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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Welcome to my favorite caramel for the past decade: Quick Homemade Brown Sugar Caramel for the win! I love this recipe so much for its rich flavor *and* its simplicity in throwing together. It doesn’t get less fussy than this (no candy thermometers needed!).

This is the best (and easiest) caramel recipe I’ve found!! I’ve tried making caramel from white sugar before.. this turned out WAY better. Love that it takes less than 10 minutes too!


Something magical happens when you mix sugar, cream and butter together and nothing demonstrates this better than really delicious caramel sauce. We’ll first heat sugar and butter until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves.

Then we’ll whisk in heavy whipping cream (don’t use heavy cream; I like the consistency better with the former). Finally, add in the salt and vanilla and you’re done!

The hot caramel will be quite thin and thicken as it cools to the perfect texture and consistency (it pours like a dream!).

an overhead shot of salted caramel blondies
Mega Delish Salted Caramel Blondies have brown sugar caramel baked into them! Also delicious served with ice cream and more caramel sauce.

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)!

Brownie meringue cake cut into slices on a white surface.
Serve this Chocolate Brownie Meringue Cake with vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of caramel

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.
A thick layer of caramel coats this Pumpkin Cheesecake

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!

Wet vs Dry Caramel

Wet Caramel

This Brown Sugar Caramel is a wet caramel. Wet caramel simply means that you’re combining sugar and a wet ingredient (in this case we use both butter and cream).

Dry Caramel

A dry caramel uses sugar only. I have several recipes that use a dry caramel: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream and Burnt Sugar Muscovado Truffles.

These recipes make a hard caramel that is poured into a thin sheet and then broken (or cut) into shards. They add a crunchy caramel taste and texture to whatever you add it to. I love it!

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.


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.

A s'mores tart with caramel with a bite out of it.
Use the salted caramel in these Caramel S’mores Tarts

Step-By-Step Instructions for Brown Sugar Caramel

Below are step-by-step photos (with captions) to make the most delicious caramel perfect every single time! My biggest tips are:

  1. Don’t multitask! It’s so easy to *want* to do more than one thing at a time while you’re baking, but I promise you, this is not one of those moments. The caramel comes together quickly (I promise), so give it your undivided attention.
  2. Whisk constantly. The butter and sugar will resist blending together. If you don’t get them well-blended you run the risk of having your finished caramel separate. Which honestly, isn’t a big deal as you could whisk it until smooth again. But if you if get it correct the first time, you won’t have this issue.
  3. Let cool completely before using. The caramel will be quite runny when it’s still hot. It will cool to the proper consistency (thick, but pourable). Conversely, it will get quite thick (and not pourable) when stored in the fridge. Either have it come to room temperature on the counter for an hour or two before serving or put it in the microwave, for 5 to 10-second bursts (stirring in between), to get it to a nice, pourable consistency.

Pouring vanilla into a saucepan.
STEP FOUR: …remove from the heat before adding the vanilla extract…
Set aside to cool, whisking periodically. The caramel sauce will thicken as it cools (it’s still warm in this photo, for reference). 
A little chocolate cake with a bite out of it covered in vanilla ice cream and brown sugar caramel on a white plate.
Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

Favorite Brown Sugar 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

Pumpkin Caramel Bars with Marshmallow Meringue
Pumpkin Bars with Toasted Meringue and Caramel Sauce

Some Caramel Recipes To Try

Try 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 (crunchy like caramel candy), 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

Rebecca Firth

An empty  bowl with caramel smeared on it and a spoon in it.
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!
4.92 from 12 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


  • 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 (see note below)


  • To a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan set over medium heat add the brown sugar and butter, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. 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


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 rate + comment this recipe and tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo


Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

I love your comments, reviews and questions! If you love this recipe, please rate it when you leave a comment. Star ratings 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 help people discover my recipes. Your support means a lot, I look forward to chatting with you!

Rebecca xox

Recipe Rating


  • Pamela Bienvenu April 13, 2024 at 6:51 AM

    5 stars
    A great new discovery! I live in Switzerland and just found your site… I have had your cake book since it came out but never made the connection. Great recipes.

    • Rebecca Firth April 13, 2024 at 8:01 AM

      I’m so happy you’re here! Have fun and let me know if you have any questions! xo

  • Nikita April 10, 2024 at 4:06 PM

    My caramel sauce split as it was cooling down because I didn’t whisk it enough like your recipe stated, I was baking cupcakes simultaneously so I lost track. I must emphasise how important it is to WHISK AS IT IS COOLING DOWN! Thankfully it was salvageable; I added a bit more cream and hot water, brang to a boil and made sure to whisk as it cooled. Was a beautiful silky sauce perfect for topping my cupcakes thank you!!

    • Rebecca Firth April 10, 2024 at 5:43 PM

      This is such a great note, thank you for sharing!

      I’m so happy you liked this caramel!! xo

  • Don in MN March 22, 2024 at 6:03 AM

    5 stars
    Absolutely perfect! I hope this doesn’t sound too weird but, instead of trying to bite into a caramel apple, I prefer to slice a piece off and dip it into a caramel sauce. Bananas! I just thought of dipping bananas! See ya!

    • Rebecca Firth March 22, 2024 at 10:06 AM

      I love the idea of dipping apples!! Sounds delicious!! xoxo

  • Hanna February 18, 2024 at 12:09 PM

    5 stars
    So so good!!

  • Nancy Shore February 16, 2024 at 1:14 PM

    5 stars
    I just made this. Both my husband and I only said one thing upon tasting; “WOW!!” I made apple pie today also and can’t wait to try it with that. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Rebecca Firth February 17, 2024 at 7:36 PM

      Aw thanks Nancy!!! It will be so good with that pie!! xo

  • Kathleen Hess January 30, 2024 at 7:44 PM

    5 stars
    I just made the Caramel for the first time. It’s a simple recipe and very, very good. Not sure what I’m going to do with it next! Thank you!

    • Rebecca Firth January 31, 2024 at 9:25 AM

      Hi Kathleen!
      So glad you enjoyed it! This has been my go-to caramel for over a decade. It’s seriously great on EVERYTHING!! Have fun! xo

  • Steph January 13, 2024 at 2:29 PM

    5 stars
    This is the best (and easiest) caramel recipe I’ve found!! I’ve tried making caramel from white sugar before.. this turned out WAY better. Love that it takes less than 10 minutes too!

    I made half a batch and used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream, and I think it’s still perfect. I’m adding some more half and half to utilize this for my coffee creamer!

    FYI.. doesn’t matter to me if this is technically “butterscotch” this tastes like traditional caramel and is DELICIOUS.. and the ads don’t bother me :) I’m never one to comment online, but HAD to comment on this. Everyone needs to try this!!

    • Rebecca Firth January 18, 2024 at 12:03 PM

      Hi Steph!
      Thank you so much!! I love this caramel too — it’s seriously the only caramel I make. :)

      And thank you so much for your recipe edits…I think these are so helpful for others.

      So so happy you like it!!! xoxo

  • Jenn November 5, 2023 at 12:42 PM

    4 stars
    Delicious, but isn’t this technically butterscotch? Caramel is made with white sugar. Butterscotch with brown.

    • Rebecca Firth November 5, 2023 at 1:24 PM

      Hi Jenn!
      Most of the recipes online are for Butterscotch Caramel Recipes and they’re similar to mine. Personally, I don’t think this tastes like butterscotch in the slightest (like, at all!). It tastes like true caramel sauce, with really rich caramel flavors from the use of brown sugar. A true butterscotch would be made with brown sugar, butter and perhaps some combo of water and/or corn syrup. It’s also traditionally a hard candy rather than a sauce, although like I mentioned you’ll find a heap of recipes for butterscotch sauce online.

      This is my favorite way to make caramel (over traditional caramel)…I’m glad you liked it!! xo

  • Fran October 10, 2023 at 7:06 AM

    Was trying to read your recipe to see if I’ll try but way too much ads popping up and blocking the recipe. They wouldn’t go away even if I clicked the x to close. Ads would stay on no matter what, even on top of each other, so looked elsewhere.

    • Rebecca Firth October 10, 2023 at 12:51 PM

      Hi Fran,
      On the recipe card you can click PRINT at the top and it will show you a page that is ad free.

      I just want to point out, that when you’re online, you’re getting *free* recipes. I’m paid from my ad revenue and my work with my favorite brands.

      I wouldn’t expect you to work for free and hopefully you wouldn’t want that for me. Have a great day!
      R xx

  • Risa November 28, 2022 at 2:41 AM

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

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

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