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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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Andy

Tuesday 12th of April 2022

I tried your recipe twice and it flows extremely well even when cold. Thank you so much for this!!!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Monday 25th of April 2022

I'm so glad you enjoy this recipe!

Kim

Wednesday 24th of November 2021

Hi! Mine seems thin off the stove. Will it thicken upon standing or after being in the refrigerator? I used coconut heavy cream because the family can’t tolerate milk. Anything I can do after the fact to thicken it. Thank you!

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

It does look veeeeeery thin when it comes off the stove, and it should. It thickens a good bit as it cools, and this recipe is formulated so you can spoon it out of a refrigerated jar. With many thicker caramel recipes, you have to wait a bit.

MaryLou

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

Best caramel sauce ever!! Tastes just like homemade taffy except for the texture. So Easy! So fast! I could drink it....and go right to heaven. (Probably literally. Lol!) You will not regret making it! It's been several months since I discovered this one and I've made it several times since. It stays soft. Good on anything sweet as a topper. Or in hot drinks. Or just on a spoon...but don't expect to eat just one spoonful. (Self discipline just exited the house.) Mary, do you have the video you mentioned above? I didn't see it, but would love to share it.)

MaryLou

Sunday 21st of November 2021

@Mary (The Goodie Godmother), Interesting, I'll try to check it on the laptop. I use a browser on my phone and I don't even see that heading.

MaryLou

Sunday 21st of November 2021

@Mary (The Goodie Godmother),

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Thursday 18th of November 2021

I'm so glad you like this recipe, MaryLou!

The video should be just under the "Everything you need to know..." heading. That's where the video appears on my screen. Look for a horizontal picture of the spoon in the jar. :-)

Jessie

Sunday 14th of November 2021

Hello Mary, I just stumbled upon your recipe in a search for a stay smooth caramel sauce. It looks amazing and I’m really anxious to try it. Admittedly, I’m not an avid baker, but generally have decent luck when following directions. Every year, I take part in a Christmas cookie exchange. I was hoping to come up with a cookie this year that includes a creamy caramel sauce throughout. My plan is to hopefully make a chewy white chocolate chip cookie with browned butter, and find a way to incorporate the caramel as well. Any idea if once my dough is made and before I bake, could I attempt to pipe some globs of your sauce into the balls of batter and then bake? Any idea of the caramel sauce will stay ooey gooey or if it would become ruined? Thanks for any insight you might have!

Jessie

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

@Jessie,

Thank you so much for your response. Your cookies look dynamite! I will absolutely give them a whirl! Thanks again.

Mary (The Goodie Godmother)

Monday 15th of November 2021

Hi Jessie! I think that cookie sounds fabulous! This caramel sauce isn't the best option for baking into cookies though. Your best bet would be to freeze the cookies and bake from frozen if you really wanted to go that route. I think the best option would be to use caramels like I do in my stuffed caramel mocha chocolate chip cookies. That's much easier for baking in quantity too. You can see what that looks like here: Salted Caramel Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lolly

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Hello Mary, UPDATE. I think I've solved the mystery of my "scary lump of rock candy." I grew up with Land O' Lakes butter and have used it my whole life. My sister, who is a Chef, visited recently and pointed out that the original Land O' Lakes is very watery when melted. I spied a new Land O' Lakes Extra Creamy butter and gave it a try. Bingo! No lump. I'm almost a pro now. I've been asked to bring it for Thanksgiving.

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