This easy and delicious homemade Caramel Sauce is made with six pantry ingredients and only takes 10 minutes to make!
This caramel sauce is enjoyed as a topping on anything from ice cream to Better than Sex Cake. I also have a Homemade Caramel recipe that requires a longer cook time and is great for dipping Caramel Apples.
A spoon dripping caramel sauce into a glass jar full and some caramel spilling over the side of the jar.
It is so incredibly easy to make homemade caramel sauce, and you can store it in the fridge for weeks to use in lots of different ways (see my ideas below).
This caramel sauce is unique in that it uses brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. Doing so yields a richer flavor and cuts down on the cook time.

Labeled ingredients needed to make caramel sauce.
How to make caramel sauce:
1. Add butter, brown sugar, water, and salt to medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the butter melts.
Two process photos for cooking caramel sauce in a saucepan.
2. Once the butter has melted bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and ½ cup evaporated milk. Stir until smooth. Add more evaporated milk if you’d like a thinner consistency (the caramel will thicken as it cools).
Evaporated milk poured over caramel sauce cooking in a saucepan, then stirred together.

Store caramel sauce in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Rewarm in the microwave for a few seconds, or over low heat on the stove.

To freeze, store in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Homemade caramel sauce in a glass jar with a hand towel on the side.

Consider serving Caramel Sauce with:

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A spoon dripping caramel sauce into a glass jar, with some of the sauce pouring over the side of the jar.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 5 minutes
Total 10 minutes
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  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar , firmly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk , or heavy cream, or more, to thin the sauce


  • Grease the sides of a medium saucepan with oil or non-stick spray. Add butter, brown sugar, water, and salt to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted.
  • Once the butter has melted, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes until golden brown and thickened (keep in mind it will continue to thicken as it cools). Stir constantly as it cooks, particularly the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and ½ cup evaporated milk. Stir until smooth. Add more evaporated milk if you'd like a thinner consistency. 
  • Store caramel sauce in a covered container or jar in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Re-warm in the microwave for a few seconds, or on the stove over low heat.
  • Serve this over ice cream, apple crisp, or with caramel filled chocolate cupcakes!


Yields about 2 cups of caramel sauce.
Butter: salted butter can be used. Reduce salt to ⅛ teaspoon, or to taste.
For Salted Caramel: Use unsalted butter and replace salt with Sea Salt, adding extra salt, to taste.
Freezing Instructions: Store in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.


Calories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 32gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 189mgPotassium: 47mgSugar: 32gVitamin A: 425IUCalcium: 31mgIron: 0.2mg

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Recipe adapted from

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I originally shared this recipe September 2015. Updated May 2020 with process photos and improved instructions and tips.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

4.89 from 128 votes (105 ratings without comment)

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  1. 5 stars
    Made this late last night because it seemed easy and quick and it was DELICIOUS!! I seriously cannot stop eating it and even had enough to make small containers for my friends!

  2. 5 stars
    In-fricken-credible! I made this to be used in caramel apple cider, but I had a decent amount left over afterward, so we have been using it as a topping for ice cream & I cannot promote this enough!! The flavors, consistency, & mouth feel are all perfect. This is now something that we are going to keep in constant supply in the house.

  3. 5 stars
    So yummy! Wanted something for a ice cream sundae without all the chemicals and preservatives! This will be a go to for me!

  4. 5 stars
    Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how to rate the recipe, although the results are quite good so I went with 5, even though I had to wing it a bit. The ingredients and directions written below the photos aren’t consistent with the recipe below. Examples: under the photo it says “stir continuously until the butter melts”; but the recipe itself makes no mention of stirring. Under the photo lists 1/2 c. heavy cream or Evaporated Milk, the recipe only mentions Evaporated Milk. In the end, the inconsistencies were resolved by me opting to stir until the butter melted, bringing the mix to a boil, then stirring continuously while it simmered. I added about 3/4 c. Evaporated Milk, and 1 tbsp. vanilla and stirred until it was smooth. I don’t know if this is the best recipe for caramel sauce since this was the first batch I’ve made. Next time I’ll use the same basic idea but will try it with dark brown sugar as I think that would add a deeper layer of flavor. Still … all things considered, this is definitely good enough to serve (and eat!).

  5. 5 stars
    This is the easiest way to make caramel, your instructions are spot on. I like that you use simple ingredients and what I have at home. Tastes great. I am waiting to see how well it stores in the refrigerator. Thank you.

  6. The ingredients are highlighted beautifully in this recipe. It is rich with buttery sweetness and a nice hint of vanilla. The tones are perfect.

  7. 5 stars
    Decided to try this when I wanted to make a caramel apple pie and the store was out of caramel. Super easy to make, and it tastes delicious! The pie was a hit, and I have a jar of caramel left over. Win, win!

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