Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

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Homemade Caramel Sauce – this smooth and creamy caramel sauce is perfect with ice cream, apples, or even cheesecake!

At my house, we love pouring this caramel sauce over frozen caramel torte, caramel turtle cheesecake, and cinnamon ice cream.

homemade caramel sauce served over ice cream in a bowl

When I was in high school, there was an ice cream parlor called Leatherby’s a few minutes from my house that I would often visit with friends. They served a killer turkey sandwich, and the BEST caramel sundaes.

The caramel sauce was made from scratch, and it was my absolute favorite. When I went away to college I would dream about that caramel sauce! Any time I came home I would try to fit a visit to Leatherby’s into my schedule so I could get my fix.

homemade caramel sauce in a small mason jar

It took me two decades, but I finally found a caramel sauce recipe that tastes just like I remember, and I am in heaven! You will be too if you make this stuff. It’s phenomenal!

How to make caramel sauce:

The recipe is pretty simple, and you don’t even need a candy thermometer. Just cook and stir the sauce over medium heat till it’s as thick as you like it. If you’re the type that loves using a thermometer, cook the sauce till almost to soft ball stage.

It does require a bit of stirring, so be prepared for that. You can use a spoon or silicone spatula, but I happen to love this whisk. It does a great job of getting into the edges of the saucepan!


Leatherby's Caramel sauce drizzled off a spoon

Frequently asked questions about Caramel Sauce:

Q: How should I store the caramel sauce?
A: Leftover caramel sauce should be stored covered in the refrigerator. I like to store mine in mason jars with plastic lids.

Q: Can I use cream instead of evaporated milk?
A: Yes, light cream is an acceptable substitute. It actually makes a richer sauce, but I prefer the evaporated milk because it tastes more like the sauce I remember.

Q: Can I use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar?
A: Yes, that is just a matter of preference. It will taste slightly different and may turn out a little darker, but that’s fine.

Q: What can I use in place of corn syrup?
A: I’ve never tried a substitute, but I’d imagine that honey or agave nectar would work. Honey would definitely change the flavor though.

Copycat Leatherby's Caramel sauce drizzled over vanilla ice cream

What can I serve with my homemade caramel sauce?

This caramel is smooth, rich, and basically perfect. We of course love it over ice cream, but it is also fantastic served with sliced apples or drizzled over cake or cheesecake. Or you can just eat it by the spoonful. I won’t judge.

homemade caramel sauce recipe collage

Homemade Caramel Sauce 

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe

Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe
Rich and creamy homemade caramel sauce - perfect for topping ice cream!
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash salt


Combine brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, butter, and evaporated milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Boil, stirring constantly, for 15-20 minutes or till mixture thickens. I like mine pretty thick (almost to a soft ball stage if you want to use a thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.

Sauce will thicken as it cools. Serve warm over ice cream.

*If your heat is set too high, the sauce may appear curdled. If this happens, just let it cool a little, then pour it into a blender and blend till smooth. Works like a charm.


Recipe adapted from The Provident Pantry

bowl of vanilla ice cream drizzled with homemade copycat Leatherby's caramel sauce

It’s National Caramel Day today, so you have the perfect excuse to make this caramel sauce! And of course I’m teaming up with some other talented bloggers to bring you even more unbelievable caramel recipes. Prepare to drool!

caramel recipes

Instant Pot Caramel Dipping Sauce from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Smoky Salted Caramel Creme Brulee from Hey Grill Hey
Turtle Cake from Real Mom Kitchen
Chocolate Dipped Caramel Marshmallows from Ashlee Marie
Iced Caramel Macchiato from Gather for Bread
Vegan Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Namely Marly
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Baking with Blondie
Caramel Banana Bread from Yellow Bliss Road
Coconut Chocolate Caramel Nests from Life Made Simple
Chai Creme Brulee from Foodie with Family
Homemade Caramel Sauce (you’re here!)
Caramel Pretzel Brownies from The Baker Upstairs

And a few more caramel recipes just for good measure.Decadent Caramel Brownies / Chocolate Caramel Truffles / Caramel Shortbread Cookies

Frozen Caramel Crunch Torte / Gourmet Cinnamon Roll Caramel Corn / Turtle Pie

 Toffee Caramel Apple Cake / Salted Caramel Bars / Chocolate Caramel Shortbread


  1. Can dark brown sugar be used ?

  2. Great memories of Leatherby’s in Sacramento! I loved their marshmallow sauce! I’m excited to try this!

  3. I just made this and it tastes great. I put the Caramel in pint canning jars with lids then topped with 2 green apples and am giving it as gifts. Yuppy!

  4. This looks amazing and I want to make it tonight, but somehow I have only heavy cream and no evaporated milk which never happens. Could I substite? Or should I make a trip to the store?

    • I just saw your message, so I’m not much help. Sorry. My guess would be that cream would work fine. Did you try it? If so, how did it turn out?

  5. Virginia says:

    Hi, I don’t know what i did wrong but mine turned out sugary.
    Any way to fix it? PS I have not sent this before.

    • I’m not sure what happened, but I would guess that maybe you just didn’t cook it long enough to melt the sugars. I’d try heating it up again to see if it will melt. You can add a little more evaporated milk or cream if you need to.

  6. Virginia says:

    Hi, I don’t know what i did wrong but mine turned out sugary.
    Any way to fix it?

  7. This looks so good. Is it possible to process in jars in a bath canner? This would be great tucked in a gift basket but would want the jar sealed.

    • I’d be scared to process them at home because of the milk content. Personally, I’d just let people know they need to keep them refrigerated. I don’t like to take chances when I’m giving food as gifts. 🙂

  8. I’m not sure there are leatherbys everywhere but I lived in Fairfield, Ca, and grew up with a leatherbys that had amazing caramel sundaes! Thanks for sharing thisnill he making it tonight!

  9. EDITH MAKHUBU says:

    Nice , im going to try it…im a newbie all the way from Johannesburg South Africa!

  10. This looks so good! How do you store it and how long does it keep for?

    • I store it covered in the fridge. I think it would keep for a few weeks, but I’m not sure because mine never lasts that long.

  11. Homemade caramel sauce is the BEST!!! and so much easier than people think! so worth it!

  12. Caramel sauce is like sunscreen…it should be applied liberally! Ha! I crack myself up. Love this!

  13. This looks so creamy and delicious! 🙂

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