DIY Caramel Sauce

by alexandra

DIY Caramel Sauce - an incredible caramel sauce made WITHOUT CREAM, using only milk, sugar, and sea salt. {Plus tips for getting it right no matter what your kitchen skills are like!} | www.brighteyedbaker.com

Caramel and I have quite the history. Cue the day I first decided to try making caramel. Because I wanted it for coffee and therefore wanted to keep it lighter on the calorie side, I decided to try a recipe I found online that included two ingredients: sugar and water. It was a dry-method caramel, and seeing as I had never done anything like this before, I ended up with burnt, liquidy caramel sauce – not what I had in mind for stirring into a creamy latte.

Take two, which took place the very same day, was a wet-method caramel, made with sugar, buttermilk, butter, and baking soda. It was pretty tasty, and definitley thick, but after a few hours in the fridge it was spoonable, as in no longer liquid. It would still melt into my hot coffee, or liquefy in the microwave, but I was pretty sure there had to be a better solution out there. That, and I didn’t exactly want to introduce butter into my morning coffee routine.

Finally, I decided to go back to another dry-method caramel. I chose a recipe with simple ingredients and worked from there. Instead of heavy cream (which most caramel recipes actually call for, and which it seems solely I was trying to avoid), I decided to use milk. I also did a lot of reading, trying to get the dry-method caramel down to a science – what works and what doesn’t. Then I practiced, again and again and again. I went from caramel stuck on the bottom of my pan to caramel that I can now practically make with my eyes closed.

I realize that my method of making caramel – with milk – is extremely unconventional, and partially for scientific reasons, being that 2% milk has a lot less fat than heavy cream. In fact, I wonder if some of the culinary greats of the world would read this and scoff at the fact that I’m making caramel sauce with milk. But, in my oh-so-humble opinion, it can work, it’s still deliciously addicting, and when you’re going through it the way we are at my house, it’s necessary.

In fact, I am now some sort of ultra-caramel proponent. I seem to want to stick it in everything, and it’s intoxicating, sweet, rich, deep, and distinguished flavor has me dreaming up all sorts of culinary creations. Say “caramel” right now, and I’m pretty much in. You’ll see. :)

DIY Caramel Sauce - an incredible caramel sauce made WITHOUT CREAM, using only milk, sugar, and sea salt. {Plus tips for getting it right no matter what your kitchen skills are like!} | www.brighteyedbaker.com

A few basic tips to keep in mind when making caramel, from my experiences:

Make a single batch at a time, not a double and definitely not a triple, unless perhaps you’re very “caramelly adept”. I know this recipe like the back of my hand, but still I’ve learned that I need to stick to a single batch. Too much sugar in a pot becomes hard to melt evenly, and you might end up simultaneously sweating and crying over a pot of semi-clumpy, semi-melted sugar on a hot stove.

Use a heavy-bottomed, TALL pot. If you don’t, you’ll regret it. A thin pan will lead to burnt caramel, and a pan that is too short can lead to a dangerous mess, as the hot caramel steams and bubbles a lot when you add the milk. Even with a tall pan, I recommend wearing an oven mitt on the hand that you’ll use to stir in the milk. You need to keep the stirring going, but the steam can get so hot that this can become close to impossible with a bare hand.

Make sure your pot and spatula are clean and your sugar is pure. Clean conditions help prevent the sugar from crystallizing.

Don’t try to make caramel at the same time as you’re doing something else that’s time sensitive, unless perhaps you’re a very experienced caramel-maker/baker/cook. With caramel, once things get moving, they move quickly.

Don’t stir the heck out of melting sugar. In fact, don’t stir. Just scoop the melted sugar over the sugar that hasn’t melted yet, and hold off on the stirring until all of the sugar has melted.

Don’t burn the caramel. Just cook it until it turns a rusty golden-brown color and then STOP.

Don’t freak out if you start stirring in your milk and you find that a glob of caramel has hardened up, or worse, all of the caramel has frozen mid-bubble onto the bottom of your pot. This has happened to me before, and usually you can get it all to melt again, simply by putting it back on the stove with the milk and stirring. You’ll still end up with delicious caramel sauce.

And last but definitely not least, don’t give up if you fail once, or twice, or three times…. Caramel can be tricky to make, but you’ll get it eventually. And if you succeed on try #1, my hat’s off to you.

DIY Caramel Sauce - an incredible caramel sauce made WITHOUT CREAM, using only milk, sugar, and sea salt. {Plus tips for getting it right no matter what your kitchen skills are like!} | www.brighteyedbaker.com

P.S. I would recommend reading through the whole recipe before you start, as the caramel-making process is time-sensitive.

UPDATE: I’ve since made another version of all-milk caramel sauce that I love just as much as this one. If you’re up for something different, try out my Buttery Cinnamon Caramel Sauce Recipe!

DIY Caramel Sauce

1 to 1-1/4 cups caramel sauce*

DIY Caramel Sauce

A simple and dangerously delicious Caramel Sauce made with only sugar, milk, and sea salt.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk**
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sea salt***

Instructions

  1. Place the sugar in a large, tall, heavy-bottomed pot, shaking it so that the sugar is in a thin, even layer. Place the pot over medium-low heat. Set a timer for 8 minutes and let the sugar heat up. During this time, just let the stove do it's work. Check on the sugar once the 8 minutes are up. It should look the same as when you started, because it hasn't gotten hot enough yet to start melting. Set the timer for another 8 minutes, but this time, keep an eye on the sugar. Around the end of this 8 minutes it should start to liquefy.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare for the next few steps, as they will come quickly. Warm the milk in a microwave-safe container for about a minute, and stir to even out the temperature. Place the warm milk near the stove along with a trivet (where you can quickly place the pot of caramel once ready), and a heat-safe spatula.
  3. When you start to smell the sugar heating up and it begins to appear light brown and translucent in some spots, it is about to start melting. As soon as you see some liquefied sugar, take your heat-safe spatula and carefully scoop the melted sugar over the unmelted sugar. Continue to do this as more sugar melts; the idea is not to stir the sugar, but just to keep the melted parts from burning while the unmelted parts are allowed to melt. Once all of the sugar has melted, stir gently until it turns a rusty golden-brown color. This should only take a few seconds. If you can't see the color of the caramel well, spoon a drop onto a white plate.
  4. As soon as the caramel turns the appropriate color, remove it from the stove onto the trivet and quickly stir in half of the warm milk. It's important to keep the caramel moving before and during the process of adding the milk. The milk will make the caramel steam and bubble A LOT, so be careful as you stir. Continue to stir as bubbling subsides, then stir in remaining milk.
  5. Some of the caramel may have hardened into a glob while you added the milk. If so, or if you want a thicker caramel, return the pot to the stove. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until any hardened caramel has melted again. Also be sure to carefully pry any hardened caramel off of the bottom or sides of the pot as necessary, melting these pieces back in as well. Be patient; it may seem like they aren't going to melt, but from my experience, they always will.
  6. If you want a thicker caramel, better for drizzling onto baked goods, cook the caramel, stirring constantly, for an additional 10-15 minutes after adding the milk. It will not look very thick while it's hot, but as it cools, it will thicken substantially.
  7. Once all hardened pieces of caramel have melted again (as needed) and the caramel has cooked longer (as desired), remove the pot from the heat. Whisk in the sea salt. Pour the caramel into a heat-proof container (if using glass, put something metal in it to prevent shattering). Cover and place in the refrigerator, allowing to cool and thicken. Keep the caramel stored in the refrigerator; it will remain pourable.
  8. Add it to everything!!

Notes

*A thinner caramel sauce will yield about 1-1/4 cups, while a thicker caramel sauce (cooked longer) will yield about 1 cup.

**I use 2% milk, and anything with a higher fat content than that will also work. Readers have told me that the following will also work: 1%, skim milk, rice milk, goat's milk, almond milk, soy milk, and lactose-free milks such as Lactaid. (I haven't tested these alternatives myself.)

***For more of a "salted caramel", use 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

http://www.brighteyedbaker.com/2012/07/24/diy-caramel-sauce/

Basic Recipe Adapted From: wohe Perfect Scoopvia Annie’s Eats

With a tip from The Baking Gallery

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2012-2014

{ 437 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura (Tutti Dolci) July 25, 2012

Ok, I have to try this because I’ve definitely gone the sugar-water route and gave up after oh, 7 attempts in one day. Needless to say I haven’t tried again but I also want a caramel sauce without heavy cream!
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brighteyedbaker July 25, 2012

Oh my gosh; I can’t imagine how miserable that day must have been! You should definitely try this out and let me know how it goes. It’s well-tested, I promise!

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Heidi @ Food Doodles July 25, 2012

Mmmm, gorgeous!
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brighteyedbaker July 25, 2012

Thanks :) It tastes even better than it looks.

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Alyssa (Everyday Maven) July 25, 2012

Wow, this is such an amazing post! Thank You :)
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brighteyedbaker July 28, 2012

You’re welcome! I hope everyone finds it helpful.

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Riley July 27, 2012

I’ve definitely got to try this! Yum!
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brighteyedbaker July 28, 2012

You should! I make this stuff so much now it’s crazy.

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Ella-Home Cooking Adventure July 29, 2012

Love it. I must try it too. Thanks for sharing.
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brighteyedbaker July 29, 2012

You’re welcome! I think I’d be selfish to keep it all to myself, although it sure is good enough to warrant that! ;)

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Momo August 1, 2012

So I tried this recipe using rice milk instead of regular. It made the most beautiful flowing caramel ever! I did leave it on for an extra half an hour so it could get thicker and it tasted as if i had used regular milk. I did also try it with regular milk and for some reason the milk curdled. But I’m glad I finally found a caramel recipe with only a few ingredients! Probably the only caramel recipe I will use from now on.

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brighteyedbaker August 3, 2012

I’m so glad you let me know that rice milk works! I never would have thought about trying that. That’s really neat. :)
As far as your problem with regular milk curdling, did you stir it continuously once you added the milk, as you were cooking it longer? If not, that could have been the problem, especially if the mixture started to boil.
I hope you continue to enjoy the caramel!

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Beth Reel August 2, 2012

When do I add the salt ? I keep reading the recipe n don’t see when to add it. Also how tall of a pot?

Thanks

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brighteyedbaker August 3, 2012

Right after you remove the caramel from the heat, you whisk in the salt. I checked to make sure it’s in the directions; it’s one little sentence so I can see how it’s easy to miss! I use a big 6 quart pasta pot. Here’s a link if you want to see a visual.

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Ciara March 5, 2016

Hi going to make your caramel sauce how big a pot would you use I looked at the lind to the pot and it looks hugh. Is this what you use for single amount. Thanks

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alexandra March 9, 2016

I recommend a pretty large pot because the caramel bubbles up quite a bit.

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ana August 4, 2012

hello :) do i keep the leftovers in the fridge? and how long can i keep it for?

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brighteyedbaker August 9, 2012

Yes; keep the leftovers in the fridge. I don’t know exactly how long it will last, as it gets consumed in a week or two at my house, but certainly for quite a while.

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Danelle October 1, 2012

So I tried and failed twice yesterday with a different recipe. I am in the process with this one and also failing! My caramel was beautiful until I poured the milk in. Now it’s hard as a rock in a pool of milk. Put it back on the heat and hoping it works!

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brighteyedbaker October 1, 2012

Please let me know how it went after returning to heat. I’ve literally had a ball of solid caramel before that melted back just fine. It’s a matter of keeping it on heat and stirring constantly! Let me know!

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Irna September 24, 2015

I tried this today 3 times, everything went smooth till I poured the milk, then it looked separated, didn’t look good at all

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alexandra October 10, 2015

That’s normal… as long as it’s not clumpy like curdled milk, all you need to do is keep stirring until the sugar melts again.

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Kiani January 21, 2016

This recipe is great!! Thank you :) It was just like you said. After adding the milk it became hard, but put it back on the stove and kept stirring and it all came back together. It’s been in the fridge for a couple of hours now and has thickened nicely. I’m thinking of making salted caramel ice-cream with it :)

Nikki October 4, 2012

Thank you SO much for this recipe! I just made it and it came our perfectly! Sugar can be very temperamental but you nailed it with this recipe. Thank you a TON for sharing! <3

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alexandra (brighteyedbaker) October 5, 2012

Awesome! I really tried to explain the process as well as possible because it is so temperamental. I’ve found though that it gets much easier after you do it a few times. :) So glad it worked for you!

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ShellyMarie October 7, 2012

I am so excited to try this!!! I just made apple cinnamon rolls with my 6 year old today and we decided we wanted something on top of them! So… Wish me luck and thank you for posting a recipe with milk! I was getting worried…

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alexandra October 9, 2012

Those rolls sound A-MAZING! I hope the caramel sauce went well for you!

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Tammy October 14, 2012

I tried this recipe and my caramel got kind of “chunky”. It’s almost like the milk separated. I will admit that I was in a hurry and didn’t add salt. I made it in a cast iron pot and had to cook it longer than 16 mins to get it heat through and begin melting. Can you tell me where I might have gone wrong?

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alexandra October 14, 2012

Well firstly, the salt isn’t mandatory… your caramel can turn out perfectly without it. If you only used 1 cup of sugar (as the recipe calls for), it usually takes around 16 minutes in my experience for the caramel to start melting, but if it hasn’t, just wait until it has to start moving it around with the spatula. Do make sure that the sugar isn’t piled up high, because then the sugar on the bottom will start to melt long before the sugar on top.
I think your caramel may have gotten chunky if you added the milk, put it back on the stove, and then didn’t stir it continuously. It will get too hot and this causes that chunky texture. Make sure that once you add the milk, you stir the caramel constantly until you’re done cooking.
Let me know if you still have any questions. I’m happy to help if I can! I hope you give it another try… this is one of those things that you certainly get better at with practice. :)

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Julie September 21, 2013

Hello. I made this today and found that mine split and went what I believe to be what you are calling chunky. It tasted delicious, but the texture wasn’t great.
However, I allowed it to cool down and gave it a good stir several times as it was cooling. As the caramel reached room temperature, it seemed to have become completely smooth!
I suggest to anyone who finds theirs goes chunky or splits a bit that they give this a go and certainly not to discard it immediately.
It is possible that it has something to do with too much of a temperature difference between the milk and sugar, although I did warm the milk. I don’t know, but I hope this helps someone save their awesome caramel sauce!
Thank you for the recipe and your great instructions!

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alexandra September 21, 2013

Wow, that’s great to know! I’ve only had the caramel split on me once, but I have had other readers end up with the same issue, and I would love to be able to tell them that their caramel isn’t ruined! The temperature difference can be a cause, but there are also a few other things that can happen. If the milk is getting old, it will be more likely to curdle, or if the sugar gets too dark (and therefore acidic), that can cause the problem. Make sure you use pure cane sugar as well!

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Darian March 21, 2016

Wanting to try this for the caramel lattes at home! I bought Starbucks iced coffee for the keurig so will be using that and adding my milk and caramel sauce. Glad I read the comments! I was getting ready to try this recipe out but has regular sugar in mind not cane

lorraine October 18, 2012

Its my first time making caramel and it turned out perfectly! Thanks so much for posting this detailed recipe! :)

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alexandra October 18, 2012

I’m so glad to hear that! This is one of those recipes where I tried to just lay it out as best as possible since it is a bit complicated, and then I just have to hold my breath and hope that everyone can be successful with it. Yay for another success!

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Alice October 18, 2012

Help!!! I tried making this and it turned out horribly!! I did exactly what you wrote, well almost. After the second time my 8 min timer went off the sugar turned a tiny bit brown in one spot but it wasn’t melting so I thought that it wasn’t hot enough. I turned up the heat and it started melting immediately. I still had some hard chunks of sugar in the middle once it all melted so I waited for it to melt but it didn’t. The caramel was soo thick too, more like oatmeal than liquid and when I poured the milk in, the caramel became a rock hard layer at the bottom of the pot with the milk floating on top. I poured the milk back in the cup and put the caramel back on the stove to melt it again. It was a deep amber color so I didn’t want to burn it but it was still really thick. The second time I tried pouring the milk in it bubbled up but the caramel was still a big glob at the bottem. I gave up so now I have a hardend piece of caramel candy and a cup full of caramel flavored milk. Please help!!! Thanks.

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alexandra October 19, 2012

Well firstly, did you use only one cup of sugar with each attempt? If you tried to double the recipe, that could be the cause of your first problem. Otherwise, I think you probably shouldn’t have turned up the heat the first time. If the caramel hasn’t started to melt by the end of the 16 minutes, it’s okay to let it sit longer. Just make sure that you’re watching it closely, because once it gets brown like you mentioned, it won’t take long for it to start melting.
The next thing I would recommend is that you try to keep stirring the caramel a bit while you move it off the stove and pour the milk in. Make sure the milk is warm, as mentioned in the recipe, and that you pour it in right away after you take the caramel off the heat. The reason for this is that if the caramel sits too long in the pot without liquid, it will continue to cook and harden. Also, if the liquid isn’t warm, it can cause the caramel to seize. Even if the caramel globs, keep the milk in the pot, put it back on the stove, and just stir until the caramel melts back into the milk. In my experience, it always will.
This isn’t the easiest recipe to master but once you get it down, it becomes pretty easy. I know other readers have tried it with success, so I hope you give it another go! Let me know if you have any more questions. :)

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Kris January 13, 2015

Have you thought of tempering the milk before adding it to the sugar. I would heat the milk for a minute first or add some of the sugar to it.

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alexandra January 13, 2015

Hi Kris! I do heat the milk for exactly that reason. :) It’s included in the recipe instructions.

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Vanessa October 24, 2012

Just made this last night and I am pleased with the results for a first attempt. When the recipe says “be patient” while waiting for the hardened caramel to reconstitute, believe it! I was stirring for about 30 min before I got too impatient and decided to just deal with a few small pieces of hardened caramel in my jar. I used lactose free milk and it resulted in a beautiful, creamy caramel. Hopefully my next attempt will be even better! Thanks for persevering and providing a butter-free, cream-free alternative!

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alexandra October 24, 2012

I’m so glad it worked for you! It never takes 30 minutes for me, but it might have something to do with the lactose-free milk you used. Either way, if it works, it works! And I bet you’ll get better every time. I’ve gotten to the point where the caramel usually doesn’t even harden once I add the milk, so I can say from experience that practice makes perfect. :)

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:( November 15, 2012

Tried this and it went so wrong as soon as it come to the milh the caramel went into a hard blob :(

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alexandra November 15, 2012

Well I’m sorry that you were having trouble with this, but as I explained in the recipe, the caramel might turn into a big blob just as you described, and the problem can be fixed. You simply need to return it to the stove on medium-low heat with all of the milk in the pot and stir constantly until the blob melts. If you look back at the recipe you should see the detailed instructions on this. Hope you give it another go!

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Melissa November 21, 2012

Hello- making caramel to drizzle over yummy Thanksgiving pies! Question: I’m making one batch at a time … But can I store in same container and put in fridge?

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alexandra November 21, 2012

Sounds amazing! You can definitely do that. I would encourage you to try the recipe out before crunch-time comes just so that you get the hang of it if you haven’t made it before. It’s one of those things that you get better with after practice! Also, I don’t know how thick you want the caramel to be, but like I mentioned in the recipe, the longer you cook the caramel after adding the milk, the thicker it will get (just make sure you keep stirring). Cream will also make the caramel thicker faster, if you don’t necessarily feel obligated to use milk. You can always go half cream, half milk too.

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Melissa November 21, 2012

Thanks for your reply! Three batches … done! It tastes fantastic but unfortunately thinner than I’d hoped. I stirred an extra 15 minutes as well. My question is: can I heat up and add thicker milk or cream at this point, or would that ruin it?

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alexandra November 21, 2012

I think you could put it back on the stove, medium-low heat again, and just continue to cook and stir until it thickens more. Another option would be to make one really thick batch and then add the other batches in once cooked. You can make a really thick batch with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help.

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Sarah November 22, 2012

The first time making this, it came out heavenly! The second time, my milk curdled the second it hit the caramel (I was using 1% this time. Was that the problem?). The third time, it was perfect, until it cooled completely in the fridge and completely crystallized. What am I doing wrong?! I have a culinary degree, and yet I can’t seem to master this!

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alexandra November 22, 2012

When you say the milk curdled, you’re saying that it wasn’t a problem of the caramel seizing, is that correct? I’m really not sure why that would happen. I have experienced the caramel seizing when the milk hits it, but as I explained in the recipe, that’s resolved by continuing to cook the caramel, continuously stirring, until the sugar melts again. I’ve never had the milk curdle, though. Did you remember to warm the milk before adding it to the caramel?
I’ve also never experienced the caramel crystallizing once it’s cooled. That’s really strange to me. The only thing I can come up with is that you may not have have had all of the sugar completely melted in the first place, so once the caramel cooled, it started to recrystallize. Make sure when you’re melting the sugar you “stir” it as little as possible before adding the milk so that it melts smoothly. Were you using pure cane sugar? Also, I know that a bit of cream of tartar, corn syrup, or lemon juice can help prevent caramel from crystallizing, but I’ve never used it when making this recipe.
Making caramel with milk versus cream is more temperamental, but I like doing it this way to skip the added calories of the cream. I hope you don’t give up on it; because I know it works!
Let me know if I can help in any other way. :)

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Lindsey November 27, 2012

Hi this recipe looks quite easy to do but will I be able to make it thick enough for a banoffee pie? I have seen that you’ve wrote it can be quite thick but I’m wondering if its thick enough for banoffee pie

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alexandra November 27, 2012

I’ve actually never had banoffee pie, but if cooked long enough after adding the milk, the caramel will achieve a really thick, spoonable consistency. However, it will still be in a liquid state, meaning that it won’t set completely (unless, perhaps, you cook longer than I did). If you want it to thicken to the point that it will set, the easiest way to do that is to use heavy cream instead of milk, and use equal parts cream and sugar (1 cup of cream, 1 cup of sugar). Within a few minutes of adding the cream the caramel will be really thick, and it will set quickly as it cools, like a soft caramel chew. You could also try doing this with the milk, but I haven’t tested that myself.

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Zsuzsa December 1, 2012

thank you for sharing this great recipe. it saved me from having to run to the store for heavy cream.
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alexandra December 3, 2012

I’m glad you liked it :)

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Holly December 12, 2012

This looks exactly like what I’m looking for! One question: above you asked a poster if they were using pure cane sugar. Will that make a difference? Because that is what I generally use. Any help is greatly appreciated. Caramel is the sauce of choice for my daughter and me, and I want to get away from the store bought with all the junk in it.

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alexandra December 12, 2012

Pure cane sugar is exactly what you want. Good luck with your caramel-making endeavors! Let me know if you come up with any more questions, because I’m happy to help. :)

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Holly March 14, 2013

Never came back to say that this was great! I think I had to put it back on the stove to get thicker, but it was great. I’m making another batch today. I don’t think I actually made the first batch until February, but it did last just fine in the fridge. I was sort of rationing it! Thanks again.

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alexandra March 14, 2013

Thanks for letting me know! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the caramel. It does last pretty well… definitely long enough to be consumed, at least!

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Marcie Pomeroy December 13, 2012

Making this right now!! So excited!!

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Marcie Pomeroy December 13, 2012

It looks beautiful! Waiting for it to cool, but planning to have it on ice cream tonight and I did 1 small jar for a friend as a gift! Thank you for the great recipe!

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Marcie Pomeroy December 13, 2012

So it is just about cooled, looks beautiful, but it is very liquid, what should I do on the next batch to thicken it up a bit?

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alexandra December 13, 2012

Cook it longer! Usually you can sense the caramel getting thicker as you cook, but the dramatic thickening happens after it cools. It will probably still thicken up though if you just wait longer; you can stick it in the freezer for a short amount of time if you need it to happen quickly, but normally I would stick to the fridge for cooling. But next time, like I said, just cook it longer after adding the milk. As long as you keep stirring it’s fine to go as long as needed to get the consistency you want.
And in response to your other comments: you’re welcome and I’m really glad it went pretty smoothly for you the first time! It’s not always easy to make that happen. ;)

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Marcie Pomeroy December 13, 2012

Thank you sooo much! 2nd batch I cooked too long before adding milk…yuck, but 3rd batch after I received your message turned out perfect! One of the problems I noticed was that my milk was only 1%, so I did 1 cup instead of 1 1/4 and it worked! Thanks for such a great recipe! I love caramel sooo much anyways and this is delicious

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alexandra December 13, 2012

Awesome! The lower fat the milk is, the longer it will take to get thick and the harder it will be to make the caramel turn out well (although it sounds like you have it down!). I’ve made really thick caramel that sets for drizzling on things I’ve baked, and to do that I use cream and do equal parts sugar and cream. It gets thick quickly and easily, which is why I do it that way sometimes. So you were wise to use a little less milk; I hadn’t tried that with milk so now I know it works!

Kath December 13, 2012

Hi – i made 5 attempts this morning, the first one split, 2nd, 4th adn 5th were perfect but the third one i burnt the sugar and it also split.

Any ides why it would split (looks curdled) the one that i didn’t burn still tasted nice but looks terrible!

Also, I used caster sugar (what i had on hand) and it melted within the first 8 minutes.

thanks

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alexandra December 13, 2012

In the instances when the caramel
curdled, when did it happen? If it happened when you were cooking it after you added the milk, were you stirring constantly? If you weren’t, that can cause the curdling. If you give me more information I might be able to help more. :)

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Felise December 17, 2012

Hey! I tried your recipe and mine curdled too. I turned off the stove, added half the milk. I stirred it while it was bubbling furiously (maybe not constantly). After I added in the rest of the milk and the bubbling subsided, I noticed it had curdled. I’ve made it using cream and didn’t have a problem. Do you let the sugar cool for a while before adding the milk? Any other ideas of how to prevent curdling? Thanks!

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alexandra December 17, 2012

Well, when you add the milk, you pretty much have to stir CONSTANTLY until you’re done cooking. What I do is remove the pot from the stove, stir as I add the half the milk, keep stirring for a couple seconds, and then stir as I add the remaining milk. So I don’t wait at all really between the two additions. Then I put it back on the stove and literally stir constantly until I feel like it’s thickened enough. Otherwise, the heat will quickly make the milk curdle. Does that help?

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Felise December 18, 2012

I made it this morning with 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk (turned out great). I just saw your reply, so I’ll try again using only milk. Thanks for your help!!

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alexandra December 19, 2012

Fantastic! And you’re welcome. :)

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Drea December 24, 2012

I just made this sauce and it came out perfect! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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alexandra December 26, 2012

Great! I’m so glad you let me know. :) You’re welcome.

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Odyakov December 30, 2012

My caramel smells and tastes a little burnt. I used plain white table sugar. Was I supposed to use a different kind of sugar? My temperature was correct. My milk also curdled and I did stir constantly but I guess it was because the milk wasn’t hot enough and when it came in contact with something hotter, it curdled. Next time ill try heating up the milk more.

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alexandra December 30, 2012

Make sure your sugar is pure cane sugar; that’s your best bet for caramel. If the caramel seems burnt, you just cooked it a little too long before taking it off the heat and adding the milk. Next time, stop right when it turns a reddish-brown color. It helps to use a light colored pan if possible so you can see the caramel better. This is something you’ll be able to gauge better with practice, too. As far as the milk curdling, did you heat it up as much as instructed in the recipe (1 minute)? If so, try adding another 30 seconds. It should be pretty warm by then.

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Odyakov December 31, 2012

Thanks! I was using a dark colored pot! Ill try a whiter colored pot today!

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Odyakov December 31, 2012

Wow! I tried a much wider pot and I heated up the milk almost to boiling point. It came out perfect and everyone loved it!! Thanks for a great recipe!! Happy New Years 2013!!!

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alexandra December 31, 2012

Perfect! Thanks for letting me know; I love hearing when someone tries a recipe and has success with it. :)
Have a very Happy New Year yourself!

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Erika Santana January 8, 2013

Thanks so much for the recipe and the very thorough explanation! It was very helpful to know what to expect before getting started. It worked like a charm on the very first time.

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alexandra January 9, 2013

You’re welcome! I’m so glad it worked well. :)

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GeorgeTheJournalist January 12, 2013

Thanks for the recipe. I did it yesterday and it worked out perfectly, even though I’ve always lost my battles with caramel before. Thanks!

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alexandra January 14, 2013

You’re welcome! That’s fantastic to hear!

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Kim May January 26, 2013

I just made this with goats milk as I have a milk allergy. Tuned out perfectly and I finally get caramel in my latte!! Thanks for this recipe.

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alexandra January 27, 2013

I’m so glad! Thanks for letting me know that goats milk works too – that’s really interesting and good to know in case someone else with a milk allergy asks. :)

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monika January 27, 2013

OH MY GOODNESS THIS RECIPE IS AWESOME!! I failed making caramel soooo many times I can’t even tell you! I was also looking for a recipe without the heavy cream and I came across this one..
I read the whole site and followed the instructions closely and BOOM, 30 minutes later I have the most delicious caramel cooling on my counter top!! AND I GOT IT FOR THE FIRST TRY!!!
Thank you so much for this recipe and all the tips that helped me make the best caramel ever!!!

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alexandra January 27, 2013

Wow, that’s amazing to hear! You have no idea how much you made my day with that comment. The post is so long because I wanted to make the recipe as detailed as possible; I’m so glad all those details helped you out!

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Veronica January 27, 2013

I just made this, and when I re-heated it to melt the hard lumps, it separated! Why? :)

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alexandra January 29, 2013

Before you put it back on the stove, did you have mostly a pot of milk with a big hunk of hardened sugar, or was it mostly fluid caramel with just some small pieces of hardened sugar?
If it was almost all nice, fluid caramel and then messed up once you put it on the stove, my next question for you is, did it then become a pot of milk with a hunk of sugar, or did it just get really lumpy, like the milk curdled?
If everything was looking pretty good before you put the caramel back on the heat, my best guess at this point would be that you weren’t stirring it constantly. But if you can get back to me with answers to these questions, I might be able to help you more with a solution! :)

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Veronica January 29, 2013

It was mostly mixed before I put it on the stove, and it pretty much curdled. I was stirring constantly like it said to. Isn’t that weird?

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alexandra January 31, 2013

Yeah, that is weird… Your stove was on medium-low too? If so, how long did it take you for the caramel to melt in the first place? If it melted faster than about 15-18 minutes, I’m thinking that maybe your stove runs hotter and you need to lower it a bit?

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Elisa Duarte January 29, 2013

I just did it! Yieii!! And its really good!

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alexandra January 31, 2013

Yay! So glad to hear it!

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Marian February 1, 2013

I thought, what could be so difficult in it… until. The sugar cools down too quickly and turns into lumps when adding the milk. Ps. Third try going on

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alexandra February 1, 2013

Don’t give up if the sugar hardens when you add the milk! Your caramel isn’t ruined. Just put it back on the stove and stir continuously until all of the sugar melts back in again, and you should have a nice, fluid caramel.

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PinchOfLime February 15, 2013

So glad I found this recipe! I’ve been looking for an easy one without cream and this was perfect. I did a batch earlier today and I had the same problem with milk separating though. My sugar also started melting before the first eight minutes so I determined that my burner was way too hot on the medium-low setting. I did a second batch the heat on the lowest setting. It took about 15 minutes longer, but the end result turned out great. A little more time versus burnt sugar was worth it. Gotta love trial and error! Anyways, thanks for posting this. It made my hot apple cider taste just like Starbucks’ Caramel Apple Spice which is exactly what I was looking for.
PinchOfLime recently posted..Roasted Garlic Hummus (and the benefits of eating it)My Profile

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alexandra February 16, 2013

That’s awesome to hear! I can only imagine how good that Caramel Apple Cider must taste. You do need to play around with the heat level on your stove sometimes since each one is different, so I’m so glad you figured out what works for you. Making this caramel sauce gets super easy with time, trust me!

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Tasha February 17, 2013

I’ve made this twice within the last month and both times its been PERFECT! Really simple to make so long as you dont give up when the sugar hardens, just keeps stirring and voila, the most delicious sauce I’ve ever tasted!
The first time I made it i let it cook a little long so it was quite thick, however I stirred it into my morning coffee(caramel latte’s are my fave too). This time I only cooked until the sugar clumps had dissolved as I wanted to pour it onto icecream.

Thankyou soo much for a recipe minus the cream!

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alexandra February 24, 2013

You’re welcome! I’m so happy that you’re enjoying the caramel sauce and that you’ve gotten the hang of making it. It gets easier every time you do it; I make this sauce all the time, and it’s incredibly easy to do now. I still need to try it on ice cream myself. Sounds fantastic!

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Tasha March 2, 2013

I thought I also ought to add that I made it with skimmed (0.1%) milk and it worked fine :) I usually use skimmed at home and I had forgotten to buy 2%!

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alexandra March 3, 2013

Thanks for telling me! Good to know. :)

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Molly March 2, 2013

I have to say thank you, thank you, thank you! I just made this caramel sauce tonight and it is amazing! I can’t believe how great it tastes with just three tiny ingredients. I’ve made caramel sauce before with heavy cream, and I’m so excited to find a healthier version! I do have to mention that my caramel turned into a hardened ball when I added the milk -even with constant stirring- but after 15 minutes (yes, be patient, people!) of more continuous stirring, I was rewarded. The hard caramel bits eventually incorporate into the sauce. I waited til it cooled, and my oh my, is it yummy! Cannot wait to drizzle it over sliced bananas and add a spoonful to my coffee, too!

P.S. Try adding a dash of balsamic vinegar if you’re feeling daring- it definitely adds another dimension!

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alexandra March 3, 2013

Ooh, I love the idea of drizzling the sauce over bananas! Sounds incredible! I’m so glad you like the sauce; sometimes caramel with cream has its use, but I find this sauce is awesome
for certain applications. And thanks for the heads up to others about needing to stir after adding the milk. I think sometimes people think there’s no way all that sugar will melt again, but it definitely does! Eventually you might not even have the issue of the sugar hardening in the first place. Somehow the more you make the sauce, the smoother the process becomes.

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Bex March 11, 2013

Hi, I made this today, first time trying to make caramel. It doesn’t seem quite right though and after being in the fridge all afternoon its not pourable anymore.. my hob seems to get hot very quickly as the sugar melted in the first 8 minutes!
Also, I’m making the caramel to go into chocolates.. have you got any tips for how it should be?
Thanks. X

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alexandra March 11, 2013

Hi Bex! I’ve never experienced this caramel getting solid at all, so I’m a little surprised you had this issue. Your hob definitely seems to run on the hot side though, so I would suggest turning down the temperature if possible so that the sugar takes longer to melt (closer to 16 minutes). But, assuming you added the milk as soon as your sugar melted and turned the right color, how long did you cook after adding the milk? And was the milk boiling at all while you were cooking the caramel? If you could get back to me hopefully I can give you some more answers and you can make those chocolates perfectly!

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Bex March 12, 2013

I can’t turn my hob down any more.. that was the coolest it goes. But will try again today
I cooked it for around 5 minutes after adding the milk, just to get the lumps to melt again. It did boil, is it not meant to?
Thank you for the quick reply!

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Claudette August 20, 2014

i was wondering, i am not trying to make alot of caramel but i just want to add a little flavor to my mini-cini buns. would the recipe work if i used a smaller batch of sugar?

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alexandra August 25, 2014

Yes! The recipe can be halved (or probably even quartered) without a problem.

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Claudette August 25, 2014

Thank you so much. I cant wait to try it out. my daughters will love this!

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Bex March 12, 2013

Okay, I tried again. I managed to get the heat lower, it took over the 16 minutes to completely melt. All seemed fine, but end result still seems off.. maybe a little grainy? It just doesn’t look like smooth caramel. Any ideas??

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alexandra March 12, 2013

The caramel will bubble up when you add the milk, but once you stir it in and put it back on the heat again, you don’t want it to be boiling anymore. If it does, the stove is too hot. With your second attempt, I’m thinking that probably shouldn’t have happened since you lowered the heat, right? Did you stir constantly once the milk was in? One thing I’ve experienced is that if you don’t, the milk quickly gets too hot and curdles a little, giving the caramel a weird texture. Does that help at all?

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Kelli B March 18, 2013

THANK YOU SO MUCH for this recipe! I never keep condensed milk, half and half or evaporated milk on hand and needed some caramel sauce today. Your recipe saved me and is SO YUMMY! Having it on a spice apple cake right now – heaven! My playgroup moms will be so impressed tomorrow!

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Kelli B March 18, 2013

Also – Your recipe was soooo wonderfully detailed that I was able to pull it off on the first try. Thanks for the taking the time to be so specific so I didn’t spend my whole night scraping burnt sugar out of a pot!

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alexandra March 19, 2013

You’re welcome! That’s so great that the recipe helped you out and your caramel sauce turned out well. :) Thanks for making my day with your comment; it’s nice to hear when someone really appreciates a recipe!

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sara March 20, 2013

hi from Sardinia!yesterday i had a friend over for coffee and a chat and along with the coffee and some banana bread i served a mini wafer cup filled with my very own first batch of caramel sauce….said friend texted me today first thing in the morning telling me she actually woke up thinking of that blissful flavour and texture….everything went according to plan in preparation, even the caramel lumping in one single ball and the milk bubbling right to the brim of the pan….not to worry, everything went fine anyway….i kept it on the hob for a few more simmering minutes to get the gooey consistency i was looking for to go with my very own delicious vanilla panna cotta….a happy time was had by all!!!!!

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alexandra March 21, 2013

That’s great Sara! I’m so happy to hear that you and your friend enjoyed the caramel sauce! I love how creative you were getting with it, serving it with panna cotta and banana bread too? Yum!

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Amy Morin March 25, 2013

I am the type of person who can mess up my kids boxed Mac n cheese so when I found your recipe, I was prepared for failure! :) but I NAILED it and it was soooooo good and surprisingly easy! Thanks!

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alexandra March 26, 2013

That’s amazing! Thanks for letting me know Amy. :) I’m so glad you’re enjoying your caramel sauce!

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Julie March 30, 2013

Thank you so much for your post. I was actually trying to make caramel from one of the youtube recipes (with cream, etc) and thought mine had failed (& now what do I do with this failed caramel – usually you don’t have to throw things out – you just have to figure out how you can still use them!). So I googled failed homemade caramel sauce & got your site, and due to your encouragement to not freak out if the caramel’s hardened, I therefore didn’t, kept stirring & sure enough I have a caramel that’ll work for that cheesecake I made for Easter dinner at my brother’s house after all! Yum! I’ll have to read your recipe & try it next time, if it’s just as good using milk instead of cream (I’m not too concerned about the cream – we have raw cream from our raw milk (except I did use store bought this time, as I didn’t think to save the cream for the caramel)).
Anyway, thank you thank you for addressing the “failures” so they need not be failures!

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alexandra March 31, 2013

Well, I must say that I never expected to help someone with a different caramel recipe through this post, but I’m so glad I did! Kitchen failures kinda stink, and I’m always one to do a lot of research when I experience one so I can rectify my problem. Great to know that this time I was able to help someone else!
There are a lot of variations on caramel sauce out there and since I don’t know what recipe you were using, it’s hard to say how this recipe would compare, but this caramel sauce made with milk has been a big hit at my house and I’ve heard from a lot of other readers who have tried it and loved it. I would say, give it a try if you’re feeling experimental! (And don’t be worried about a big hunk of hardened caramel in the process). ;)

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Lina April 3, 2013

This recipe is awesome!!!! I’m 15 completely clumsy and managed to make this on the first go!!!

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alexandra April 4, 2013

That’s AWESOME! I’m so glad you told me… made my day! :)

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Ellen April 4, 2013

Hi – I tried this recipe twice yesterday, and both times they failed. Both times, it was fine dissolving the sugar, but when I took it off the stove to add the milk, I was continuously stirring, as you said, but once I’d added the milk and it had stopped bubbling, I noticed small bits floating on top. I scooped some out and it wasnt hardened sugar, it was soft, probably curdled, milk. The milk was hot when added, so I’m stuck about where I went wrong! I tried just heating it up more afterwards, but the lumps still stayed there. I’m determined to find out because so many people are getting great results!!

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alexandra April 4, 2013

Hmm.. Is it possible that you heated the milk too much and it was curdled before you added it to the sugar? Perhaps your microwave runs hot…
I’ve never experienced what you described or heard of anyone experiencing that, so that’s the only thing I can think of. Also make sure you keep stirring once you put it back on the stove.

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stacey April 10, 2013

Mine curdled too :(
Used hot milk but it still split. Definintely curdled, not crystallised sugar. Very bummed, I need a caramel sauce for tonight but don’t have any cream and was avoiding dragging the kids out in the rain, but looks like I’ll have to, cos now I’m out of milk too!

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alexandra April 15, 2013

Hi Stacey,
I’m sorry that you had trouble with the caramel sauce! However, I’ve come up with a few things that may explain why your milk curdled. Firstly, are you using regular granulated white cane sugar? That’s what you should use for this recipe, as a different type of sugar could cause a variety of problems. Secondly, if you got the caramel too dark (and therefore too acidic) before adding the milk, this could have caused the milk to curdle. Lastly, if your milk was getting old, it would have been more likely to curdle. Hope these tips help and you give the caramel another try!

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Kristian Amber April 17, 2013

I just trief this out it turned out great good to know it works with rice milk too
now dialysis patiants like myself can enjoy can enjoy caramel sauce without worrying about the high phosphous content in heavy cream

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alexandra April 20, 2013

That’s great to here! Thanks so much for letting me know about your success with the recipe. I haven’t tried rice milk, but I think it’s awesome that it works here!

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sarah April 27, 2013

this is the ONLY caramel sauce i will ever use. it is downright amazing and EASY. thank you so much for the wonderful recipe!

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alexandra April 30, 2013

Wow, thanks so much for the amazing comment! I’m so glad you like the caramel sauce! :)

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melanie May 3, 2013

Tried this three times and followed the instructions to the letter every time (including the troubleshooting suggestions in the comments), but always ended up with a curdled mess. Well done to those of you who can make it work but I’ll just have to stick with tradition.

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alexandra May 4, 2013

I’m sorry to hear the caramel didn’t work out for you. I’ve never had the curdled problem myself, so it sort of baffles me when people do. Did you happen to read this from a previous comment I replied to?
“Firstly, are you using regular granulated white cane sugar? That’s what you should use for this recipe, as a different type of sugar could cause a variety of problems. Secondly, if you got the caramel too dark (and therefore too acidic) before adding the milk, this could have caused the milk to curdle. Lastly, if your milk was getting old, it would have been more likely to curdle.”
If so, and if you were stirring constantly when you returned the caramel to the stove, I’m really not sure what else to tell you.

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Tiffanie May 6, 2013

Have never made caramel before so this was my first attempt and so far it’s been a success. Once the sugar was melted, not completely watery but runny (I was afraid to burn it), I took it off the heat and added half of the warm milk and it immediately turned to a rock. I initially started to panic but remembered your suggestion and returned it to the heat. After about 10 minutes it did finally melt but I left it on the heat a bit longer in hopes to thicken it a bit as I plan to use it for dipping apples. It’s in the fridge now in 4oz jars cooling. Will let you know how the end result turns out.

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alexandra May 6, 2013

Sounds like you did pretty well, especially for a first attempt! I’m hoping you kept stirring while you had it on the heat… that is CRUCIAL, but if it looked fine going in the fridge, all should be well. I would love to hear if the apple-dipping works out for you. I would think you’d need some pretty thick caramel for that!
By the way, do make sure that when you melt the sugar, you don’t have any sugar crystals still visible. It should all turn to liquid before you have to worry about burning it; I get mine pretty dark rust-y colored since I like to take it all the way to the edge, so don’t be too timid. :) That being said, you’ll definitely get better and less “shy” with practice at this method!

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Tiffanie May 6, 2013

Yes, I did continuously stir the caramel while continuing to heat it after adding the milk. The caramel is a dark walnut color and extremely thick, perfect for dipping apples. I will be making several more batched tomorrow as its for teacher appreciation gifts for my children’s teachers.

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Sara May 13, 2013

Hi I tried this recipe and it mostly worked but there were a few things I had trouble with. After I adde the milk, the caramel hardened and I put it back on the heat and it eventually melted like you said it would, but the finished product was too thick and when I put it into the fridge, it became solid. I warmed it back up and put in more milk to thin it, which worked, but it’s still too hard to pour after being in the fridge. Is it still too thick because when it’s warm it’s the right consistency… And btw thanks for the wonderful recipe

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alexandra May 16, 2013

How long did you have it back on the stove after you added the milk? If you kept it on there for a long time, that might have caused it to get really thick. Maybe next time you could try lowering the heat a bit after you add the milk. Also, just check to make sure your proportion of sugar to milk matches the recipe. My caramel is very fluid even after being in the fridge.
Please let me know if you have any more questions! I’m glad you liked the caramel even if you hit that little roadblock, and I’m sure practice will make perfect with this!

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Kevin May 13, 2013

Delicious. They do not carry my favorite coffee creamer anymore, Salted Caramel, but this taste exactly like it so I am very happy with this recipe. Thank You.

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alexandra May 16, 2013

You’re welcome! I’m so glad the caramel lived up to your expectations!

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bree May 20, 2013

well after two fails, third time was the charm! it finally turned out, and boy was it yummy! i put it on vanilla ice cream with sea salt on top. delicious!

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alexandra May 22, 2013

So glad that you preserved! The combination of caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream, and sea salt sounds TO DIE FOR!

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Christy May 27, 2013

Third attempt in progress! Here’s hoping that third times the charm. I had the first batch on way too high of heat- it started melting after five minutes! I tried to keep going even though it melted early, but I hadn’t heated up my milk yet and the whole thing kind of failed. The second time I had much lower heat, but the milk curdled. :( I think I may have gotten the caramel too dark before adding the milk, and I think I had the heat too high when I put it back on the stove. I was trying to get the hard pieces to re-melt, and I got impatient. I’m hoping this third attempt goes well!

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alexandra May 27, 2013

Good luck! Sounds like you’re troubleshooting yourself pretty well. I’ve only had the curdling issue happen to me once (actually just a few days ago) and I was pretty baffled by why/how it happened. I think I either got it too dark or I may have had something in my measuring glass that threw the whole thing off since I has only rinsed it from a previous use. Hope your next batch works out! And by the way, if you only have a few small pieces of hardened sugar left after you add the milk, sometimes you can just let the pot sit (off the stove) and the residual heat will make it melt after a while. :)

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Crystal May 30, 2013

Can i use this for caramel popcorn?

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alexandra May 31, 2013

I can’t say for sure since I’ve never made caramel corn before… what I can tell you is that the longer you cook the caramel after adding the milk (stirring constantly), the thicker the caramel will be. If you try it out, I would love to hear how it works!

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Keliria May 30, 2013

Thanks for the post! I almost always have a hankering for caramel and almost never have cream! Tried this just now with relative success; the end result wasn’t quite as smooth as it could have been (milk got too hot, sugar may have been too dark also), but I poured it over a pan of brownies anyway. Texture shortfalls aside, this is still a huge success to me because 1) I now have a no-cream caramel recipe, and 2) Any attempt in candy without catastrophic results is a pretty huge win! :)

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alexandra May 31, 2013

Well I’m glad it went relatively well; for your first time around, that’s pretty good! I guarantee you’ll get better after a few attempts; I make iced caramel lattes every day, so I literally make this sauce ALL the time. It gets much easier with practice. :)

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Emma June 5, 2013

Hi! I didn’t exactly followed your instructions, but I used the same ingredients. Turns out, it worked well! (BTW, it was my first attempt)
thanks for sharing your recipe with us! :)

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alexandra June 5, 2013

Well I’m glad it worked for you!! You’re welcome of course :)

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Eliza June 6, 2013

I’ve just attempted this recipe, and since I only need a little bit of caramel, I decided to CUT the recipe in half. I did the measurements correctly, and followed the recipe still, but when I added the milk it balled up and left me with LOTSS of milk sitting in the pan. I melted the ball, but it was still milk. So I gave up after that half and tried to do it again, this time, I’d add the caramel-milk mixture instead of plain milk. This time it curdled. -_- I ‘m willing to try it again but after two days of trying to create a perfect caramel to lace in this ice cream I’m making, I’m tired. Any suggestion? I just know next time I’m doing it all at once.

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alexandra June 6, 2013

Hi Eliza!
When you say that after you melted the balled-up sugar, you still had milk, what do you mean by that? The caramel sauce is thin unless you cook it longer, so is the fluidity of it what makes you say it was still milk? Or did it look different than what you see in my photos? You can always keep cooking the sauce, stirring constantly, after you add the milk if you want it to be thicker. You can also try scaling down to 1 cup milk while leaving the remaining ingredients as-is. Does this help at all?

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Tanja June 6, 2013

I’m so excited to try this & put it in my coffee (among many, many other things)! Where would I be able to find that curved container with the spout that holds the caramel in your photos? It’d be perfect!

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alexandra June 6, 2013

Hi Tanja! I got the container at Home Goods I believe, but if you search for “syrup container” on Amazon you can also find it there. :) Enjoy your caramel!!

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Mary June 15, 2013

So, it’s my mom’s birthday and I figured I’d experiment with a dessert I’ve never made before. So I made a baked cheesecake. It looks like it turned out well, but I won’t know for sure until we try it. Here’s hoping!

But the reason I’m telling you this is because I wanted to top it with something and I thought salted caramel would be an awesome idea. But since I’ve never made it before, I had to scour the internet for a good recipe. (And I figured, if I screw up the caramel and the cheesecake turns out horribly, at least I haven’t really wasted a good cheesecake haha. Great logic, huh?)

Anyway, so I found a recipe and it went HORRIBLY MISERABLY wrong! So that went in the trash, but I was determined to make another batch. And I found your recipe, which was made with NO CREAM!!! And I thought, surely this will fail, but let’s try it! And my oh my it was SHEER PERFECTION! It turned out exactly as you’d described (except my sugar started melting in the first 8 minutes and I used soy milk). It was absolutely smooth and velvety, no hardening, no clumping.

I am so excited to try it this evening!! Thank you for an amazing recipe!

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alexandra June 15, 2013

Haha I got a kick out of reading your story! I was scanning to the end at first thinking, “Did it work? I need to know!” So suspenseful haha :) I’m so happy if turned out well for you and that’s great that you were able to use soy milk. The sugar will liquefy faster depending on the temperature of your stove; yours might run a bit hotter than mine. Sounds like you did an awesome job though! Your cheesecake sounds amazing!

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Mary June 27, 2013

Oh! You replied – I never received the notification haha.

SO glad my story didn’t bore you – as I was writing it, I though, ‘get a grip Mary, she doesn’t need your entire life story!’

So, the cheesecake was a HUGE hit! I used this recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/omas-cottage-cheesecake/ (using 1/3 cup honey instead of the sugar) and made a healthy pecan-stevia crust. Everyone love love LOVED it and the caramel just made it perfect!

This weekend will be make-more-caramel time! :)

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alexandra July 3, 2013

Haha, no it wasn’t boring! I’m not sure why you didn’t get the reply notification; you should have. :/ E-mail glitch, I guess!
That’s so great, though!! I’m really happy to hear it went over so well!

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Heather June 28, 2013

You just made me so happy! I searched and searched for a caramel recipe that used milk so that I could try using lactose-free milk. I used 2% Lactaid milk and after reheating to get rid of some hard clumps, I have a delightful success! Just made some popcorn and drizzled a little on top while it’s still hot – yum! Can’t wait to make oatmeal carmelitas using this. Thanks :)

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alexandra July 3, 2013

Yay! I’m so glad to hear that! Caramel popcorn and oatmeal carmelitas both sound good; way to get creative!

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Jacqueline June 30, 2013

I just made this successfully! Thanks to your detailed instructions and other people’s comments, I was able to get this right on the first try! :) my sugar started to melt before the first 8 minutes so I then just eyeballed the pot and made sure all of the sugar was in a liquid state and had a medium-dark brown colour before taking the pot off the heat. Then I stirred in the heated milk and although the sugar became solid again, I just turned on the heat and kept stirring like you suggested until all the sugar dissolved into the milk.

So delicious! anks for sharing your recipe!

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alexandra July 3, 2013

So cool! Part of making this caramel sauce is definitely having an eye for what each stage should look like, and the more you practice, the better you get. Sounds like you did an awesome job!

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Alice Kolonis July 3, 2013

Oh. My. Goodness! I just finished making this a few minutes ago. It is amazing. So easy and great caramel flavor. I did cook it a bit longer to thicken it. I’m curious to see how thick it gets once it has cooled. Thanks for the recipe. I love your blog. Filled with the perfect balance of info and humor. The photos are always beautiful. Sites like your encourage me to try new things. Keep up the good work!

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alexandra July 5, 2013

That’s great!! So glad the caramel worked out perfectly for you. And thank you so, so much for your sweet words. It’s so nice to hear when people appreciate the blog and have good things to say. Thanks so much for encouraging ME!

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Lioness4life July 5, 2013

OH MY GOD!!!! Just made this at 11 at night, and boy was it super amazing! My sister, And I loved it, and the fact that it’s so simple is going to prove very handy in the future. I was actually kind of nervous to try this, because last time I tried to make caramel… yeah it didn’t go well… But I made this with 1% milk and table salt haha, and it still worked!!! So psyched!!!

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alexandra July 9, 2013

I’m so glad you guys liked it!! It’s always fun to hear when another person tries the recipe and enjoys it so much. It’s awesome that you can make amazing caramel with basically the most fundamental ingredients, right??!

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Michelle July 5, 2013

Hi, I have diabetes type 2 and work hard to reduce my use of sugar. Can you tell me, if I choose to use less sugar when trying to make the carmel milk, will it still work? I am excited to make this and find the ways I can use just a little, at times, to enjoy the rich flavors i enjoy, without over doing my sugar intake.

Thank you for any knowledge you can share with me, with regards to your experience in recipe experimentation.

Michelle

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alexandra July 8, 2013

Hi Michelle,
You can use less sugar, but the less you use, the thinner your caramel will be (unless you cook it even longer). If you use a lot less, you will have something more like caramel milk, as you called it, as opposed to caramel sauce. But, if that’s all good with you, then by all means, go for it! Hope that helps. :)

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krista July 8, 2013

I was just wondering… could I use brown sugar instead? I know Brown sugar gets grainy so would I have to cook it longer?

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alexandra July 9, 2013

Hi Krista,
For this recipe, you really need to use 100% pure cane sugar (basic white granulated sugar). Any time I’ve tried doing anything similar with brown sugar, I’ve ended up with a grainy mess no matter what. Sorry!

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Jorge Bizarro May 1, 2015

Exactly! – Your post is very informative, and completed with the many comments.
The only reason that I’m posting this to shed some light on the grainy caramel (‘curdled’) issue.
I do simple caramel (just sugar) often, to coat pans where I bake custard like puddings before sending them to the oven in a bain-marie. This was the first time veer I tried ‘caramel sauce’ and it worked fine but I did got the grainy version – which is still fine to smear milk, cappuccino, etc. – because I decided to add two spoons of brown sugar and used entirely skimmed milk. So brown sugar has acidity and I think you really need a bit of fat. The other issue with brown sugar is that it tends to melt in a foamy way, so it is difficult to see exactly the color of your caramel – thus easier to burn – but I’m used to do it and just trust ‘my nose’.

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alexandra May 5, 2015

You’re right on about the brown sugar – it is more acidic and difficult to work with. As far as the milk, higher fat content will definitely work better (which is why cream is the norm for caramel), but I’ve heard from readers that have had success with many different types of milk. Typically, I use 2% for this recipe myself.

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Jeannette July 11, 2013

For some reason, I can’t get my sugar to melt! I’ve had it on medium-low for about 30 minutes now (possibly longer) and it’s still just in it’s normal form. I’m using pure cane sugar. Do I need to add water to it or something?

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alexandra July 11, 2013

That’s strange, but you don’t need to add water. I would suggest turning up your heat. Every stove is a bit different, and it’s possible that yours just runs on the cooler side. Try turning it up to medium and see how that goes, and if you still need to increase the heat, do so a bit at a time.

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Jeannette July 11, 2013

I ended up turning it up to just below medium and it started to caramelize very quickly! The caramel is delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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alexandra July 12, 2013

Perfect! You’re welcome. :)

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brian taylor July 21, 2013

Thank you!
I’ve always bought the expensive stuff from the supermarket. And this is tastier and I know the ingredients. Awesome.

I did it first time lucky, by the way!

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alexandra July 21, 2013

That’s great!! It’s beginner’s skill, not beginner’s luck, of course!
You’re welcome. :)

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Violetta July 23, 2013

I just want to say this recipe was super easy to make and the end result came out delicious!!! I do however to say that I followed to recipe step by step and in the middle of the making, whole milk curled :( It was quit disappointing to see and I tried putting back to the heat, but nothing helped. So…. I took my little hand blender and blended it all together!!! The end result: Delicious Caramel Sauce……. no wasted groceries and of course happy boyfriend :)

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alexandra July 23, 2013

I’m glad the caramel turned out well in the end! I’ve made the sauce more times than I can count and it’s only curdled on me once. I’ve explained a few possible reasons in previous comments, if you’re interested. Good to know the hand blender can smooth it out though!

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AmandaL July 23, 2013

Thanks so much for this recipe! I’ve tried making caramel sauce before with no success. I made this recipe with soy milk and it turned out perfectly, a delicious topping for pancake brunch.

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alexandra July 23, 2013

Yay! So glad this recipe worked for you! Sounds like you’ll be having some delicious pancakes!

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Sue July 24, 2013

Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!

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alexandra July 27, 2013

I’d love to hear if you give it a shot! :D

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TerriAnn August 3, 2013

I just finished making this recipe and at first I was about to write a bad review and say it didn’t work. But then I gave it a few minutes to set and tasted it and it is DELICIOUS!! My little one is eating it with apple slices and wants to know what else I have to dip in it!! It is very easy and very good. When you get to the part where the giant glob is in the middle of your pan don’t panic it will mix in with the milk. (that is when I panicked).

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alexandra August 4, 2013

Thanks TeriAnn. I would have hated for you to be disappointed with the recipe, but it’s absolutely true that you might get a glob of sugar that needs to be melted back into the liquid. It’s so easy to panic when you see that, but once you know it’s expected and have a little patience, it all works out. Milk has less fat than cream, which is of course what makes this recipe different from so many other caramel sauces, but the smaller amount of fat is what causes that risk of the sugar seizing or clumping. I’m glad you’re enjoying your caramel though!

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Eleora August 9, 2013

Before, I keep trying the wet method of caramel making and… failed miserably. BUT right after I see your post, I set off to the kitchen and work on another batch of caramel sauce. And…..it works on my first try!! I’ll never thought about adding milk into caramel. You are my caramel hero. ;D

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alexandra August 9, 2013

That’s amazing!! I’m so happy to hear that. And I’m pretty happy to be someone’s caramel hero too haha. :D

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Treena August 14, 2013

Hi there, I’m hoping you can help me, I absolutely LOVE Caramel Frappé’s and after finding your recipe for a No Cream Caramel and all the comments from people who have tried it and had it turn out Perfectly I am desperate to try your recipe myself. The problem I have is I live in the UK and we don’t measure in Cups :-( Please could you tell what quantities I need in either Grams or Ounces many thanks Treena

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Treena August 14, 2013

Ok so I posted a comment asking for the quantities of Sugar and Milk in either Grams or Ounces, but Me being Me couldn’t wait for a reply, You see my big problem is I have NO PATIENCE! So I consulted the Oracle that id Google and found an online converter which worked out at 200 Grams Sugar and 250 Grams Milk. I set to work, got everything I needed and HOPED for the best, after the first 8mins (as stated in the instructions) nothing had happened, by the end of the second 8mins I noticed the sugar on the bottom seemed to be colouring and as I scooped the melted sugar over the un-melted sugar it turned into “Globs” of hard caramel, and I debated throwing it out :-( However I remembered the warning Not to PANIC, just in time and lowered the heat and it soon all melted together :-) Of course as soon as the milk hit it, everything seized up and I ended up with a pan of caramel coloured milk and a huge Glob of hard caramel on the bottom of my pan, but because I had read the instructions AND comments before I started I knew exactly what to do, stir, Stir and STIR some more! Once it all came together I returned it to the heat, as I like a thicker Caramel 10 mins later and now in a jar I have THE MOST AWESOME, Home made Caramel which will be used to make Banoffee Frapeé’s ( Strong Coffee blended with Milk, Ice, Banana and Caramel) later with my Closest Friend, who I will be sharing this recipe with :-D THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING X X

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alexandra August 14, 2013

Hi Treena,
Sorry I couldn’t get back to your comment sooner, but it was 3AM my time when you commented, so that would be why haha. Anyway, I’m so glad everything worked out for you! The good news is, caramel is pretty flexible in that if you increase or decrease your sugar:milk ratio, it’ll just make a thinner or thicker sauce. I just worked out the conversion, and you actually used less milk than stated in the recipe, but that would work out better for you since you wanted a thick sauce anyway. Sometimes I cut it down to one cup of milk, which is about what you did by my calculations. I do all my recipes in weight measurements now too, so if you ever want to check out some other recipes on the blog, you won’t have to convert the newer ones!
Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, and for your funny and sweet comment. And if you want to send me a Banoffee Frappe, I’ll be happy to accept! LOL

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Emmy August 18, 2013

Hi! I made this today and the flavor is delicious. Just to make sure, it turned out as it should, it is supposed to be rather thin, right? I’ve had it in the fridge for several hours and it has thickened up some, but not as much as I thought it would. I’m not complaining! I, like you, like to put it in my coffee. I just want to make sure that it came out right. Thanks!

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alexandra August 18, 2013

Yup, sounds right! If you want it to be really thick, you can cook it longer while stirring. You can also reduce the milk to 1 cup to get a head start on the thickening, but you’ll still need to cook it longer.

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Mary Michael September 6, 2013

Used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it turned out great! I cannot wait to make a homemade caramel macchiato and maybe just maybe kick my starbucks habit! Thanks for the recipe!

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alexandra September 7, 2013

That’s awesome! I’ve definitely become happier with my homemade lattes since figuring out how to make this caramel! :)

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Kassie September 17, 2013

I am currently sipping a hot cup of salted caramel mocha made with this sauce, and it is delicious! I did have to return it to heat in order to melt some chunks, but the chunks did melt and it turned out wonderful. Other recipes I’ve tried, turned my lattes oily, but this one is perfect and the liquid form makes it easy to work with. Thanks for sharing!

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alexandra September 20, 2013

Yay! I’m so happy to hear that. I haven’t made salted caramel mochas with it, so I’d love to hear what you did!

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nicole spoden September 17, 2013

Thanks soo much for the easy recipe for the carmel sauce. I also use coco powder just to give it some flavor and color. Is it ok if I feature you and your recipe on my blog?

Come and follow me and I will do the same for you.

creatingmomof4.blogspot.com

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alexandra September 20, 2013

Hi Nicole! You can feel free to share the recipe on your blog, but if you do so, please write it in your own words and link back to the original recipe on my blog. Thanks so much for asking!

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nicole spoden September 23, 2013

Love visiting your blog. Can you tell me where you upload your photos? Do you do them yourself? If you your blog pictures yourself, great work!!!
nicole spoden recently posted..Fall days are offically here.My Profile

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alexandra September 29, 2013

Thank you so much Nicole! I’m not sure what you mean by where I upload them, but I do take all the photos myself.

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Tracy Michaels September 20, 2013

I made a sweet potato panna cotta for dessert tonight. I was searching for a caramel sauce recipe to go along with it and came across your recipe. I’ve never made a caramel sauce. The recipe was wonderful and the sauce is delicious! Thank you!

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alexandra September 21, 2013

I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for letting me know. :) Your panna cotta sounds awesome, and I’ve never made panna cotta before, so you’ve beat me on that!

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Tracy Michaels September 28, 2013

Made the caramel sauce again tonight to go with some apple pie burritos I was making. Good grief……………I’m addicted!!!

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alexandra September 29, 2013

Dang girl, apple pie burritos?! Talk about creative and tasty-sounding!! Send me some? ;D
So glad you like the sauce!

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anita September 22, 2013

this was amazing! thank you so much before your blog i was left with a harden gob of caramel that my brother described as sticking to his teeth and a bit sickly (he wasnt the only one, i felt the same lol). i was hoping i could make it pourable so this was great!

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alexandra September 22, 2013

Haha I know what you mean – that stuff will stick to your teeth like mad! I’m glad everything worked out. :)

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Amy September 22, 2013

Very Good! Followed the recipe to a T and it came out beautifully! Thanks so much!

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alexandra September 22, 2013

Awesome! You’re welcome. :)

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Laura October 5, 2013

Great recipe! I substituted a tablespoon of bacon fat for 1/4cup of milk. It was amazing. Thank you

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alexandra October 8, 2013

Glad you liked it!

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Jen October 6, 2013

I’ve made caramel where you melt the sugar in water, then let it boil and add butter and heavy whipping cream, and it turned out great. Tonight, I didn’t have heavy whipping cream and didn’t want to go to the store again, so when I found this recipe, I was so happy. Little tricky, I thought I was doing it wrong at first, until I saw the sugar start to melt. I either let water get in it or just didn’t stir it enough, because it was already hard in some parts before I even added the milk (I used vanilla almond milk because that is all I had), so it was a little bit of a pain trying to mix it together. I had to scrape with a knife for a bit to mix it, but the extra 15 minutes did the trick. I let it cool for a bit before I put it in the fridge, but it still seems a bit thin (it’s been in for about an hour). I read a previous comment about stirring it at room temp, so I am going to try that, but I did notice that it was a bit thin, even after the 15 minutes extra on the stove. I’m wondering if it was the type of milk that I used or if I used too big of a pot when cooking it. It tastes great though, even if it is a little sweet, but I attribute that to the milk being sweetened. I will totally be trying this again, and experimenting with different ways because I don’t really drink milk, but my boyfriend does, and he normally gets almond milk or coconut milk. Thank you!!

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alexandra October 8, 2013

I tend to think this method of making caramel (the dry method) is easier just because there’s no waiting for boiling and so forth, and I like this particular recipe because it’s just so simple! You mentioned you had some hard pieces after melting the sugar, and that might actually be because you stirred too much. You really want to move the melted sugar around as little as possible, just to prevent if from burning, until it’s all liquid. If it starts to harden or clump, just lay your hands off a bit and it should all liquify. Wait for it all to melt and then cook it just long enough to get it to that deep rust color, which will also help cut some of the sweetness. As far as it being thin, I would just try cooking it longer after adding the milk. I always use a huge pot so I don’t think that’s much of an issue. Hope that helps and I’m glad you like it!

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Katherine October 10, 2013

WOW!!! Amazing recipe and such wonderful helpful hints. I’ve never tried the dry method before now. You made it so simple. I got a wonderful, astounding looking and tasting caramel sauce on my first try ( didn’t expect that ) but I attribute it all to your detailed description of how to handle each step! Thanks so much for sharing and the effort you put out to help others do it right!

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alexandra October 11, 2013

That’s fabulous! I’m so glad it worked out well for you. :)

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mel October 13, 2013

Hello,

So is pure cane sugar the best to use or regular granulated sugar?

Also is it possible or ok to can this recipe? or bad cause it has cream?

Anyone know how long they can keep it for in the fridge? I wanted to make some as gifts and for me but don’t want to give bad caramel at Christmas, since it is a couple months away…I want to make sure they also have a few months to have it at home too.?

Thanks for all of this I am excited to try it.

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alexandra October 13, 2013

Usually the granulated sugar you find in stores (like C&H, for example) is pure cane sugar.
I have no idea whether this sauce can be canned, although you might want to note that it uses milk, not cream (although you could use cream if you want to). It will keep for a while in the fridge, but I can’t say exactly how long since we always end up finishing it in less than a month. If you were to make the recipe for Christmas gifts, I would suggest waiting until mid-December to start making the caramel, and then when you give the jars away, your recipients should have plenty of time to enjoy it all. If you do can the caramel though, perhaps you could start making it earlier, but I really don’t have any knowledge to share with you on that front, unfortunately.

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Brttany November 21, 2013

I wanted to give this as a Christmas gift. So if I use cream(or even milk), can this be shipped to another state and be okay for consumption? Thanks.

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alexandra November 21, 2013

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject of food storage, but I think it would be totally fine, especially in the winter months. I leave my caramel sauce (made with milk) out of the refrigerator sometimes and I’ve never had a problem. Same goes if you make it with cream. :)

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Brttany November 21, 2013

I, too, thought it would be fine. Going from a very cold state, to another cold state. Just thought I would get your input. Thanks a lot!

Kim Robinson October 18, 2013

Hello,
I made this tonight & it was delicious.
Thank You for sharing. I bookmarked it
for future reference.

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alexandra October 19, 2013

So glad! Thanks for taking a second to let me know. :)

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rita.a October 19, 2013

Succeeded on try #1. This recipe is DIVINE :D

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alexandra October 21, 2013

Yay, go you! Thanks :)

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Treena October 22, 2013

After tryng this recipe once, it has quickly become my Go To recipe for caramel :-). I noticed a few comments about the milk “Curdling” when it hit the hot sugar syrup and due to my own mistake had this happen to me too. However it has nothing to do with the recipe and after an little trial and error I soon discovered what was causing it. . . . The Milk had been heated too much. The milk should NOT BE HOT, if it’s too hot it WILL curdle and once that happens the only thing you can do is throw it out and start again! If your milk gets too hot Just throw it away, because even if you allow it to cool, as soon as it goes in the pan it will curdle. I have discovered the ideal temperature for the milk is JUST above body temp, if you put your finger into milk it should feel SLIGHTLY WARM. If it is really warm or hot, throw it and start a fresh.
Hope this comment can save a few of you from ending up with a curdeled mess :-)

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Robin VanDyke November 2, 2013

Absolutely perfect on the first try! Thank you so much for sharing all of your hard work.

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alexandra November 5, 2013

Yay!You’re welcome :)

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Caroline November 4, 2013

Good luck with the first try. Now I’m waiting for it to cool enough to put it into the fridge, but initial tastes are delicious. Thanks for the great recipe and the tips were very helpful.

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alexandra November 5, 2013

So happy to hear it!

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Rebekkah November 22, 2013

I’m a little bit in love with this recipe. :) When I first poured in the milk, I did get a huge ball of seized sugar, but I put it back on the stove. After stirring for a while, it all managed to melt down. I wish all the past caramel recipes I’ve tried had told me to just be patient and stir! I’ve thrown out so many batches that I thought were ruined.

I found this recipe while looking for a caramel that would stay pourable straight from the fridge. The fact that it uses just sugar, milk, and salt has me sold. :) The amount fit perfectly in a plastic sauce bottle, too.

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alexandra November 26, 2013

Woohoo! So glad everything worked out well for you! I love that this caramel sauce stays nice and fluid; for some reason microwaving caramel every time you want to use it just seems like an unnecessary burden haha.

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Patience Allen December 7, 2013

I have made this three times now. However, no matter how long i cook it, and let it cool, it still doesn’t thicken. Any ideas?

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alexandra December 8, 2013

What’s the longest amount of time you cooked it? Also, you could try reducing the milk to one cup, and then still cook it down a bit.

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Patience Allen December 8, 2013

The longest i cooked it was 35 minutes. I will try reducing the milk. Im making this for a few in laws for christmas, bit it needs to be thicker. Thanks for the advice!

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alexandra December 9, 2013

That’s strange, that it wouldn’t have thickened after cooking that long. How long did it take for the sugar to melt? I’m wondering how the heat on your stove compares to mine…
Let me know how it works with less milk!

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Patience allen December 12, 2013

Hey, i just wanted to update you on the caramel sauce. I tried it with a reduced amount of milk, and it worked great!!! I am making salted caramel sauce for christmas because it tastes that great :D however, instead of a cup, i used 3/4ths of a cup and it thickened up to what i wanted!

Scotty December 8, 2013

Thank you, Alexandra, for the recipe and clear instructions.
I just put it in the fridge after my first batch/first attempt.
It looks absolutely perfect for my lattes!
(And tastes great, too, after licking the spatula during cleanup.)

How long should it cool before I try to use it in coffee do you think?

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alexandra December 9, 2013

I’m happy to hear everything turned out well for you on the first go! By now, the caramel will of course have cooled completely, but for future reference, you can even add it to your coffee immediately after making it. I do it all the time. It won’t be very thick, but I find that it actually works better for coffee when it’s not so thick because it mixes in better.

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Kelsa December 19, 2013

This is, by far, some of the BEST caramel I’ve ever tried! My boyfriend ADORES it!!!! Thank you!!

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alexandra December 23, 2013

Awesome…so glad to hear it. Thanks so much!

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Lorna January 3, 2014

Never attempted a caramel before. I wanted to try a version with milk because I never have cream on hand. This was easy and so yummy! Worked on my first try! Thank you so much for your very detailed recipe. I will do this for my coffee and desserts…the possibilities are endless. ;)

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alexandra January 4, 2014

Oh good! Sometimes I’ll buy cream and make a more traditional caramel for desserts, but I usually don’t have it on hand and taste-wise, I really like the milk-based caramel just as much. I’m glad it worked well for you!

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Gary January 15, 2014

Ive tried using your recipe, and have followed it to the letter. However, I ran into a problem that isnt mentioned in this guide.
It seems that my caramel doesnt have the smooth creamy consistency that yours has. Im not sure why, but instead of the milk making the caramel smooth and creamy, it has settled into lots of little white bits throughout it. Can you give me any feedback or info on why this might have happened? Or where I could have possibly gone wrong?
Im certain I followed your recipe perfectly, and I cant figure out why mine doesnt turn out the same way as yours. Thanks in advance :)

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alexandra January 15, 2014

Hi Gary,
It sounds like your milk curdled. That can happen for a few reasons which I’ve talked about in other comments – your milk might have been getting old or you might have heated the sugar too much before adding the milk (taking it to a really dark rust color that’s close to being burnt). Curdling can also happen if the milk isn’t warm enough before adding. Other than that, I’ve only had the caramel curdle on me once or twice, and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what causes it. I would try it again if you haven’t already; you might just have better luck next time. Also, if you caramel ever does curdle again, I’ve been told you can beat it with a hand blender to smooth it out again. Hope that helps!

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Laura January 19, 2014

I love love love your recipe !!! I was looking trough the internet to find a caramel recipe without milk and butter and I found yours. I just made it and it tastes like heaven. The real caramel taste and with your desciption it was very easy to make. Thanks for sharing.
Have a great week.
Laura
Laura recently posted..Whole Orange Cake & Lemon Zest GlazeMy Profile

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alexandra January 19, 2014

Aw, thank you so much! I’m so glad you had success with the recipe and liked it so much!

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Ruby February 8, 2014

I tried this today and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

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alexandra February 10, 2014

Awesome! So glad to hear it. :)

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Victoria February 20, 2014

It is amazing how forgiving this recipe is! At one point I had a pot of hardened, crystallized, slightly browned sugar (I think from moving it around too much while it was melting). My sugar also hardened into a ball when I added the milk. After lots and lots of stirring, though, I still ended up with a DELICIOUS caramel. Can’t wait to try it in an iced latte! Thanks for your clear directions!

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alexandra February 23, 2014

It’s kind of tricky and forgiving all at once I think! Anyhow, I’m so happy the caramel worked out well for you. I have a recipe for how I make my iced caramel lattes here, in case you want to check it out. :)

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JC March 10, 2014

Hey there,

Recently i’ve become health-conscious and started dieting, working out, and jogging.

With the serving size above, you think it’ll affect my current routine (ie my diet)? I have a cupcake business; and i love adding caramel to everything. But now i’m sticking to fruits, vegetables, and yogurt and i was wondering if i could add caramel on these without getting me fat again.

Thanks!

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alexandra March 14, 2014

Hi JC! I’m not a nutritionist so I really can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat. Personally, I try to just practice moderation and maintain a healthy balance in my diet. This caramel sauce is definitely much healthier than a typical one made with cream and/or butter and much lower in fat, but it’s not “healthy”. It’s still made of sugar. That doesn’t mean I don’t think you should have any; it’s just all about moderation. :) Again – not a nutritionist by any means, so this is just my two cents.

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Pal March 20, 2014

I had a “fine curds and whey” caramel sauce after adding the milk and salt, ( the curds were not hard they were kind of very fine shredded cheese texture) so the pot went back to the stove to see if cooking more would dissolve the curds, nope…tried added a TBS of butter to see if that would do anything…. nope, kept on cooking it …then tried my stick blender, and that fixed it. Thanks for the recipie, its a keeper !

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alexandra March 25, 2014

I’m so happy you liked the recipe despite the curdling issue! Hopefully you’ll find that next time you manage to avoid the issue. There are a few tips in the comments for preventing it, and it’s usually pretty avoidable!

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Sukyi March 26, 2014

Hey! Will coarse brown sugar work with this recipe? Thanks!

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alexandra March 31, 2014

No, you definitely need to use regular granulated cane sugar. :( Brown sugar will react differently to the heat.

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Joanne March 27, 2014

I have not read all the comments, hope this is not a repeat repeat. You have a huge following, that is great! I just wanted to say you are not alone in wanting to make a carm. sauce with milk vs cream” I’ve been playing with the idea for months & agree “cream…way too many fat calories” why don’t more people think that? I was really glad to find your blog. BTW I just used the microwave recipe (my other “wonder”…why not the microwave?…its so easy!) I found at http://www.gimmesomeoven.com and it is great. I used my 8cup glass measuring cup and it works like a charm for caramel sauce made with milk.
Thanks for the confirmation…milk works! Jo

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alexandra March 31, 2014

So you made the caramel sauce with milk in the microwave? That’s awesome! I’ll definitely have to check that out. :) Thanks for sharing!

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Joanne March 31, 2014

I put the milk in per the microwave recipe & thought it was curdling. The wee curds stirred out tho & it cooled to a reasonable thickness. I did not let my caramel brown enough tho…next time I won’t be so worried about burning the sugar. Cheers! Jo

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alexandra April 1, 2014

Thanks for the tips! You have my curiosity up now. :)

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Selby April 18, 2014

I have made this twice, and I love it. Absolutely perfect. I used almond milk because that’s all we have, and it tastes great.. I just have to cook it longer to thicken it up. Thank you for this recipe, I’ll never use another.

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alexandra April 22, 2014

That’s so awesome to hear, and also so interesting that almond milk works well! Thanks for sharing :)

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ramitha June 1, 2014

i tried making this caramel b/c i made a new york style cheesecake and wanted to add walnuts and caramel on top but it didnt work. I tried with water sugar and margarine and milk the first time and it looked good but soon as i put it in my mouth it wuz like hard toffy. Then i tried ur recipe and wuz like finally its gonna work and i used the exact measurement and i added a bit of butter but ended up straining it since it wuz flowing on top. But the result was like a water type substance. It looked like liquid coffee. I really want to make caramel properly and this is my 3rd attempt, and they all failed. And it for like my class and stuff and i want it to taste good so please tell me wat i did wrong.

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alexandra June 17, 2014

Hi Ramintha,
What do you mean by “it was flowing on top”? Did you make sure to keep cooking it after adding the milk until there were no pieces of hardened caramel left? That’s definitely important. Otherwise, you could try reducing the milk to 1 cup and/or cooking the caramel longer after adding the milk. Just make sure to stir constantly! The good thing about caramel is that it’s pretty adaptable once you know how it works. :)

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Liska June 11, 2014

My first attempt failed. I burnt the sugar and the milk curdled. The second time I lowered the heat, found a better pan, and pulled the sugar off way earlier. I put it on really low on my stove; in between 1 and 2. It might take longer but you have a little bit of leeway. I really dig that the recipe is so simple.

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alexandra June 17, 2014

A heavy, good-quality pan is definitely key, and you’ll find that once you make caramel a few times, you know what the sugar should look like when you pull it off the heat. All stoves are a bit different too so temperature can always vary. I’m glad it all worked out well for you in the end. Way to be persistent! :)

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Rinna July 6, 2014

This recipe is great! I tried it this morning and it worked so well. Thanks so much for the tips at the end when remelting the caramel after adding the milk. It ended up a little thicker than I wanted but next time I won’t cook it at the end for as long. Love this recipe. Thanks!

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alexandra July 6, 2014

I’m so happy you liked it! If you cook it less at the end you will definitely get a thinner caramel like you want. :)

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Kacy July 8, 2014

Made this recipe today. Absolutely loved it. We only had skim milk in my house so I did a cup of that at a 1/4 cup of half and half. I thought for sure I messed up once I put the milk in and was ready to give up, since the milk and sugar were not combining and the sugar looked like rock candy. But I decided to stir it together anyways. Turned out great! Thanks

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alexandra July 9, 2014

I’m so glad! Thanks for letting me know Kacy! :)

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leyla July 10, 2014

Yeah I got it on my first try, I am so good).I needed a recipe without whipping creamand trust me this is it.

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alexandra July 13, 2014

Yayy!

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Rita August 6, 2014

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I tried it with almond milk from Wholefoods and it worked just fine. It tastes totally awesome. I think the key is to be patient and let the sugar melt slowly. Let it caramelize and add milk at the right time. If you add milk too early, the sugar hasn’t caramelized and you won’t get the nice brown color. Too late, the sugar gets burnt and you lose the flavor. Timing and patience are the key to success! Good luck everyone!
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alexandra August 9, 2014

That’s awesome! I’ve been drinking more almond milk lately myself, so I guess I should try making my caramel with it too!
Your tips are spot on; that’s exactly the key to success with this recipe. :)

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Getu August 8, 2014

I was so scared that I was going to mess this up but it came out perfect. Thank you so much!

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alexandra August 9, 2014

So happy to hear it! :)

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Marianne August 10, 2014

I just did this and it worked first time! Used light cream as wanted to use it up. Love the recipe because it’s healthier,worked first time unlike other salted caramel recipes I’ve tried, and every question you think you need to ask is actually answered somewhere in the text. Well done and thank you.

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alexandra August 10, 2014

Thank you so much! I’m so happy to hear that!

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Kazahani August 15, 2014

Has anyone tried stirring in a few cups of popped popcorn to make caramel corn? I stumbled upon this recipe while looking for a quick way to caramelize my popcorn. I’ll try it and let everyone know how it goes.

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alexandra August 18, 2014

Would love to hear if you give it a go!

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Cat August 15, 2014

Tried it once, think it worked. Caramel looks very pretty – but unfortunately in my excitement to scrape the seized bits off the bottom of my pot, I scratched up my pot and so the pot and caramel will unfortunately have to be tossed. Was using a plastic spatula that I always thought of as non-stick pan safe, but I never did have anything stuck on so stubbornly either. Maybe add a warning somewhere in the recipe?

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alexandra August 26, 2014

I’m so sorry that happened to you, but I’ve never had an experience like that and I’ve never heard of anyone else who’s tried the recipe go through that. I only every use a rubber spatula to try to pry up the seized caramel, and even then if it wants to stick I just try to keep cooking and stirring until it loosens itself.

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ToniiAnn August 21, 2014

On my first try i succeded and the caramel sauce came out perfect. What I have a question about is after I put it in the fridge there seem to be a thick clumpy light colored layer on top that does not go away. What can be the cause of this? and is it safe to eat?

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alexandra August 25, 2014

Hmm. I’m really not sure why that would have happened if the caramel looked perfect before you put it in the fridge. Did you let it cool at room temp at all first?
Sometimes I have a lighter layer on the top of my caramel but it’s never thick or clumpy. I really wouldn’t want to judge whether it’s safe to eat or not!

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Cheyenne August 30, 2014

Hello!

I must tell you; I looked everywhere for recipe that didn’t use double cream as it’s very rich and I always bake on a spur of the moment so I never have any
I’ve now tried this multiple times, sometimes as a sauce and other times as the centre to caramel chocolates. It’s worked beautifully everytime and if I ever need it thicker I just keep cooking it! My family much prefers it to very rich versions and it’s becomr a firm favourite. Next I’m going to try and make chews or lollies out of it with a few changes obviously. Thank you so much for this recipe! ^-^

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alexandra September 2, 2014

Thank YOU for sharing your success with it! It makes me so happy to hear that. :)

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Alexandra September 30, 2014

Hi!! This is by far the best caramel sauce I have made. I used 1.5% milk, and my sugar melted way before the 16 minutes. I don’t know if it’s my stove, or the temperature here in Greece but anyhow it did. When I poured the milk in (attention, a little warm than body temperature-not HOT) I had a few hardened pieces but patiently i kept stirring and stirring and stirring till I had the smoothest,most delicious caramel sauce ever.. and a pinch of sea salt does the taste bud trick.. Thanks!!! (heart)
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alexandra September 30, 2014

Yay! SO glad you loved it. :) Thanks for letting me know and sharing your experience with the recipe!

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Grace October 4, 2014

I just tried this recipe. 3 times. I have 3 filthy pans and a stove with tan milk on it that I have to clean up. I have made caramel before with no issues. I didn’t have any heavy cream so I tried this. Definitely not happy!!

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alexandra October 5, 2014

I would love to help you out if you want to give me an idea of what went wrong! So many people have tried this recipe and had no issues, so I know it can be done. :)

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Grace November 1, 2014

Well the first time i tried it I at the timer like you said and when I came back the sugar was very over cooked. The next time milk completely boiled over everywhere. The third time I got a huge pan out. I stood right by it the whole time. Did everything exactly as the recipe states. I ended up with yucky brown milk with chunks in it… not good at all.

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alexandra November 1, 2014

Well as I guess you’ve figured out by now, it is absolutely crucial that you not walk away and that you use a big enough pot. As far as the milk with chunks… it sounds like your milk curdled. It’s possible that you let the sugar get too dark before adding the milk, or that the milk wasn’t warmed up enough before adding. Unfortunately it can be hard to diagnosis these things without seeing them firsthand. As a side note, if you did manage to get all of the sugar melted into the milk, you can still usually save the caramel (if curdled) by blending it to smooth it out again.

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Jorge Bizarro May 6, 2015

I think that the root of your 3 issues has the same cause: exceedingly hot caramel.
You probably have a very ‘powerful’ stove or a quick heat conducting pan, and the trick with caramel is never to let it warm too much. I prefer to lower the fire to a minimum and even take away the pan from the stove until all melts, gets ‘runny’, etc. If needed, I take back the pan to the stove, remove it, take it back, etc until it reaches the colour I desire.
I’ve done lots of caramel using just sugar (‘dry’ method) and adding hot water later. This simple caramel I use for coating the pans where I bake Portuguese like custard pudding, egg puddings, etc. desserts that – like many other Portuguese desserts – are very sweet, take lots of eggs/yolks, so this milk caramel sauce is perfect because it is less sweet and in the end I can add some lime juice and basil with a blender to the hot milk (may be it will work with the finished caramel) …this ‘cuts’ back the sweetness.
Also, caramel is something you should never leave ‘alone’ while cooking…it’s unpredictable in my opinion.

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Lil October 19, 2014

Hi I absolutely love caramel and am looking to try and make some, this recipe seems easy enough, but why melt the sugar first? Would the same results be achieved if I put the sugar and milk in at the same time and then cook it? Like that it would eliminate a step and prevent the whole mess of the caramel seizing when adding the milk? Has anyone tried it? Yeah I’m always looking for shortcuts, maybe I’ll try it then will let you know how it turned out.

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alexandra October 21, 2014

Well, combining the sugar and milk would change this to a wet-method caramel which is a whole different process. The wet-method is usually done with sugar and water, followed by cream and/or butter later in the process. I find that the dry method (used in the recipe) is a lot less temperamental, and I have no personal experience making a wet-method caramel with milk only, so I really can’t comment on that. In the long run, the recipe is actually not that hard to tackle; it just takes a bit of practice!

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Bea October 19, 2014

I want this to work so much, but I am having trouble getting the sugar to melt. I am using pure cane sugar, started out at medium low, but after 1 hour have raised the temperature to medium. Still nothing. Any suggestions? (I am using an electric stove.)

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alexandra October 21, 2014

That’s really strange, but I would suggest raising the temperature a little higher next time. Once you get the sugar hot enough, it should start liquifying in the right amount of time.

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Emma October 27, 2014

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!! I was spending so much on iced caramel lattes everyday…I made this with almond milk and it came out PERFECT!!! I LOVE YOU! excellent guide!!!

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Emma October 27, 2014

(of course..this was on the second try. so impressed, since I can barely boil an egg properly!!)

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alexandra October 28, 2014

Ahh that’s so awesome! Made my day reading this! I’m so glad it worked out for you. :)

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Rachel November 2, 2014

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made Sticky Toffee Pudding for my family today and wanted a sauce which wasn’t cream and butter heavy, so this was perfect! I used slightly less milk to make it thicker but didn’t quite heat it enough so the caramel seized a bit when I added the milk – I followed your instructions to the letter though and managed to save it! It went down a treat and it was nice knowing it was a bit healthier than other caramel sauces I could have made :)

I am determined to give this another go so that I can get it perfect…at least that’s my excuse for the many batches of this sauce I can see in my future! ;)

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alexandra November 3, 2014

I’m so happy to hear that! Sometimes the caramel seizes even it seems like you’ve done everything right, but practice does make perfect, and like you realized, seizing is totally fixable!

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Kara November 9, 2014

I just had to leave you a note about my total brain fart when I first read this. I had been looking for a caramel recipe with milk as we are on a very tight budget and I can’t afford to buy items for just one dish. When I found this, I got super excited and read through it. I got to the part about storing it and putting something metal in a glass jar so it wouldn’t shatter. I sat there puzzling over this “metal” and went through all the comments to see if anyone had asked about it.
Finally I called my Mom. “Mom, I found this recipe and it says to put something metal in the jar. Why? ” “the metal will absorb the heat so the glass won’t break. ” she says. “So what am I supposed to use? Like a quarter or paper clips or something? ” There is silence then she bursts into laughter. “What? It’s not like a car is going to fit in there. I mean maybe a matchbox. But isn’t that really unsanitary? And how do I get this stuff out anyway?” By now she’s gasping for breathing and my Dad is in the background asking if she’s okay “Mom, seriously. I don’t get it. What else am I… oh a spoon. Never mind. Forget I called. ”

I’ll never live that down but I did give a try today and it’s pure heaven. I’ve made three cups of coffee and eaten it with a spoon. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks a million!

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alexandra November 11, 2014

Haha funniest story! Thanks for the laughs and I’m super glad you’re loving the caramel!

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Amanda November 12, 2014

After reading the comments I think you should put pure cane sugar in the recipe as I used regular sugar. I did everything to a t and the sugar hardened in a clump and no amount of heating worked. and while I poured in the milk a nice big bubble came up and gave me a good size blister so I would suggest using a very deep pot. gonna stick to my old recipe it may take longer but it works

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alexandra November 20, 2014

The typical granulated sugar you buy at the grocery store is pure cane sugar. The only reason why I’ve specified this in some of the comments is because it’s hard to troubleshoot issues with making caramel sometimes, so I try to get as detailed as possible with my explanations. I also explained in the post about the necessity of using a really tall pot for the exact reason you mentioned! Caramel-making can be a dangerous thing if you’re not extra careful. :(

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Haley November 16, 2014

I just tried this recipe and it turned out perfect! Last couple times I made caramel it burned so I was very thankful for the detailed instructions. I will definitely be saving this one. Oh also I used half heavy cream and half hazlenut milk.

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alexandra November 16, 2014

So happy it worked out well for you! That hazelnut milk sounds like an awesome addition!

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Kiara November 19, 2014

Hi,
So I did exactly what the recipe said. I used a cup of pure cane sugar, and put it in a tall, heavy bottomed pot for eight minutes on low heat, and put my timer on eight minutes. When I came back, the sugar had completely burnt! What did I do?!

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alexandra November 20, 2014

Your stove probably runs hotter than mine. It’s always a good idea to watch the process closely the first time you’re doing this, so you can get an idea of how quickly things progress with your stove. You can lower the heat (if possible), and also watch it closely next time so you can move onto the next step when the sugar is melted and amber-colored but not burned.

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Kiara November 21, 2014

I just made a beautiful batch of caramel. I followed your advice, and put it on the lowest possible setting. The sugar melted after eight minutes, but it was a very stubborn batch. When I poured in the milk, most of the caramel instantly cooled and hardened (note to self; heat up the milk), and was very hard to pry off the bottom, but after a while it melted into the sauce. One thing I want to make sure, is the caramel supposed to be roughly the texture of milk before refrigerating?
One note of advice: wear an apron. Having hot caramel splash on your new pants isn’t fun.

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alexandra November 23, 2014

Hi Kiara,
You should definitely heat up the milk as noted in the recipe to help prevent major seizing of the caramel. As far as the texture, it will be a pretty thin caramel sauce before cooling, and even once it’s cooled it will be fairly thin unless you cook it longer after adding the milk. You can get it quite think though depending on how long you cook it, and you can also reduce the milk to make it thicker.

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Lez November 26, 2014

Wow! I cannot believe I just read ALL the comments! I really want to try this. 2 questions though, firstly, did you ever try in the microwave as one reader did? I would like to try that. Secondly, can one freeze this sauce? Thanks for what I hope will be a successful & easy recipe!

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alexandra December 2, 2014

Haha I can’t believe you read all the comments either, but that’s awesome! You’ll be super-prepared! I haven’t tried making it in the microwaving or freezing it, so I’m sorry I can’t be more help there. :/

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Brenda December 10, 2014

I too, am a “caramelaholic”…and HAVE to have it in my coffee each morning! It’s refreshing to find a caramel recipe that works without butter and cream! I have made
caramel using dozens of methods, and been successful 1/2 the time after a few tries, and your method worked for me the first try! Aaahhhh…almost guilt free caramel!!

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alexandra December 11, 2014

That’s so awesome to hear! Very happy it worked out well for you. :)

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cindy lee December 10, 2014

No matter how much I try, the middle part will always burn and crystallize :( help!!

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alexandra December 11, 2014

Hi Cindy! I’d love to help you out. Is the middle burning before the rest of the sugar melts?

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cindy lee December 11, 2014

Yes :(

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Liska December 12, 2014

Just made a batch! I used to work in a chocolate store and we made caramel from scratch. When I left I was super disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to make caramel anymore. Thanks for posting such a simple recipe. This is the third batch I’ve made from your recipe. I’ve tried 1% which didn’t work at all, 2% which worked amazingly, and this last batch I made with condensed milk. I was trying to make a thicker caramel and condensed milk worked really well for it. A tip for people; when we made caramel at my work and it was cooking too fast we would add a little more milk, or even a little water, to make it cook slower. When I say a little I mean a little. Like half a teaspoon little.

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alexandra December 12, 2014

Thanks for the tip and for sharing your experience with the recipe! Happy to hear it worked well for you. :)

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Amy December 14, 2014

Hi I’m making a Chocolate and Salted Caramel tart tomorrow I just wanted to know if i used this as my Caramel filling will it harden a little bit just so it wont run all over the place?

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Amy December 14, 2014

Is it ok if i use normal Full cream milk?

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alexandra December 15, 2014

Hi! So sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier, but I hope this will still help! You can definitely use whole milk or even heavy cream if you’d like. For a really thick filling heavy cream is always a safe bet, but you can also check out the filling I did for these chocolate caramel cups. If you go the cream route, just make sure you cook the sauce until it’s noticeably thickened, but know that it will thicken substantially (and quickly!) as it cools.You can also lower to a 1:1 ratio of cream to sugar to help the sauce thicken faster.

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Sandra December 15, 2014

I just made this to drizzle over pumpkin cheesecake for my husband’s birthday. It smells amazing!!! Hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells. Thanks for the recipe!!

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alexandra December 15, 2014

Yum! Hope it’s a great match with the cheesecake! :)

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Sree December 15, 2014

Boy, did I have to scroll through what seems to be a zillion comments to get to the bottom of this page! Your recipe sure seems to be a hit. Thank you for this awesome recipe! Think I got it right the first time, though I had to melt the blob of caramel after adding milk. The sauce looks way to watery to be called a sauce but I believe it will thicken a bit on cooling. It is simmering on the stove right now to get thicker!

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alexandra December 15, 2014

Haha yes I know! Many many questions and answers and comments to look at! But Having to melt the caramel again after adding the milk is pretty normal, so it sounds like you did great! It is a pretty thin sauce if you don’t cook it further, but you can definitley get it thick depending on how long you cook. You can also reduce the amount of milk used to make the sauce thicken faster. :)

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Karen December 22, 2014

I did it!! Thank you for such a detailed recipe, along with the info on when to NOT give up! I would have given in had you not said to be patient when melting the hardened caramel after adding the milk. I made two batches and both hardened but turned out great! I wanted them very thick so I cooked them for a good bit. I was shocked at how thick it got in the fridge!
Thanks again! You seem passionate about helping the world get this right. ;)

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alexandra December 22, 2014

Aww that’s awesome! I know how long it took me to figure the process out, so I just want to make it easy for everyone else. So happy it worked well for you. :)

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Jakebaker January 18, 2015

wow..! Tried this easy recipe today for the first time and turned out PERFECT! I cooked a little longer cause used for cinnamon roll topping. Like mentioned many times before after adding milk clumping did occur due to temp differences but they cooked out in no time. Simple ingredients…. Quick cook time…delicious!! Thanks for sharing this recipe…saving this one in my favorites. Jake

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alexandra January 20, 2015

That’s awesome!! Thanks so much for telling me… sounds like some amazing cinnamon rolls! :)

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Louisa moquete January 23, 2015

Do you need to add the salt?

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alexandra January 26, 2015

No, you can skip it! The salt picks up the flavors a bit more, but a lot of times I just forget to add it. It’s not a problem at all. :)

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James McI February 23, 2015

I’m a 62 year old man and this was my first time ever making bread pudding to use up a lot of stale bread. Made a double batch in a full pan, you know, the steam table type pan. I used a good 24 cups of bread cubes. Then I tried your caramel sauce recipe. I added 2 Tbsp butter to bring up the milk fat content. While it did clump, it also did all melt back into the sauce. I kept it rather thin for pouring at the table. It did get a little grainy, but, as this was also my very first attempt EVER at making caramel or any other candy, for that matter, it was a very tasty addition to the bread pudding. I have absolutely no culinary training and cook because I like to. I watch quite a few cooking shows, and browse the internet when I have specific needs, like having WAY too much old bread around, and also no cream to make the caramel sauce. Your DIY Caramel Sauce recipe was easy enough for me to commit it to memory, and I look forward to making it many more times over the next weeks, months, years. My heartfelt thanks.

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alexandra February 23, 2015

It made my day reading your comment! I’m so thrilled to hear that the recipe encouraged you to try something new in the kitchen. :) As far as any graininess, I think that you’ll find practice makes perfect and before you know it, you’ll be able to turn out a smooth sauce without thinking.

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Riffana March 14, 2015

Hello! This is my second time making caramel and it had turned out great both times. Thank you so much for the great recipe and my mum loves the caramel, and it’s so nice to make her happy(:

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alexandra March 16, 2015

Love that! So glad you’re enjoying the recipe. :)

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Trula April 11, 2015

Just made this sauce for the first time this evening. The caramel clumped, but melted smoothly when I put it back on the stove. Unfortunately, it did separate and become a bit broken after I turned the heat to high in an attempt to quickly cook it down…probably my fault for being impatient. However, I was able to whisk it back into a nearly perfect smooth sauce with just a touch of grain…yay! Thanks for this simple recipe…I’m absolutely flabbergasted at the wonderful taste with no butter, cream, corn syrup, or anything like that!

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alexandra April 14, 2015

Yup, putting it on high is definitely not what you want to do here (as tempting as it seems). Keep the temp on medium-low next time and you should have no problems. :)

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Dani April 25, 2015

about how long should i keep it in the fridge to cool? and what do you suggest i cover it with?

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alexandra April 27, 2015

I usually keep mine in a mason jar, but really any kind of lidded container works. You’ll want to keep the sauce in the fridge to store it.

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Nautica May 21, 2015

This is the first time that I have ever made homemade caramel, it turned out great, and tastes better than the store bought caramel! It only took about a half hour for me to finish cooking it, not including the time it was in the fridge. Thank you!

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alexandra June 2, 2015

That’s awesome to hear! I’m glad it worked so well for you!

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marshay June 6, 2015

OK so I’m probably not going to be attempting this again considering I’ve exhausted far to many ingredientents and almost scalded myself but I have a question. After adding the milk the caramel was extremely hard and it became impossible to stir( I ended up splashing the hot milk on my hand in the process of scraping the hard caramel off the pot) I put it back on the Stove but it was pretty much just brown milk. Is it supposed to be really watery by this point or should it be thicker? I just poured the whole thing out at this point because I’d assumed I had failed.

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marshay June 7, 2015

OK so I’m dumb. I previously left a comment stating my failure involving this recipe. However after trying again this morning it turned out perfectly. Thank you so much!

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alexandra June 8, 2015

I’m so glad it worked for you on round two! You’re not dumb at all; it’s just one of those recipes you have to get the hang of. If your sugar seizes really badly it can be difficult to work with and it just takes a lot of patience to get it all melted back in again. Sounds like you’ve got it down though now! :)

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Lorna June 15, 2015

I used half regular white sugar with half light brown sugar and it turned out delicious!

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alexandra June 15, 2015

Thanks for that tip! I’d love to try that – sounds awesome!

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Wendy June 18, 2015

This totally worked my very first time. Thank goodness. It did however take a lot longer then I thought but I’m very excited to add this to my yummy dessert tomorrow. Thank you.

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alexandra June 19, 2015

Awesome! Cooking times can always vary by stove — glad to hear you were able to gauge the time that would work best with yours. :)

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Isabel June 19, 2015

I cannot believe i did this without burning it the first time! I am 17 and had to make caramel brownies for a event and was in a pinch with almost nothing to make the caramel out of, thank god i came across your recipe it is delicious and easy!

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alexandra June 20, 2015

Yay! That’s so cool! Thanks for sharing your success story! ;)

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Liz June 29, 2015

My first ever batch of caramel is sitting in my fridge and it looked and smelled SO good before I put it in! I used vanilla almond milk so we’ll see how it tastes! I like warm caramel on ice cream so my question is: Is it safe to spoon some into a bowl and heat out up a bit in the microwave before eating?

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alexandra June 30, 2015

Yup, you can heat it up! So cool that you got it down on the first try with almond milk!

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Melissa July 5, 2015

Hi, really excited to try this recipe! I was wondering if you can use pure coconut sugar instead of pure cane sugar?

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alexandra July 12, 2015

I haven’t tried it myself, but I have a feeling coconut sugar wouldn’t liquify as easily and might give you some issues. If you do test it out, I’d love to hear how it goes though!

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Thomas July 18, 2015

Everything went fine until I added the milk, then it became completely watery (after I added it back to the head to dissolve the giant clump that formed)

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alexandra July 19, 2015

Once you melt the seized sugar back in, it shouldn’t be watery; it’s a thin caramel, but you can cook it down as much as you prefer.

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Sophiia August 5, 2015

Just used this recipie to make caramel sauce for the first time, has come out perfectly, I used coconut rice milk and 1 tablespoon of half fat Creme freshe. Amazing! Can’t wait to have this on everything for the next week! Thanks Alexandra

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alexandra August 6, 2015

Love that you got creative with it! I’m glad it worked well for you! :)

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ami 123 September 9, 2015

Thank you so much for this recipe it was amazing I got it first try to !!!!

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alexandra September 9, 2015

That’s awesome! Thanks for letting me know! :)

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Kmedeiros80 September 17, 2015

Hi. I have never made caramel before and I have tried many different recipes only to burn it within 2 seconds or burn myself. So I tried this recipe and it didn’t turn out exactly as I thought. It looked like it separated and when adding the milk it turned hard. But with time and patience it finally melted. I also read one part from another baker saying how here’s turned “chunky” and stirred it after it came off the stove while it cooled to room temperature and it became smooth, I did the same thing and SHE WAS RIGHT it turned out beautiful! Thank you so much! Going to try it again just because HAHAHAHA

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alexandra September 20, 2015

So glad you were patient with it and came out with a perfect caramel sauce! That’s key to this recipe: you have to keep going when it looks like it’s failed because it does come back together. :)

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Cara Cee September 28, 2015

I made this caramel as a spur of the moment thing to drizzle on top of a chocolate cake I made. Since it wasn’t planned I had no full cream and was on the hunt to find a recipe to find one without. Your recipe was a lifesaver for me and I managed to tackle it in one go. Yay me! The one thing I’ve learnt though is to make sure the milk you use is a flavour that you like. I used an evaporated skimmed milk thing that was in my fridge and I totally forgot that I hated it’s flavour so in the end I chucked in some vanilla extract to spruce it up…Perfect Goodness in the end. I’ll put the post up tomorrow on my blog….was soo impressed with the result! Thank You!

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alexandra October 10, 2015

Yes – def use a milk you like. I’ve tried almond milk but I can’t stand the taste of it plain and it was unfortunately no better to me as a sauce.

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Susan October 9, 2015

I noticed people are still commenting on this recipe, so I thought I’d add my two cents. Alexandra, thank you for the first caramel recipe that actually worked for me. This was my fourth attempt at caramel sauce, after efforts that were, respectively, burnt, not caramelized enough, and curdled–and those were with recipes from caramel gurus! I think the timings and the tip for heating the milk before it goes into the sugar is what sets this recipe apart. My sugar seized when I added the dairy (I used 1/2 cream and 1/2 milk), but nowhere near as badly as it had in the past. Just a medium-sized lump, which melted away (as you said it would) over low heat, with patient stirring. I also added a bit of vanilla extract–and would have tipped in a little rum if I’d had it in the house–and the result was smooth, flavorful, caramel sauce, Yay!!

Just one question: My sauce is a bit thinner than I would like, so I think I’d add less liquid next time–but is there a way to thicken it retroactively. It’s already been refrigerated, but would it thicken up back on the stove with more low heat and stirring? I know I could add a corn starch slurry, but I was just wondering if further cooking would do the trick , instead.

Thanks!

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alexandra October 10, 2015

So glad you figured it out! As far as making it a bit thicker – next time, you can add less liquid and/or cook longer. The more cream vs milk you use, the faster your caramel will thicken as well. All cream will make a very thick caramel very quickly. Retroactively, you could try putting it back on the stove again, although I can’t say for sure if that will work… I haven’t tested it. Let me know if you do!

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Tierra Wallace October 18, 2015

Thanks so much for this quick delicious quick and easy way of making caramel, tastes great!!! will be making this every week for my iced coffee.

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alexandra October 19, 2015

Yay! Glad to hear it :)

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Mel November 9, 2015

OMGeeee…I will NEVER use another caramel recipe again!! I used half and half, and it came out perfectly the 1st try. It was so delicious that I had to try your Buttery Cinnamon Caramel recipe, and once again perfection! I was looking for a caramel recipe for my caramel apple cider, and the Buttery cinnamon caramel was absolutely ah-mazing! Thanks so much!

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alexandra November 22, 2015

YAY! Made my day to hear this :)

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hope hopper November 11, 2015

So I was just wondering if you make this and then stir it in milk to make caramel flavored milk will something awful happen or will that be fine? Thanks.

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alexandra November 22, 2015

You could do that! Once the caramel is made it will easily blend into milk.

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Paula November 18, 2015

Do you think this would work with canned (evaporated) milk?

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alexandra November 22, 2015

I would think so, although the flavor would probably be different.

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Vicki Sperry November 21, 2015

Thank you so much! I just made caramel sauce fir the very first time…ever! And it came out wonderful on the first try, thanks to your recipe! Again, thank you!

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Sahar November 22, 2015

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed post. This was my first time making caramel sauce and it turned out amazing! I cooked it long enough to be able to pour over an apple and bread pudding I made. Everyone loved it!!

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Kristy December 8, 2015

hmm. The caramel melted fine (sugar), but when I added the warm milk the milk split
:( so now it’s just a curdled mess. Oh well, thanks for the recipe anyway.

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alexandra December 22, 2015

The curdling happens occasionally… if you read some of the reviews you’ll see that I’ve explained possible reasons for this. Usually if it does curdle it can be saved with an immersion blender or the like.

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Rebekah December 14, 2015

This was insanely easy, perfect first time
Most of it got in the fridge but I couldn’t resist a spoonful…
I was quite light on the salt as I’m using it to top brownies and like sprinkling the salt on top for added crunch! Thank you

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Cam January 5, 2016

It turned out wayyy too liquid. How would I make it thicker?

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alexandra January 22, 2016

You can reduce the milk, cook it longer, and/or use half-n-half/cream instead of some or all of the milk.

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Lori January 10, 2016

I just tried this recipe and it turned out really weird. This is my first time making caramel and I followed all the steps, but I got a liquid with a bunch of little lumps throughout that won’t go away even after I passed it through a siv. What did I do wrong? PLEASE HELP!!
Also, is the sauce supposed to thicken as it cools??

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alexandra January 22, 2016

It sounds like your milk curdled. This can happen for a few reasons which I’ve explained in previous comments. It’s often a fluke and you’ll likely have better luck next time, but when it does happen, an immersion blender can easily fix the problem.
The caramel will thicken slightly as it cools, but not as much as it would with cream.

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Charlene January 12, 2016

I’m so excited to try this!

I’m lactose intolerant and had made one previous attempt to do a wet caramel sauce recipe with almond milk. It worked fine only to realize I didn’t like the flavor (and I see you’ve experienced the same thing with your recipe and almond milk).

I don’t mind the flavor of cashew or coconut milk, so I plan on trying this recipe with each of those. I’m also going to give goat milk a try since I have some on hand. Oh and sweetened condensed coconut milk. I’ll report back with my experiments.

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alexandra January 22, 2016

Would love to hear how it went!

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Stephanie January 17, 2016

This is the best find of 2016!!! First time was a success which makes it even better. I like to drink straight shots of coffee over ice with a little caramel to take off the bitterness and a splash of cream. Sooooo sooooooo sooooooo good! I used whole milk because that’s what I had on hand. But next time I’m going to use half and half instead. That way I’ll just pour the shots of coffee with a little of the caramel over ice, no cream necessary then! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

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alexandra January 22, 2016

Ooh sounds so good! You’re welcome! :)

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Carly January 26, 2016

This is so many things.
Incredibly delicious.
Exactly what I was looking for to add to my latte.
So simple to follow for a first timer.

Thank you, thank you!!
Also, how long do you think this will keep in the fridge? (Not that it really matters as I’ll be lucky to use this sparingly enough to get through the week ;))

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alexandra January 26, 2016

I’m so glad you liked it! I would say at least 3 weeks is probably the longest I’ve kept mine in the fridge, but honestly, it would probably last a month even.

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Autumn January 29, 2016

I made caramel today with milk and sugar, and it was the first time I didn’t burn it. There were a couple of things that went funny. The sugar melted within 8 minutes, and it started smoking right when my timer went off. Then, I steamed the milk, but it still wasn’t hot enough. I thought that steaming the milk super hot would prevent it from curdling but it DID separate. It was ok when I poured it in. The sugar hardened and I had to put it back on the stove and it wasn’t melting so I turned the heat to medium. That is when the mixture was at a rolling boil and I saw the thickened caramel on the sides. I thought “cool, the heat is doing it for me! Science!” I thought I saw granules of sugar that hadn’t dissolved, but then I realized that milk curdles at a boil. So, the texture is a little funky but it’s not bad enough to bother me. It’s kind of melt-in-your mouth.
The first time I ever made caramel, I was working in a restaurant and the person who usually did it had quit, so it was up to me. I crossed my fingers and let it smoke a little too long because it wasn’t brown yet. Within 5 seconds after adding butter it was hard. I filled the pan with water and let it sit in the sink. I tried again. This time, the heat was higher, and the caramel turned black within a minute and caught on fire. Burning my hands on the handle, I raced down the stairs outside while dumping baking soda in the pan and threw it in an old metal trash can that was sitting in the dark under the stairs. I think I burned my nose hairs with the acrid smell of burnt sugar. To this day, the restaurant is closed and no one found that pan. The only evidence was the thick layer of smoke in the kitchen. Whew!

Anyway, I will be using this caramel for lattes and ice cream. I waited for it to cool down and poured it in the empty squeeze bottle that I had from store bought caramel.
I think I will also use this recipe for making the caramel sauce for flan because every other recipe leads to really crappy hardened or watery caramel. Good flan deserves good caramel and this stuff is perfect!

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alexandra February 2, 2016

Like you mentioned, you don’t want to boil this caramel. You can do so with a cream-based caramel, but not a milk-based one like this. You just have to be patient and keep stirring over heat without boiling.
If you do end up with a bit of a texture problem like you said, you can always stick an immersion blender in after taking it off the heat and it should smooth right out.

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Grace February 1, 2016

Can you use table salt instead of sea salt?
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alexandra February 2, 2016

You could, although I’d probably stick to 1/4 teaspoon if you use table salt.

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Jackie February 7, 2016

So, I just tried this, and admittedly it made some yummy, if not dark, caramel. My question is why does it kinda look like coffee grounds? Nothing taste burnt, but the brown flecking is a little strange

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alexandra February 15, 2016

I’ve never experienced brown flecks in the caramel, so I’m not sure where that would be coming from. I’d suggest making another batch – it might just be a one time fluke that you’ll correct in your second attempt.

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Laura Valencia March 5, 2016

(Sorry for my bad english im from Colombia) Hey Alexandra i totally loved the recipie i have a very bad patience and i achieve it a the first try, thank you so much :) Greetings for Colombia <3

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alexandra March 9, 2016

Awesome!

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sarossa March 18, 2016

…hi, love your recipe, it’s such a great miracle when it goes from a lumpy mess to an irresistible heaven of a sauce…but this time it came out quite grainy, i even passed it through a mesh with little improvement…why could it be? any idea?

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alexandra March 30, 2016

It could be that your milk seized. If you go back and read some comments from people who have had the same problem, I’ve explained a couple reasons why this could happen. If you’ve made it before without a problem, more than likely, you’ll be fine next time! If it does happen again, using an immersion blender should smooth it out :)

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kember turner April 11, 2016

Could you use this as a filler for a cake? Also could u double this?

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alexandra April 14, 2016

If I were going to use it as a filler I’d use cream instead of milk. The caramel will be much thicker and will set better. With cream, you could probably double the recipe without any issues. With milk, it’s finicky and best if you stick to a single batch at a time.

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Fei margareth April 26, 2016

I’ve just tried it. This is my first time and it tastes so damn good. Thanks for the recipe! But i wonder why my caramel’s consistency is just like milk. Will keep it cool down helps to thicken the sauce?? Thanks.

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alexandra April 28, 2016

With the ratio of milk to sugar here, you’ll end up with a very thin (milk-consistency) caramel. Things you can do to change this include: reducing the amount of milk, cooking the caramel longer after adding the milk, or swapping the milk with cream.

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Regina Swan April 30, 2016

I tried this recipe several times and it was a DISASTER. The melted sugar turned into a blob when the milk was added, and I ended up wasting a ton of material. Not a fan.

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alexandra May 4, 2016

The melted sugar will do that sometimes; if you keep heating and stirring, it will eventually melt back into the milk and create caramel. If you don’t want to deal with that issue, you can just use heavy cream instead of milk, which is much less tempermental here.

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plasterer bristol May 11, 2016

Mm delicious, this turned out just right. Thanks for sharing.

Simon

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Nora May 12, 2016

Hi Alexandra! Thank you so so much for the recipe! I failed 2 times as the milk curdled & learned that my 1st try was too high in temperature that the sugar start melting in 3 minutes and i didn’t immediately stir the caramel once i poured the milk in (i was too scared to put my hand near the sauce pan during bubbling process since it was my first try :D). And the 2nd one is still failed even though i stir the caramel immediately after poured in the milk (just found out from ur reply to other comment posted by others here that it was because i let the milk boiled). Almost give up, but i give it another try by lower the heat & bingo! Thank you so much for your generous advices that makes me able to do my own caramel sauce now :) it tastes great without the need of changing its recipe!

Anyway, do you have any advice if i want to make lots of this? could i use larger sauce pan and double the recipe (or even more) as it will take quite long time if we make it one recipe only at a time. Or maybe heat & cook it longer?

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alexandra May 12, 2016

Hey Nora! I’m glad you figured it out and stuck with it after the first two attempts! :)
To answer your question, it’s difficult to double the recipe as melting the sugar and preventing seizing becomes even more tricky. The MOST I would do is double it, but I wouldn’t even suggest that until you’ve gotten very comfortable with the recipe. The other option would be to use cream instead of milk. It makes the whole process much easier, and you could double/triple that.

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Crystal June 16, 2016

I made this caramel sauce in a pinch for my morning caramel macchiato. I did not expect anything special from this sauce, I just wanted the caramel flavor and only had whole milk (18 month old at home).
I made this recipe cutting everything down to 1/4.
I was highly depressed that I only made 1/4 one it was finished. I added Mayan sea salt and honestly contemplated saving the caramel sauce instead of wasting it in my coffee.
Thank you for this simple recipe.

Best coffee EVER!

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alexandra June 20, 2016

Lol, I’m so glad it exceeded your expectations!! :D

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Luvtocook July 4, 2016

Thank you so much for this recipe!! When I added the milk, the sugar turned hard:( I put it back onto the heat and it melted just fine. Otherwise, it is soooo good and easy! Thanks for this recipe

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alexandra July 5, 2016

Yep that’s fairly normal for the sugar to do that. Glad it worked out!

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Victoria July 5, 2016

Just found this recipe! First time I tried it, I let the sugar get way too hot and the milk curdled :( Tried it again, had the warmed milk ready, and got it right when the sugar started to melt and turn golden brown…BAM, worked like a charm! Thank you so much!

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Ene July 12, 2016

Hi, my caramel was delicious, but it was not smoothly texture, like separate into curds or lumps. Tasty but kinda ugly.

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alexandra July 19, 2016

It sounds like it curdled. Using an immersion blender should help smooth it out if it happens again, but you can also check previous comments to see reasons why it might have curdled to hopefully avoid it happening in the future. :)

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Kacia November 13, 2016

Curdled everytime I made it. Gave up. Bummer!

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alexandra November 21, 2016

Hi Kacia, it might be helpful if you check out some of the comments regarding what to do it your caramel is curdling. Sorry you had this problem; I know it’s frustrating!

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Sabrina August 1, 2016

I just tried this and OMG it’s delicious. I was looking for a simpler recipe as i live in Egypt and the typical sugar, water, cream butter thing doesn’t work that great as cream here is more like sour cream. So, i made this, sugar dissolved no problems there, mixed the milk in, clumped a bit but back on the stove became great, i stirred a bit too long because i wanted it thick,. turned out too thick after leaving it to rest for an hour or so, so later i just added some hot milk and mixed well. PERFECT. literally spooning out of the jar with a spoon straight into my mouth.

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alexandra August 11, 2016

LOL love it :)

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Katy August 2, 2016

Oh my goodness! I have an internal battle, I can’t decide if I love you or I hate you ( but in good way😋)…. I’ve been looking for a caramel recipe for soo long and most of them ask for butter and syrup…..your recipe is very simple yet delicious. The way you explained is very easy to follow, it takes some effort but the results are definitely worth it.

Three days ago I made my first batch. I was a little scared when the sugar stuck on the spatula but I keep stirring as you said and the result was a thick and smooth caramel….here is why I “hate” you…..I poured on everything I could……my morning coffee, homemade cinnamon rolls, toast, I even put it on yogurt…..So, a little self control……mmmmm! good luck to me! 😜
Today I made it again! But i used only 1 cup of milk, because I wanted to be thick, it reminds me of a sweet from my Mexico, Cajeta AKA dulce de leche.

Congratulations for this beautiful blog, the pictures are amazing and the thing I love about it the most is that your recipes are from scratch…..keep it up…..and thank you again.

Katy.

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alexandra August 11, 2016

A lot of times I’ll make it with only a cup of milk too!
Anyhow thank you so much, you’re so sweet! And I love how creative you’re getting with the caramel — cinnamon rolls sound amaaaazing.

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Romy August 9, 2016

I took a different approach on this that so far that has worked: I melted the sugar then took it off, added a teaspoon or so of water, then added the milk (1 c) that i had heated up for 60 seconds. Next I added the mixture back to the stove to thicken, for about 30 minutes or so, depending on if i needed more water or milk. This is a much easier process that uses the same temp. for the whole time (medium/low)

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alexandra August 11, 2016

The only difference I see in this approach is adding the water, correct? The stove stays on medium-low the entire time with the original recipe. :) Regardless, I’m glad it works for you!

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Anita August 11, 2016

Just embarking on this adventure. Is it ok to use raw sugar? I don’t have white sugar in my pantry. Am keen to succeed.
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Anita August 11, 2016

Tried the raw ( cane) sugar. Possibly went too far in the melt process.mi cook n induction and with a thick based pan. It went smoothly till i added the milk then the mixture split. Will try again another day. Time is limeited to one practice run today.
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alexandra August 11, 2016

Sorry to have not replied earlier! I wouldn’t recommend raw sugar, although as a note, cane sugar is not necessarily raw sugar. The granulated sugar you typically buy at the grocery store is cane sugar. That being said, the mixture might split in any case – that is normal. Just return it to the stove and keep cooking and it should come back together. (If it curdled, that’s another story).

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Clark August 15, 2016

Read through almost all of the comments and I can’t wait to make this caramel sauce sounds amazing, my question is this. Can I use this sauce for what they call “GOO” for Pecan Sticky Buns in the bottom of the pan.

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Clark August 16, 2016

second part to my question, which I forgot to put in first part, sorry, I’m asking this because pecan sticky buns have to bake with the caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan with the rolls on top of sauce for 30-35 minutes will this over cook caramel sauce that is already cooked and make it hard?
Thank you.

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alexandra August 16, 2016

Hmm, I don’t think the caramel would turn hard since it’s not direct heat like it is on the stove, but I would suggest either a) cutting back the milk in the recipe and cooking the caramel longer so it’s thicker before using it for the buns, or b) just using cream instead of milk. I’d love to hear how it goes if you test it out!

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Amanda October 10, 2016

I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk in this recipe, cooked it for about 15 minutes after I added the milk, and it turned out fabulous (on the first try, too). This recipe is wonderful and so versatile!

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mrs.howard October 11, 2016

i have a question regarding a bucjet of premade caramel i bought from a distributor. i opened the sealed bucket of caramel and it smells like spoiled milk not sweet like it should but it tastes fine. is this a bad sign?

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alexandra October 30, 2016

I wouldn’t think it should smell spoiled but I can’t say for sure. I would contact the manufacturer to be safe!

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Tina October 24, 2016

Wow that is good. Hopefully I will still have some left by the time it cools down and is thick enough to put on my coffee. I think I like warm caramel soup😀

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Charlotte November 11, 2016

How do you cool it down so that it doesn’t freeze?

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alexandra November 21, 2016

Just put it in the fridge! It won’t freeze. :)

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Megan November 14, 2016

I’ve made this multiple times with no success! My milk clabbers every time!!!

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alexandra November 21, 2016

Hi Megan, I’m sorry to hear you had issues with the recipe! You might try reading some of the comments regarding your milk curdling and how to fix it. Tons of people have made this caramel successfully so it’s definitely possible!

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alexandra March 30, 2016

The typical granulated sugar you find in grocery stores actually is cane sugar. :)

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alexandra January 15, 2014

Great! I’m glad you found a ratio that works well for you. As you can see, that part of the recipe is quite flexible, so you can switch it up depending on how you’ll be using the sauce. :)

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