ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spied a recipe that promised butterscotch brownies or cookies or cake bliss within that suggested you make your butterscotch confection with … butterscotch sauce. From a jar. Or butterscotch chips. From a bag. Sorta like those sandwich recipes that tell you to get out two slices of bread and some deli meats (um, thanks?), it’s kind of a letdown but I just assumed that butterscotch must be a thermometer-requiring, magic wand-waving difficult thing to make. That would explain it, right?

bubbling butterscotch

Well, I’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, misled and so have you because butterscotch — deadly good butterscotch, butterscotch so transcendent it might could bring tears to your eyes — is ridiculously easy to make. Five ingredients (spoiler: one of them is salt) + five minutes on the stove = I just can’t. I’m simply not savvy enough to apply language to how awesome it tastes.

eee, butterscotch

And I was having one of those mornings that I suspect any of you who have ever been a parent of a young tot — even a spectacularly cute one — has had, where you start to feel like you’ll never ever have time again to do a single thing that you once loved, and there on my ancient list of recipes I’ve wanted to make one day was the kind of awesomeness that took minimal ingredients (and ones that, odds are, you already have on hand), barely any time (as in, less time than the shortest nap), damn near blew my mind with its homecooked deliciousness and all of my frustrations temporarily vanished into thin air. Now that there is the wave of some magic wand, I tell you.

enough said

One year ago: Sausage-Stuffed Potatoes + Green Salad
Two years ago: Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Three years ago: Zucchini Latkes

Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce
Adapted loosely from The Washington Post, who adapted it from The Perfect Cake

Yield: About 2/3 to 3/4 cup sauce

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 ounces or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (about 109 grams) packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) flaky sea salt (or 1/4 teaspoon regular salt), plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract, plus more to taste

Melt butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cream and salt and whisk until well blended. [A flat whisk works great here.] Bring to a very gentle boil and cook for about five minutes, whisking occasionally.

Remove from heat and add one teaspoon of the vanilla extract, stirring to combine and this is where, despite the simplicity of the recipe, you get to feel all “chef-y”. Dip a spoon in the sauce and carefully taste the sauce (without burning your tongue!) to see if you want to add additional pinches or salt or splashes of vanilla. Tweak it to your taste, whisking well after each addition. I ended up using a full teaspoon of flaky salt and the listed amount of vanilla to get a butterscotch sauce with a very loud, impressive butterscotch flavor but the strength of your vanilla and intensity of your salt may vary.

Serve cold or warm over vanilla ice cream, roasted pears or pound cake. The sauce will thicken as it cools. It can be refrigerated in an airtight container and reheated in a microwave or small saucepan.

To do ahead: This sauce will keep at least two weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

To gift this up: I’d go the canning route in small jars. (You’ll want to scale the recipe a bit, as it makes less than a cup.) I am not practiced enough in canning to give advice but you should most definitely check out the awesome Food in Jars blog for tips. Whoops! A few readers have warned that butter-and-cream-type confections are not safe to can. A big thank you for keeping the Smitten Kitchen botulism-free! (You can still put these in small jars, but warn that they are, indeed, perishable and should be kept in the fridge.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

391 comments on ridiculously easy butterscotch sauce

  1. Claire

    That looks so good I almost want to lick the computer screen.. is that weird? Quick question though, how long will it last in the fridge (assuming you don’t just eat it all, immediately..)?

  2. Wow. Bamboozled is right! Shame on the great butterscotch conspirators! I have a question too – or, I have question two. Claire’s question first, then this one. If you keep cooking it, will it turn to butterscotch candy in some way?

  3. When I was a kid I shamelessly loved butterscotch sundaes from McDonald’s. I can’t remember the last one I’ve had one, or if they’re even available anymore. Thanks to you I can make them at home. Hmmm. Wait. That may not be a good thing.

  4. Taylizzle

    Hi Deb,
    been following for a year now, made the tomato sausage risotto and vanilla pears the other night and they were both fab. Your site is seriously the best thing ever and has really gotten me into cooking. I can tell by your elevated levels of praise for this sauce that it must be truly mind blowing and I want to make it to give away as presents. How long should this last in a jar and do the recipients need to refrigerate? Any other special instructions if giving it as a gift?

    1. deb

      How long it should keep — I’d say it should keep two weeks in a regular airtight container and much longer if properly sealed and canned. I’ll update the recipe to note this.

      As a gift — I’d suggest canning/sealing it in small jars. I’m definitely not an expert on canning, but you should check out Food in Jars for tips!

      Candies — Hey, I just learned how to make sauce. Not sure about caramel-like candies yet. A quick Googling didn’t present any options that sounded appealing. I’ll report back if I find something that does.

  5. sheista

    Thank You!
    This is DH’s favorite. I have not attempted because I have only found recipes with corn syrup. This is right up my alley! I will be making this for him <3

  6. Just did some searching on the internet and the consensus seems to be that homemade butterscotch sauce will be perfectly good somewhere between 2 weeks and several months in the fridge. I’m betting that two weeks is a very conservative estimate, because anything with that much sugar should be pretty stable.

    Can’t wait to make some for gifts! Thanks for sharing, Deb!

  7. leftfoot

    Oh goodness. I hate butterscotch from a jar or bagged chips but I’m going to have to try this. At the very least for some gifts for people, but hopefully it will change my mind about butterscotch in general.

  8. Wow could I use a spoonful of that gorgeous looking butterscotch sauce! MY MOUTH IS WATERING! I just love your sweet recipes! Baby Jacob will love this dessert when he gets a bit bigger!

  9. I have about 34334343 mason jars left over from my wedding. My plan is to make enough of this butterscotch sauce to fit into those 34334343 mason jars and then distribute it to everyone I expect I’ll need a favor from in the next five years. Should work a treat!

  10. I totally feel the same way about cheat recipes. Especially now I’ve been looking for a good turkey recipe and I keep finding things in the ingredients like – pre-made sausage stuffing, or turkey seasoning. Uh uh.

    also I can’t wait to try this sauce on top of the chocolate sorbet from perfect scoop!

  11. Kim M.

    You have posted again since Sunday…you are back, Deb! Yeah!

    This looks like a fabulous gift to make for friends and family. Thanks for sharing (and Jacob is adorable)!!!

  12. When I read the ingredients list, I damned near jumped off the couch and dashed to make it. Of course, I am out of ice cream and on a major life-change diet so I had to catch myself. Maybe tomorrow. Looks amazing. Sounds amazing.

  13. drool. oh gosh. i wanted to make your coffee toffee for holiday handouts, but now i think i might make this. with tags on the jars saying: you’ll have to buy the vanilla ice cream yourself…

    1. deb

      Neel — My husband, i.e. assistant photographer, was working from home today. However, if I weren’t so lazy (and so unable to give up even a square foot of floor space) a tripod would have done an equally good job.

  14. I love butterscotch but never thought that it could be that simple to make. And no corn syrup, just plain ingredients. That works for me.. .Let me just think about an icecream/frozen yogurt I could make to pair it with for my children!
    PS: Funny how you say that when you have one kid, all of a sudden you feel out of time. The day my elder one got into school and that I was home with only one, I realized how MUCH I could do with one. Just ask one nephew/niece to come and live with you for a few days…

  15. Elizabeth L.

    Thank you for making my ridiculously stress-filled day (catering a turkey lunch with every trimming for 45 people) with that amazing photo of Jacob! Always remember that those smiles are enough to wash away just about anything! Those adorable giggles, plus a glass of Viognier…

  16. Shannon

    Yum! I have actually been craving butterscotch and almost picked up a bag of butterscotch chips to use in your salted oatmeal cookies last week but then I noticed that one of the main ingredients in them was partially hydrogenated fat of some kind along with various other artificial flavors and colors. Um, no thanks. Would this work swirled on top of a batch of brownies before baking or would the time in the oven over cook it do you think?

  17. bekahjones

    I’ve always wondered – what is the difference between butterscotch and carmel? I’ve never been a fan of carmel until I started making the salted carmel sauce you posted some time ago. Now I can’t get enough.

  18. Sometimes I wish that you posted a photo of the actual pan/pot you used for some of your cooking. I read that you really only use a chefs nice for pretty much all of your cutting needs, so I’m assuming that you also tend to recycle the same pot/pan to make anything between butterscotch sauces to stews. :)

    1. deb

      Patricia — I used to do stovetop pictures all of the time, but in my current kitchen (since April) the light is horrible over by the stove so I rarely bother. The second photo is a shot of the butterscotch in the pot — it’s a 3-quart All-Clad saucepan with short handles. I do believe in minimalism in the kitchen; you can use a cast-iron Dutch oven for butterscotch, easily, or any heavyweight saucepan.

  19. DK

    This is indeed easy…I have one small doubt. Can you pls tell me Whats the difference in sea salt, usual iodized salt and Kosher? Any major significance in recipes?

    1. deb

      Melissa — Most food historians agree that butterscotch has never contained scotch (this article discusses it a bit). There are a lot of different theories — to “scotch” might mean to “scorch”, as in scorched butter and sugar; “to scotch” also means “to score” to break it up into piece of candy, etc. — but no one conclusion, only that the booze Scotch has nothing to do with it.

      Tara — There is no reason this recipe cannot be scaled. However, you may need to boil it longer to get the ingredients smooth and a bit thick, depending on how many batches you do.

      DK — This article has in-depth descriptions of the different types of salt. As for this recipe, it’s good to know that sea salt has a more delicate flavor so you can often use more of it without over-salting a dish. And any salt that comes coarse will take up more volume than fine table salt, so you use a larger volume to get the same effect.

  20. Rachel

    I made this tonight and it’s awesome! However, I was wondering if it could somehow be thickened to use as the cream in a sandwich cookie.

  21. Mmmmmm. Bought “too much” brown sugar, thinking I was out and that I needed it for tonight’s cookies…guess what I’ll be making…

    Thanks for posting this.

  22. Robyn

    Ooh! I love butterscotch and can’t wait to make this. Do you think this sauce could this sauce be used to punch up a homemade butterscotch pudding?

    I’ve been searching for a good recipe (that doesn’t call for the bagged chips) and have yet to find one that rivals the Jello pudding of my childhood the way that homemade chocolate and vanilla pudding are infinitely better than their boxed counterparts.I might try adding this sauce to a caramel or vanilla pudding and report back.

    Also, Jacob is absolutely adorable. :)

  23. Oh yes, yes, yes on the roasted pear suggestion. This type of smooth sauce scares me, the novice – but maybe I will try it. You make it looks and sound easy. I agree that it would make a really nice homemade gift – one I would sure love to receive. And I do have lots of pears to smother…

  24. Susan

    I LOVE butterscotch sauce. This recipe is almost the same as Shauna Fish-Lydons recipe. I love it! What I really like is that you can fiddle with the amount of vanilla and salt after it’s cooked. I still make your caramel sauce and your hot fudge sauce too, but butterscotch is my true love!

    1. deb

      Katie — Brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Caramel with salt — or more than a wee pinch — is considered the uber-trendy “salted” caramel.

      Susan — Shuna seems to use a higher proportion of brown sugar and cream to the same amount of butter but agrees that it is best when tweaked at the end. (She’s also quoted in the article this recipe was spun from; she’s the expert!)

  25. Amy

    First time I’ve every commented, but wanted to say how thankful I am for this recipe. I love butterscotch, but every recipe I’ve ever seen for sauce from scratch contains actual scotch, and we do not drink, so this looks awesome, and I’m going to make it tonight. Thanks!

  26. Wow! This looks amazing. Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks sold me this morning on sugared cranberries and now you break this out. I have a feeling I am going to be gaining some weight this Christmas.

  27. MMMMM!!!! Homecooked sugar is the eighth wonder of the world. Creme caramel, candied nuts….but this surely tops all. I canNOT wait. By the way, though, do you have a creme caramel recipe? I like the Gourmet Cookbook’s one, but I’d try one if you suggested it!
    -displaced londoner taking solace in food

  28. Oh thank you thank you thank you! You totally saved me. I couldn’t for the life of me think what the heck to give my friends for Christmas and now I know that they must have this and hot fudge sauce.

  29. Stefanie

    I just happened to have a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer (and some heavy cream in the fridge left over from your wonderful quiche lorraine that I made a few nights ago), so I had to make it right away. I don’t think it turned out though. I used light brown sugar (don’t have any dark in the house), and I brought it up to a low boil on medium heat and set the timer for 5 minutes. It looked okay, not super shiny like I expected. I let it cool for a bit (30 mins) before putting it on the ice cream. Here’s the problem: it was kind of grainy or gritty. Almost like it didn’t boil long enough or something. When it was on the ice cream it got even more gritty and kind of lumpy. I’m almost 100% sure it was because it didn’t boil enough. Do you know what temperature the sauce should be at the end of the “5 minutes” of boiling? I’d like to try this again but with a candy thermometer to make sure it turns out properly.

  30. Katy Belle

    Wow! I’m making this for my family gift exchange!!! My grouchy brother-in-law LOVES butterscotch…maybe this will change his mood. Looks delcious and your boy is precious.

  31. Jen-

    Oh good grief, now I’m in trouble! I just gave up ice cream last week for a yummy Greek yogurt I found which I top with granola. But my very very very very favorite topping for a rich vanilla ice cream is and always has been (since Jacob’s age I think!) BUTTERSCOTCH! In fact, if ever we stop at a Dairy Queen while traveling, I immediately ask, “Do you have butterscotch?” to which I give a horrified look to the poor lady behind the counter if she says, “No, but we have caramel.”

    Thank you….my hips thank you too. This is going to be very good…and very bad.

  32. O yum! I think i might have to make some tonight. I have never thought to add salt! Must try. I have been known to use golden syrup (nz ingredient i think), brown sugar and butter… and if no cream.. we used the icecream instead, usually in a sugar craving crazed frenzy! I have even added cooking chocolate when in need of a chocolate dose and eating those cheap chocolate buttons just weren’t cutting it.

  33. Your ice cream dish is absolutely adorable, and I can’t believe how easy the sauce is! Well, maybe I can…I really do think food manufacturers have us all fooled… Thanks for this! :)

    Oh, and it does get better…the feeling like you’ll never be able to do anything again…I promise :)

  34. Mary

    Oh. My. Sweet. Lord! Here it is, 2 in the freakin’ morning, got up to kill a sinus headache, and now here this is! And I have all the ingredients right here on hand! Also, most of a half-gallon of Bluebell Vanilla Bean ice cream….If my husband caught me making this he’d seriously cart me off to the farm. That, I swear, is the only thing stopping me from getting out the cookware right this minute. But the second he goes to work, LOOK OUT!

  35. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been missing butterscotch sauce since we moved to Europe a few years ago and no longer have access to butterscotch morsels. (I never could figure out why all the butterscotchy recipes I found called for pre-made morsels. Very frustrating!) I nearly always have a jar of the dark caramel sauce you posted about in my fridge, but something tells me it will be swapped out with butterscotch goodness in the extremely near future. :)

  36. Oh wow! I lurve butterscotch but cannot get it in Germany. I, too, thought it was something you could just buy. Thanks for opening up my eyes. I’ll give it a whirl!

  37. sandra

    Close your eyes now if you don’t have will power….
    This sauce is supreme with a light, moist date sponge….mmmmmmmm.

    Or flavour with peppermint and eat with chocolate sponge

    Or spoon over banana and ice cream….
    now where did I put that diet book?

  38. This seems awfully familar to me…oh wait, because it’s very similar to what I make as caramel sauce! I read around the web that the difference is caramel is made with white sugar and butterscotch is made with brown, but I have never been able to make white sugar into caramel, so I always use brown. Any chance you have an easy caramel recipe?

    1. deb

      Beth — I make a dark, salted caramel.

      Maggie — Yes, I love that pot. Also, mussels. But so impractical for anything else! Sigh, must be one of those things for Kitchens Bigger Than a Broom Closet.

      Stephanie — From Googling around, it seems that the temperature you’re looking for is between 234 and 230. (I think that’s the “soft ball” stage, which makes sense.) Hope that helps!

  39. Why do you do this to me? Don’t you realize the ramifications of this post? I’ve already fallen in love with your butterscotch ice cream. Would it be too much to make butterscotch ice cream and top it with butterscotch sauce? Oh man, I feel my willpower slowly slipping away…

  40. Anna

    I have never commented before but I just had to say that I absolutely love Smitten Kitchen. Your writing style is easy to read and I am always impressed at how you describe your recipes in so few words. Thank you for the Gift Worthy Bakes collection.

  41. That is ridiculously non-scary. I have been a bit afraid of brown sweet sauces ever since a Carmel Salted Ice Cream I made last summer very nearly went super wrong, I basically had a ton of sugar in a pan and had to melt it without burning it, and it went from pure sugar to being a hot mess really quickly. This seems like the chances of doing that are pretty low, could be a fun new experiment…

  42. Terry

    About ten seconds after I saw this recipe posted, I headed straight for the kitchen, again. This was late last night after a marathon session of caramel making, so I’m blaming it on the sugar high. Oh wow! So fast, so easy! I had all about given up making a really good butterscotch after my many attempts came out grainy, or not quite right. This was perfect! Thanks so much!–I think. Because I just want to eat this all the time. Did I mention it tastes really good first thing in the morning spooned cold out of the container? I think I’m in trouble.

  43. This sauce looks wonderful and is now on my list of things to try. Why is it no matter how many new recipes I try that list never grows shorter?

    Just as a heads up, this recipe is not safe to can. Both cream and butter are unsafe for home canning.

    If you wish to store it long term you could freeze it. If you ever have any questions about canning feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment on my blog. For many of my friends I am the canning safety person. What this really means is I am always telling them when they do something unsafe.


    1. deb

      Rhodey — Yes, right here. And at the end of the post.

      About that canning — Yikes, I had no idea. I’ll update the post to note this. Thanks for helping keep Smitten Kitchen a botulism-free environment. :)

  44. Allison

    The Gift-Worthy section is WONDERFUL! I already had the spiced nuts on my agenda for the weekend, but after seeing this whole list, I think I’m adding about 4-5 others to it!

  45. At this time of year, “ridiculously easy” sounds even sweeter than “50% off all gift wrap”.

    I’m picturing this drizzled over apples with cinnamon :)

  46. p.j.

    I loved butterscotch when I was a kid (I was the dorky one who ordered it at D.Q. when everyone else got chocolate!), but haven’t had it in years.
    This looks great. My daughter will have her wisdom teeth extracted on Monday. I will have to make some of this to go with her stash of vanilla frozen custard from Ted Drewes.
    Happy Chanukah, p.j.

  47. NM Liz

    That sounds yummy, although I guess I have to finish up the jar of salted caramel sauce in the fridge first!

    I will second the previous comment 102 that I don’t think this can’t be canned using normal home methods. So, it’s probably best to give to people who can put it directly in the fridge.

  48. Mary

    Already commented last night when I was a little crazy, so I thought I’d add this: my dad always ordered the same thing at an ice cream parlor around the corner. Butterscotch sauce on coffee ice cream. I tried it as an adult, and it’s about sweet enough to make the whole back of my head hurt, but I love that sort of thing! If this sounds good to anyone, I highly recommend that you try it.

  49. Dan

    A saucier or chefs pan with a rounded bottom would work much better than a saucepan. In fact, I never use my saucepan unless I just need it for the volume (4 quart vs. 3 quart). It’s a wonder pot, and no need for that lousy flat whisk. Also, a good addition to this recipe would be the use of a candy thermometer and what temperature to cook it to, at least, IMO. I can’t wait to try this recipe though!

  50. Dan

    Oh, just read the comment about candies and with a candy thermometer you could use the same concepts of this recipe and reduce the salt and vanilla and then remove the cream completely add a bit of water (just enough to make it workable, it really doesn’t matter as it boils out, which is what the candy thermometer is for) and a bit of corn syrup and then boil it to the hard crack stage and then pour it out onto parchment paper. Broken up it would be a delicious butterscotch hard candy. I use this recipe without the baking soda and peanuts, and use brown sugar instead of white:

  51. Registering a small complaint about the kid’s pictures. Please put them back in the main body instead of “click away.” The butterscotch and boy would have gone so well together. ;)

    Why does he look so grownup after only a few months???

  52. Judy Draper

    This sauce + the vanilla roasted pears + vanilla ice cream =Christmas Day dessert…thanks Deb for a simple yet elegant way to end Christmas Dinner..

  53. Carrie

    OMG! This is divine! I’ve never made a sauce like this before but now I’m wondering why I waited so long!

    BTW, all I had on hand was organic half and half–no heavy cream. It works with that, too. :) Thanks!

  54. caroline

    This looks really good, so I’m wondering what I can do with it since I don’t eat ice cream. I guess I could drizzle it over plain cake, but I like my plain cakes plain. Eating it by itself is always an option, but probably not a wise one…

  55. connie

    about caramels and how long they will lsat… dont think this is too
    awful of me but i made chocolate caramels last dec for my husband and i found a couple this thanksgiving. We ate them and they were a little
    grainy but still ok. i had simpley wrapped each one in plastic wrap.
    i think because the caramels are cooked longer and ot a higher temp
    than the sauce they last quite awhile

  56. Jayne

    I just wanted you to know that one of the many many things I am thankful for is The Smitten Kitchen. You never fail to brighten my day. Congratulations on your wee one. I would read your blog even if I didn’t love nearly every onel the recipes you share. You have a wonderful gift. I hope there will be a book published soon. Love, Jayne

  57. Anything caramel attracts my attention. I love the candies and I just know that sauce wouldn’t last around our house. Perfect warm over ice cream. I can taste it now.

  58. Thanks for the shout-out, Deb. I see that other people beat me to the news that it isn’t advisable to can things with dairy in them (such a shame, since it would be so nice to be able to make a bit batch of butterscotch or dulce de leche and keep it on the shelf).

  59. I am not going to lie, homemade butterscoth topping on ice cream has got to be one of my favorites, especially if that ice cream is homemade too. I love this very quick, simple recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  60. Denise

    I would love to say, “I hate you!” for posting this and practically forcing me to make it about 10 minutes after I read the post… I even had Jersey Cow Whipping Cream from Fresh Market, and it did the recipe justice!
    But I love you too for giving me such an easy, unable to be messed-up recipe! I will be making this to give away! So fun!

  61. I’ve become adverse to the taste of prepackaged foods, and butterscotch is one of them. I’m really glad that you posted this recipe. Now my hot fudge sundae will have a homemade drizzle of butterscotch, too.

  62. Rosemary C

    Add a couple of tablespoons of really good balsamic vinegar to this sauce and serve it over apple pie, and crumble crushed amaretti cookies over it and you have my prize winning recipe for APPLE PIE WITH AN ITALIAN TWIST. Love your recipe. I now longer have to buy caramel sauce.

  63. My 8 year old is dying over how good this is and so am I! Mine is not quite as dark as yours, wonder why not? We had this over ice cream, but I think I’d like it even better over a plain vanilla or chocolate loaf cake. Thank you!

  64. Emily

    Just made this tonight — SO GOOD! Hardly worth bothering with the ice cream — better to just eat it straight (though I will say, graham crackers dipped in it are also quite excellent)…


  65. Joan

    I am going to make this with my 10-year old for her teachers’ holiday gift. Last year I made chocolate truffle sauce (lazy man’s truffles-just pour the chocolate into jars before it sets) and at the end of the year I made them strawberry rhubarb jam. This recipe will make it official…jars o’ calories. I think I’m going to add some cinnamon at the end for a Mexican twist. Could I maybe add some chocolate chips too, for a chocolate cinnamon butterscotch sauce?

  66. Liz

    Deb, for the sake of my marraige, you need to stop posting pics of your (perfect! adorable! handsome!) baby boy. Everytime you post a new one I swoon, from two rooms away my husband yells “Not yet!”. I only hope that when we do decide to have a baby, he is at least as cute as yours. But man, you are setting the bar very, very, high.

    On another note, I had planned on making your salted dark caramel sauce and marshmallows (some pink with peppermint oil added in) as cute little christmas gifts. How cute are those little mason jars? Thanks for the tips!

  67. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. I have to say that I usually avoid butterscotch because it is generally marketed in a fat free variety and looks yellow. Nothing about clear yellow sugar sauce screams: DUMP ME ON YOUR ICE CREAM! so I avoid it. But THIS, this definitely screams ice cream, cake, over fruit, with nuts, on ice cream…did I say ice cream already?

  68. Ridiculously easy indeed! Butterscotch is simply not part of my life, but I made this (and blogged it) tonight after reading it this morning…now I just have to find something to pour it on (other than, you guessed it, my face…haha).

  69. Ok, this looks yummy. So a question – I live in Switzerland without access to brown sugar. I know people who have used molasses as a successful substitute in chocolate chip cookies, but wonder about this. Ideas???

  70. Made this last night. It is delicious–reminds me of salted caramel candy. I mainly ate it straight from the saucepan (talk about decadent), but I also tried putting it over vanilla pudding (Jello cook and serve), which was pretty fabulous, too. Confession: I also ate it cold from the fridge this morning for breakfast.

    1. deb

      Yes, it firms up as it cools. Is that a bad thing? I guess I never thought about it. Adding a higher proportion of cream (like an extra 1/4 cup) would make a sauce that is thinner, and stays a little looser on ice cream.

  71. shev

    This is the like the stuff that goes on sticky toffee pudding. Can’t wait to make a batch just for, ya know, spooning…

    Happy Chanukah to the Smitten Family!

  72. Rebecca

    I’ve been making a similar version of this sauce for a while. I add just a pinch of chili powder prior to the boiling-for-a-while stage. It’s not enough to make it hot (I’ve served it to strongly spice-averse kids with no trouble), but really brings out the butterscotch/caramel flavor.

  73. Talia

    Doubled the recipe last night for a Channuka party. Defenitly needs high quality vanilla. Great with vanilla ice cream. My daughter had it with strawberries. The guests asked to take the leftovers home…!

  74. Jen

    Holy cow that’s good.
    Baby (4 mo. old daughter) is napping, and I whipped up a batch in no time. There’s even time left to leave this comment. Thanks!

  75. AmyB

    Made this last night to pour over pears I roasted in the oven. It was outrageously good, all my guest were getting the last drop out of their bowls in every way they could!

  76. Carman

    Hi Deb – I recently made your Butterscotch Sauce and the first night it was fabulous! Then we poured it into jars and refrigerated to gift the next day, but by then the sauce was all weird. It was hard inside the jar and when I warmed it up it separated and lost all its rich flavor. After whisking a bit more, it came back to life but just wasn’t the same! What did I do? Isn’t it supposed to be ready to serve until… it’s gone? Btw, the coffee toffee has been a huge hit!

  77. Michelle Miller

    I’ve been considering drizzling this sauce lightly over the top of the toffee recipe you linked a little while ago. Do you think the butterscotch sauce would solidify enough to make that possible? I wouldn’t want it to be runny and overly messy.

    Maybe I’m crazy.

  78. Sounds great – can’t wait to try. Hate to beat the dead horse but are we certain about the canning issue? I’ve been making salted caramel for years, complete with cream and butter, canning it in sterilized jars and have, thankfully, never had any problems. You can buy it here (France) at the grocery store and it comes in jars just like the ones I use.

  79. Marianne

    For all you gift givers, I just noticed that Thomas Keller’s Caramel Sauce is in the NYT. His recipe, which IS made with corn syrup, is listed as lasting for one month in the fridge. You can decide if the corn syrup gives caramel more staying power. I’m guessing that this is a safe time period.

    1. deb

      Marianne — Corn syrup is usually just used to make caramel a little easier to get started; adding a liquid/invert sugar creates a smooth mixture from the beginning, and some bakers prefer that.

  80. OK! I’ve already got egg yolks in my fridge from some recent baking endeavors and was planning to make vanilla ice cream anyway! Now I have even another reason to make sure I do! I love simple and delicios more than anything and will be making this (someday) in the future!

  81. Rachel, it would still not be safe in a pressure canner. I thought before I got my pressure canner that the sky was the limit. I was so disappointed when I found out there are still tons of rules when you pressure can.

    Nicole, When caning safety guidelines say that some recipes are unsafe to can it does now mean it will make you sick every time. The same way as not wearing a seat belt will not cause problems every time you get in a car. So should botulism spores be present when you canned this sauce they would not be killed by the water bath canning process and the air free environment created by canning would allow them to multiply and thrive. Commercial canning is a different animal and so you will see things that should not be canned at home on grocery shelves.


  82. Why on earth would we worry about canning etc??? Won’t we all snarf it down within minutes. Perhaps your readers have more self control than I!! Merci for this decadence.

  83. Jill

    I saw this recipe last night and I didn’t have any holiday gifts for my son’s preschool teachers — their last day at school was today. I had all of the ingredients in the house and my boys (4 and 2) thought it was so cool to make — all of the bubbling did the trick. The teachers about died over it and boys were so proud. Thanks for such a great and quick recipe!

  84. Shosh

    Hi Deb. I know you must hear it all the time but I absolutely LOVE your blog. I am so excited about new posts. Anyway, this comment is really about a post you did a few weeks ago on an espresso chocolate cheesecake and my mom and I just made it today and it looks FANTASTIC!!! I can’t wait to pipe the ganashe on top and devour it. I am going to have a 2 inch slice I think…..

  85. Ella

    Looks delicious! This is similar to a Swedish toffee sauce and you can also make “knäck”, a traditional Swedish toffee prepared at Christmas. Knäck literally means “break” and refers to its hard consistency (reminding of Daim or Skor bars). Some prefer their knäck to be soft and chewy, which is easily attainable by boiling the mix for a shorter time (thank you wikipedia!). Just mix whipping cream, sugar and golden syrup, butter if you like, boiling usually takes 30-40 min. It is also common to add some finely chopped almonds at the end before you scoop teaspoons of the knäck into tiny paper cups.

  86. let me tell you, gingerbread cake+vanilla icecream + this sauce over the whole shebang is freaking outstanding!

    so easy to make and i am no culinary wonder, i assure you.

  87. Paul King

    When I was a kid we used to go to a drive in in Twin Falls, Idaho and get what was called a scotch and soda, which was a butterscotch flavored old fashioned soda. I am going to make this butterscotch and try it tonight. By the way adding a little corn syrup (a teaspoon full should do for this recipe) will keep the sugar form crystallizing or separating when it is re-heated.

  88. My wife has been scouring the internet for this recipe. I heard her say this evening about a recipe she found which used “Salt”. “I’m not going to use salt she said”. Well it didn’t exactly go in one ear and out the other with me. I think sometimes if the recipe says use this, then that’s the way it is!

    Well she’s asleep and I’m trying to find the recipe, so I twittered “Butterscotch” and here I am!

    Five minutes later I discovered that we don’t have “heavy cream” (Is that double cream here in the UK?) so I used some milk and added some plain flour to thicken it a bit. I’ve used a tad too much salt I know, BUT! It does taste the closest to butterscotch sauce (IMHO) than any she’s ever made! Whoo Hooo!

    I hope that I don’t get into trouble??:-(

    Thanks for the recipe. I think there’s room for improvement when we have the correct ingredients.


  89. I love your website! My boyfriend is so not into blogging but he knows who you are because I make recipes from your site so often! I just printed your recipe for coffee toffee and I had to leave a comment to let you know that I would really love it if you had an option to print your recipes without the photos (besides cutting & pasting it into Word & printing from there). It would be nice to have the recipes contained on one page whenever possible to save paper & make it easier to work from in the kitchen! I hope you’ll consider this — I really enjoy your blog & this is my only minor complaint!

  90. Nicole

    Blizzard conditions here call for cream and sugar confections and dietary unrestraint! For lunch had gingersnap ice cream topped with this. Hiding remainder at back of fridge!

  91. Thank you for posting this recipe. I spend far too much time searching for recipes that call for homemade caramel or dulce de leche. It’s always a bit of a let when store bought candies or jars of sauce are called for and I never know how and if I can sub. the real, (from scratch concoctions) for the pre-made. This butterscotch would be scrumptious poured over dark brownies.

  92. Stephanie

    Phew! It tastes delicious. This will make for a great gift. Thanks so much for your great recipes. I just made the sweet and spicy nuts too. My kitchen smells so good.

  93. Viola

    ar.. this is so timely..
    i made some butterscoth self-saucing pudding.
    and it was mind-blowingly not spectacular and bland..

    now i have sauce to go with my ice-cream :)

  94. Kristin

    Just made it- so simple and so delicious. Giving it to my Dad for Christmas, as he loves butterscotch, but I think everyone in the family will want a taste. Thanks again for a delicious recipe!

  95. Rhonda from Baddeck

    This is so delicious – completely addictive. I made 3 quadruple batches to give as gifts this year. (That’s if I don’t eat all of it first.) I’m a new reader to your blog – really enjoying your kitchen adventures.

  96. magicbaker

    i made this sauce the minute my husband left the house to go christmas shopping. i actually used my dutch oven and doubled the recipe. it was sooooo good. like emily above, i used graham crackers instead of a spoon to do my tasting/testing. i hope it lasts until christmas because i just tried it again straight out of the fridge and it was equally as fabulous!

  97. I just wanted to pop back to let you know I’ve successfully doubled the recipe for gift-giving. I was too nervous to do more that that, so I doubled it 3 times for 6 total jars. I didn’t even bother washing out the pan in between, just scraped it really well. I boiled it a bit longer – 6 minutes or so. It is delish!

  98. sara

    i am a longtime (pre kitchen!) reader and have made many many of your recipes but have never commented. my 10 month old daughter is napping right now and i am eating the butterscotch off my fingers. it is beyond good and so easy!

  99. Miss_Thing

    I recently discovered your blog and am, well, smitten! I made the butterscotch sauce yesterday and nearly swooned from the deliciousness. This is so easy that I’m astounded – I doubled the recipe and it turned out perfectly. I also made a batch with a shot of Frangelico added towards the end of cooking and it was fabulous! I plan on giving a few jars as gifts. Thanks so much!

  100. Valerie

    round 1: single recipe, 1.5+ t vanilla, accidentally added 1/2 t of table salt — too salty! –ate some over ice cream anyway
    round 2: triple recipe, no salt, no vanilla
    whisked the two rounds together and ended up with exactly 4 delicious half pint jars to give as christmas gifts. (well, 3 to give as gifts, one to keep for me.)


  101. Joy

    Amazing recipe! I gave a jar to a friend and she said that her husband threatened to divorce her if she didn’t get the recipe from me. A couple of days laster, she called to say that it was like crack. So much so that when she was having a pre-holiday meltdown, she left her baby crying while she stood in front of the open fridge, eating it out of the jar.

  102. Karen

    Just a note that half and half cannot be subbed for heavy cream in this recipe. I tried it, and, well, it’s kinda gross. Not smooth, and it separates in the fridge. I know, DUH, half and half is not the same as heavy cream, but i thought i’d try since i was snowbound and it’s all I had. Just a headsup for others.

  103. Maureen

    I made this last night when the kids went to bed- it was lovely. But tonight, when the kids were out with their dad, I made the roasted pears recipe from here, laid them on the caramel they cooked in and poured some of this over… mmmm… I need never add another dessert dish to my repetoire. It was delicious- not heavy but not insubstantial. Sweet but not cloying. Interesting but not modish. I feel I cannot cook but I will lie in bed tonight dreaming of hosting dinner parties which I finish with this dish and all will leave in a daze of wonder at my abilities. (Its Christmas- I can dream). Thank you. your words and pictures inspire me to try things I never thought I could in the kitchen. Merry Xmas to you and yours. Maureen

  104. shev

    Great sauce, and guess what I discovered? When you mix it in a home-made vanilla ice-cream recipe, you get caramel ice-cream – WOW.
    Thanks for the recipe! Now we can collate a list of 101 things to do with the sauce…

  105. Oh. My. Goodness. This looks incredible.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Deb. I will be trying out your recipe as soon as I have cleared enough Christmas leftovers from my fridge.
    H :)

  106. pam

    i’ve made this twice in the past week, it’s so incredible.

    thanks for the recipe! (i just licked a bit off my finger, which i’d dipped into the bowl in my fridge. it’s so hard to just close the fridge door after doing that…)

  107. dana

    I made this once and it was amazing. but, datapoint: don’t bother trying it with half and half. I was in a rush and needed to sort of just go with what i had! it didnt work out -it separated into 3 distinct layers as it cooled. but, when made the right way, with the heavy cream- really amazing and perfect for an easy but special dinner party dessert!

  108. Wow. I just made this to go with an ice cream craving. And just… wow. It’s quick enough to satisfy an emergency craving, but delicious enough to make you crave just IT and not it with ice cream. Thank you for sharing.

  109. Dear lord! Are you trying to kill us?!?! lol This looks amazing and amazingly simple. Can’t wait to make a batch for one of my friends – she always gets butterscotch sundaes with pistachio ice cream!

  110. Made this to top caramelized banana crepes last night. Amazingly easy, amazingly wonderful. I like this method because it keeps the sugar from crystallizing and it is so darn fast. Although we all loved the sauce, I thought it tasted more like caramel than butterscotch. Nevertheless, a keeper for certain. Thanks so much!

  111. Love this recipe – have made it many times since you first posted it, so many times, in fact, that I’ve memorized it. (Having a dairy cow means having a LOT of cream.)
    Anyway, tonight I made another batch and as it was heating I thought, “hmmm… what would happen if I added cocoa?” So I tossed a few heaping spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa powder into the pot and simmered as usual…. and now I’m eating this butterscotch chocolate sauce with a spoon, straight out of the pot, and my tongue is singing opera.

  112. kristine

    THE BEST THING I’VE PUT IN MY MOUTH EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I gave it as a gift at Christmas and my friends said it was the best ever.

  113. Holy cow. I’ve made this twice now, first to top a bourbon-laced blondie and the second time to pour on vanilla ice cream. For the past two nights, I’ve sat alone, absolutely mesmerized by the sensory experience. To me, this is the ultimate in dessert. You are right – words cannot describe! THANK YOU.

  114. MissAna

    Another fabulous recipe. Fantastic. Unfortunately, I did not have any coarse salt and used table salt (I know, don’t slap me) – and using 1/3 a teaspoon of it made it *perfect*. The vanilla added a great depth of flavour. Thanks and keep them coming!

  115. Erica

    Oh my god… i saw this for the first time today, bought vanilla ice cream on the way home, and made it just now (so it can cool before going on the ice cream later). i MAY (i admit nothing!) have eaten it with a spoon out of the pan… I overdid the salt just a tad, but that just makes it a bit more like salted caramel, i’m not really complaining. Thank you for enlightening us!

  116. KelleeG

    7.03pm – Teacups, dessert plates, spoons and brownies on the dining table ready for supper guests.

    7.04pm – Browsing smittenkitchen while killing time ready for said guests to arrive.

    7.05pm – Click ‘Surprise Me’ only to have this recipe come up.

    7.05 and 10 seconds – Have the thought… “Hang on, I have all of those things in the fridge… and butterscotch sauce would go REALLY WELL with brownies…” Coincidence? I think not.

    7.06pm – Begin making butterscotch sauce.

    7.20pm – Guests arrive just as I am tasting the sauce for seasoning and wonder why I have such a big grin on my face.

    7.21pm – Guests each have a spoonful of sauce. Now we are all grinning.

    Thank you for making my night! This recipe is a keeper.

  117. Oh Goodness! Thank you so much for this. I will never wear a bikini again, but I’ll still have a wonderful life, thanks! I’m making this tonight. RAWR

  118. Thick, grainy, spreadable like a butterscotch paste. The reason more experienced cooks understandably feel ‘bamboozled’ is that making this sauce is not a matter of 4 ingredients boiled, stirred and plopped over ice cream. This is not the first time I’ve wasted quality ingredients (Cauliflower onion, mustard tart?). I know now to go to the source rather than be taken in by great photos and tinkered recipes.

  119. I made this once a while ago and the sauce completely separated so I had to throw it out. I have another great butterscotch recipe I made a few times without any problems and have been using and today it separated while cooling. :(

  120. HOLY SMOKES- BUTTERSCOTCH , I AM IN LOVE! i read this recipe and made it right away LOL at 12 midnight here in Los Angeles;) it seemed to be too good to be true and me being the one to never turn down sweets, well, um , i have the most guilty look on my face!!!! thanks so much for this one- i want to repost it on my blog it’s so slap yo mama good! Thanks again Deb!!!!

  121. Za

    HI Deb,

    I’ve had it sitting for abt 3 weeks now in the fridge. How’d I know if it still can be eaten? I just took a little taste and it still tastes the same..How do I know when butterscotch spoils?

  122. Jen

    WOW. This recipe is utterly amazing. I fancy myself a decent cook, but I’ve always had big trouble when it comes to caramel sauces… and this one turned out absolutely perfect on the first try. It’s just the right amount of salty, vanilla-y goodness. I made it for company (not smart with my caramel sauce track record I know) and 5 people ate most of a double batch plus a half gallon of vanilla bean ice cream- in complete silence, in about 10 minutes.

  123. Rachel

    Hi, just read this recipe. I have 2 questions…I see people asked in Comments how long you can keep this in the fridge….and 2nd question, if you do want to make a bunch of it, have you ever doubled, tripled, etc. the recipe, and does it work? thanks!

  124. Will

    Looks easy and I’m sure tastes great.

    Question: Do you know what makes it different from the recipes which use about 3/4 cup corn syrup with these same ingredients? I suppose I could experiment but, maybe some people already have.

    Canning: The recipe as is can be kept in a fridge for several months – at least 3. Certainly many things with cream are canned – cream of this or that soup, for instance, milk itself, evaporated milk, etc. Some things are bottled with cream/milk, like mudslide mix, etc. For most canned fruit and vegetables heat is used to kill bacteria. A bit of alcohol might help it’s preservation (not kidding).

    Speaking of alcohol, a tablespoon or two of Scotch (coincidence eh), or Cognac or Brandy, could make it a bit more interesting taste, too.

    1. deb

      Will — Corn syrup is an invert sugar and it is used a lot in candy-making because it makes things easier, especially when you’re starting a caramel. But it’s not necessary to make a good one, IMHO.

  125. What is the difference between butterscotch and caramel sauce? I make what I call caramel sauce using mostly the same ingredients — is there supposed to be a difference?

    1. deb

      Ruth — Butterscotch uses brown sugar. It’s still a caramel, however. Also, not all caramel sauces use butter. I talk about this in comment 130 too.

  126. Will

    This recipe is great in coffee as well – for those who like a twist on the caramel macchiato.

    The science of Butterscotch vs Caramel(ization) :: Both are processes that involve sugar and heat.

    Butterscotch flavor is obtained while boiling (browning, scorching/scotching) sugar up to 270-290 deg F. to cause the Maillard reaction – a chemical reaction of reducing sugar and amino acid (sugars and proteins), followed by polymerization, thus creating the distinctive flavor.

    Caramelizing is obtained while cooking/charring (nearly burning) sugar at high temperatures – it is the oxidation of sugar, a decomposition (pyrolysis – a type of thermolysis) of sugar caused by each type of sugar reaching a specific temperature (320 deg F for sucrose), resulting in it’s distinctive dark color and flavor.

    Sugar refining involves repetitive boiling of the cane syrup to reach crystallization. While white crystal sugar is the primary goal, continued boiling causes browning/scorching/scotching due to the Maillard reaction (butterscotch flavors), with resulting crystals being brown sugar. There is also some oxidation/pyrolysis (caramel flavors) with it. Eventually the liquid becomes molasses. This is why brown sugar is used as a shortcut for butterscotch and not for caramel. For caramel you want to start with white sugar that has no “scotching” so that you can caramelize it. Molasses is very strong flavored often with a sulfur component, and while un-sulfured brands can be used for butterscotch, it is not popular.

  127. I’m in the uk and just come across yr recipe. It looks fab but plz can u convert the cups to a weight for me? You give the weight and cups for the butter but nothing else. I’m thinking maybe u can use a drinking cup as long as you use the same throughout? Weight/UK measurements would be simpler for me :0). Many thanks

  128. Thanks for the weights, Deb! I’ve now made this sauce 4 times and it really is easy and delicious! Tonight I didn’t have any “heavy” cream (I think that’s double cream in the UK?), so I used “single” cream. The result was identical, except that it was slightly less thick and a little easier to pour. It also didn’t set as solid, so an excellent substitute :0)
    If it’s not too much trouble, plz could u givr me the weights for your Deep, Dark, Salted Butter Caramel Sauce? Sorry, but we don’t use cups in the UK. I did see a conversion chart once, and I’m sure I could Google it, but I remember getting confused by whether the item was a liquid, a powder or something like nuts? Then the cup/weight seemed to vary? Many thanks :0)

  129. Jess

    Made this tonight, and it was wonderful! We only had regular (salted) butter, but it was still perfect, in my opinion. And so easy! This will definitely be made again soon. Thanks, Deb!

  130. Ann

    I’ve made this sauce so many times. It’s my favorite recipe on your blog. It’s the best ice cream sauce I’ve ever had. Plus, it’s so easy to make.

  131. Fran

    Hey just in case anyone is tempted to try to ‘lighten up’ this recipe by using evaporated milk instead of heavy cream, it Does Not Work. The whole thing curdles and separates. It still tastes great, but the consistency is terrible so it’s not fit to give away. However, this is a fantastic recipe when made the right way. :)

  132. Frances

    Butterscotch sauce made with great success, first a single batch (which just fits in a little 8 oz. jelly jar with enough left over for sampling) and then a double batch and I think it will be followed by another double batch… all into more jelly jars and into the fridge and off to deserving friends.

    I will note that I accidentally made batch number 2 a browned-butter butterscotch, which did not hurt it one bit.

  133. April

    WOW! I have made this 3 times since finding the recipe a few weeks ago. It really is so simple and absolutely delicious! Let me tell you, the end result compared to ANY store bought product, far surpasses the nominal amount of time required to make this sauce! I would go so far as to say that it’s dangerously addictive! I used it to drizzle…ok so maybe it was more than a drizzle, over a croissant pudding I made (similar to bread pudding but kicked up quite a few notches) and I decided to “spike” this batch of butterscotch sauce w/ rum and LAWD HAVE MERCY! It was divine, words fail. Anyway, for anyone who is on the fence about making this; y’all best get on over, you will NOT regret it. I love this blog Deb, thanks for sharing!!

  134. Mariana

    Wow! great recipe! I made a banana pavlova and wanted a butterscothc sauce to drizzle over it. It came out delicious! perfect consistency and tasted great with bananas/cream/meringure!

  135. I’m coming late to this recipe, but it looks fabulous. I wonder, though, why I cannot pin it on Pinterest – either with the pin it link you provide, or with my tool bar button. I’d love to share this delicious looking recipe, but cannot, right now.

  136. Auburn

    Made this last night to pour over ice cream after our carnitas extravaganza–see my comment on that recipe. Though the carnitas were a bit disappointing, this sauce saved the evening. No exaggeration. I even forgot to re-warm it once dessert rolled around but, no matter. My fiancee stood eating his over his bowl of ice cream alternatively laughing (which is what he does when food is too good) and moaning.
    I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and went even heavier on the sea salt than Deb did–at least 3 teaspoons. Maybe more. It probably brought the taste closer to salted caramel than butterscotch, but you won’t find me complaining! For less than 10 minutes of prep/cook time, this is a sauce that can do no wrong and I can imagine pouring it on any number of things besides ice cream–bread pudding, crepes, french toast, a tart crumble. You get the idea.

  137. Jean

    I just made 2 recipes of this. Late getting the recipe for me too, but the universe was looking out for me. I am into gluten free and low carbs, so I made the first batch with Stevia. It was okay, but I don’t like the aftertaste to the stevia. That is the main reason I never used the artificial sugars. Made the next batch with light brown sugar and it turned out great! I will not sacrifice the taste for the carbs. Thanks for the recipe.

  138. karalyn

    Do you think pouring this sauce under the ice cream layer in an ice cream pie would work? I’m worried about the texture of the frozen butterscotch being really brittle but I’m not sure. Let me know! Thanks!

  139. Can I substitute butter for olive oil? I cannot eat corn or cow milk and most butter, spread, and so on have both. Or should I use lard/animal fat? I know for baking olive oil can work well but will it be okay for a sauce? Please advise. :)

  140. Gretchen

    Made this last night, planning to put on top of a chocolate bread pudding. Made two batches. I didn’t have cream, so I used whole milk, which may have an effect. Results:

    Batch 1: I don’t think I boiled long enough because, while it was tasty, it was also super-grainy. Regretfully dumped down the drain.

    Batch 2: Reduced milk to 1/3 cup, boiled for at least 6 minutes. Resulting sauce is HEAVENLY.

    And I have to tell you, over chocolate bread pudding? COMPLETE CRACK.

  141. I recently used your recipe to make butterbeer. The butterscotch was so quick and delicious, not to mention versatile (I used the leftovers as a cake glaze). I will definitely be using this recipe again. Thank you!

  142. April G.

    I just made this with half and half because I didn’t have any cream. It’s a little grainy, but tastes delicious! I wouldn’t do that if I had a choice, but if anyone else has a butterscotch emergency and only has half and half it is a decent option. I can’t wait to try it with cream!

  143. Carol Lenger

    I made this to give as a gift, but it is so grainy. I’ve been reading the comments and most of them state how fabulous it is. Could I have cooked it too long? Or not long enough? I’ve thought about putting it back in a pan and cooking some more – I guess I can’t make it worse – I hate to waste those great ingredients… Please let me know if you have any ideas for me.

  144. Cindy W

    My husband is a huge Butterscotch fan. He complains that restaurants only serve caramel, so I whipped up a batch for him. He is a firefighter and whenever I make something new I always have to send a sample to the firehouse…I’ll update you next week on their verdict! As for me, now I have to bake a pound cake to drizzle some over…hmmm

  145. Nora

    Ridiculously good. This is one of those things that I taste and then think about the calories and wish I hadn’t realized was so simple, fast and delicioso. Also I used half & half, because I didn’t have any cream. It is still really good. I will have to see if it gets hard or not. thanks!

  146. Alex

    For a gorgeous variation, find some palm sugar from an Indian/Sri Lankan/Asian grocer and do half and half with the brown sugar.

    And can be quite lax with the measurements overall. I tend to freestyle it a bit (makes me a terrible cake maker).

    Butterscotch sauce drizzled over a slice of freshly turned out banana bread/cake, topped with ice cream.. Heavenly.

  147. Andrea

    For anyone who’s dairy free or lactose intolerant, I just made this with coconut cream from Trader Joe’s. It took about 10 minutes for it to thicken. But it is gorgeous, luscious and amazing and has not even a hint of coconut taste.

    Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  148. Glynis

    Made this last night in the throes of a sweetness craving and discovered that this is totally delicious served from the stirring spoon and the cooking pot standing in the middle of my kitchen. My guilt got the best of me, so I did try it over some vanilla frozen yogurt with some toasted salted almonds(for health purposes…).YUM! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  149. Marian

    Like many others, I came across this recipe and had to try it right away! I took the suggestion of another poster and added bourbon instead of vanilla (2 tsps) and then put a vanilla bean pod in. It is beyond delicious!!

  150. Mitali

    I died when I saw this post. Literally went to the kitchen, collected the ingredients and started.
    I didn’t have any brown sugar so I just settled for white sugar and it came out beautifully.
    It also took longer than five minutes for me, just for the record, but was well worth the wait.
    At the end, it seeemdd a bit thick so I added some milk which at first made the sauce very grainy, but almost instantly everything dissolved giving a smooth shiny sauce just like in the pictures.
    A recipe to save :) thanks a million.

  151. jennifer

    simply amazing! So incredibly easy to make. I used it to drizzle over granny smith apples and garnished with powdered sugar. Yum!

  152. Paulette

    Just veganized this yummy recipe using Earth Balance soy-free buttery sticks, soy creamer instead of dairy cream and subbed sucanat for the brown sugar. Outstanding result! I had been searching for a vegan butterscotch alternative, came across this recipe and read so many good things that I thought I would improvise. Nice, creamy texture, thickens up nicely in the fridge. Definitely a keeper! Thank so much.

  153. Liora

    Just made it – with reservations but you were right – delicious. I decided to make butterscotch sauce because we were having a spontaneous family brekky and I thought to make pancakes and had no jam, so I had no unsalted butter and made it with salted and didn’t regulate the amount of salt, so it was a bit salty – but . . . best butterscotch sauce I’ve made. Thanks

  154. Vali

    First of all, I want to thank you very much! Everyone I know (me included) adore this recipe!!

    But I wanted to ask, wether it was weird, that my butterscotch sauce has been (in a jam glass) in the fridge for over 3 months and it’s still good?!

    Kind regards, Vali

  155. Vali

    Alright, thank you. I was just wondering, because it says it will only last “for at least 2 weeks”.

    Oh and another thing, mine is a very different, fair type of brown and thickish, whereas yours is dark brown and seems to be liquid.. Why?

    1. deb

      Vali — It liquefies when warmed. It likely keeps longer (mine did) but many people recommend that you don’t keep it too long. It’s really up to you. Color can vary based on how much you cook the caramel.

  156. Kathy in St. Louis

    Great photos and “tinkered” recipes? Count me in!!

    Count me among those who disliked butterscotch sauce until I made this one myself. I think too many butterscotch disks as a child turned me off. THIS IS DELICIOUS.

  157. Susanna

    I had cream that ended up not going to the recipe I thought it would, so I pretty much HAD to make this, so the cream didn’t go to waste. So good over a Dutch baby! And then so good again this morning, licked off the knife!

  158. Kate

    This impressed the hell out of my friend (what? hot butterscotch sauce? that didn’t come from a jar?) and was simple and cheap to make! This one’s going in my back pocket.

  159. Amy

    Wowser! I just made this to serve drizzled over creme brulee i made for deserts and oh my lord it is disgustingly gorgeous!!
    Fantastic recipe. Suoer easy to make and moat importantly, YUM!!
    Great work :-)

  160. Helena

    This is the best butterscotch I have ever tasted. Clean, sweet and creamy. Easy recipe to follow and simple ingredients. You won’t be disappointed – try it!

  161. I’ve made this at least three time, usually doubling the recipe. It’s kind of crazy how easy this is to make. I cut back on the salt, but keep the rest as is. I did use a bunch of vanilla bean in the single batch I just made and it’s amazing. Thank you so much for this recipe.. And all of the people that have received this as a gift from me thank you, too!

  162. Iris Leaton Webb

    Made it. Totally brilliant! More than this – I’ve just made it with dairy free ingredients and it works brilliantly. Thus there is a vegan version. Can you imagine? Thank you!

  163. A

    Hi, im from the uk so im unsure of some of your terms, sorry.
    can you tell me what ‘heavy cream’ is please. we have single, double, pouring, whipping, clotted etc. also, what is a ‘flat whisk’? we tend to use a balloon whisk which looks as it sounds, like a balloon. but iv never heard of a flat whisk. your photo seems to show a balloon whisk, is it therefore the same thing? and when you say ‘heavy bottomed pan’… what exactly is that? we have pans with encapsulated bottoms but thats all iv ever come across… is that what you mean by ‘heavy bottom pan’?
    i love butterscotch and im eager to try this recipe. thank you :-)

    1. deb

      A — For heavy cream, in this case, I’m pretty sure double, pouring or whipping will work. For a flat whisk, really, you can use whatever you have but if you have one that’s particularly good at getting into the corners of a pot, use it. For a heavy-bottomed pot, I mean a heavy pot. If you have a thinner and heavier one to choose from, pick the one that weights more. It will hold heat and cook better.

  164. Jenny

    Just made the butterscotch, and it’s just as advertised, Excelente!!!!!!! i live in Colombia an love you’re blog, thanks for the great recipes…… ;)

  165. Laura

    From across the pond… I made this for my flatmate, and we had it on pancakes. Her feedback on the sauce was ‘I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way before’!

    Thank you! Excellent recipe.

  166. Hillary

    I’ve been making this for years, but only tonight discovered that you can make a portion for one in the microwave if you (like me) can’t be trusted with an entire jar of it in the fridge:

    In a small bowl, melt 1/2 T butter. Stir in 1 T brown sugar and 1 T cream. Microwave on low power for a couple minutes. Add vanilla and salt to taste.

    Makes exactly the right amount to go over one scoop of ice cream.

  167. McKenzie

    I read that Washington Post article just now and noticed it was written back in 2007. The author predicted a butterscotch comeback and sure enough, I go to the Post’s Food page and what was posted 4 hours ago? “Nobody Makes Butterscotch Pudding Better Than Ris–Except Maybe You.” !!! Too funny. (Also your recipe for butterscotch pudding is one of my all time fave desserts.)

  168. Amy

    I’ve been trying butterscotch pudding recipes and have found them all to be lacking. Could this butterscotch be used to make pudding with!?

  169. Barbara

    Do you think it would be OK to substitute MaCallan scotch whiskey in place of vanilla? A restaurant in the area does a “salted Carmel, MaCallan 12 Butterscotch and I’m trying to make something similar.

  170. Kristin

    In case anyone is wondering, this is easily quadrupled in a 3qt heavy sauce pan. Today I made 12 (yes, twelve = 3×4) batches of the recipe as written to go along with some gingerbread biscotti (thank you, SK) for neighbors, teachers, postman, UPS man, etc. With this obscene amount of butterscotch, I filled 12 of the Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni 5 oz Jars plus 5 of the standard Ball 8 oz jars…and there might have been a lot of snacking along the way by the college boy and his teenage sibs who kept “checking” on the sauce :) I did indeed get all chef-y, trying differing amounts of salt/vanilla with each big batch – this household clearly falls into the “more salt” camp, but honestly it’s so adaptable and definitely ridiculously easy. Thanks Deb!!!

  171. Works great. And for the healthy(or those without cream in stock), it works perfectly with milk instead of heavy cream. I happened to use whole milk (3.2% butterfat) but suspect it would work with 2%.

  172. Susan L.

    Thanks! My mother made this years ago (many, many years ago) for an ice cream topper, but as our family shrank from seven to three people in the course of a year due to a tragedy and then some unforeseen events, she stopped making it. As my little brother preferred chocolate sauce, that is what she made. When I asked her for the recipe about 10-12 years later, she said she had never had a recipe and could not recall it. (It was not unusual for the time as many women who cooked for large families back then never bothered writing things like this down.)
    I’ve tried making this many times on my own using milk, but it wasn’t right! Now that I’ve tried this recipe, I now know what I was doing wrong. Thank you for bringing back a taste of my childhood. I only wish I had found this recipe a year ago, as my mom came to regret she could not make it. She died at the age of 88 five months ago.

    1. LEC

      What a lovely story; thanks for sharing. So happy for you that you were able to bring back meaningful memories with this recipe. Wherever your mother is, I can imagine her being pleased that you are now able to make this. Take care.

  173. wetchman

    Delicious! I saw this scroll by and decided that I had five minutes to make it.

    It turned out great. Here’s exactly what I put in, and I followed the instructions as closely as I could.

    – 1 1/4 tsp Morton Kosher Salt
    – 1 1/2 tsp Kirkland (Costco) Pure Vanilla Extract

    I tried it with just the 1 tsp of Vanilla first, but the 1.5 made it into Butterscotch for sure.

    Highly recommended.

  174. Jadie

    This is absolutely P E R F E C T. I never ever comment on anything but this recipe is outstanding. I went on the hunt after we moved and for whatever reason I have been having problems getting my usual caramel sauce to turn out and when I stumbled on this recipe I thought it’s too good to be true but it delivers. It really is the best butterscotch recipe and what a bonus it’s so quick and easy to make! I adore your site am so thankful to have found your wonderful recipe collection! Thank you thank you thank you!

  175. Sally Shoemaker

    This is a fantastic sauce, much easier to make than others and much better too. We like it over coffee ice cream with toasted almonds on top; sweet with sugar and vanilla, chewy, salty, and crunchy. Perhaps we’ll have some tonight.

    P.S. I have kept this much longer than two weeks in the fridge with no trouble. I tried freezing it too but that didn’t work so well.

  176. Terri

    This is now my go-to recipe. It’s a bonus that it’s fast and fool proof.

    Deeper butterscotch results with old-fashioned dark brown sugar but using the lighter golden brown sugar has a more buttery flavor. Both are great.

  177. Kris

    Yes it really is ridiculously easy! The challenge when you taste it is not avoiding burning yourself, but avoiding “tasting” a little too much!!! I thought the level of flaky salt was perfect as is.

  178. Sherry

    DEB! This recipe is indexed under “ice creams and sorbets,” but NOT under the “sweet sauces and condiments” category (which only contains one (also awesome) recipe right now) … WHY??? Surely you need to fix this right away — everyone needs as many points of access as possible to this terrific recipe ;) And thanks a bunch for it, by the way. Extra thanks from the husband. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this superb little sauce (though each is probably recorded in incremental increases in the girth of my hips).

  179. Shannon

    No words. Absolutely no words for how amazing this was!! Thank you! The people at our birthday party for a certain Wizard our marketing Dept. won’t let us use will LOVE this ‘Butterbeer’ sauce ;)

  180. Sunny

    It’s been a while since this recipe was posted but I need some help. I have several recipes that call for butterscotch CHIPS. They are then melted and added to the other ingredients. Besides being expensive, they are not healthy. I need some guidance on replacing a bag of chips (11 oz) with this amazing and healthy sauce. I tried ll oz of sauce but it was way too much. Any ideas???

    1. deb

      They’re really something completely different, aren’t they closer to chocolate chips in texture? Or I might be thinking of something else.

  181. I’ve made butterscotch before, my recipe is almost identical, but if it doesn’t have enough butterscotch flavor for your liking you can add a shot of a butterscotch liqueur. Best done while it’s cooking so the alcohol cooks off.

  182. mickey0627

    OMG! Just made this and it is soooooo wonderful! Tonight’s dessert is a Sundae bar with this butterscotch sauce, and your Best fudge sauce. Thanks Deb!

  183. mickey0627

    OMG! This is so delicious! Tonight’s dessert is a Sundae bar with this butterscotch sauce and your Best hot fudge sauce. Thanks Deb!

  184. Karina Lake

    I just made this! I was craving something sweet and had a carton of vanilla ice cream just waiting to be dressed up. I didn’t have heavy cream, but I did have half-and-half, so I hoped the higher water content of the light cream would not mess it up! Happy to say, the light cream was A-OK. It is the BEST butterscotch sauce I have ever tasted, and that being said, it lost something when combined with the ice cream. The flavor wasn’t as intense and the texture not so velvety. I think I will use this as a cake drizzle or something where it can stand out more.

  185. Anastasia Parkin

    Deb, this sauce is amazing and I have made it twice but both times I have made it the sugar separates from the butter soon after I take it off the heat and solidifies! Do you have a solution? Has that ever happened to you? Thank you!

  186. Erin

    Made last night for my hubby to thank him for a weekend of really hard work. This butterscotch sauce is mind-blowingly good. Well done, Deb!

  187. Shannon

    Can’t believe how quick and easy this was! Great recipe linked to from the brown sugar cheesecake recipe over at the wood and spoon.

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out on the cheese cake!

  188. Stacey

    What will happen if I use this butterscotch in a baked good? I want to try replacing the jam in a bakewell tart with butterscotch and I’m worried the additional heat may make the butterscotch garden, separate or otherwise ruin it. Thoughts?


  189. CJ

    I’ve tried to make this a few times, but each time my butterscotch sauce comes out grainy. After reading many caramel tutorials, I finally found out why. Brown sugar has a lot of impurities in it, which means it crystalizes much more easily. So instead of melting into a smooth caramel, the sauce comes out grainy. However, there’s an easy fix: add a bit of invert sugar, either in the form of corn syrup, golden syrup, or homemade cane sugar syrup (basically a simple syrup with a small amount of acid added). Invert sugar prevents the rest of the sugar from crystalizing! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll report back after some experiments.

  190. Ashley

    I made this but when it cooled t separated into 3 layers. Dark brown on the bottom, medium in the middle and light brown butter on top. Any tips?

  191. I made this yesterday to spoon over slices of a ginger spiced steamed pudding. It was outstanding. I used white sugar rather than brown, removed a tablespoon and replaced it with molasses. This is a rich, delicious sauce!

  192. Deborah Lourenco

    I’ve recently made this and it’s is delicious!! I live in Brazil where butterscotch is not a thing, so if aí want it I need to go and make it myself. I tried another recipe last week, but it was grainy and separated when cooled. This one held together nicely, is smoothie and thick and perfect. Oh, I’ve added 1tbsp of rum for extra flavor.

  193. Dana

    While I was putting the kids to bed tonight, I was craving something sweet. I knew I had vanilla ice cream in the freezer (boring!) so thought of this when you posted it on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. Tried to have willpower to not make it and just go to bed, but alas the willpower was not stronger than butterscotch. Had all the ingredients, truly came together in 5 min and is OUTSTANDING. Yum, yum, yum. Thanks, Deb!

  194. Dana

    Second time making this and I mistakenly thought I could sub whole milk for the heavy cream and it was a no-go. :( Wonder how I can remedy this? Add some heavy whipping cream now? Will try that……

  195. Marie Meisner

    of course I cannot judge your cooking but your writing is wonderful. So ‘touch me’ descriptive and at home with a little one; I read it just for the great laugh. (I’m 85 and kind of past the cooking for fun stage.

  196. Jennib

    Best recipe ever! And easy. I used dark brown sugar as well. I think with light BS it could look a little more butter-y than a darker caramel! Watch out ice cream!

  197. Karoline Hurd

    Just made this and doubled it no problem whatsoever! Plus your ‘best hot fudge sauce’ also. Used Maldon salt which was perfect-o. Using these sauces to dip mini churros in for an upcoming ‘fiesta’ themed polo match. You read that right. It’ll take all my willpower not to eat it all beforehand!

  198. Lisa

    This is the same as the Sticky Toffee Pudding sauce. My absolute favorite dessert! I love this sauce SO much. It would be good drizzled over a slice of apple pie. Yum!

  199. Debbie H

    This recipe was not so ridiculously easy for me. Yes, it was simple to follow the steps but I ended up with a sauce that was… not quite a failure, but not a success either.

    First let me qualify this by saying that I am an experienced baker and I’m quite comfortable with many pastry techniques. I followed this recipe to the T, weighing my ingredients, where weights were given and setting a timer for the boiling stage.

    The first problem I encountered was after my 5 minutes of “gentle boiling”. My sauce was very thin and translucent, looking nothing like the thick, creamy one in your pictures. I turned up the heat and surpassed the gentle boil to a rolling boil for another 4 minutes. I really found myself wishing I had a target temperature so I’d know if I was on the right track. The higher, longer boil did the trick and thickened up the sauce. It looked perfect and smelled divine. The taste was amazing. Success!!! or so I thought.
    The next day, the sauce had separated. I could see pools of solidified butter around the surface. And the nice, creamy texture was gone. It was very grainy.
    I’m guessing it was a temperature issue. Maybe I overcooked it – but with only pictures to go by, I was trying to achieve the same appearance as yours.
    Even ugly, grainy and separated, the taste is still incredible. I wish it had worked.

    Guess I will continue to use my trusty cooked condensed milk caramel.

  200. Brenda Burton

    I just needed a quick sauce for a cheesecake and remembered this little beauty. So easy, comes together beautifully and the taste is….ahmazing….I use a pink flake sea salt and pure vanilla. My advice to others, is don’t overthink it, just go with the directions as written and you will have success.

  201. Sadie

    I was disappointed in this sauce. Yes, its ridiculously easy to make, so a great sauce to whip up when you’re short of time. However, even after chilling it’s on the thin side and bland tasting. It can’t compare with the velvety smooth, thick, deeply rich, caramel sauce you get when you start with cooking granulated sugar to the point where it’s a dark amber and on the verge of smoking before adding butter and heavy cream. I’d rate it 4 stars for ease of preparation, but only 2 stars for flavor and texture.

  202. Stephanie

    I made this to top blonde brownies and ice cream. It was so easy and delicious! I’m now wondering if it’s possible to make it a little thicker for a different purpose. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

  203. Donna sheldrick

    Cottage day , summer 2019. Nanny always bring the dessert. So I decided “ make your own sundae/ banana splits. I made this sauce and a chocolate one too ( likely yours) , sprinkles. Fruit. Ice cream. Oh la la. It was a hit. Best nanny ever. Best butterscotch sauce ever.

    1. C-A

      Last night of vacation away before school starts up and I made this to top the NYT or Whole 30 one-ingredient banana ice cream (it’s just bananas). My daughter and I made the sauce together and our favorite part was tasting to get the salt and vanilla just right. It came out great and was the star of the show. We even took out the previous night’s dessert (the last slice of a nectarine tart) which had been a teensy bit too scant on the sugar. It was a little extra, but tasted quite indulgent with the butterscotch drizzled it over top. Then we just took turns eating it with a spoon. I love it when dessert brings people together.

  204. Sandy Munn

    So it makes between 2/3 and 3/4 cups. Is that because ig depends on how many spoonsful you need to check on the salt and vanilla? Heh, heh.

  205. LJay

    Thanks for the delicious recipe and yes it was very easy!
    We put it on ice cream, dipped cookies in it and ate it with a spoon so
    it never made it to a container!!

  206. Miriam Gross

    That dish is the perfect one to display this sauce. Great prop styling ;)
    (The sauce looks super delicious too.)

  207. C-A

    Last days of summer vacation before school starts and we are whipping up the NYT 1 ingredient banana ice cream. I want to make this to top it. I did not bring cream and vanilla.

    I’m planning to try a heavy cream hack (whisk whole milk into melted butter) and subbing pure almond extract for vanilla. 😬 Think it’ll work?

    Will report back. Might have to rename it butterscalmond

  208. Jackie

    So easy, so good. Just got done making this per recipe but with the addition of a generous shot of butterscotch schnapps- YOWZA!!!! Was going to give it as a gift, was being the key word. Keeping most, giving SOME. Thank you again-you rock!!!!

  209. Elsie

    I have made numerous batches of this and it normally does not separate. However, I have had the odd occasion where there is a distinct butter layer on the top. Why does this happen? Does it need to cook longer? More frequent stirring as it cools? We just heat it up to blend it before use but I’d rather have it blended properly from the get-go.

  210. Lisa

    I made this for a build your own brownie sundae bar at a tenth birthday party. The taste is amazing, but it turned out with a grainy texture. When it was hot, it looked nice and glossy, but when it cooled, not so much. I can tell you I was nervous about overcooking it and ending up with candy. Any guesses on where I went wrong? Can I put the leftovers back in a pan to smooth it out? Much love from St. Louis!

  211. Gab

    I would always make this butterscotch sauce recipe and never bother making caramel sauce again – *except* because of the butter I guess, it goes a little bit grainy when poured on icecream and cools down. No such thing as perfection I guess!

  212. Jenna

    Hi- I am curious why butterscotch sauce only keeps 2 weeks but the best hot fudge sauce keeps 1-2 months? Does the chocolate keep it stable?

    Thank you

  213. Willow Williams

    Just made this tonight, I have a Carmel sauce that I normally make. This sauce is a great alternative and so easy to make. Thank you!