This Microwave Caramel Sauce is the easiest caramel sauce that takes only 10 minutes to make. Perfect for drizzling over ice cream, cupcakes, cakes, or adding to your coffee!
Why This Recipe Works
Just look at this pot of gold. It makes you want to dive right in, doesn't it? But here is the deal: it's a microwave version. That is a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing: no pots to clean, no excessive stirring, in 10 minutes flat you will have a perfect caramel. Bad thing: if you are like me and LOVE caramel, you are going to make many, many jars of this sauce!
It's fall, apples are ruling in the fruit department (and occasionally take over our kitchen counters), and we all know that apples are meant for dipping in caramel sauce. No?
- corns syrup
- vanilla extract
- unsalted butter
- half and half
How to make caramel sauce in the microwave?
- Place sugar in a microwave-safe cup. I used a Pyrex glass measuring cup.
- Add water and corn syrup. Stir in.
- Place the mixture in the microwave and set the timer on for 2 minutes.
- The mixture will come to a boil.
- After that time, you cook the caramel in 20-second increments and wait for the mixture to turn golden (photo 4).
- As soon as it does, give it a light stir and set for another 10 to 15 seconds max.
- After that, you set it on a counter and stir it frequently to help it cool down and prevent it from getting too dark.
- After 5 minutes (photo 5), add the rest of the ingredients and stir all until smooth. The sauce will thicken as it cools completely.
Perfecting the recipe:
I've made this recipe 4 times to get the perfect amount of half and half needed to make the sauce thick but still drizzling consistency.
Also, I was timing it so the caramel won't be too light or too dark. Because when it comes to caramel, timing counts. The hot sugar dissolves and keeps the temperature high even if you take it off the heat source or in this case, out of the microwave. It will continue to darken while cooling on your counter and this has to be taken into an account. For me, the perfect moment to take the caramel out of the microwave was as soon as it turns golden plus 10 more seconds of microwaving.
- Make sure you are using a microwave-safe glass cup.
- Use a kitchen mitten to handle the cup while making the sauce. The cup handle will get hot.
- Do not walk away while the sauce is cooking. When you are dealing with hot sugar, it can boil over easily and quickly.
- Make sure the butter and half and half are room temperature. If they are cold, the caramel will harden and will be hard to stir.
This recipe makes about 1 cup of sauce, give or take, which is an added bonus. Usually, that's all you need. Whether you want to drizzle it over a cake, cupcakes, or cookies or use it as a dip - one cup is usually enough.
Unfortunately, you can't really salvage burnt caramel. You have to start the process over again.
Yes! If you are using heavy cream, skip the butter. Cream has more fat than half and half.
I keep the sauce in a jar with a lid, in the fridge. It is bound to thicken, so I always pop it into the microwave for 15 seconds to warm it up.
More candy recipes:
If you like this recipe and make it, let me know in the comments below! Don't forget to rate it if you enjoyed it!
Microwave Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons water tap is fine
- 2 Tablespoons corn syrup clear, not golden
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup half and half room temperature
- Get ingredients ready: set butter and measured half and half on a cutting board on a counter. Have a kitchen towel or oven mitt ready.
- In a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl, mix together sugar, water and corn syrup.
- Place in microwave set on high and cook for 2 minutes.
- Stir the mixture once.
- Cook again in 20 second increments (about 4 or 5 rounduntil the mixture turns golden. It will be bubbly.
- Give the mixture one stir.
- Cook the mixture for 10 to 15 more seconds, watching constantly, until the color depends slightly.
- Remove the cup from the microwave and set on the prepared cutting board.
- Stir the caramel frequently to help it cool down.
- After 5 minutes, add the half and half one tablespoons at a time. Be careful! The mixture will foam up when you add the half and half. Stir until each addition is combined. Repeat until all half and half is added and mixed in.
- Add vanilla and butter and stir until smooth.
- At this point you can add sea salt for a salted version of the caramel.
- Let the caramel sauce sit in room temperature until cooled completely.
- Transfer into a jar with lid.
- Make sure to use a heat-proof microwave-safe cup to make this caramel.
- Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Warm up in the microwave for 20 seconds if too thick after refrigerating.
- Please note, that the nutrition value can vary depending on what product you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Myron Miland says
I was wondering what this means in step 7 "until the color depends slightly."
Jasmine di'Vine says
Oh dear... lol second try majir fail. Starting showing crystal before i even added the cream... full seize a tablespoon in.. caramel is so fiddly!!
Jasmine di'Vine says
Third try failed too! 😭😭 i even got a new bag of sugar because the second try sugar had clumps in it. So now i don't know. This time i warmed the cream up too but it started crystallizing before i got all the way thru the 5 minutes. So...
Here are my questions....
1. What kind of utensil to stir with? Metal spoon is what I've been using.
2. This try i decided to keep the spoons in hot water between 20 second increments... attempting to avoid too much sugar build up on the spoons. I used two spoons alternating between increments. Could the residual water be the problem there?
3. Maybe my microwave is not high wattage enough for the first 2 minute-to-boil part? It wasn't totally boiling til like the 1st or 2nd 20 sec increment.
4. I get that not enough water/liquid could be a problem... but also too much? Like maybe i need to add a tad more? Measuring out the syrup is tricky because I always consider that there is some left over in the spoon after adding it... so do you do a slightly heaping tablespoon? Or level? And not worry about the residue? 🤔
5. Lastly... how much stirring?
Lol I'm likely overthinking it but I know caramel is kind of a strange beast... so for the 5 minutes... stirring constantly? Or once in a while? And the 20 second increments... once around and thru? That's what I've been doing.
Things I've learned... seized caramel requires BOILING WATER to melt it !! Holy moley ... we really could use it as cement in a pinch! 😲
Anyhoo! I really hope to make this work again. It was so delicious the first time! Any light you can shed will be wonderful! Thank you!
Nancy Perkins says
It just never got dark. Did two batches and stayed light gold
Jasmine di'Vine says
Just tried my first caramel batch! It turned out literally perfect!!! I'm amazed!! Lol i put just the smallest of salt in and it's glorious! Wish i could post a pic but... you know what it looks like already... 😆 thanks for this wonderful recipe/tutorial!
I was a bit worried about all the crystalizing sugar on the sides from scraping the spoon off... but it didn't affect it at all so... 👍 i did end up switching to clean spoons a couple times but i used one i had run under hot water instead of cold out of the drawer... just so it wouldn't do something weird like seize.
Thank you so much, Jasmine! I am so glad the caramel sauce was a hit! Thank you for trying my recipe and for the comment!
If I don't have (which I don't) corn syrup, what could I substitute?
Hi Katherine! I am afraid you need corn syrup for this recipe.
What does mean "half and half" in "1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon half and half room temperature"?
Thanks in advance, Queli Bernat
Half and half is also known as light cream, or cereal cream
Thank you for this recipe! It's easy to follow and the caramel sauce turned out perfect! The instruction photos are so clear and helpful.
I also tried the tips from your apple crumb cake. Instead of mixing in the chunks of apples into the batter, I laid them on the batter as you suggested and this time it came out fabulous. Thank you!!
This is fantastic. My daughter who doesn't care for caramel loves it. She even put some in candy molds. After putting them in the freezer for a short time, she is now covering them in melted chocolate. I tasted one after being put in the freezer and it is still soft and chewy! I will be making this all fall and winter long.
Hi, can you double this recipe with no problem?
I don’t want to make this twice.
If you have a bigger container, it should work. Let me know if you make it!
Anne Julian says
I loved the idea of this seemingly easy and delicious sauce. Well, it did take longer than indicated and when it finally reached the right colour and bubbled I also noticed red pieces of my MICROWAVE PROOF CONTAINER in the sauce.... Abort Abort Abort
I'll try it again tomorrow in glass and will report back.
Hi Anne! Oh no! I hope the second time worked!
I can i replace maple syrup for the corn syrup? Looks amazing.
Hi Dara! I did not test the recipe with maple syrup so I can't say what the final outcome will be. Sorry!
Kat W says
Hi I've just tried to make this, but before the 5 min of stiring was up it started to get hard, and then when I added the first tbsp of half and half it got rock hard! what did I do wrong? I did the two min, and then 20 sec increments but it was a lot more than 4 or 5 and the color was still clear so i kept going till the color changed.....
Hi Kat! Two things come to my mind: first, did you measure out the corn syrup and water exactly? The mixture has to have enough liquid. Also, when mixing the sugar with water and syrup, stir it well, almost to the point of dissolving sugar. Second, make sure your cream is not cold. That will make the caramel seize. You can warm it up slightly in the microwave but do not boil. Let me know if it helps!
Kay Craven says
What is half and half? Thanks
Hi Kay! Half and half is a dairy product you can find in a dairy section, most likely right next to a liquid coffee creamer. It's a mix of milk and cream in equal parts. If you can't find it, use heavy whipping cream. Hope this helps!
Curry and Comfort says
Wow... this is so cool!! I love that it's so conveniently done in the microwave!
You're totally right - I'm going to make this all the time and put it on everything....and eat it by the spoonful (while singing "I'm so fancy - Can you taste this gold?")
LOL I love it! Thanks so much, Sarah! 🙂
Pot of gold, indeed! I want to dive inside that jar!!
Thanks so much, Kate!