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How to Make Homemade Caramel

Like many things in life, homemade caramel is so much better than store-bought. Whether you’re looking to make caramel for candy or to top your dessert, cheesecake or ice cream, you’ll follow some simple steps on your way to delicious results.

Chocolate Caramel Candy Photo

What is Caramel?

When you heat sugar slowly, it melts. The molecules break down and form into new compounds that are thick, golden brown and full of rich, sweet flavor.

This process is called caramelization.

The ingredients in caramel are just sugar, and sometimes water. Caramel sauce contains sugar, butter, cream, vanilla extract and perhaps salt.

Caramel Macchiato Pretzel Milkshake Picture

How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

1. In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup sugar.

2. Stir constantly and gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed.

3. Once the sugar melts and turns a golden brown, add in 6 tablespoons butter, diced, until melted.

4. Pour in 1/2 cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer, without increasing the heat.

5. Simmer 90 seconds. Remove from heat.

6. If you want salted caramel sauce, stir in a little salt.

7. Refrigerate leftover homemade caramel in a jar or sealed container for up to a week.

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies Photo

Tips for Making Homemade Caramel

  • Use a large, heavy bottomed pot to make caramel. The caramel bubbles a lot and you will need a larger pot than you may think.
  • Make sure your pot is light in color (such as stainless steel), so you can monitor the color of the caramel.
  • Stir slowly and gently once you’ve added cream.
  • If you have sugar accumulating on the sides of your pan, use a wet pastry brush to wipe them off.
White Chocolate Caramel Fudge Image

Recipes Using Caramel

Now that you know how to make homemade caramel, here are some great recipes to try!