When it comes to salted caramel, this recipe is as versatile as can be. I’ve used it to drip cakes, drizzle cupcakes, coat apples, top ice cream, and have even whipped it up into salted caramel buttercream! It’s one of my forever go-to’s that has never let me down. If you’ve ever struggled with salted caramel before, I hope this one becomes your fail-proof friend.
While I’ve tried my hand at some more intricate salted caramel recipes before, this one is my favorite for a few reasons: there are only four ingredients involved, it turns out the same every single time, and it’s the perfect amount of sweet and salty. I have been known to eat it by the spoonful!
One of the keys to success with this recipe is to have your ingredients already pre-measured, room temperature, and ready to go, because you’ll constantly be stirring and whisking. We all know that caramel likes to burn when you stop stirring even for a few seconds (it’s sneaky like that!), so it’s always good to keep those pre-measured ingredients and recipe instructions close by. That’ll keep you cool, calm, and collected throughout the entire process.
Another good tip is to have an oven mit or glove handy so you don’t burn your hand while whisking. When certain ingredients are added (butter and heavy whipping cream specifically), the salted caramel will bubble rapidly and send all the steam toward your whisking hand. Trust me on this one.
From start to finish, this salted caramel recipe only takes about fifteen minutes. After you make it, you can leave it out on the counter to cool before using it in a recipe (like this tasty salted caramel buttercream) or put it in an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to two weeks. It reheats just fine in the microwave if you’re a make-ahead type of baker and makes a great gift if you’re looking for some yummy DIY’s for the holidays.
To add to it’s versatility, you can even use this salted caramel recipe to drip cakes! I’ve used it plenty of times to create a gooey caramel drip effect. Just make sure your buttercream cake is chilled and the salted caramel is room temperature before attempting this (aka follow these tips on creating drip cakes) and you’ll be good to go. Here’s how this salted caramel recipe looks as a drip:
Whether you gift it, whip it up into buttercream, drizzle your desserts, or dip your apples in it, this salted caramel is sure to please and easy as can be! Just the way I like it.
An easy and versatile salted caramel recipe that's perfect for dripping cakes, drizzling over desserts, dipping apples, or eating by the spoonful.
- 1 Cup (200g) white granulated sugar
- 6 Tbsp (85g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Have everything pre-measured and ready to go (you’ll be constantly stirring). Place the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until it melts into an amber-colored liquid and no sugar clumps remain, 5-6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the butter (it will bubble up when you do) and use a whisk to combine it with the sugar mixture until the butter is fully melted and incorporated, 2-3 minutes.
Add the heavy whipping cream in a steady stream while whisking. As soon as the cream is incorporated, let the caramel boil for a full minute before removing it from the heat and stirring in the salt.
Let the caramel cool to room temperature* before using it in a buttercream recipe or as a cake topping. If you're using it to drizzle over ice cream or warm baked goods, you only need to cool it slightly (20 minutes or so). It will thicken as it cools.
Make Ahead Tip: You can make this salted caramel ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you're ready to use it, reheat it in the microwave in 15 second intervals until it reaches room temperature.
*The term "room temperature" will vary depending on your environment. This caramel should be soft and set at about 70ºF. If it's too firm at room temperature, simply microwave it in 10 second increments until it's runny enough for dripping/pouring but not hot enough to melt buttercream.