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Stay Soft Caramel Sauce

An easy to follow recipe for homemade caramel sauce that stays soft - even in the refrigerator! Perfect for dipping apple slices or pretzels or drizzling over desserts or into hot chocolate or lattes.

Everyone loves homemade caramel sauce. This isn’t a broad generalization, it’s just fact. Homemade caramel sauce is easy to make, and you likely have the ingredients on hand, so you can basically whip up a batch whenever, but you have to store the extra in the refrigerator, where it becomes hard. Then, when you want caramel you have to wait, and one should never have to wait for caramel. Over the years I’ve played with a few recipes and finally found my happy ratio of ingredients for a stay soft caramel sauce. The best part is, this caramel sauce stays soft without corn syrup, which most people don’t have in their pantry at any given time. You can probably make this caramel right now, but I’d recommend reading the post first, especially if you’re a caramel-making newbie. 😉

I use the wet method for caramel making here, which is where you add a little water to your sugar to help it dissolve. Working on a home cook top, I’ve found this is the most consistent method and I’ve tested on gas (mine currently), electric (former house), and glass ranges (family). Gas and electric ranges always have hot spots on the burners, and so it’s good to have a little leeway when making caramel to prevent burnt sugar spots because burnt sugar smells disgusting and lingers what feels like forever.

An easy to follow recipe for homemade caramel sauce that stays soft - even in the refrigerator! Perfect for dipping apple slices or pretzels or drizzling over desserts or into hot chocolate or lattes.

Use a heavy-bottomed stainless steel or other light colored pot. You might be able to get a successful batch in a dark pot, I was able to do it when we had a kitchen with crazy good lighting, but I can’t do that in our kitchen now, and it’s just easier to be able to see the color change. It’s important to add the ingredients to the sugar at just the right point in the cooking process.

To help you with this, I took pictures while cooking to try and show you what the sugar looks like in the pot as it caramelizes. The color you are looking for is a penny brown from a penny that has only just lost its brand-new shine, not an old penny brown. The second the caramelized sugar reaches this point, you want to turn off the heat and quickly whisk in the butter and heavy cream. It will bubble like crazy, you might see some lumps for a minute, but keep stirring and whisking until it all smooths out. Transfer immediately to a heat-safe container and allow to cool then store in the refrigerator.

An easy to follow recipe for homemade caramel sauce that stays soft - even in the refrigerator! Perfect for dipping apple slices or pretzels or drizzling over desserts or into hot chocolate or lattes.

The caramel sauce will look very liquid as it cools, but it hardens to a perfect spoon-friendly consistency in the refrigerator. I use it straight out of the fridge to dip apples, drizzle it on desserts, and if I let it sit out 5 minutes, it’s the perfect consistency to use in hot chocolate or homemade caramel lattes.

*UPDATE 11/2016* I went ahead and filmed a caramel making video for you where I talk you through the entire process and let you see exactly what’s going on in the pot. I think it might help some of you overcome challenges and find caramel-making success!

The caramel will keep up to 10 days in the refrigerator. After that, it starts to get a little grainy because the sugar begins to crystallize. The batch only makes about 1 1/2 cups of caramel though, so it doesn’t usually last that long.

An easy to follow recipe for homemade caramel sauce that stays soft - even in the refrigerator! Perfect for dipping apple slices or pretzels or drizzling over desserts or into hot chocolate or lattes.

Enjoy, darlings!

Stay Soft Caramel Sauce
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
12 mins
 
Author: Goodie Godmother
Ingredients
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3/4 c heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter cut into 1 tbsp pieces
Instructions
  1. Combine the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel (or other light-colored) pot.
  2. Set your other prepared ingredients and a whisk within easy reach.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat and stir frequently with a spatula until the sugar has dissolved. If you see sugar crystals forming along the sides of the pot, use a pastry brush wet in a small bowl of water to brush the crystals away.
  4. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, stop stirring! Swirl the entire pot gently if needed, during this next phase of cooking.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium high and watch the sugar for the change in color. This takes 4-5 minutes, but you cannot walk away, because the color changes in an instant. Once the dissolved sugar mixture reaches a medium copper color, quickly turn off the heat, and add the butter and heavy cream, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes homogeneous and all clumps dissolve. If you need to, place the pot over very low heat while you stir to help the caramel sauce smooth out.
  6. Transfer immediately to a heat-safe container, allow to cool, and store in the refrigerator up to 10 days.

An easy to follow recipe for homemade caramel sauce that stays soft - even in the refrigerator! Perfect for dipping apple slices or pretzels or drizzling over desserts or into hot chocolate or lattes.

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40 Comments

  • Reply
    Richard w Cillier
    April 27, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    is it supposed to resemble a withes boiling cauldron when you pu butter and ceam ?

  • Reply
    Ellen
    March 11, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    Hi, I’m making this recipy right now, I can’t get it to go darker than Avery, very light off white color and it’s been boiling for at least thirty minutes. I can live with the color but it’s not thick enough. Actually I have already added the cream, salt, corn syrup, vanilla and have let it cool but it didn’t thicken up very much so I’m boiling it again to see if it will get thicker. The taste is delicious, but it’s color is not the desired color and I’m hoping it will thicken up.

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      March 12, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Unfortunately, you won’t get it to go any darker if you’ve already added the other ingredients. The caramelization needs to happen with just the sugar and water. Once that reaches the “copper penny” color, you stop the cooking process by adding the other ingredients. There’s not really a way to darken or thicken it much after you’ve already added everything else.

  • Reply
    Tabitha
    March 4, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    So frustrated 🙁 I ended up with giant hard crystal blocks in a pool of wasted heavy cream. Any idea what I could have done wrong? I’m not cooking or baking illiterate. This is just a colossal disaster 🙁

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      March 12, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      I promise it’s not you. Candy making is a whole different animal than cooking or baking. The crystal blocks happened because your sugar didn’t properly dissolve. There may have been a residue from a previous something you made in the pan, or the mixture may have been stirred too often during the caramelization process. Did the sugar fully dissolve before you turned up the heat? Was there a lot of crystallization on the side of the pan that wasn’t brushed away with water? Did you stir with a spoon instead of swirl the pan? I’ve made all these mistakes and ended up with botched caramel. But I promise you can do this!!!

  • Reply
    Maggie
    February 23, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    I went out and bought a stainless steel pan because I knew watching the color change was important (and it’s a good piece of kitchenware). I I was nervous about making the recipe and it came out perfect. Thank you. I feel very gourmet making homemade caramel. My kids always wanted the store bought one, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Love how you don’t use invert sugar, now that I know what it is

  • Reply
    Jamie
    January 18, 2018 at 5:40 am

    First time making Carmel sauce and it was a hit,I was a bit scared when I added butter and cream as it instantly hardened. I stirred and stirred and returned to a low heat and “voila” carmel sauce I was looking for. Great recipe thanks for sharing. This will be my go to carmel sauce, tastes like Richardson’s my favorite. Again thanks for this EASY,AWESOME RECIPE.

  • Reply
    Tom
    December 22, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve tried two other caramel recipes and been disappointed both times. This recipe was perfect! It remained soft and was full of flavor. Granted, my first batch turned to cement (operator error), but once I figured it out (didn’t turn the heat to medium-high after dissolving the sugar) it went really well. The video was extremely helpful, as well as the pic showing what the color should be when it needs to be removed from the heat. I’m making another batch to put on apple pie tomorrow! Thank you.

  • Reply
    Cyndie
    November 10, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Once this cools could it be used as a cake filing? I would pipe a frosting ring on the cake to hold the filling in…..does it get thick enough to not be running all over the place?

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      November 15, 2017 at 8:31 am

      It can as long as you use a dam. When I use it as a cake filling, I use 2/3 cup heavy cream and 2 tbsp butter. This makes it much thicker too, which helps it stay in place 🙂

  • Reply
    H. Diaz
    August 16, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    OMG! I just made this to take to work for our ice cream sundae bar party tomorrow. So easy and sooooo good! I kind of panicked when it started to clump at the end but just put it on low heat and kept whisking like the directions said. Definitely a keeper recipe. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kerry
    February 12, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    Have you ever tried doubling the recipe? My husband loves Caramel on his coffee I was wondering if I could double or triple the amount. I know if some things doubling won’t work. Thanks

  • Reply
    Jolynn
    January 24, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Can you serve it in a crockpot on a warming setting? I’m having a fondue party.

  • Reply
    Fafa Annie
    December 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Okay so I am decidedly not the most computer savvy people on the planet and I did not realize that all I had to do to leave a comment was to be patient and scroll down to this section! But, I did want to leave a comment, YOU ARE AWESOME! Thank you for the video, I have always wanted to make caramel but my mother-in-law pretty much scared me to even attempt. Well now that I am a Grandmother (Fafa as I am known around these parts thanks to my beautiful grandson Noah who named me as such.) I could not give up without trying. Thank you for making it so easy to follow. You have an outstandingly gorgeous family btw!

  • Reply
    Margaret
    December 6, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Hey! This is a very easy recipe! How long does it normally take to cool down? Do you put it in the fridge if you need it soon?

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      December 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      At room temperature, an hour or two, but I usually put in the fridge to cool it a bit faster. 😉

  • Reply
    Nadia
    September 24, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Do you heat your heavy cream before adding it?

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      September 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      No, I usually just pour it out when I measure the rest of the ingredients and let it sit while I cook the sugar, but it’s still rather cold. You could if you wish, but it’s not required. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ada
    September 10, 2016 at 6:52 am

    I just made this and it is THE easiest and THE MOST DELICIOUS CARAMEL SAUCE EVER. Thank you for this amazing recipe! At first I was planning to use it in a cake, but I think now I’ll just eat it with a spoon. 🙂

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      September 10, 2016 at 9:22 am

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Ada! I always grab a spoonful or two myself. 😉

      • Reply
        Ada
        September 27, 2016 at 8:44 am

        I just made it for the third time and I messed it up. I’m so upset at myself, I really wanted some caramel sauce. 🙁 Hope it still tastes similar at least. I wan’t patient enough and didn’t let the sugar change color. Oh, by the way, my sugar usually goes crusty right before it changes color. Does that usually happen?

        • Reply
          Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
          October 4, 2016 at 11:33 pm

          Oh no! Usually crystallization in the sugar means that there’s something in the bowl or that the sugar didn’t dissolve completely. Try using a pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan as you’re dissolving your sugar, that way no rogue sugar crystals can stick and cause crystallization.

          • Ruth
            October 30, 2016 at 11:29 pm

            I had the same thing happen. I followed the instructions exactly and got rock candy. 🙁

          • Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
            October 31, 2016 at 11:46 am

            What kind of sugar did you use? The standard white sugar works best. Was your pan clean of any residue? It sounds like the sugar didn’t dissolve all the way so you ended up with crystallization. If you tell me a bit more about your method I’ll do my best to help!

  • Reply
    Vicki
    May 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Can you use coconut sugar instead of cane sugar?

    • Reply
      Mary (The Goodie Godmother)
      May 23, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      I personally haven’t tried it, but I have seen other recipes where coconut sugar has been used in lieu of cane sugar so I don’t see why not. 🙂

  • Reply
    Annie
    February 25, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Did you mean to say combine the butter and cream after you take it off the heat?

    • Reply
      The Godmother
      February 26, 2016 at 9:13 pm

      You can, but I usually stir in the butter and cream right after I turn off the heat, but before I remove the pot from the burner. Since I can find it in bulk at the local Costco, I use an organic granulated sugar that has slightly larger crystals, so I find that leaving the pot on the burner when I add the sugar (heat off) helps prevent any grainy bits in the caramel. Adding the butter and cream this way, or after removing the pot from the burner both work though.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      March 26, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      I think that’s what she meant Annie. I saw that too, paragraph 5. I believe it should read “add butter and heavy cream while whisking”, instead of sugar. The recipe instructions don’t indicate an addition of heavy cream otherwise.

  • Reply
    Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
    November 16, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    This looks SO good. I don’t have a lot of luck with caramel in any form. It is always too light or too dark. I’m yet to get it spot on. BUT with this recipe perhaps I will…thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead
    November 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Yum yum yum!!! I love caramel, obviously considering my wedding cupcakes!! I am happy to smother caramel sauce over everything in my life…or you know, just eat it with a spoon

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