Caramel Sauce

Total Time:
15 min
Prep:
15 min

Yield:
1 3/4 cups
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
Directions

Mix the water and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract). Simmer until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, or add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream and serve room temperature.


CATEGORIES:
View All

Cooking Tips
More Recipes and Ideas
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
4.0 53
try it 3 times same result, sugar would not turn caramel color and just a big mess item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a wonderful recipe, easy and simple once you figure out that it takes a little patience! I warm the water a little , add the sugar and swirl the pan as instructed to make sure all the sugar is disolved. Then let it simmer, using the wet pastry brush to brush away crystals that form on side of pan. I don't have to use the candy therm anymore, i just watch it till it turns the color I like and i do stir close to the end to make sure it doesn't burn. People that get the big crystalized mess at the end don't realize that if that happens, just turn the heat down some and let it melt slowly to it's smooth caramel-y goodness. People who mess this recipe up need to try try again. When they get it right, it will be worth the effort and seen awesome easy for the yummy result! ps this recipe can be cut in half very nicely. item not reviewed by moderator and published
You need to stir at the beginning until it starts to boil, then cover with lid for 2 minutes and you won't have wash down crystals on the side. Then don't stir and let it cook until the right color or temp however you're doing it. I just let it go until the color I wanted and continued from there. I thought it was very easy to do. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Proportions are good however it's important not to stir the sugar and water at the beginning otherwise the sugar will eventually crystalize and harden up. I had to throw one out and the next time I stirred very gently after I put in the water just so the sugar was all covered by it - kept the heat on medium low for the rest of the time and did not touch it until the sugar was the right color and it was time to add the creme. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Terrific, classic sauce. A few thoughts: make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before the water comes to a boil; if crystals still form on the side of the pan, wash the pan's sides down with a pastry brush dipped in water; if thicker sauce is the goal, add less cream. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made this twice and got the same results. Hard hard crystalized sugar stuck to pan and spoon. A mess! I read another person's recipe (same ingredients and it cautioned me not to stir at all. I tried a 3d time without stirring and still got a crystallized sugar mess. I give up! Maybe it had to do with my altitude (7,500 feet or my electric stove. I don't know, but there must be a trick to making this sauce I don't know. Definitely not "easy" as described. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Great flavor and not too hard but I agree, it took mine longer than the times given on the recipe. I do have a question, I want my sauce to retain some shape (so my drizzle looks like a drizzle and doesn't dissipate. I've taken corn starch to the finished sauce and added it but it's been too thick and hard to work with, if I added cornstarch towards the end of the process, how much should I add? item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a basic caramel recipe, so no Ina didn't screw it up. I work in pastry and sugar is fickle, it's an art that you must master. Though corn syrup and cream of tartar do help to stop the crystalization process, they are not necessary to the recipe, so the recipe is not incorrect for not including these ingredients. I've made this recipe many times and the only reason I have seen it crystalize is because I've neglected it and allowed crystals to form on the sides of the pan. item not reviewed by moderator and published
We love it! A rich, creamy, wonderful recipe. I did add a tablespoon of corn syrup and a pinch of salt and it did take longer to cook than the recipe states, but we live at high altitude and such things do take longer here. item not reviewed by moderator and published
followed the directions...my turned to liquid. Now I have liquid carmel..I can use this in my coffee. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Combined the water and sugar but also added about 1 TBSP of light corn syrup before I turned on the heat. No crystalization at all. Getting it to the right temperature definitely takes longer than 5 -7 minutes. Was closer to 15 or 20 for me. But it was fabulous. I will definitely NEVER buy caramel sauce from the store again. Yummy. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I substituted whole evaporated milk for the heavy cream (didn't have any. Even though the Evap Milk has only about 1/4 the milk fat as heavy cream, it still tasted great. Can't stress how careful you must be when adding the milk and vanilla. This stuff is angry!. I also let it cool for about 10 minutes then gave it an ice bath. ( for lack of time I Used my sauce to blend with non salted butter to make a tasty melba toast for the pre-meal conversation table. This recipe is 10 times easier than any of the others, and has room to make it unique to your style and taste!!! THANKS YOU! item not reviewed by moderator and published
One of the best! Great results each and every time. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I'm giving this 3 stars because I think the directions are wrong. Following the recipe the sugar dissolved wonderfully in the water BUT all of a sudden it turned to rock hard gritty mess. BUT it was not even light tan ... just clear. I added the cream and vanilla and cooked for a long time waiting for it to thicken. It finally did and I have a lovely, delicious "white caramel sauce". There is a light caramel flavor. Think I'll check out the other Ina caramel recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Great tasting carmel, but the sugar will never brown if you add the water before you carmelize the sugar! Instead, I put just my sugar in the pan and waited until it had dissolved and turned golden brown. Then add the 1/3 cup water and stir until carmel dissolves, then add the cream and vanilla bean and continue to stir until heated and dissolved through. If you add the water to the sugar first, you will just get candy...not what you want for caramel sauce! My guess is that this was a typo...I'm sure Ina Garten wasn't responsible for posting this! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I've made this recipe several times now. It's a keeper. I use seeds fom a whole vanilla bean instead of half. I've fiddled w the timing/color of the melted sugar to get more or less 'burned' flavor depending on what I'm pairing the sauce with. I always strain the sauce thru a fine mesh sieve. I love to serve this with apple spice cake and whipped cream. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Worked perfectly for me first time and was awesome! The times were right on. It was starting to seize a bit, but that's when you add the cream. I don't know how it took gypsyjamboree hours to do, as it literally took 20 minutes. This will definitely be a go-to recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
EXTREMELY DELICIOUS : item not reviewed by moderator and published
""Worst recipe ever! I did two batches and both seized up on me. So after spending HOURS on this, it turns out it needs corn syrup to stabilize and there's no way it will get "medium brown" in 5-7 minutes. "" I could have written this review verbatim! I love Ina and most of her recipes totally rock, but this is one to avoid at all costs. What a bummer! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Worst recipe ever! I did two batches and both seized up on me. So after spending HOURS on this, it turns out it needs corn syrup to stabilize and there's no way it will get "medium brown" in 5-7 minutes. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe is a failure item not reviewed by moderator and published
I just made this today. Delicious and easy to make. It took longer to get the sugar to the color that I want (about 10 minutes) but other than that, the recipe delivers. I made a lighter colored caramel because an overly browned caramel results in a bitter sauce. But, the color and bitterness are up to each person's taste. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I had to write a review to save someone from my mistake! I had several of my daughters' friends here making homemade ice-cream & toppings. And while I LOVE Barefoot Contessa's recipes normally, this one was not specific enough. We cooked 2 batches side by side. And after several minutes (10+ of waiting for the bubbling water sugar mixture to brown we figured that maybe it meant 'golden' brown. We went ahead and added the cream. The mixture on the left that had seemed to cook more (hotter burner? did eventually, after simmering, become almost caramel colored. The other pot just tasted and looked like warm sweet cream, slightly colored by the vanilla. TRUST YOUR INSTINCT! If you've made caramels or toffee before, you know! Wait until it is looking like peanut butter color before going to the next step. I'll make it again and disregard the "5-7" minutes, unless I've got a screaming hot burner. I have the utmost faith in Her recipes, I know it will work next time. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This caramel sauce is fantastic! Very easy to make but my sugar syrup also took much longer than the stated time to turn medium brown. But the final result was so fantastic. Forgot to add a pinch of salt, but next time I'm definitely going to do so. I'll never buy a bottle of store bought sauce again! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was the most creamy and deliciously sweet caramel sauce. The ease of it is really in not stirring it too much even if you don't use the highest quality surgar. I will usr this with all my cakes and cupcakes as filling and anything else that requires a caramel sauce! Thanks Ina and Food Network for sharing! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This caramel sauce is simply delicious! I halved the recipe & decided to use some butter & a pinch of salt as suggested by another reviewer. Having never done anything like this before, I wasn't sure what to expect but ended up having great luck. My sugar started browning before it ever reached the crystallization stage so didn't have to deal with that problem. I never actually stirred my sugar, just moved it around in the pan once in a while. It didn't get as thick as I would have liked [even though I left it on the heat for several minutes--maybe the butter?] but that was alright because it was smooth & creamy. Very, very tasty stuff!!! Thank you Ina! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Great basic caramel recipe. I almost always sub about 1/3 of the sugar called for with brown sugar and add about 1 TB of corn syrup to help stabilize the sugar syrup and prevent crystallization. Heating the cream also helps in the speed of mixing and smoothing out the sauce. As for the great cream debate, as long as it says 'HEAVY' in the title, it's the same thing. There is light cream and light whipping cream, but as long as it has the heavy lable, it should have the exact same fat content. Those are the titles of the catagories given by the FDA, so all products should follow the same guidelines. Enjoy this recipe! Ina's great!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delish! Using vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract really makes a difference. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a delicious sauce. However I did make a few batches that were Yucky. This time I took some written advice from a review posted on this website and did minimal stirring. Thank you Ina and all of you who helped me out :) Now could someone just take the spoon away so I do not eat the whole thing myself? item not reviewed by moderator and published
My sugar crystallized as the other reviews mentioned, but I turned the heat up and it finally started to caramelize. It took much longer than 5-7 minutes to caramelize though, probably closer to 20, but maybe my temp was too low. The final product was delicious and worth the wait! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Made it today for a brownie ice cream bar recipe and it came out perfect! My house smells so delicious! I did add a little more heavy cream to make it creamier! I did not read the directions correctly so it took a little longer to turn color, other than that it was super easy! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This caramel sauce is delicious. i only used 11/4 cup of sugar because i didn't want it too sweet, and i use 2 cups of heavy whipping cream. it came out perfect. after it crystallized, i got scared. i thought i was doing it wrong but that's when it started melting with that brownish color. I added a little bit of salt and a couple drops of lime. My family was in awe of how good it was. I spread it on a really moist yellow cake and it's to die for. I don't care how exquisite this is, i can't afford to keep this cake in my house or i'll end up eating all of it. I'm taking it over to my parents' house; my siblings will enjoy it, as well as my dad. TRY THIS RECIPE, IT'S REALLY GOOD!!!!!!!!!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Mine's still too hot to tell exactly how thick it will be, but the taste is smooth, creamy, and caramely. I didn't have any of the aforementioned issues, though my cooking times were longer than the recipe dictated. I may have been overly careful in keeping the heat low. I added a little salt, but so far I'm not tasting it. Delicious, and I think it's going to be great with vanilla ice cream and a toffee-apple-upside down cake! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Such lucious creaminess welcomes many variations. I always, however, add at least one tablespoon of butter. Feel free to add a whisper of almond extract along with the 1/2 t of vanilla extract. Or flambe with cognac or your fave liqueur. By the way, have faith. I used an economy brand of 100% cane sugar (and I could tell the difference from the less-than-uniform size and shape of the crystals). This time, my sugar/water mixture seized up but I just let it "remelt" quite a bit (not all the way) before adding the extract and heavy cream. Oh, I almost forgot. Feel free to add a pinch of salt. It definitely adds some depth to the flavor. And I prefer to let the caramel get rather dark, which adds just a hint of bitterness. Much tastier to sophisticated palates. Bon appetit! item not reviewed by moderator and published
My first ever homemade caramel was so much easier than I thought. Delicious, and perfect with my apple crisp. I added a shot of lemon juice. Thanks Ina! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Recently, I thought I would start making my own caramel sauce since I found the store brands were expensive and not that great tasting. I tried the Neely's which was good and easy but wanted something with a bit thicker consistency. So I found this recipe in Ina's Home cookbook and thought I'd make it. I made a 1/2 recipe in case I didn't like it. I followed the recipe to a T and came up with great results. I set my gas stove on low since gas burns at a higher temp the electricity and eventually hit the crystallization stage that others had run into. At that point, I turned it up to medium low figuring it would start to melt and sure enough it became this beautiful caramel color. I turned off the stove when it was the perfect color and added the cream and vanilla slowly. Then I put it back onto the stove in between simmer and low and cooked it until all of the hardened caramel melted. Once that was done, I poured into a canning jar and let it cool at room temperature. Once it cooled down, I gave it a try and wow! the results are by far the best caramel sauce I have ever had. The hint of vanilla makes it ROCK! Try it you won't be disappointed and keep cooking once you hit crystallization. Non-stick pans are not recommended for these types of sauces. For those that had a hard time cleaning your pan, I just soaked my non-coated Al-clad Saucier for 5 minutes and it wiped clean with no effort. item not reviewed by moderator and published
My sugar-water solution reverted back to sugar. I added more water, and it started browning, but then turned back to clumpy sugar. It took 3 attempts with the same sugar to get caramel. Here is my modification, which worked. Use 1 Cup Sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Have 1 cup of (heavy?) cream standing by. Put the sugar and water in a pot, on Medium High. DO NOT STIR, DO NOT COVER. Just wait for the solution to turn color, and when that happens, dribble in the cream. Remove from heat, and you are good to go. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Just so everyone's clear, heavy whipping cream and heavy cream are the same thing. Cracking me up that people are claiming that it makes a difference. I'm in culinary school and we just went over it last week.. the 'whipping' was added years ago to help Americans know which dairy product could be whipped. So use whatever you have b/c it all works the same! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I had two things wrong when I tried this recipe...I used heavy WHIPPING cream instead of heavy cream and I ran out of vanilla extract. So while I still used the whipping cream it did make the sauce thinner. I also substitued rum extract instead of vanilla and the result was outstanding. My kids could not stop licking the bowl. I think I'm gonna try coconut extract the next time I make this! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I read "Sheri's" comment after I had done the exact same thing as her; having the sugar crystalize until it was rock hard 3 times. I did some research and decided to try heating up the hard sugar. Soon it began to melt, and walla it was getting brown! I felt so realived! Tip: Pre -heat the cream, that way it won't harden the caramel. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a wonderful recipe. To Anne who had trouble with whipping cream in the caramel sauce: I used the whipping cream by accidet also, but with extra cooking on low, you can reduce the sauce to the thickness you desire. I have made the sauce with the heavy cream and no problem twice, and it is really easy. Sauce hardens in the pot? When the frantic bubbling starts and the sauce hardens up, be patient, keep it on low stirring constantly, and it should come around. If the sauce got too thick at the end, add a bit more cream until the sauce melts back down over low heat. If you had trouble with the color of the sauce, you may be using a very dark or black surfaced pot and can't really see the color. It looks lighter than it really is sometimes. If the sugar crystallized, you might add a couple of spoonfuls of white cane (karo) syrup at the start and don't stir until the sugar is totally dissolved and turning color. Good luck item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have made this caramel sauce three times. It is great to pour over ice cream which is an obvious, but you can use it to make sticky buns as well. Easy and wonderful to taste. item not reviewed by moderator and published
i love ina garten! she is my favorite food network personality and i admire her recipes. item not reviewed by moderator and published
For those of you having problems with the caramel crystallizing and not working at the end, you might want to check and make sure that you are using cane sugar, NOT beet sugar. They're supposed to be exactly the same, but there's something like a .5% difference in their chemical structure which makes it impossible to use beet sugar to make candy. I had frustrating failures with making toffee until I did a search on the internet and found out that beet sugar was the culprit. Good luck! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I tryed this three times everytime it went from liquid to crystal....then rock solid. It never reached near 350 or even a light brown...please help me understand what I might have done wrong??? I want to get this right! item not reviewed by moderator and published
i made it three times before it turned out good. the sauce was very creamy. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I love this. just like all caramel and i is so easy... NO EXPENSIVE FOOD!!!!!!!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I did something wrong!! I had sugar cubes and it never turned brown! Can you help me? item not reviewed by moderator and published
Real good my kid love it item not reviewed by moderator and published
I saw Ina make this yesterday and had to try it for myself. It was so easy and my family was very impressed for our Sunday Night Sundaes. I used heavy whipping cream, which was my own mistake and it was thinner than I wanted. Don't make my mistake - use heavy cream. My no stick cookware and matching spoon made clean up a breeze! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made the sauce for a homemade cheesecake. It is DELICIOUS- tastes wonderful! The smell is amazing, too, while cooking when you add the heavy cream-- wow! Awesome, and I will definately use this in the future to make my own caramel sauce. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was the first time I ever made caramel and I was very cautious. The recipe is easy but not one you can rush through without thought. The result was just delicious and did add the additional cream. I do have two tips; 1 - I would recommend that you spray the pan and spoon with Pam before putting the water in the pan. 2 - I would recommend that you check for "color" as soon as you can see the sugar turning light tan. The sugar at a full boil looks lighter than it truly is and continues to darken even after it is taken off the heat. This is a great recipe. Thanks Ina! xo item not reviewed by moderator and published
We all did this in the micro in our room and it was awesome!! We drank it straight. Maybe just a little sugar hang-over was worst case. We try to watch your show every day between class. item not reviewed by moderator and published

Not what you're looking for? Try:

Caramel Sauce