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Microwave Caramel Sauce | A terrific hostess or holiday gift!

Microwave Caramel Sauce

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Microwave Caramel Sauce; who’s ever heard of it? In less than 10 minutes you’ll have a warm, decadent caramel topping that’s perfect for your ice cream, apple cake or as a holiday gift!

Microwave Caramel Sauce - A terrific hostess or holiday gift!

Easy Microwave Caramel Sauce

Are you caramel phobic? Scared of attempting a homemade caramel sauce? Push those fears aside as I have an simple solution: an easy caramel sauce made in the microwave. Once you’ve done it once or twice, it’s a piece of cake and no candy thermometer is needed. I have made numerous varieties of caramels and caramel sauces over the years. And some have been big fat flops. This is the recipe I turn to when I need a foolproof recipe.


Microwave Caramel Sauce

The Caveat

Since all microwaves heat a little differently, you may have to sacrifice your first batch to figure out the exact timing for your appliance. Sugar, corn syrup, water and just a teeny squeeze of lemon juice are mixed in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. This concoction is zapped on high heat just until it starts taking on a very pale amber color.

Here is my warning: this hot liquid will continue to cook and brown after it’s removed from the microwave. So, if you let it get to a deeper amber color you will have a burnt mess on your hands. My old microwave took about 4 minutes to reach the ideal color and my current model needs a few seconds more than 5 minutes. Make sure to make a note of the timing which gives you the best results for your future batches.

Microwave Caramel Sauce - an easy, nearly fool-proof way to make caramel sauce!

Gifts from the Kitchen

Today, the Sunday Supper crew is sharing food gifts for the holidays. Whether liqueurs, sweets or snack mixes, we have you covered! Check out the terrific lineup of recipes this week:



Appetizers and Snacks:

Condiments and Sauces:

Savory and Sweet Mixes:

Desserts and Sweets:

You Might Like:


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Microwave Caramel Sauce | A terrific hostess or holiday gift!

Microwave Caramel Sauce

An easy recipe for caramel sauce using your microwave! Beware that all microwaves are different. My previous microwave would burn well before 5 minutes, and my current one takes about 5 minutes, 5 seconds. Adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 4 mins
  • Total Time: 9 minutes
  • Yield: 1½ cups


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup hot heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Mix sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Microwave till mixture just starts to take on a bit of color (a pale amber), about 4-5 minutes. Watch very carefully as it will continue cooking once you pull it out of the microwave. If it gets deeper than a pale amber, it will burn while on the counter.
  3. Remove measuring cup to counter where it will continue to bubble and darken to a caramel color (amber). Add hot cream a couple tablespoons at a time, very slowly as it will bubble intensely.
  4. When all the cream is added, stir in butter and vanilla
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.
Microwave Caramel Sauce - A terrific hostess or holiday gift!

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Addendum: The cute canning labels on my jars are from Felix Doolittle.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links; view my Disclosure Policy for details. I earn a small percentage from any purchase you make by clicking on these links at no extra cost to you.

49 comments on “Microwave Caramel Sauce”

  1. Easy and it looks so smooth and delicious!

  2. Caramel sauce! I always have trouble making this at home since I don’t own a candy thermometer, but using a microwave seems ideal.

  3. Fantastic Liz!! You just made my day with this recipe. Caramel sauce here I come!

  4. Wow, I didn’t know you could make caramel in the microwave! I’ll have to try this someday 🙂

  5. Yum! love caramel sauce.
    I’ve tried a different recipe from cookiesandcups blog and it turned out delicious, so i’m sure yours is perfect. Thanks

  6. A welcome gift I’m sure! BIG game today, I’m really looking forward to it-Go Pack:@)

  7. Gorgeous gift, I love the stickers!! I have to make some of this soon!!

  8. Perfect homemade Christmas gifts for the caramel lovers in our lives! Thanks Liz 🙂

  9. I adore caramel! I never made in a microwave, but love to try it, this is perfect post for me to try!!!

  10. This is a great way to not burn the sugar. Love it! Such a great gift.

  11. Love easy yummy recipes! This is very handy and helpful especially for newbie mums and cooks :). Great post for sharing!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  12. It’s always hit and miss with me and caramel sauce. I will have to try this version out! Love it.

  13. I have to make this recipe! It sounds so easy and looks amazing! I love your labels! So adorable!

  14. This is fantastic! I have never made caramel sauce in microwave…who would have known it’s this easy…

  15. This sounds wonderful Liz, I will be trying it. Thanks for all of your tips!

  16. I have made microwave caramel sauce before and loved it. It’s almost like magic. I didn’t cook mine quite enough, but it was still great.

  17. Great to know that caramel sauce can be zapped in the microwave…Thank you for the gift of enlightenment on caramel =)

    P.s. Wondering if you saw the link and credit to your site for the wreath inspiration =)

  18. Looks and sounds delicious… one question… can I leave out the corn syrup?

    • Liz, I think the corn syrup in the caramel sauce helps prevent recrystallizing of the sugar. I think you could leave it out if you were using it immediately, but not for gift giving or using days later.

  19. Liz,
    I shall make for my co-workers Christmas Gifts.
    thank you!! xxxx YUMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm

  20. Where have I been??? I had no idea one could make caramel sauce in a microwave. I am even willing to sacrifice a few batches for the ease and deliciousness of this one!

  21. Brilliant! I always burn caramel sauce when I make it on the stove top- using the microwave will solve all of my problems. I’ll be sure to keep a careful eye on it:) thanks for the great recipe!

  22. Oh, my goodness, Liz! I can hardly believe how easy this is! With this recipe, no one need ever BUY caramel sauce ever again. Pinning this one on my Recipes to Try board, as well as the Gifts from the Kitchen!

  23. Lizzy,
    I’ve only made caramel once and it was your recipe. It turned out wonderfully and my hubby who hates commercially made caramel loved it. I can’t wait to try this recipe too.

  24. Liz I could totally just pick this up and drink it! YUM!

  25. Wow!! No more watching the pot for 8-10 minutes! I must try this out!

  26. Love this microwave method, will have to try it soon!

  27. Oh this caramel looks dangerously delicious and the perfect holiday gift!

  28. What a nice idea Liz for a present ! Love your recipe and your presentation ! Lovely 😉

  29. You have presented this caramel sauce so beautifully. I just love the jars and your stickers are gorgeous. What a great idea to make a sauce in a microwave xx

  30. Looks perfect! I don’t remember when I last time made caramel…

  31. I love this idea. I’ve been trying to decide what to do for food gifts this year. This sounds like a winner.

  32. I make a lot of caramel sauce for holiday gifts and I’ll probably stick with my old fashioned method since I make a lot at one time BUT…there never seems to be any left for me. This is the perfect solution for a small batch; great idea Liz.

  33. Ok, this is no less than brilliant and your presentation is gorgeous.

  34. YUM! I have a feeling that if I had this in our house Patrick would use on everything! Including his morning toast! haha

  35. oops my finger slipped and ended up in the jar 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  36. So funny – for all the times I made caramel in the past I never tried nuking it! A new one to do now!

  37. Thanks for sharing your foolproof caramel sauce. It sounds simple and the end result in your pretty little gift jars looks delicious.

  38. I know a lot of people who would love this for Christmas (I’m one of them) and this sounds a lot easier than any caramel I’ve made. Your labels are so cute! 🙂

  39. YES! I love homemade caramel sauce and the fact that you can just throw it together in the microwave is awesome!

  40. How easy is this is! Delicious topping at your fingertips!

  41. I don’t know if I’m more caramel phobic or yeast phobic. That being said I think I could conquer my caramel phobia with this recipe. This could be a sweet and dangerous adventure!

  42. I’m used to making caramel on the stove, but this is super easy. I’m excited to give it a try!

  43. I love how easily this can be made, Lizzy! I need a stash of this for the holidays!

  44. This is such genius!!! I am officially a little bit intimidated by caramel sauce. I’ve had some successes but also some MAJOR floppers, so I still get nervous going in. I’ll have to try your version though. Thanks for posting!

  45. Love this~! I printed your recipe and I want to save it as well. THANKS~!

  46. Great recipe Liz! I love knowing that in four and a half minutes it’s perfect. Using it today over baked French toast. Thank you thank you

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