DIY Caramel Sauce

4 from 1 reviews

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




  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!!


*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.