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Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce (The Best!)

Silky smooth Bourbon Caramel Sauce is so easy to make. This recipe for homemade caramel sauce is 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 Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon recipe!

close up photo of a spoon with bourbon caramel sauce

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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.

Tools Needed to Make this Caramel Sauce

Here are my recommended kitchen tools to use while making this simple recipe for Bourbon Caramel Sauce. If you frequently cook or bake, you probably have most of them, if not all of them, in your kitchen already:

  • Heavy Saucepan – to cook the bourbon caramel sauce recipe. Make sure it is a larger saucepan so you don’t have to worry about overflow. However, don’t use a stockpot.
  • Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons – to measure all of the ingredients.
  • Wooden Spoon or Heatproof Spatula – to stir the caramel recipe while it cooks.
photo of a jar of homemade bourbon caramel sauce with a spoon sitting on top and caramel dripping down the side

Click HERE to save this recipe for Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

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 because the addition of bourbon gives it a richer flavor. 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.

photo of homemade ice cream with vanilla bourbon caramel sauce

Click HERE to save this recipe for Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

Tips for Making the Best 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.

Ways to Use this Recipe for Bourbon 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!)

Use Bourbon Caramel Sauce as an Ice Cream Topping

This has been our main go-to use of this amazing easy caramel sauce. Our current favorite easy dessert is vanilla ice cream topped with this caramel sauce…it is insanely good.

You can also serve brownies in a bowl with vanilla ice cream and caramel. It’s the perfect sauce for a brownie sundae!

Make Caramel Brownies using Homemade Caramel Sauce

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!

Drizzle this Bourbon Caramel Sauce 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 Homemade Caramel Sauce 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.

Caramel Sauce Goes Great with 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.

Use this Bourbon Caramel Sauce to 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.

How to Store Caramel Sauce

You can store this bourbon caramel sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight 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. Make sure you remove the lid from your sealed container before microwaving it.

Alternatively, you can warm it in a saucepan over low heat on the stove.

Try this Homemade Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

Next time you’re looking for a simple recipe for homemade caramel sauce, give this Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon a try! Did you think it was so much better than anything you can buy in the grocery store? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought of this sweet sauce.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this caramel bourbon sauce!

a jar of vanilla bourbon caramel sauce

Click HERE to save this recipe for Bourbon Caramel Sauce!

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 caramel sauce recipes, you’ll might also love my Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramel Sauce as well. It’s also incredibly easy to make, and tastes just like fall!

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Have you ever made caramel sauce with bourbon?

Caramel Sauce with Vanilla and Bourbon Recipe and Photo

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
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste

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.
    6. 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 Serving Calories 115Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 20mgSodium 55mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 0gSugar 13gProtein 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.

Did you make this recipe?

I’d love it if you let me know what you think! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram at @goodlifeeats with the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Mitch

Saturday 3rd of September 2022

It congealed in to a hard rock chunk(thats very tasty) and half caramel. I also went heavy on the knob creek

Katie

Friday 23rd of September 2022

I would not recommend adding more than the listed amount of bourbon as this could affect the final outcome of the recipe. Not sure what other advice to offer, as I've made this dozens of times and never had that particular issue, and since I wasn't there to watch your technique I can't comment on what could have gone wrong.

karen hahn

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

Mine is very very runny, anything I can do to save it?

Katie

Friday 4th of June 2021

Once it cools to room temperature it will thicken up.

Carol Mandel

Thursday 29th of October 2020

I thought the caramel was a little too thin. Maybe less cream next time?

Katie

Friday 30th of October 2020

sure, you could add less cream if you wanted.

Rachel

Thursday 21st of November 2019

How much sea salt? I see no measurement.

Katie

Thursday 21st of November 2019

My apologies. It is fixed now. 1 teaspoon, or to taste.

Catherine

Friday 18th of August 2017

I tried it and it turned out amazing. I can't stop licking it.

Katie

Monday 21st of August 2017

HA! Glad you like it!

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