An easy vanilla sea salt caramel sauce recipe.

By Pam Lolley
Updated June 05, 2018
Antonis Achilleos

Intimidated by homemade caramel sauce? We’re here to change that. How to make caramel has never been easier. We’ve developed a foolproof caramel sauce recipe that will quickly become your new go-to. The caramel has a buttery, brown sugar flavor, with a hint of vanilla. Homemade caramel can often feel stiff, but ours is silky smooth. Pro tip: set yourself up for success by having all of your tools and ingredients ready before you begin. The steps move quickly once you get cooking! The caramel sauce is delicious for slathering onto cakes, tossing into salted popcorn, or as a dip for fresh fruit.

Yield: 1⅔ cups
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 5 Tbsp. (2½ oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt

How to Make It

Antonis Achilleos

Step 1

Combine sugar and water in a large heavy saucepan over medium-low. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves, 5 to 6 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and boil gently (without stirring).

Antonis Achilleos

Step 2

Occasionally brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush and swirl pan.

Antonis Achilleos

Step 3

Swirl pan, without stirring, until syrup turns a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. (Be sure to swirl pan in a circular motion, rather than stir, to promote more even cooking.)

Antonis Achilleos

Step 4

Gradually stir in cream (sauce will bubble vigorously).

Antonis Achilleos

Step 5

Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring constantly, until butter is melted, about 3 minutes.

Antonis Achilleos

Step 6

Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and salt. Serve warm or let cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.