Ever wondered how to make homemade caramel sauce? It’s the perfect topping for ice cream, apple pie, cupcakes, and so much more.
With this recipe, you’ll learn how easy it is to make your own caramel sauce in less than 30 minutes using your Instant Pot. You’ll never want to go back to store-bought again.
Why Make This Recipe for Homemade Caramel Sauce?
Yes, there are plenty of recipes out there that teach how to make homemade caramel sauce…and I’ve tried a ton of them. But this is hands down my favorite:
- You know exactly what you put into your sauce, so there’s no worries about preservatives or other chemicals.
- The sweetened condensed milk method can be risky if you’re not paying attention, and it takes a lot longer than caramel sauce from scratch.
- Even expensive brands of store bought caramel sauce can’t match the rich, buttery flavor if this recipe.
- It’s safer! The Instant Pot is nice and deep. So, you’re less likely to get hit by hot syrup that spatters as you add in the heavy cream.
How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce:
To make things even easier for you, I created a simple photo guide below. For all measurements and a more detailed guide, check out the recipe card at the bottom of this page.
- Step 1 – Add sugar and water to your Instant Pot.
- Step 2 – Sauté on high, stirring constantly until the syrup is bubbling and the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Step 3 – Continue to heat the syrup without stirring until it turns a deep golden brown.
- Step 4 – Turn off the Instant Pot and pour in heavy cream. Whisk until combined.
- Step 5 – Add butter and salt, and keep whisking until you have a thick, rich caramel sauce.
Don’t skip these tips – read them before baking to avoid any potential mistakes.
Make sure You Use a Reliable Thermometer
Sadly, I’ve been victim to many candy thermometers that are completely inaccurate. That’s why I tend to use digital thermometer. (Just please be careful, candy burns are awful!)
Either way, it’s important to test your food thermometer for accuracy before cooking any candy.
Make this recipe when you won’t get distracted
Like most candy making recipes, the caramel sauce will stall at various temperatures before it’s ready to be pulled off the heat – and then suddenly it’s right at the perfect temperature and you need to act fast!
That’s why it’s important that you are able to check on your boiling syrup
Wait for the syrup to turn a pretty amber color
While the temperature of the syrup is important, your caramel sauce will not turn out right if you don’t let the syrup turn a deep amber brown before adding the cream and butter.
How do I keep my Caramel from Crystallizing?
Whenever you stir, make sure you’re not scraping down the sides or scraping up the bits that are stuck to the bottom. This will help to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
Can caramel Sauce be frozen?
I’ve never needed to freeze my caramel sauce, but many sources say it is possible. This article gives all the details for how to freeze caramel.
Why is my caramel sauce turning hard?
Candy making is all about getting your sugar syrup to a precise temperature range – not too hot and not too cold.
The water in this recipe should help prevent overcooked caramel sauce, but if you get the syrup way too hot, you’ll be left with hard candy instead of smooth sauce.
Storage & Reheating Tips
If you’re able to use up this batch of caramel sauce in one day – well, then you’re my hero. But for the rest of us, here’s how to make sure it stays safe:
- Because of the cream in the recipe, it’s best to store your homemade caramel sauce in the refrigerator. I prefer to keep our sauce in an airtight, microwave safe container like these glass canning jars.
- When you want to use your refrigerated caramel sauce, gently heat it in the microwave at 50% power.
- Be careful not to make the sauce too hot when reheating it, or it will get grainy when it’s cooled down again in the refrigerator.
- Caramel sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.
If you liked this homemade caramel sauce recipe, you’re going to love my Bailey’s Irish Cream Caramels recipe. The smooth caramel flavor is balanced perfectly with a slightly boozy twist.
Or you can check out my other desserts recipes here.
- 1/3 cup water
- 1.25 cups sugar
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Generous pinch of sea salt
- Add 1.25 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water to your Instant Pot.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode on High. Cook the sugar and water on high, stirring constantly until the syrup is bubbling and the sugar is completely dissolved. (Do not scrape the sides of the pot)
- Stop stirring and continue to heat the syrup until it turns a deep golden brown and your thermometer reaches around 350˚F, about 10-15 minutes total.
- When the caramel comes to temperature, turn off the Instant Pot.
- Carefully pour in 1/2 cup heavy cream and whisk until combined.
- Add 6 tablespoons butter and salt, and keep whisking until you have a thick, rich caramel sauce.
Remember, the step-by-step photos and FAQ in the recipe post are there to help you if you feel stuck at any point.
- Make sure you use a reliable candy or digital food thermometer to double check the temperature of the caramel.
- While stirring, don't scrape up any bits that feel stuck to the bottom.
- Cook the syrup until it is a pretty golden brown. See the step by step photos in the post for a visual of the right color.
- Store your homemade caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to one month. (I prefer to keep our sauce in an airtight, microwave safe container so it can be easily warmed up when we want to use it).
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 0g
__________________________________ The nutrition information provided above is estimated using an automated calculation system. Actual nutrition will vary depending on brand and measurements used in your recipe. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutrition information for any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information using the actual ingredients you used in your recipe.
This post was originally published on November 7, 2012. It has been updated with new photos, detailed directions, and an updated recipe.