Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce is a quick and easy recipe you can make in about 10 minutes with 6 ingredients. And no candy thermometer! Luxuriously smooth and creamy, it's a delicious caramel sauce topping for ice cream, cake, and pie, dipping sauce for apples and pretzels, and makes a fabulous gift.
The first time I made brown sugar caramel sauce was for this Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipe. I was amazed by the smooth, luscious texture and rich caramel flavor from such a fast and easy caramel sauce recipe.
- Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
- What is the Texture of Brown Sugar Caramel?
- How to Make Caramel without Cream
- How to Store Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Can I Reheat Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce?
- Can I Freeze Caramel Sauce without Cream?
- How to Fix Grainy Caramel Sauce
- How to Use Caramel Sauce
- Success Tips
- Stuff I Use
- More Delicious Recipes
- Let's Stay in Touch
- Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce without Cream
The best part, it's completely fuss-free and foolproof -- no candy thermometer necessary!
This simple caramel sauce comes together with six simple ingredients you might already have and you can make it in about 10 minutes.
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
- Delicious caramel dessert topping or dipping sauce
- Foolproof homemade caramel sauce recipe without a candy thermometer
- Lusciously smooth and creamy caramel without heavy cream
- Easy caramel recipe that makes great homemade gifts
What is the Texture of Brown Sugar Caramel?
This caramel sauce has a thin, liquid consistency when it's hot off the stove. As the caramel cools, it thickens to the perfect consistency for drizzling over Pumpkin Cake, No-Bake Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake, or a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream.
When cooled to room temperature, it's a delicious and easy caramel dip for apples, pretzels, cookies, or cinnamon chips.
Because it has a soft consistency, this brown sugar caramel sauce will not work well as a cake or cupcake filling or frosting.
Dark brown sugar. Brown sugar gives it the most amazing flavor of deep caramel-slash-butterscotch in a short amount of time. I like dark brown sugar for the richer flavor, but light brown sugar also works. I don't recommend white sugar in this recipe. It will not have the same amber color or deep, rich flavor.
Unsalted butter. I always use unsalted butter to better control the salt levels. If you use salted butter, you may wish to use less salt.
Light corn syrup. Corn syrup is a type of invert sugar, that helps keep caramel sauce from crystallizing. It's not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup.
Evaporated milk. Caramel sauce with milk is perfectly creamy with rich flavor -- no heavy whipping cream necessary.
Salt. A little bit of salt is necessary to enhance the flavors in this brown sugar caramel. To make your own homemade salted caramel sauce, feel free to add another ½ teaspoon of salt. You can use sea salt or regular table salt.
Cinnamon, optional. This is totally optional, but ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon is a great way to add flavor to this basic caramel recipe. I added cinnamon to the caramel sauce in the photos in this post -- it's delicious!
How to Make Caramel without Cream
Place the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, evaporated milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk and stir while the butter melts, the sugar dissolves, and the caramel mixture comes to a boil. Boil and stir for about 2 minutes.
If you're a cook-by-temperature person (like me), you'll want it to reach 225 on a candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the hot caramel sauce into a heat-proof glass jar or bowl to cool.
Serve warm drizzled over your favorite desserts or at room temperature as a dipping sauce.
Cool the caramel sauce completely before storing it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, it can become grainy.
How to Store Homemade Caramel Sauce
Store leftover caramel sauce in a covered mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Let it come to room temperature or reheat before use.
Can I Reheat Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce?
Yes! Reheat caramel sauce in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between, or in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warm.
Can I Freeze Caramel Sauce without Cream?
Yes. Freeze caramel sauce in a freezer-safe container (not glass). Thaw in the refrigerator.
How to Fix Grainy Caramel Sauce
Grainy caramel sauce happens when the sugar crystallizes. This can be a result of undissolved sugar crystals, temperature fluctuations, or a host of other factors.
But don't worry if your creamy caramel sauce becomes gritty. It's so easy to fix!
Place the caramel sauce and a tablespoon or two of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk and bring the mixture to a boil until it's smooth again.
Cool the caramel completely at room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator.
How to Use Caramel Sauce
You're going to love using this amazing caramel sauce on everything! These are some of our favorite ways.
- Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake
- Caramel Apple Dip
- Pumpkin Cake
- Pumpkin Bars
- Banana Pudding Jars
- Banoffee Ice Cream Pie
- Gooey Apple Pie
- Taffy Apple Salad
- Pumpkin Pancakes, waffles, or French toast
- No Bake Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
- Ice cream sundaes
- French toast
- Pound cake
- Pumpkin Bread
- Yogurt or oatmeal
- A little corn syrup keeps the caramel mixture from crystallizing.
- Cool the caramel sauce completely before refrigerating.
- Feel free to adjust the flavors of your caramel sauce with cinnamon or more salt.
Yes. You can create a delicious no cream caramel sauce by using evaporated milk instead. Evaporated milk is an excellent substitute for cream in brown sugar caramel because it is made by heating fresh milk to remove about 60% of its water content. This creates a thick, creamy texture, darker color, and rich "cooked" flavor.
Brown sugar contains molasses, which gives the caramel sauce a deep amber color and complex flavor with hints of toffee and butterscotch sauce. Using brown sugar in your caramel sauce will result in a richer, more robust taste.
Absolutely! You can add flavor to your caramel sauce by adding more real vanilla extract, a splash of bourbon or rum, your favorite spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, or more salt for salted brown sugar caramel.
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Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce without Cream
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
- Place the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, evaporated milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk and stir while the caramel mixture melts together and comes to a boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. If you're using cinnamon, add it now.
- Place the caramel sauce in a heat-proof jar or bowl to cool. Serve warm over cake, ice cream, pie, cheesecake, or stir into coffee or oatmeal.
- Cool completely at room temperature. Store covered in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second increments until warm.