Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon

Silky smooth homemade caramel sauce is so easy to make. It’s over the top good thanks to the addition of a little bit of vanilla and bourbon. If you’re thinking about homemade gifting, consider this Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon Recipe and Photo

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Making This Bourbon Caramel Sauce

We spent so much time finishing things around the house and landscaping the backyard. Now that we are done, Kevin and I are both like “ok, we’re ready for summer to start!” We’ve only been on the boat twice this summer, and sadly summer is very quickly coming to a close.

Part of me is really looking forward to getting back in to a better work/life balance and routine since I’ll have more uninterrupted time during the day while the kids are at school. But, I think we feel a little bit like we didn’t have enough fun this summer. Luckily, we still have vacation to look forward to before school is officially back in session.

One thing we did this summer that was simple, but new, and everyone loved was to make this bourbon caramel sauce. We made this homemade caramel sauce recipe SO MANY times this summer!

I have made caramel candies quite a bit, but until this summer I’ve never made my own caramel sauce. I have definitely been missing out. It tastes amazing, plus I had no idea how easy it is to make.

Unlike when you’re making caramels, like this Gingerbread Caramel Recipe, you don’t have to use a candy thermometer when making caramel sauce — at least not in this recipe. I’m not sure if that is true for all of them.

Because I don’t have to use a candy thermometer, that also means that I don’t need to make any high altitude adjustments to the recipe and that keeps it super simple.

Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon Recipe and Photo

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Bourbon Caramel Sauce Ingredients

This bourbon caramel sauce recipe has really simple ingredients.

  • Granulated sugar
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Vanilla extract
  • Bourbon
  • Sea salt

Can I Omit the Bourbon?

The bourbon can be omitted if you do not have any and the recipe can be made as is without additional alterations. However, I highly recommend adding the bourbon if you have some on hand. The alcohol burns off, leaving the flavor and not much added liquid.

How to Make Caramel Sauce

Making caramel sauce at home is actually so easy, it just requires a little patience. You’ll first need to add the sugar to a medium-sized saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat. Watch it closely — you want it to fully melt and turn golden brown.

Once the sugar is golden in color, add the butter, vanilla, and bourbon. (The mixture will bubble up, so be careful!). Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream and sea salt.

Let the bourbon caramel sauce cool to room temperature before using. Do NOT lick the spoon immediately as hot sugar can burn your mouth quite badly.

How to Store Caramel Sauce

You can store this bourbon caramel sauce in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 14 days. After the caramel has chilled in the refrigerator, you will need to reheat it to make it pourable consistency again. 

This can be done by transferring the amount that will be used to a microwave-safe bowl and microwaving on 50% power in 15 to 20 seconds intervals. Alternatively, you can warm it in a saucepan over low heat on the stove.

No Churn Brownie Chunk Ice Cream with Vanilla Bourbon Caramel

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Ways to Use Caramel Sauce

The uses for this homemade caramel sauce are endless, but here are a few of our favorite ways to use this recipe for Caramel Sauce. The kids would probably tell you that their favorite way is to just lick it off a spoon. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times this summer I have been asked “Can I have a caramel spoon?”

Um, WHAT? (Meanwhile I’m doing this myself as soon as their back is turned!)

Make Caramel Brownies

Swirl a bit of this Caramel Sauce into the top of the batter for my Simplest Homemade Fudgy Brownies. This is already the best ever homemade brownie recipe, but just think about it with caramel added to it! You can also serve the brownies in a bowl with ice cream and more caramel.

Use as an Ice Cream Topping

This has been our main go-to use of this amazing easy caramel sauce. Our current favorite ice cream obsession is one that is mocha flavored and has chunks of Oreo AND cookie dough in it. Topped with this caramel sauce…it is insanely good.

Drizzle Over Parfaits

Add caramel as a layer in your next parfait. Healthier Chocolate Parfaits and Chocolate Chip Cookie Pudding Parfaits are both awesome candidates for the addition of caramel.

Use as a Cheesecake Topping

We celebrated our 1-year anniversary last weekend with a party with friends and family. It was so much fun. A lot of work, since we’re crazy enough to make almost all the food ourselves, but so fun.

Sadly, I didn’t take any photos but you can read a little bit about it on my Instagram in some of the most recent posts and in my comments on this one.

One of the recipes on the dessert table were tons of individual cheesecakes that my friend and old neighbor made to help me out. I originally was going to make this recipe and top all of the cheesecakes with a little pool of bourbon caramel sauce, but I ran out of time. We sampled the cheesecakes prior to the party, so I know it is super delicious.

Use in Apple Desserts

Caramel and apple are flavor companions. There are so many apple desserts that you could add just a drizzle of caramel to upon serving.

Try these: 100% Whole Grain Apple Crumble Pizza and Browned Butter Bourbon Apple Crisp. Or you could even just serve it in a little bowl with some apple slices for dipping.

Make a DIY Starbucks Treat

My friend Rachael has a great DIY Cold Brew Coffee tutorial. How good would some of this homemade caramel sauce be if it was swirled into a cup?

Don’t drink coffee? Try it with hot cocoa instead with a mug of Caramel Hot Chocolate as a treat this winter.

Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon Recipe and Photo

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Tips for Making Caramel Sauce

If you have vanilla beans on hand you can easily make Vanilla Scented Sugar and use that in place of the plain granulated sugar the recipe calls for. (This means you could also omit the vanilla extract as well!).

Beyond that, you really shouldn’t substitute any of the ingredients in this bourbon caramel sauce recipe. The heavy cream and butter are both musts. If you substitute them, I can’t guarantee that your homemade caramel sauce will turn out right.

Also, I know teacher gifts and holiday gifts are probably the last thing on anyone’s mind right now. But, it is definitely worth mentioning that this bourbon caramel sauce would be a super easy and GREAT idea for homemade gifting.

More Homemade Dessert Toppings:

This Blueberry Lemon Sauce tastes delicious spooned over ice cream, cheesecake, yogurt, and more!

Homemade Chocolate Ganache can be used as fondue, as a frosting for cakes and brownies, or chilled and eaten like fudge. Careful, this stuff is addicting!

My kids love this Cinnamon Brown Sugar Peach Syrup. We enjoy this over pancakes and waffles, frozen treats, and in iced tea.

We like to use this Homemade Magic Shell as an ice cream topping, but you can also use it as a dipping chocolate for pretzels, ice cream cones, and pretty much anything else you’d like coated in chocolate.

If you love this bourbon caramel sauce recipe, you should try making my Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramel Sauce as well. It’s also incredibly easy to make, and tastes just like fall!

Have you ever made your own caramel sauce?

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Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Silky smooth homemade caramel sauce is so easy to make. It’s over the top good thanks to the addition of a little bit of vanilla and bourbon. If you’re thinking about homemade gifting, consider this Bourbon Caramel Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Bourbon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 12 tablespoons Salted Butter, sliced into tablespoons
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Sea Salt

Instructions

    1. In small bowl, combine the bourbon and vanilla extract. Stir and set aside.
    2. Add the granulated super to a medium sized saucepan (3 quart size works well). Place it over medium-high heat and cook, watching the entire time and stirring occasionally, until the sugar is golden brown and completely melted.
    3. Carefully add the butter and the vanilla bourbon mixture. Whisk the ingredients vigourously until the butter is completely melted. The contents of the saucepan will bubble up, so caution should be used.
    4. Remove the pan from the heat and very carefully and slowly pour in the heavy cream while whisking. The caramel sauce will bubble, but keep whisking until the mixture is completely incorporated. Stir in the sea salt.
    5. Let cool — do not attempt to lick the spoon or the whisk as the caramel will be incredibly hot. After it has cooled to room temperature, transfer to your prefered storage container and serve how you like!

Notes

Store sealed, such as in a jar, in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.

After the caramel has chilled in the refrigerator, you will need to reheat it to make it pourable consistency again.

This can be done by transferring the amount that will be used to a microwave safe bowl and microwaving on 50% power in 15 - 20 seconds intervals. Alternatively, you can warm it in a saucepan over low heat on the stove.

Nutrition Information
Yield 32 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 115 Total Fat 7g Saturated Fat 4g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 2g Cholesterol 20mg Sodium 55mg Carbohydrates 13g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 13g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 0g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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