How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

If your ho-hum dessert needs help, whip up a pan of velvety caramel sauce.

Homemade caramel sauce is so simple and fun to make, you will never want store-bought again. Caramel sauce can be paired with Arkansas Black Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce, drizzled over a slice of Classic Cheesecake, spooned straight-from-the-pot over homemade ice cream, or used as a dipping sauce for crisp, seasonal apple slices. Regardless of how you use it, we can all agree that everything (including a slice of pound cake) is better when paired with caramel sauce. There are many variations on how to make Caramel Sauce; some recipes use as few as three ingredients, some use cream, some use brown sugar, some add sea salt, etc. Regardless of your recipe, here are six tips to help you make a batch of caramel sauce worthy of gifting to friends and relatives.

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Use the Right Pan

Thin pots will heat unevenly, causing the edge of the pot to burn quickly before the caramel can cook to its full potential. Use a heavy saucepan with thick sides and a thick bottom so that it will conduct heat evenly. Candy mixtures can triple in volume as they cook, so you need a pan that is large enough for the mixture to boil freely without boiling over. This shouldn't have to be said, but make sure you use a sparkling clean pot to work with while making caramel. If there are any leftover stray crumbs or dried-on bits of food in the pot, they will become part of your caramel mixture.

Add the Sugar Slowly

If you dump in all the sugar at once, the caramel is more likely to crystallize. Instead, slowly pour in the sugar, swirling the pan gently as you go. This will give your caramel a head start on developing the proper consistency.

Stir in Moderation

If you have ever attempted to make classic pralines, you know that you need to keep a watchful eye on the mixture and stir only when needed. If you're making caramel with a liquid base of water and sugar, don't stir it too much, and don't stir it too little – stir it just the right amount. You can usually tilt the pot a few times from one side to the other to achieve the best results. Always follow recipe instructions and stir only when directed.

Use a Splatter Guard

While adding water, cream or any other liquids to your hot caramel recipe, using a splatter guard or mesh strainer is a smart safety precaution. Place the mesh strainer over the pot before pouring in any liquids so that the steamy hot caramel doesn't splash out.

Don’t Overheat

Starting out on a super high setting may be great if you are searing steaks, but it isn't a good idea when making caramel sauce. Follow your recipe exactly, and never make caramel on your stove's highest setting – it will cause everything to burn and your caramel sauce will be ruined.

Don’t Add Ingredients

Unless you are a recipe developer, super-experienced candy maker, or you are just experimenting in your kitchen, don't add extra ingredients to your caramel sauce recipe. Never make substitutions for ingredients and do not double the recipe - the proportions and times have been worked out for the recipes as they are printed.

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