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Stay Soft Caramel Sauce

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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!

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.

Stay Soft Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

An easy to follow tutorial for making caramel sauce that stays soft, even in the refrigerator!

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.

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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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Happy

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Can’t wait to try this. Directions were very clear and easy to understand and photos so helpful. Thanks for including these!

Lolly

Friday 4th of June 2021

I need to add to my previous comment to say I turn up the heat on the sugar syrup and wait for the copper penny color before adding the butter and cream.

Lolly

Friday 4th of June 2021

I've made your caramel sauce three times now and I have to admit more of it has been eaten with a spoon than served on anything. It is so good. But I'd love to know if I can avoid that scary lump of rock candy when I add the butter and cream. I've used the brush and water every time and I'm pretty sure I'm cooking the syrup long enough that it has dissolved before taking it off the heat and adding butter and cream. I use a smallish saucepan and invariably end up sloshing some over the side trying to get rid of the lump. I always put it back on the heat and use a fork to pull the lump off the whisk. I live at 4,300 feet elevation if that makes a difference.

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Monday 7th of June 2021

Hi Lolly! I'm so glad you're enjoying this recipe.

The high altitude definitely has an impact on candy making, including caramel sauce. Since it sounds like you're waiting for the right color and removing the pot from the heat before adding the butter and cream, you're doing everything correctly. In this situation, you have two possible options...

First, return the caramel pot to the stovetop over a low flame and stir until the crystallized bit dissolves.

Second, try pulsing your sugar in a food processor 2-3 times before starting your caramel. Breaking down the crystals from your standard granulated size to something closer to the "extra fine" granulated sugar helps it dissolve faster. Since water boils at a lower temperature at a higher altitude, your caramel-making process happens just a bit quicker.

I hope that helps!

Pri Merc

Sunday 30th of May 2021

It took me two tries with the sugar but on the second one I got it. The first one dried up too fast. I live at 11,600 feet of elevation and I think that’s why my first try with the sugar dried up so fast. I put an extra tablespoon of water in and covered the pot to get rid of the sugar crystals. The sauce turned out very well. Thank you!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Monday 7th of June 2021

Wonderful!

Kavya

Saturday 27th of March 2021

This recipe is absolutely amazing! I’m 15 and I’ve always loved baking and wanted to make my dad something nice for his birthday. I wanted to make a caramel cheesecake, but since I’ve never made caramel before I was nervous but not only was this recipe quick, it was so easy! The caramel was smooth, buttery and OH SO GOOD😃

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Thursday 15th of April 2021

<3 I'm so glad you liked this caramel!

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