How to Make Salted Caramel Without a Candy Thermometer

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This basic recipe for salted caramel is all you need for the perfect sauce or dessert component.

How to Make Salted Caramel Without a Candy Thermometer

I’ve decided that January will be salted caramel month on the blog.  There are a few recipes that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks that incorporate one of my favorite dessert components, but I didn’t want to dive into them without going over the basics.  This salted caramel sauce recipe is easy to make, even if you don’t have a candy thermometer!  It only requires a few basic ingredients, your stove, a heavy duty pot and a whisk.   The sauce is perfect for topping ice cream, fruit crisps, pies and other desserts but it also is great for enhancing things like cookies and cakes.  After you try it once, you might never go back to store-bought caramel!

How to Make Caramel Sauce

Basic Salted Caramel

Makes 1 cup


3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk (any type)
1/2 tablespoon coarse or flaky sea salt*


Combine the sugar and water in a medium** heavy-duty saucepan and cook over high heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves
Let boil for several minutes without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, watching closely so it doesn’t burn; Once the caramel begins to darken, the rest of the process happens very quickly (see photos above for caramelization process)
As soon as most of the sugar water mixture is a deep amber, whisk in the cream (be careful as mixture will bubble up) and remove from heat immediately
Whisk in milk and sea salt; serve warm or store  covered in refrigerator up to two weeks***
*If looking to make a basic caramel sauce without the extra salt flair, reduce to 1/2 teaspoon
**If doubling, use a large pot and allow extra time for caramelization
***For thicker sauce, chill in refrigerator for a few hours before using or serving; re-heat gently if desired


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19 Responses to “How to Make Salted Caramel Without a Candy Thermometer”

  1. Jersey Girl Cooks January 6, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    Great recipe. Love the extra salt!

  2. Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    And my buying a candy thermometer is delayed even further… :D

    Great recipe!!

  3. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) January 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    I love salted caramel SO much!

  4. Tracey January 6, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Is there anything better than salted caramel? For so long I feared it, but once you find a great recipe it really becomes so easy. This one looks awesome!

  5. Joanne January 7, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    I defintiely needed to see this post!! Making salted caramel makes me nervous every time!

  6. Kristi January 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    I’m definitely going to try this recipe. I tried making salted caramel sauce this past weekend. I burned the sugar once. Tried again. Burned my palm, used a candy thermometer and still ended up cooking it too long and it was no longer a sauce, but think caramel. Total fail.

  7. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic January 7, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Thanks for these easy step by step instructions! I love salted caramel, too. Let’s make 2014 salted caramel year! :)

  8. ATasteOfMadness January 9, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I love salted caramel, but I don’t have a candy thermometer. This is perfect for me!!

  9. vanillasugarblog January 9, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Isn’t it fun learning that you truly don’t need all these kitchen gadgets when baking?

  10. Jenny @ BAKE January 11, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    This is such a helpful tutorial! I am so bad at anything that involves heating sugar past a certain point!

  11. Kristina January 13, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    I never use a thermometer either… ;) looking forward to your month of caramel!

    Happy New Year!


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