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Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

Making your own homemade caramel sauce is easier than you might think, and the results are well worth the effort.

Do you love the sweet and buttery flavor of caramel sauce? Do you wish you could make it at home but feel intimidated by the thought? This easy homemade caramel sauce recipe is for you!

It’s simple to follow and doesn’t require any fancy kitchen tools. Just a few basic ingredients and you’ll be on your way to making your own delicious caramel sauce.

This delicious, versatile sauce can be used to top ice cream, cake, or just about anything else you can dream up. Plus, it makes a great gift for friends and family.

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Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

How to Make Caramel Sauce for Apples

Make this really rich homemade caramel recipe using just 4 simple ingredients. Combine brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and milk in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in any additional flavorings.  

If you want to be sure that your sauce has thickened to the right consistency, use a candy thermometer and when it reaches the soft ball stage at 240 degrees Fahrenheit, it is done.

Let the caramel cool slightly to room temperature before using. The result is an impossibly luxurious sauce that is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Use this as a homemade caramel dip too!

How to Make Caramel Sauce for Apples

Best Apples for Caramel Apples

Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honeycrisp are all a great choice for homemade caramel apples. Tart Granny Smith apples are the most popular choice, but I have used all three types with much success. For me, the next best apple is the Honeycrisp. They pair well with the gooey sweet and buttery caramel sauce. They are also crunchy, which is a must for a caramel apple for me. The tart and crispy apples are pretty with the sauce, but they taste great with the thick sauce.

Pro Tip. Use medium size apples rather than larger apples when for this recipe. You will have a better sauce to apple ratio and the size of the final product will be larger once the toppings are added.

Prep the Apples

Wash the fresh apples and insert a sturdy stick right down through the core. Here are a few ideas on what to use.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the apples with sticks inserted onto the tray and set that in the freezer to chill while you are making the caramel topping.

Why do you place the apples in the freezer? Because the cold apples help the hot caramel adhere to the apple and set up faster. Therefore, less caramel dripping off.

Dipping the Apples in the Caramel Topping

Once the sauce has thickened, quickly dip each cold apple into the hot caramel, rotating quickly to coat all sides. Let the excess caramel drip off before transferring the dipped apples to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pro Tip. Make sure to use parchment paper, NOT wax paper or aluminum foil. They will stick to the apples.

Fall Caramel Apples

Roll in Fun Toppings

Easy caramel apples are the ultimate fall treat and roll it in some fun toppings to make it even more heavenly. Here are some ideas.

  • Crushed nuts such as peanuts, pecans, pistachios, or walnuts
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Drizzle melted chocolate: white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate on top or a combination of the three
  • Crushed pretzels
  • Crushed Oreo cookies
  • Mini M & Ms
  • Finely diced candy bars such as a Butterfinger, or a Milky Way
  • Crushed graham crackers

Have your favorite toppings prepped before you dip the apples in the caramel. Quickly roll in the toppings or drizzle on the melted chocolate after the apple is placed on the parchment paper. As the caramel cools it will continue to set up.

Best Way to Serve a Caramel Apple

I find it really hard to enjoy a whole caramel apple. Therefore, I make apple slices of the beautifully decorated sweet snack. Just use an apple slicer corer to push through and you can easily eat the delectable slices.

Spooning the rich creamy sweet caramel

Caramel Sauce Flavor Variations

Vanilla Caramel Sauce: Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to your sauce near the end of cooking and it will have the essence of vanilla.

Orange Caramel Sauce. Add 1 teaspoon of orange extract to your sauce as the topping is cooling. This gives the sauce a fruity and fun taste.

Salted Caramel: Depending on the amount of salty taste you are looking for, add ¼ teaspoon to start of kosher salt. Stir this in once the sauce has come off the heat and is cooling. Taste and add a little more as desired.

Coffee Caramel Sauce: As the sauce is cooling stir in 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder until dissolved. Taste and add more as desired.

Great Gifts for the Holidays

The best part about this easy recipe is it makes great gifts for teachers, birthday party favors, and gifts for friends and family too!

It is easy to dress them up with a mini cake box just the right size for your gourmet apple gift.

Or dress up the apple in clear bags and ribbons.

adding topping to a glass jar

How to Fix Grainy Caramel Sauce

Sometimes, when we reheat out caramel sauce, it will become grainy. You can easily fix grainy caramel sauce by heating the caramel in a saucepan and adding a few tablespoons of water. Heat over medium-low heat gently stirring until all the sugar crystals have dissolved and the sauce is smooth again. Use a wooden spoon or a heat-safe silicone scraper or spoon.

How Long Does Caramel Last in the Fridge?

Homemade caramel sauce will last 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. Just pour into a glass jar and place a lid on. It will harden as the sauce cools.

When you are ready to use, just pop it in the microwave 15-30 seconds to reheat.

Storing Caramel Sauce

What to Serve with Caramel Sauce

Apple pie is amazing when you add a drizzle of this over the top when serving. It makes for a pretty presentation too.

Drizzle over ice cream, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, cheesecake, pretzels, bananas, pears, or brownies.

It is amazing how indulgent this sauce tastes. There are just so many flavor combinations.

Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce
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Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

Making your own homemade caramel sauce is easier than you might think, and the results are well worth the effort.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time13 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 30 minute meal, easy dessert, fall recipe, holiday recipe
Servings: 10 Servings 1 1/2 cups
Calories: 186kcal


  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar packed in the cup
  • ½ Cup Half-and-Half can use whole milk, heavy cream, or evaporated milk
  • ½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract Optional


  • In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and milk. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until thickened, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
  • If you want to be sure that your sauce has thickened to the right consistency, use a candy thermometer and when it reaches the soft ball stage at 240 degrees F, it is done.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract or other flavorings as desired.

Your Own Private Notes


Use this caramel sauce to make 5-10 caramel apples.


Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 24mg | Potassium: 51mg | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 46IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe? Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made! @patternprincess1 or tag #Patternprincess!

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