It’s so easy to make your own butterscotch sauce and it’s better than anything you can buy at the store. Drizzle it on ice cream, use it as a dip for fruit, treat it as a topping for cake, use it in cupcakes, or simply eat it by the spoonful for a special treat!
Butterscotch is a type of caramel that is made with brown sugar instead of white sugar and it is always made with butter (regular caramel sometimes has butter, but not always). The sauce has a distinct flavor that will remind you of butterscotch candies.
Ingredients and Equipment
This recipe is made with just 5 simple ingredients: butter, brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt.
You can use dark or light brown sugar. I use light brown sugar; dark brown sugar will yield butterscotch with a slightly more molasses flavor and a darker color.
I always use unsalted butter and add salt to taste, but if you have salted butter in the house, you can use that and leave off the extra salt.
You’ll also need a candy thermometer [paid link]. Getting the temperature just right is important to ensure that your sauce has the correct consistency and doesn’t burn.
How It’s Made
Get out a medium-sized saucepan. You are going to think that a small saucepan will do the trick, but you don’t want any risk of molten sugar bubbling over resulting in having to clean burnt butterscotch from your range.
Melt butter on medium heat. Once it’s melted, add in the brown sugar, give a stir, and then let it sit until it’s almost all melted. You don’t want to stir very much because that can cause crystals to form.
Add heavy whipping cream, give the sauce a quick stir to make sure everything is combined, and then let it come to a boil. Remove the caramel from the stovetop when a candy thermometer [paid link] inserted reaches 225 F.
Stir in vanilla and salt.
Once it cools, transfer the sauce to a sealed container and store in refrigerated for up to three weeks.
Expert Tips and FAQs
Butterscotch uses brown sugar and always has butter.
Unless you have been making caramel sauces for years and are an expert at eyeballing doneness, always use a candy thermometer [paid link]. You will have much better results.
Yes! You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
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- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter completely.
- Add brown sugar and stir just a little. Then, let sit until partially melted, about 3 minutes. Keep the stirring to a minimum to avoid crystal formation.
- Add heavy whipping cream and stir once to completely incorporate, then bring to a boil until the mixture reaches 225 F on a candy thermometer (about 5 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt.
- Cool, store in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to three weeks or freeze for up to three months.
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