A classic caramel sauce can make a pecan dessert decadent or a piece of pie extra sweet. One Test Kitchen professional said this Caramel Sauce is "divine and wonderfully boozy," and you'll agree. However, the apple brandy in this recipe can be left out if you would rather "divine" and "wonderful," sans "boozy." This smooth Caramel Sauce is a homemade winner when compared to store-bought. This Caramel Sauce goes with our Arkansas Black Apple Pie like a dream, but it would be just as delicious over plain vanilla ice cream or anything that needs a sweet drizzle of caramel. An added bonus of this Caramel Sauce—it lasts for two weeks in the refrigerator, so it's readily available anytime you have a sweet tooth.

Nancie McDermott


Credit: Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe Summary test

40 mins
55 mins
Makes about 1 1/2 cups


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Using a long-handled wooden or heatproof metal spoon, stir together sugar and water in a deep, heavy 10-inch skillet or medium-size enameled cast-iron saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is mostly dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until mixture turns into a clear syrup. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture dries out, turning sandy and crumbly, and then begins to melt again. Cook, stirring often, until melted mixture darkens to an amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

  • Carefully pour in heavy cream, stirring constantly. (Caramel will bubble up, boil vigorously, and steam profusely.) Stir constantly until boiling gradually subsides. Return pan to medium-high; cook, stirring until mixture is smooth. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla extract, kosher salt, and, if desired, apple brandy. Let Caramel Sauce stand until room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Transfer room-temperature Caramel Sauce to a jar or container with an airtight lid. Keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks. Warm over low heat before using.