Microwave Caramel Sauce

microwave caramel sauce
Not long ago, if you follow me on Instagram which you should because I will on occasion drop a stellar recipe that’s not on the blog….but, if you follow me, you’d know I had a major major fail.  And confessed, fessed up.

Like who, who…who runs out of freaking sugar.  Well.  Me, for the first time ever.  Ever in my life.

How on earth did I run out of sugar?  Sugar!!  That’s ridiculous.

I’m a bit of an ingredient hoarder too, ok a lot bit, part of my ongoing pack rat struggles being a former prop person.  So this incident makes even less sense.

And worse?  Yep, you know it, I was mid-recipe too.  Everything you’re warned about!

Even worse than that?  (Can it get worse?)  I had already been to the grocery store earlier that day.

Oh my goodness, it was so dumb.  hahaha, sooo dumb all around, I felt like the biggest dope in the world.

I guess I assume, because I am a problematic ingredient hoarder, that I always have everything I need at all times sans maybe an atypical item.

Welp.  Nope.  Doh!

We don’t have a large grocery store nearby which typically results in items priced a bit premium-ier (wowza, how’s that for a new word?!) and my sorta-neighborhood Aldi was closed for renovations.


Guess who does have sugar?  Menards.  My home away from home with everything home for sale, including sugar.

So in the million degree heat of a late afternoon summer day in Chicago (also read:  highly unpleasant traffic scenario), mid-recipe, kicking myself, I tossed on some flip flops and dragged over to Menards.  Where I bought three bags of sugar.

Amazingly, that was it too.  I just heard Mike’s jaw hit the floor reading that sentence, wherever he might be currently.  Probably because I had also been to Menards earlier in the day as well!!!  I know, I know, I really feel extra dumb!

The checkout lady looked at me weird, like who buys sugar at Menards?  And only sugar?  Me. Yep, me.

So anyway.

I returned home to continue where I left off, proceeding to then destroy six cups of said sugar I had just brought home.  Yes.  Six cups.

See, among other things I was up to, I was trying to make a caramel sauce.

finished microwave caramel sauce in a jar
Where ‘da ice cream at??
Gasp, I know, it’s like the bane of everyone’s recipe existence, countless cups of sugar trashed in an effort to make that golden elixir.  Burnt arms, seized sugar, destroyed pans, bitter burnt results, the fire department….

Yeah.  It’s near an impossible feat.  Rarely have I succeeded so heh, guess what?  I, like many folks, dodge, weave, evade.

I can count on less than one hand how many times I’ve made a caramel sauce in my life to this point, avoid it like the plague.

But.  Mike made a dessert request and I couldn’t turn him down.  “Babe, caramel is totally everyone’s freakin’ nightmare dude, no way, man,” is what I could have said.  And then a snarly side-eye would’ve been his response.  It was almost his birthday, no can wimp out.


I’d been reading a dessert book via Libby, the online library book reading app and stumbled across a brilliant method.  Revolutionary, to be straight up honest with you.  Head smackingly masterful.  Miraculous even.  Why does no one know about this earth-shattering solution?!?!

Unfortunately, the publisher wouldn’t grant permission to share it with you so I found a similar version online by Baked by Rachel then sorta tweaked it.

No mess, no fuss, no hassles, no seizing, no crystallizing, no no touching, no pastry brush with water, no panicking, no ridiculousness.  No ruined pans, no burnt arms, no fire department.  It’s made in the microwave.  Yes.  The microwave and it freakin’ WORKS.

I am done, done I say, with being scared of making caramel.  If this recipe can do that for me, it can do it for you.  Trust me when I say.

prepping microwave caramel sauce ingredients
Not many ingredients but whooie, do they come together oh so nicely, wow.
The only hard part of this is to watch it close and have patience.  Patience, padawan.

stirring together ingredients in a bowl
Dump stuff in a large bowl.  Scrap bowl.  Microwave it.
When you see it just beginning to turn a faint shade of amber in the center, yank it and set it on the counter.  Any further than that and your results will be scorched, you’ll have to start over.  Trust me, I found out.

first sign of amber color in bowl
Zap the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and water for a few minutes in the nuke box.  Then stop stop stop at about this color.
Stay in the vicinity of the bowl.  You need a stiff eyeball on it magically changing colors until it reaches the shade you prefer.  The darker, the more flavorful but don’t go too far or it may get bitter and/or burnt tasting, unless that’s your jam.

caramel ingredients darkening in bowl
I stop about here but I’ve placed a new and old penny in the photo for your reference.
Another lay-it-bare confession, I’m not into using corn syrup as a matter of personal preference, which I mentioned previously.  But here it’s required as it inhibits crystallization so, gotta have it.  So does the lemon juice that you can’t taste (you can use bottled).

Once it hits your ideal shade, about the color of an old penny say, add the cream and butter that you’ve pre-warmed, then the vanilla and salt.  (Make it vegan by using a nut milk and plant-based spread or margarine!)

adding cream and butter to darkened sugars
Bubble and sizzling as I add the cream and butter — watch yourself but it is pretty self-contained and won’t spatter as it would off the stove.
I have another confession to make, heh, since I’m laying it bare here today.  I am so over “salted.”  Salted this, salted that.  Gah, please, enough.  Every recipe already calls for salt.  Not a single “salted” recipe that I’ve read calls for any extra salt than usual.  Stop.  Please.

No idea why this grates my very last nerve but it really really does.  Heh.

adding vanilla and salt to the mix
Toss in your vanilla and salt, stir that up and….

You’re done.

That’s totally it.  And no I am not you-know-what-ing you. 

microwave caramel sauce jarred
Tada!  That was fast, right?!
Right?!?!  I know!  Happiness in a jar, stat!

Be sure to visit my recipes page to find something, anything, to pour this sauce on, swirl into, dribble across.  For sure, c’mon, it’s caramel!

Note:  This content originally appeared on Flaky Bakers.

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Microwave Caramel Sauce

yields about 3/4 cup or 177 ml
Prep time
5 Min
Cook time
15 Min
Total time
20 Min
An astoundingly brilliant way to make a supremely delicious caramel sauce that’s practically guaranteed perfect every time.


  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (39 g) light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
  • a hearty pinch or two sea salt or salt of preference


  1. In a glass measuring cup, measure the heavy cream then add the butter. Warm in the microwave to melt the butter and set aside.
  2. Add the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice to a large glass bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Place the bowl in the microwave and run it on high, setting the timer for 6 minutes. After about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes begin checking the color of the boiling syrup by opening the door. Once a small area begins to turn amber, remove the bowl from the microwave and set it on the counter or onto something light colored that can withstand the heat.
  4. The syrup will continue to bubble and change colors, deepening in amber. Keep a close eye on the color changing. If it appears the color has stopped changing (can happen in cooler weather), microwave for 15-30 seconds more to restart the change.
  5. Once the color has reached a desired shade, very slowly add a small amount of the warmed cream and butter. The mixture will likely bubble up. Carefully stir everything together, add more cream/butter, combine well, add the remaining cream/butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Cool to room temperature then store in the refrigerator. The caramel sauce will thicken as it chills so reheat as needed to serve.


Substitution suggestions (untested by me):

- Equal amounts of honey or golden syrup for the corn syrup

- Equal amounts of buttermilk for the heavy cream

- Equal amounts of apple butter for the butter

- Add in a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, any favorite spices

Adapted from Baked by Rachel.

Nutrition Facts



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Please see the "info" section for nutrition details and information about gram weights.

caramel, dessert topping

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