Microwave Caramel Sauce: In less than 10 minutes you’ll have a decadent caramel topping that’s perfect for your ice cream or a holiday gift! Practically foolproof, luscious, and irresistible!

This Homemade Caramel Sauce is my go-to method and it’s super quick and made with easy-to-find ingredients, many of which may already be in your kitchen!

Microwave Caramel Sauce in Weck jars with holiday labels

Why You’ll Love this Easy Caramel Sauce

Are you caramel phobic? Scared of attempting a homemade caramel sauce? Push those fears aside as I have a 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 ever 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 no-fail caramel sauce recipe.
  • Plus, it tastes amazing!!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should You Store Caramel Sauce?

Although it’s safe to store caramel sauce at room temperature for a day or so, it’s best to keep it refrigerated in an airtight container. It will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Gently reheat in the microwave to bring it back to pouring consistency before using.

Can You Freeze Caramel Sauce?

Yes, it freezes well. Just make sure you leave room for expansion in your container.  Use an airtight container and it will keep well for at least 3 months. It’s best not to freeze in a glass container due to the chance of breakage.

How Do You Make Salted Caramel Sauce?

Start by mixing in 1/4 teaspoon of salt into the warm caramel sauce. Taste and add more salt until it tastes perfect to you. Most likely, the total amount of salt would range from 1/2-1 teaspoon per batch.

Microwave Caramel Sauce in jars with red handled spoon for serving

Tips for Making this Caramel Sauce Recipe

This is a super easy recipe! Here are a few pointers for making this no-fail microwave caramel sauce at home.

  • 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 (affiliate link). This concoction is zapped on high heat just until it starts taking on a very pale amber color.
  • PRO-Tip: You’ll want to use a clear Pyrex measuring cup so you can see as the color begins to change.
  • 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.
  • PRO-Tip: Make sure to make a note of the timing which gives you the best results for your future batches of this microwave caramel sauce.
Microwave Caramel Sauce in jars with bows for gift giving

How to Make this Caramel Sauce Recipe:

  1. Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and fresh lemon juice in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Microwave just until the mixture starts to take on a bit of color (a pale amber), about 4-5 minutes. 
  3. Carefully, set the caramel onto the counter where it will continue to bubble and darken to a caramel color (amber).
  4. Slowly, add hot cream a couple of tablespoons at a time, very slowly as it will bubble intensely.
  5. When all the cream is added, stir in butter and vanilla.

Ingredient Notes

With only a handful of ingredients, make sure they’re high quality for the best results.

  • Sugar – Use regular, granulated sugar
  • Corn syrup – Karo is my go-to brand
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice – Never use bottled lemon juice as the taste is sub-par.
  • Heavy cream – Use cream with at least 36% butterfat
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted will work, but I prefer salted as salt is a flavor enhancer.
  • Vanilla – Use only real vanilla extract, never imitation.

More Gifts from the Kitchen

To make this easy caramel sauce into a gift, I love pouring it into Weck canning jars (affiliate link). Adding chef medallions from Felix Doolittle makes it even more personalized.

This recipe was first shared in November 2014. The text was updated in 2021.

Microwave Caramel Sauce | A terrific hostess or holiday gift!

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 9 minutes
Yield 1½ cups

An easy recipe for caramel sauce using your microwave! It's ready to use in less than 10 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

Make a note of the time it takes to make in your microwave so you can reference that the next time you make this caramel sauce.

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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

2 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 117Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 0g

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