Caramel Sauce

Delicious caramel sauce – Quick and easy to make with just three ingredients. Drizzle it on pretty much anything to add some lovely caramel sweetness.

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Delicious caramel sauce - Quick and easy to make with just three ingredients.

Whenever we go to Starbucks Jon’s favourite drink is a Caramel Macchiato. For anyone who’s never heard of it before, it’s a milky coffee (a bit like a cappuccino) with vanilla syrup and caramel drizzle sauce on top.

Since buying a coffee machine a couple of years ago I like to make them at home too. I’ve always bought the caramel drizzle sauce and vanilla syrup but I thought it might be fun to have a go at making my own (although I haven’t attempted the vanilla syrup yet).

Whilst caramel macchiatos are yummy (well at least Jon thinks they are, I find them far too sweet!) there are so many other uses for this sauce, ice-cream, milkshakes, cakes, pancakes, well pretty much anything sweet you can think of. It’ll keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge so you don’t have to use it all straight away.

This recipe makes about 100ml of sauce but it can be easily multiplied. It just might take a little longer for the sugar to caramelise.

Delicious caramel sauce - Quick and easy to make with just three ingredients. Drizzle it on pretty much anything to add some lovely caramel sweetness.

How to make caramel sauce

It turns out (like with most things) that caramel sauce is pretty easy to make, it just needs a bit of time and attention.

Caramel sauce consists of three ingredients – sugar, butter and single cream (or a mix of double cream and full fat milk).

The approach I take to making caramel sauce is to heat the sugar in a large saucepan until it’s completely melted and turned a light brown colour, then quickly whisk in the butter, turn off the heat and whisk in the cream.

Here are a few tips to help you get perfect caramel sauce…

  1. Use granulated sugar – Other types of sugar contain impurities which make it more likely that your sugar will crystallise or burn.
  2. Use a large pan – It means that the sugar will be spread in a thinner layer and should melt more evenly, making it less likely to burn. You’ll also find that the sauce bubbles up significantly when you add the butter and cream so a large pan will ensure it remains contained.
  3. Make sure your pan and spatula are spotlessly clean – Any impurities will encourage the sugar to crystallise.
  4. Have your butter and cream measured out and ready to use – Otherwise there’s a risk you’ll overcook your caramel while you measuring everything.
  5. Move the caramel about (but only a little bit) – You can use a spatula to gently move the sugar around to help it melt. Avoid stirring it until it’s clearly started to turn to liquid (it’s more likely to crystallise before that point), then gently stir it just enough to move any unmelted sugar over the heat.
  6. Be very careful – boiling sugar is much hotter than boiling water and the sauce will bubble up when you add the butter and cream. You may want to use heat resistant gloves to protect you from any spatters.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat as soon as you’ve added all of the ingredients – The sauce will look too thin, but don’t worry it’ll thicken as it cools.
  8. Don’t panic if you get a couple of lumps of crystallised sugar – Obviously if there are too many then your sauce will be a disaster. But if you get a couple just put the sauce through a metal sieve to remove them (I’ve had to do it and the sauce is still perfect afterwards).

Caramel Sauce

Active Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 12 minutes

Makes approximately 100ml


To make caramel sauce you’ll need…

  • Weighing scales
  • Tablespoon
  • Large saucepan
  • Heat resistant spatula
  • Whisk
  • Metal sieve (hopefully not, but just in case)


  • 100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 60ml (¼ cup) single cream (or 30ml double cream and 30ml full fat milk)


If you’ve not made this recipe before then take a look at my quick (less that a minute) video to show you what to do…

  1. Measure out all of your ingredients into separate bowls (100g granulated sugar, 30g butter, 60ml single cream). Cut the butter into small cubes (this’ll help you to incorporate it into the sauce quickly).
  2. Put the sugar into a large saucepan spread even across the bottom and place onto a medium heat.
  3. Once the sugar has clearly started to melt, gently move the sugar about the pan with the spatula until it has all melted.
  4. Once the sugar has melted continue to stir gently with the spatula until it has turned a light brown colour.
  5. As soon as the caramel is light brown, carefully add the butter and whisk rapid until the butter has melted and is combined.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the cream, again whisking rapidly until combined.
  7. If there are any small sugar crystals, pass the sauce through a metal sieve to remove them.
  8. Put into a bowl or jug and refrigerate to cool.

What to make with your caramel sauce

If you’re after some inspiration for using your caramel sauce once it’s been made then take a look at some of these recipes…

Nutritional Information

Calories: 111 kcal (6%), Fat: 5.4g (8%), Saturated Fat: 3.4g (17%), Carbohydrates: 15.2g (6%), Sugar: 15.2g (17%), Fibre: 0g (0%), Protein: 0.3g (1%), Salt: 0.0g (0%)

This is the estimated nutritional information per tablespoon. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

Free From/Suitable For…

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Corn-Free
  • Egg-Free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Nut-Free
  • Soy-Free

The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.



  1. This looks like a great recipe! How should we store this and how long does it keep for?

    • Hi Ren.

      It’ll keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. If you’re going to keep it for more than a couple of days then I’d suggest using a sterilised jar. Personally it’s so quick to make that I tend to just make as much as I need fresh each time so I never need to store it.

  2. Thanks for the advice. I tried making it earlier but had very large sugar crystals (the sugar caramelised quickly at the bottom but there was still a fair amount of non-melted sugar on top). Is there anything I’m doing wrong? Once sieved it tasted pretty good but it seemed to be half crystals and half sauce!

    • I’ve had that problem before a couple of times. There were three causes…

      1) If there’s are scratches on the bottom of the pan.
      2) If the pan isn’t completely dry (the water will make it start to crystallise).
      3) Stirring it before the sugar has really started to melt.

      I avoid all these things now and haven’t had any problems.

      I hope that helps.

  3. Tried to make this twice. Note: Check label before you buy. Apparently milk can come in a cream sized bottle too! Will try again with cream soon. When stirring until light brown, how light should it be?

    • Oops, this definitely doesn’t work with milk!

      The colour is difficult to describe, I found this picture online which is about the shade you’re aiming for (I should take a picture next time I make caramel and add it to the post). I find that it’s pretty much the right colour as soon as all the sugar has melted.

    • I find that aiming for the color of a copper (American) penny works pretty well.

      • You’re right, I had to google it as I don’t know what colour they are. I’m so glad you added the “American” as the colour of a British penny would means it was horribly burnt!

  4. In your initial ingredient list, you mention ‘light brown sugar’ and in your next list, you say to use ‘granulated’ sugar. Just checking to see if you still mean brown sugar? I always understood ‘granulated’ meant white sugar? Thanks!

    • Definitely use granulated (white) sugar. All other sugars include some impurities which make them tricky to caramelise. Thanks for pointing out that I’d mentioned light brown sugar in the post, I’d initially experimented with it as some people use it but found granulated much easier. I’ll change it to make it clearer.

  5. Here is an easy Vanilla Syrup recipe for you. It will keep in the fridge for several weeks (at least). If you don’t bring the syrup to a full boil & let it simmer for a minute or two it will not keep as well. I always store mine in a glass bottle, but you could also use a plastic one.

    Vanilla Simple Syrup
    1 cup water
    1 cup white sugar
    Combine, stir to dissolve sugar. Cook over high heat untill mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.
    Remove from heat & let cool.
    Pour into glass bottle, add 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
    Store in fridge.
    Add to taste in coffee or other drinks that you want to sweeten.
    You can also do a caramel type syrup like this using 3/4 of a cup each of white & golden yellow (or light brown) sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Follow directions for vanilla syrup, reduce vanilla to 1 tsp.

    When making a Caramel Macchiato at home we use both the vanilla & the caramel syrup to sweeten (to taste) & flavour the coffee, frothed milk & top it with some drizzled caramel sauce. For a little extra indulgence you could use whipped cream instead of frothed milk & sprinkle some Skor bits on top with the caramel drizzle.

  6. Catherine Kaufmann

    Thanks for the scratched pan hint, Ive had the darndest time getting smooth caramel, my heaviest pan is well worn and a likely culprit.

    Also, I seek UK recipes for the weights over volume measures. So much better for baking and candy making. Much appreciated!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Unfortunately I discovered the scratched pan tip from experience, I’ve now got a pan that I keep just for this sort of thing and wash up by hand to try and ensure it stays completely scratch free.

      I always use weights for butter, by the time I’ve squeezed it into a cup it’s really hard to try and get back out again. Popping it onto the scales is much easier.

  7. Hi, I’ve made the caramel and put it in the fridge, it is now toffee! Can I pop it in the microwave to get it back to being a sauce?

    • Hi Donna. It should soften if you leave it out at room temperature, however a short burst in the microwave will speed the process up.

  8. Can you tell me what the measurements are in teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups.

  9. How much caramel sauce does this recipe make?

  10. Hi ..i tried d recipe looked great but was a lil bitter. How can i correct it or wat wud hv gone wrong?

    • My guess would be that the sugar was a little too brown before you stirred in the cream and butter. You could try adding it sooner next time.

  11. Hi I just stumbled upon your blog and cannot wait to make this as a filling for the chocolates you also have listed but I live in the United States and for the life of me cannot figure out a substitute for single cream as we don’t have that there. I tried googling it but am not sure of a good substitute, do you have any suggestions?

  12. I make this with condensed milk and it’s delicious.

  13. Does this need to be refrigerated or can I let it sit out for a few days?

    • Charlotte Oates

      I normally refrigerate it as it then lasts for ages but it should be fine out for 2-3 days as long as it’s not left anywhere too hot.

  14. I have been making different caramel recipes in the search for one that will hold inside a cupcake. How do I make a caramel thick enough that it does not seep into the cupcake but the right texture that you can’t wait to bit into it? Karen

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’ve used this caramel sauce is a few different cupcakes and it doesn’t seep in. If you follow the recipe you should find it thickens up nicely.

  15. I followed your instructions but my sauce seems to be a lot darker than it should be, can you tell me what I’m doing wrong please

    • Charlotte Oates

      I suspect it’s been heated for too long. As soon as you see the sugar has started to melt at the bottom, mix the unmelted sugar into the melted as quickly as you can and get the other ingredients mixed in as soon as it’s melted.

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