{5-Minute, 5-Ingredient} Homemade Caramel Sauce ~ with Recipe Video!

Quick Homemade Caramel Sauce is thick, gooey, and made with just five ingredients in five minutes, perfect for apples, brownies, ice cream, or as a gift!

Quick & Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce ~ how to make yummy, thick caramel sauce with just five ingredients in five minutes...a perfect recipe for apples, brownies, ice cream, or as a gift! | FiveHeartHome.com

I’m SO excited to bring you today’s post, featuring one of my personal favorite, all-time most-popular recipes (quick and easy Homemade Caramel Sauce!), accompanied by brand spankin’ new photos AND a caramel sauce recipe video (which you can find towards the bottom of this post, just above the recipe)! YAY!

You see, I shared some of my most beloved recipes in the early days of Five Heart Home…back when I didn’t have many followers and my food photography was in its, ahem, early stages. And while such recipes get decent traffic via Pinterest and Google searches, my loyal regular readers likely missed out on them way back when. So I’ve decided to revisit and update some of those older blog posts with helpful new information, shiny new photos, and even step-by-step recipe videos. And this 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Homemade Caramel Sauce is my inaugural recipe to republish! Are y’all as excited as I am?

Quick & Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

In my opinion, caramel sauce is akin to the nectar of the gods. It complements a variety of other flavors, it turns even health food into a decadent treat, and it’s pretty darn tasty with no other accompaniment than a straight-up spoon.

But…how to make caramel sauce?! Well, you won’t believe how easy it is using this recipe. There’s no candy thermometer, no persnickety directions, and no extended stirring. There are just five simple ingredients that transform into gooey, sticky, buttery caramel sauce in about five quick minutes. And it’s amazing!

Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

Let’s take a moment to analyze those five simple, yet critical, ingredients, shall we?

  1. BUTTER: Say it with me…everything is better with butter. (And bacon. Maybe dip your bacon in this caramel sauce???)
  2. BROWN SUGAR: In my younger days, I used to babysit a little girl who would hop up on the kitchen counter and eat lumps of brown sugar straight out of the jar when her ever-observant childcare provider wasn’t looking. (Why yes, she was a tad bit energetic. Why do you ask?) Years later, I tried a lump of straight brown sugar myself. I totally get it now, kid.
  3. HEAVY CREAM: AKA, the key to rich, silky caramel. Yum.
  4. VANILLA EXTRACT: Make sure you use the pure stuff here. I’ll share the brand I’m obsessed with in the Tips & Tricks section below.
  5. SALT: Salt (I prefer sea salt) complements caramel beautifully. The end.

Thick Homemade Caramel Sauce

Most homemade caramel recipes call for cooking granulated sugar until it reaches a specific temperature and, well, caramelizes. The caveat is that it takes awhile and it’s easy to burn the sugar if you’re not monitoring it closely.

This recipe relies on brown sugar for the same caramel-sauce-end-result but in a fraction of the time. And the best part? It’s easy to make, but not so easy to burn! Just melt butter, add brown sugar, and stir for 2 minutes…add cream and stir for 2 more minutes…mix in vanilla and salt, and you’re done! It really is that quick and simple.

There is just one small problem. Those five minutes I mentioned do not include the time it takes for said homemade caramel to cool sufficiently enough to eat it by the spoonful without singeing your mouth. This stuff is pretty molten when it first comes off the stove. In fact, you may be concerned by how thin and almost watery it appears. Don’t be! Once the caramel cools to room temperature, it will set up to the perfect consistency. And once you refrigerate it, it will thicken even more.

How to Make Caramel Sauce

Since you will naturally want to taste test as soon as your caramel is done, however, my advice is to scoop some out on a spoon, set it on a plate for a few minutes until it comes to a reasonable temperature, and then sample away. After all, let’s be rational here. If you burn your tongue right off the bat, you’re not going to be able to taste the rest of it anyway!

So what do you do with your marvelous homemade caramel sauce now that you’ve spent a whole five minutes of effort on it? Well, it’s perfect as a dip for fresh apple slices, and if you’re feeling particularly benevolent, you can even use it to fashion an after-school snack of caramel apple nachos for your eternally grateful kiddos. (Flashback to my little apple nacho bandit back in 2013…)

Caramel Sauce for Apples

After you’ve test driven this caramel sauce with apples, might I suggest next pouring it over a classic bowl of vanilla ice cream?

Quick & Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

It’s also delicious drizzled on bread pudding, apple pie, cheesecake, pumpkin waffles, gingerbread pancakes, French toast, or even sweet potatoes! And let’s not forget brownies…

Caramel Sauce for Brownies

And finally, this Homemade Caramel Sauce is a delicious addition to so many other scrumptious recipes, from Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip to Caramel BrulΓ©e Coffee Creamer to Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding to Caramel Apple Cider. Yum, yum, yum, and YUM.

Just as exciting as all of those mouth-watering options? Caramel sauce makes a fabulous gift! With the holidays coming up, I’m always looking for homemade gifts that are quick to make and economical, but that I know will actually be used and appreciated. I mean, who wouldn’t love a jar of homemade caramel sauce? It’s a hostess gift that will guarantee that you’re invited back…

Homemade Caramel Sauce Gift

…or it’s a thoughtful gesture for your neighbor, your child’s teacher, the mailman, or anyone else to whom you care to extend some holiday cheer. As much as I love a plate of Christmas cookies, homemade caramel sauce is a treat that’s just a little bit different, and it can be enjoyed right away or saved for a special occasion. Indeed, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

This recipe is a keeper and I hope that you end up loving it as much as I do! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a carton of vanilla ice cream and a jar of caramel goodness calling my name. πŸ˜‰

Quick & Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce ~ how to make yummy, thick caramel sauce with only five ingredients in just five minutes...a perfect recipe for apples, brownies, ice cream, or as a gift! | FiveHeartHome.com

Helpful Tips, Tricks, & Equipment
(some affiliate links below)

  • Use real butter here…no substitutions! Salted butter is recommended for this recipe but unsalted would work as well.
  • Also use good quality vanilla, because you really do taste it in a recipe like this. Lately, vanilla has been more expensive than usual because of a global vanilla bean shortage (😩), but Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract remains my favorite brand. It just has the best darn flavor…forever and ever, Amen.
  • You can use either light brown or dark brown sugar in this recipe…the caramel sauce will just turn out lighter or darker depending on which you choose, and it really comes down to personal preference. The caramel sauce shown in the photos in this post was made with light brown sugar, and the caramel sauce featured in the video was made with dark brown sugar.
  • Be sure your saucepan is deep enough to account for the bubbling caramel that may rise up the sides of the pot as it cooks.
  • The caramel sauce will be thin when it is done cooking. DO NOT PANIC! It will thicken up nicely once it completely reaches room temperature, and even more so once chilled.
  • Recommended applications of caramel sauce: as a dip for apples, stirred into coffee, or drizzled over ice cream, apple pie, brownies, cheesecake, bread pudding, pancakes, waffles, sweet potatoes, and more…or eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon. πŸ˜‰
  • Finally, I hope y’all enjoy (and find helpful) the CARAMEL SAUCE VIDEO!!!πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

{5-Minute, 5-Ingredient} Homemade Caramel Sauce

5 minutes

Yield: approximately 2 cups

{5-Minute, 5-Ingredient} Homemade Caramel Sauce

Quick Homemade Caramel Sauce is thick, gooey, and made with just five ingredients in five minutes, perfect for apples, brownies, ice cream, or as a gift!


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low to medium heat, melt butter. Mix in brown sugar and stir for 2 minutes. Mix in heavy cream and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla and salt until well incorporated.
  2. Pour hot caramel sauce in a jar and allow to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.


Be sure your saucepan is deep enough to account for the bubbling caramel that may rise up the sides of the pot as it cooks.

The caramel sauce will be thin when it is done cooking, but it will thicken up nicely at room temperature, and even more so once chilled.

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Post originally published on November 15, 2013.
Recipe adapted from Food.com

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  1. I’m having a fondue party and was wondering if it would be ok to serve it in a crockpot on a warm setting. Or would that ruin it?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      That’s a great question, Jolynn…I’m honestly not sure. This caramel sauce is pretty thin and runny when warm, so I have a feeling it might not make the best fondue. I also don’t know if the sugar would start to crystalize (or something weird like that) if it was kept warm for an extended period of time. I’m sorry! But it’s a great dip at room temperature!

  2. I just wanted to let you know how much my whole family (all 24 local plus the other 10 that visit twice a year) love love LOVE this sauce! I have even caught my BOTH my 13yo and 6yo daughters sneaking spoonfuls from the jar in the fridge! My boys love it just as much, but aren’t quite so brave as to steal my sauce! Also, I was trying to come up with a treat to take to a baby shower last week and I only had about a third of a jar left so I poured it over a brick of cream cheese and sprinkled Heath bar bits over it and it made an apple dip to die for! It was gone ten minutes in to the baby shower! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  3. Just tried this yesterday and it was to DIE for! I would like to make a huge batch to give out as favors at my sister’s baby shower. Can I triple the recipe? Quadruple?

  4. Wow! This is the BEST Caramel Sauce that I have ever tried.. It is creamy not grainy,,I have tried several other recipes that turned our gritty with sugar crystals in it, This recipe turned out very creamy and flavorful… This is a keeper recipe.. I am putting this recipe in my recipe book. I have made it several times and it turns out GREAT every time..Very Creamy and buttery flavor….I was buying the Caramel for my Starbucks Style Coffee Macchiato that I make every morning…Cause I use a lot of it…Then I decided to see if I could make the Caramel Sauce myself. I tried several recipes before I found yours.. It is the BEST…Thanks for the recipe…

  5. I am making this today to go with apples we just picked from the orchard. It looks so easy and delicious! Just one question – Is the sauce supposed to be bubbling during the four minutes you are stirring?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi there! The caramel sauce doesn’t need to bubble the whole time, but it should start bubbling during the last couple minutes. That being said, I’ve made it before when it never bubbled and it still turned out fine. πŸ™‚

  6. This homemade caramel sauce is a must try!!

  7. I just made this and it tastes great! I incorporated the sea salt. Thank you!

  8. How long is the shelf life on this caramel sauce

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Judy! You may store this caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to a month (indicated at the end of the recipe directions). πŸ™‚

  9. I have made this several times over the past month……perfect!!! Even people who do not like caramel, like this divine decadence!!!!! Thanks so much!!

  10. Have you ever doubled, or tripled (or more), this recipe? I’m looking to make about 10+ jars for hostess/neighbor gifts and I am wondering if I need to do each recipe, individually, or if I can do it all at once.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Katie! I’ve doubled this recipe before but not multiplied it more than that. If you decide to try a bigger batch, just be prepared to cook it a bit longer at each step. Also, be sure to use a big pot to allow for bubbling caramel creeping up the sides. Good luck!

  11. Melissa says:

    Is it possible to can this recipe so it last longer? I was thinking Christmas presents however i would like to can everything this month. Do you think a waterbath for 15 minutes would do the trick?

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Melissa! That’s a great question and a great idea, but I don’t feel qualified to answer it as I don’t have any experience canning this recipe. But good luck if you decide to give it a try!

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