream cone, morning waffle, and sliced apple with your homemade sauce. Find out how to get one step closer to that Michelin star title here:

Easy Caramel Sauce

Makes about 1 cup of caramel sauce


¼ cup water

½ cup sugar

½ cup heavy cream

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 tbsp butter


Fill a small saucepan with water and pour sugar in the middle. Turn the heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil, about 3 minutes. Refrain from stirring the sugar in the water. If any sugar clings to the side of the pan, wet a pastry brush and wipe it back down into the boiling water. (Note: Sugar that clings to the side will crystallize and threaten your sauce by becoming more of an intricately sculpted cake topper than actual sauce.)

Let the sugar boil until its color begins to faintly turn yellow-gold. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to boil until amber, another 5 minutes. Swirl occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of the caramelizing sugar. (Note again: It can burn quickly.)

Once the color has reached a reddish-amber, remove from heat and pour in heavy cream carefully. The caramel will bubble up and fiercely spit hot sugar at you. Whisk, whisk, whisk until it’s combined. Add vanilla, salt, and butter. Let cool and serve.

Store in a glass jar in your refrigerator for two to three weeks. (If it lasts that long.)