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Basic Homemade Caramel

Store bought caramel doesn't hold a candle to this homemade version.  Made with only five ingredients you can whip this up in no time at all. Perfect over ice cream, on top of brownies, drizzled over cinnamon rolls or simply on a spoon itself! Once you've had this homemade version you'll never reach for the jar at the store again.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Basic Homemade Caramel, caramel, dessert topping, homemade caramel
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 24
Calories 3945 kcal
Author Yvonne


  • 2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 3/4 c. brown rice syrup or dark corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt


  1. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and cover with cold water.

  2. Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan (preferably enameled cast iron or stainless steel) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or rubber whisk. 

  3. Cook until the mixture registers 250°F on a candy thermometer, approx. 10-20 minutes (could be longer).

  4. Remove from heat & immediately dip the bottom of the saucepan in the ice water bath and let it chill until the bubbles have subsided, about 1 minute. 

  5. Stir until stiff caramel from the bottom is incorporated into the warm caramel on top. Remove from the water bath. 

  6. Store 2-3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat caramel place on the stovetop in a saucepan on med-high heat for a couple of minutes until runny. Could also be reheated in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds at 50% power, stirring in beteen

Recipe Notes

  • Be prepared! Have your thermometer right next to you because you'll need to be stirring constantly - you won't want to be on the hunt for a thermometer while you should be stirring (very important).  Also make sure your ice bath is ready the second your caramel comes up to temp.
  • About Brown Rice Syrup: I don't buy corn syrup anymore and found a great alternative. "Brown rice syrup, also known as rice syrup or rice malt, is a sweetener derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and reducing it by cooking until the desired consistency is reached." Wikipedia.
    • I found my jar at my local health food store and much prefer using it in recipes rather than corn syrup. If you don't want to hunt for it in grocery stores, you can also get it on Amazon!
  • The temperature of the caramel is very important. A candy thermometer is a must (see above for the one I'd recommend you buy!). You don't want to go based on time alone, because at the recommended time, my caramel wasn't ready.
  • I used an enameled cast iron pan. It provides even heat distribution & it's nonstick. You could also use stainless steal. I would not however recommend regular cast iron for best results.
  • Use a rubber spatula or rubber whisk for stirring. This will prevent scratching on the bottom of your pan. My favorite spatulas are the $0.99 cent ones at IKEA. If you happen to grab some on your next shopping trip you won't be sorry. Hands down one of my favorite kitchen tools.
  • Store your caramel in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. I prefer glass Weck containers which can be found at places like World Market or Crate & Barrel. You could also use glass pyrex dishes which can be purchased almost anywhere.
  • Caramel can be reheated on the stovetop in a saucepan on med-high heat for a couple of minutes until runny. Could also be reheated in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds at 50% power, stirring in between.
  • This caramel makes great gifts. Think neighbor gifts during the holidays - could be paired with granny smith apples, which would be great for dipping slices.
  • This caramel will not harden. Do not use in recipes where you're wanting a sturdy caramel that will hold up. This recipe cannot be used for traditional caramel apples (it will slide right off). You also wouldn't want to use it for caramel popcorn or in fudge.

Adapted from CHOW

Nutrition Facts
Basic Homemade Caramel
Amount Per Serving
Calories 3945 Calories from Fat 1593
% Daily Value*
Fat 177g272%
Saturated Fat 110g688%
Cholesterol 630mg210%
Sodium 4388mg191%
Potassium 1017mg29%
Carbohydrates 613g204%
Sugar 597g663%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 6825IU137%
Vitamin C 2.5mg3%
Calcium 694mg69%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.