When it comes to holiday latte’s, there’s an invisible line separating those who love pumpkin spiced from those who love salted caramel.
Apparently, you can’t love both.
When I told my dairy-free friend Maria about my newest dairy-free pumpkin spiced creamer, she said she wasn’t a big pumpkin fan… that she preferred the salted caramel mocha instead. (Although she DID gladly take the leftover cashew cream off my hands, WITH a smile I might add.)
Personally, I’m a pumpkin fan. I could take or leave salted caramel (and I usually leave it). I will admit though, that while I’m not a big fan of salted caramel on a spoon, just put it on my food and it’s a completely different story.
Add some to my coffee with splash of half and half and I’ll make the stuff disappear lickety split! It’s like a hot cup of heaven!
That cup of coffee was so good, so so SO good, there is no way I could withhold the recipe from you guys. It would have been a severe injustice to the frugal folks who enjoy their salted caramel latte’s and don’t enjoy paying big bucks for them.
I made the sacrifice though, just in case my taste buds were off. I swung into Starbucks last week for a Vente cup of research… at least that what I told Mr. Crumbs. The results were not what I expected though – MINE WAS BETTER!
Homemade Salted Caramel
So here it is, a homemade salted caramel recipe in its full glory.
First though, let me note that there’s a negative stigma associated with making caramel and candies and such – and rightly so. Cooking with sugar is dangerous, scary, and finicky. Clear the kids out of the kitchen, wear long sleeves (trust me on that one) and do not multi-task while making caramel!
Read the directions in their entirety, twice, and have all ingredients on hand before you begin. Homemade caramel is NOT impossible, but it requires your full attention. Once you make it – and oh yes, you will want to make this – you’ll understand what I mean. And then you won’t be scared to make it again!
Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
Homemade salted caramel adds the perfect balance of sweet and salty to any drink or dessert, making it absolutely delicious!
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: approx 3 cups 1x
- 2 cups preferred granulated sugar (I used organic)
- 12 Tbsp unsalted, grass-fed butter – at room temperature and cut into pieces
- 1 cup half & half, room temperature
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- In a large 5-6 quart, heavy bottomed pot, measure sugar in an even layer. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking as the sugar begins to melt. The sugar will be clumpy at first, but will melt down as it continues to cook.
- When the sugar has completed melted, stop whisking. Tilt the pan, or use the whisk to gently move the sugar around in the pan as the sugar cooks. When the sugar reaches 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or turns a light amber color, add all the butter at the same time. The sugar will bubble angrily when you do this, so be careful. Whisk the butter into the sugar until it is completely melted and then remove the pan from the heat.
- Slowly add the half & half to the sugar, whisking as you pour. Again, the sugar will bubble up angrily, so be careful. Whisk until all the half & half is incorporated and smooth. Add the kosher salt and whisk to blend well.
- Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes before storing in a glass jar. Allow caramel to completely cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. The caramel will keep for up to two weeks.
- The caramel will harden in the fridge, so allow to come to room temperature before using in recipes requiring a pour or drizzle. For recipes in which it will be mixed right in, cold caramel is fine.
Each serving is approximately 1.5-2 Tbsp, to taste.
Homemade Salted Caramel Drinks
Once you’ve made a batch of this creamy, delicious, sweet stuff, you’ll want to smear it over everything. I don’t think I’d recommend it over steak (although you never know!), but here are some ideas that are sure-fire winners:
- Coffee Creamer: one serving of SC + 2 Tbsp half & half
- Latte: one serving of SC + 1 cup strong coffee + 1/2 cup preferred hot milk (serve over ice to enjoy cold)
- Mocha: one serving of SC + 1 cup strong coffee + 1/2 cup preferred hot milk + single serving of homemade instant hot cocoa (serve over ice to enjoy cold)
- Tea: one serving of SC + 1 cup of chai tea (serve over ice to enjoy cold)
- Warmer: one serving of SC + 1 cup warm milk
- Hot Chocolate: one serving of SC + single serving of homemade instant hot cocoa
- Kid-Friendly “Latte”: one serving of SC + 1 cup warmed apple juice/cider + 1 Tbsp half & half (serve over ice to enjoy cold)
- Yogurt: one serving of SC + 1 cup regular or Greek yogurt
A great addition to ANY salted caramel recipe is a touch of finishing salt for that extra savory flavor that brings any dessert to the next level. I love Ava Jane’s Kitchen because it doesn’t have microplastics (gross, right?) and it’s SO GOOD! Plus, you can get a bag for just 1¢!! (Get your penny bag of salt on this page.)
But that’s not all!
- Drizzle over oatmeal peach or maple apple apple pear crumble, or in place of syrup on sourdough waffles or pancakes (or over these soaked pancakes instead)
- Stir into traditional oatmeal or use as a dip for freshly picked apples
- Drizzle over homemade ice cream instead of store-bought caramel
- Use in place of brown sugar in holiday baking recipe for a delicious sweet & savory combination
More DIY Holiday Beverages
- Salted Caramel Mocha
- Cinnamon Dolce Latte
- Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte
- Peppermint Mocha
- Vanilla Bean Creamer
- Homemade Eggnog
- Pumpkin Pie Apple Cider
A bit easier way to make Caramel is to buy a can of condensed milk. You can use crock pot or stove and boil for about an hour on one side, flip and boil for an hour on the other side. Not messy at all but you have to be sure the top of the can is always under water. As the water evaporates you just add more. You can boil longer for a darker caramel.
I’m dairy intolerant, what with I can substitute half&half with?
Elena – I’ve only made this with half and half, but you can experiment with non-dairy milks with a high fat content.
Can you use Himalayan sea salt instead of Kosher salt?
Thank you for this recipe! I was going to buy some already made syrup when I thought why not just make my own? This was super easy to make and it is so delicious, I can’t stop eating it by the spoonful, haha 🙂
At 350 degrees sugar will be burnt. I think you meant 250 degrees (which is firm ball/hardball stage on candy thermometer).
Just found this and can’t wait to try it. And, had no idea how blessed I am – I love both pumpkin AND salted caramel! People actually choose between them? Remind me to thank my mom for what must be a positive genetic trait I inherited somewhere. 😉
Wow! This is brilliant. Thank you. I am printing this out right now and planning on making it tomorrow. I will be subscribing. I have recently found out how soy is in almost literally everything we eat. I have PCOS so my hormones are out of whack. We found out via the doctor that soy ingredients, since they have plant estrogens, can closely mimic the body’s natural estrogen. It might be making my hot flashes worse. Your blogs and recipes are going to be a life saver. I love flavor in my coffee but didn’t want coffee creamer with dairy or soy in it.
So excited to spread this to the rest of the coffee drinkers in my family and with my friends.
I tried this today and it burned… No water needs to be added to the sugar? It is just melting the sugar on the stove? Is the temperature reading correct at 350 or should it be 250 on a candy thermometer? It seems if it goes higher well it reaches the hard ball stage.
Hi! I was wondering what the difference is between kosher, ionized, and sea salt? My local grocery store was out of kosher, but I have both ionized and sea. Can’t wait to make this!
I LOVE the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Dunkin Donuts, but I wish I could make it at home…Does anyone have a recipe that will replicate their version of this? The Starbucks recipe seems to be everywhere, but I personally do not enjoy it as much as DD’s. I would be so happy if someone could help me with this!
Hi Molly! There isn’t a DD in my area, otherwise I’d totally experiment for you! I’ll be on the East coast this season, so I’ll pick one up and see if I can replicate it for you. 😉
While I occasionally enjoy a pumpkin spice latte, I’m totally a salted caramel latte fan, not too much of the salted caramel mocha though. Can’t wait to try this! It will be my first time making caramel so wish me luck!
Good luck! 🙂
Hold.The.Phone. Caramel apple cider?! Um… recipe please?! 🙂
Is it thin out of the fridge? Mine thickened CONSIDERABLY after storage, but gets thinner the warmer it gets. If that doesn’t help, try cutting back a hair on the liquids next time, b/c you know you’ll make it again! 😉 I wouldn’t recommend heating more since dealing with hot sugar is difficult as it is. 🙂
Amanda @Natural Living Mamma
I made this this morning and it was great. A few tips, when the sugar starts to bubble (before you add anything to it) it is right about to burn. don’t wait till then to put in your candy thermometer. It happens fast! Also, be sure not to spill extra salt in lol.
It was good! I am making the whole apple recipe. It was going to be for breakfast but I didn’t read all the directions last night so it is for play group this afternoon lol.
Thanks for the tips Amanda! I did the thermometer trick myself, but I skipped the extra salt 😉 Enjoy the apple recipe, and try not to lick the spoon (it’s addicting!) 🙂
How much is one serving of salted caramel? I love salted caramel mochas.
Good question Kara! I updated the post to reflect this. I used a heaping Tbsp, so anywhere between 1 and 2 should do the trick. 🙂
Salted caramel mocha all the way, baby! And while I like the frappuccino, I usually ask for mine hot, mmm,its so good. Must find the time to make some home made salted caramel soon!