Quick Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel

This Quick, Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel sauce is my go-to caramel! It's so quick and easy, uses only 5 ingredients and is ready in under 10 minutes. This sweet, salty, full-of-caramel-flavors caramel (thanks brown sugar) recipe needs zero candy thermometer (YAY!) and is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies, ice cream or whatever you're craving!
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A jar of caramel sauce with a spoon drizzling it into the jar.

Welcome to my favorite caramel for the past decade: Quick Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel for the win! I love this recipe so much for it’s rich flavor *and* its simplicity in throwing together. It doesn’t get less fussy than this.

I absolutely love adding caramel to desserts such as these Salted Caramel Brown Butter Blondies (this is an old recipe but SO GOOD) or this Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake. There’s this Brown Butter Chocolate Caramel Skillet Cookie, Pumpkin Bars with Salted Caramel and Meringue (SWOON) and these Salted Caramel S’mores Tarts — YUM.

I loved including caramel recipes in both of my books: The Cookie Book includes Rocky Road Caramel Crunch Bars, a Stuffed Caramel Pretzel Skillet Cookie and Petite Caramel Cream Cookies. And The Cake Book has a delicious the Caramel Apple Cake!!. All this is to say, most occasions can benefit from adding caramel to the mix (secret life motto)!

Why This Brown Sugar Caramel Recipe is Fabulous

  • Only 5 basic baking ingredients
  • It’s the prefect balance between sweet and salty
  • It’s a bit of a cheat caramel that’s ready in under 10 minutes
  • No candy thermometer needed
  • No melting sugar
  • No brushing down the sides of the saucepan
  • And, you can stir until your heart’s content!

This is the least fussy caramel you will ever make! I tell no lies…

A  slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel over the  top.

Why Brown Sugar Caramel?

Regular granulated sugar has the molasses taken out of it. Brown sugar has the molasses taken out and then a percentage put back in resulting in beautiful, golden brown color and natural caramel and toffee flavors. Muscovado, which I LOVE, is unprocessed brown sugar and has never had the molasses taken out…but I digress…

When making caramel from brown sugar, you’re already starting with so much delicious flavor. We don’t need to caramelize the sugar to draw out the flavor, it’s already there. All you need to do is melt the sugar and you’re halfway there!

all of the ingredients for caramel.

Brown Sugar Caramel Ingredients

Brown Sugar

The recipe asks for dark brown sugar because I wanted this brown sugar caramel loaded with as much flavor as possible from the start. In a pinch, feel free to use light brown sugar and it will still be fabulous.

Heavy Whipping Cream

Grab heavy whipping cream, don’t go for half and half. This will make a nice, rich, creamy and thick caramel sauce.

Butter

The recipe calls for unsalted butter but again, feel free to use salted. Love love love salted butter. If you do use salted butter, I would only use half of the added sea salt. Taste and adjust as needed.

Real Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean or Vanilla Paste

So many options! I break down all three vanilla options here (including how to make your own extract). For this recipe, it calls for real vanilla extract because it’s easy and what most bakers have available.

If you want to really kick things up a notch, add half of a scraped vanilla bean into the caramel (details on how to do this here)…you’ll get fantastic flavor and see those gorgeous pretty vanilla flecks.

Lastly, if you have some vanilla paste lying around you can use it 1:1 in place of the vanilla extract and BONUS you’ll get those pretty vanilla flecks in your caramel as well.

Sea Salt

Sea salt really draws out the caramel flavors whilst simultaneously tempering some (SOME!) of the sweetness. This recipe calls for fine sea salt, no flakes.

Favorite Caramel Equipment

Light-colored saucepan (this is the one in the photos)

Liquid measuring cup set

Heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon

The cutest whisk (also in the photos) and my favorite whisk that I love so much (I love them both, the latter is more practical)

Canning jars for storing you caramel

Some Caramel Recipes To Try

Try this Salted Honey-Caramel Pear Tart, this Brown Butter Chocolate-Caramel Skillet Cookie and these Salted Caramel Brown Butter Blondies (may favs!).

This caramel is too soft for caramel apples, so check out this recipe for Burnt Caramel Apples. And if you’re looking for hard caramel, I got you. These Burnt Sugar Muscovado Truffles and this Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!

Check out more caramel recipes here!

Let’s make some quick, homemade brown sugar caramel! Have fun! xo

An empty  bowl with caramel smeared on it and a spoon in it.
A  jar of caramel sauce against a white background.
A jar of caramel sauce with a spoon drizzling it into the jar.

Quick Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel

This Quick, Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel sauce is my go-to caramel! It's so quick and easy, uses only 5 ingredients and is ready in under 10 minutes. This sweet, salty, full-of-caramel-flavors caramel (thanks brown sugar) recipe needs zero candy thermometer (YAY!) and is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, brownies, ice cream or whatever you're craving!
5 from 2 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Condiment
Keyword: Caramel, Salted Caramel, Brown Sugar Caramel, Dessert
Servings: 16 ounces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (220 g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 24 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) real vanilla extract

Instructions

  • To a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan set over medium heat add the brown sugar and butter, stirring until the sugar is dissolve. Grab a whisk, and continuously whisk until the butter is completely emulsified into the sugar. If the butter is separated, continue whisking until they're completely combined and thick. This should take about 3 to 4 minutes.
    two pans in the process of making caramel.
  • Continue whisking as you slowly add in cream. It may hiss, boil and spit a bit, so be careful. Turn up the heat to medium-high and continue whisking until it reaches a boil (this should be quick, if it's not already boiling) and then immediately reduce to medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened, whisking the entire time. Reduce the heat to low if it starts to boil again.
    Midwayy through the caramel process, two pans on a burner.
  • Take off of the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla and set aside to cool, whisking periodically. The caramel will thicken as it cools. See storage info in the Notes section below!
    Finished caramel sauce

Notes

STORING: Store your caramel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Before using, bring it to room temperature and give it some good stirs to loosen it up.
FREEZING: Once completely cool, store in the freezer, in an airtight container, for up to two months. Defrost unopened in the fridge overnight. 
VANILLA: If using half a split vanilla bean in this recipe, add the vanilla bean seeds and the pods when you add the cream and let them simmer with the caramel for more flavor. You can store the vanilla bean pod in the vanilla, but discard before serving.
SEPARATING: If you really whisk to combine the butter and sugar together completely in that first step, this shouldn’t happen. *BUT* if it does, do not fret. It just need some good whisking and it should come back together again.
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

2 Comments

  • Risa November 28, 2022 at 2:41 AM

    5 stars
    I love that the serving size is 16 ounces.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth November 28, 2022 at 8:24 AM

      LOL!!! I wanted to show how much the recipe made total!! xox

      Reply

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