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Easy Caramel Sauce

This easy caramel sauce recipe is rich and buttery, and includes step-by-step photos to help you along the way!
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Author: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Makes: 16


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch kosher salt for salted caramel use 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into 8 pieces


  • Measure out all of your ingredients (and keep your butter in the fridge!) and pull out all of the tools you need (you will need a 2-quart heavy bottomed pot with a lid, a candy thermometer, a small heavy bottomed pot, and a whisk).
  • Pour 1 cup water into your 2-quart pot, and pour the sugar into the center of the pot. You want to create a little mound of sugar submerged under the water, so make sure to pour the sugar into one spot of the pot!
  • Cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat, which will take about 3 minutes.
  • Remove lid and insert your candy thermometer. Keep boiling the sugar until it reaches 300 degrees, which will take about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium.
  • Place the cream in the small pot and bring to a simmer over high heat. (In a perfect world your cream will reach a simmer once the sugar reaches 350 degrees in the next step, but if it reaches a simmer early, just remove it from the heat)
  • Once the sugar reaches 350 degrees (this will happen about 5 minutes after you reduce the heat to medium in step 4), it will be a dark amber color and begin to smoke, turn off heat. (If you have an electric stove remove it from the burner).
  • Very slowly stream in the warm cream. The sugar will bubble, but as long as you do this step slowly, you will be good to go!
  • Once all of the cream is added whisk the mixture well. Add the salt and butter and whisk until it is completely incorporated (the butter will probably bubble a bit too!)
  • Let it cool and then pour over a large scoop of vanilla ice cream or store in an airtight container in the fridge!
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