ATK Kids

Make Salted Caramel Sauce in Under 15 Minutes

A few tricks from James Beard Award–winning chef Ken Oringer promise perfect caramel every time.

Published Mar. 10, 2023.

Everyone loves salted caramel sauce: It's sweet, perfectly salty, and totally luxurious. 

But not everyone loves making it.

It can be a temperamental hassle that takes too much time and rarely comes out the way you intended. Caramel can easily end up burnt or grainy, meaning you often have to make it more than once to get it right. But, not anymore.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

We solved this problem for you, with the help of James Beard Award–winning chef Ken Oringer, his daughter Verveine, and their new cookbook with ATK Kids, Cooking with My Dad, the Chef. 

Because this recipe was developed by a professional chef for a kids cookbook, you can trust that it’s foolproof. Here are a few tricks Chef Ken uses to ensure a perfect caramel sauce every time.

  1. Make a wet caramel. There are two ways to make caramel: wet or dry. In a dry caramel, sugar is heated on its own; in a wet caramel, water is added. Adding a little water protects against burning—it helps the sugar distribute more evenly around the pan, so it will melt and caramelize evenly. 
  2. Don’t stir. Not stirring your caramel is key to preventing your sugar from crystalizing. The molecules in table sugar want to cling together into crystals, which makes caramel turn grainy. When they're dissolved in water, they can’t crystalize, but stirring your caramel will splash some of it onto the edges of the pot, where the water will evaporate and crystals will form.
  3. Heat your heavy cream before adding it to your caramel. Adding cold cream can lower the temperature of the sugar which would cause the sugar to crystalize or splatter onto the sides of the pan.
  4. Finish with butter and salt. The butter adds richness, while the ½ teaspoon of kosher salt gives it just the right amount of saltiness.

Cooking with My Dad, the Chef

Get 70+ kid-tested, kid-approved (and gluten-free!) recipes for young chefs from James Beard Award–winning chef Ken Oringer and his daughter Verveine.

While Ken and Verveine like to drizzle their caramel sauce over the crispy, chewy mochi waffles in Cooking with My Dad, the Chef, this sauce would also be a divine pairing with ice cream, apples, and more.

15-Minute Salted Caramel Sauce

  1. In small saucepan, combine ¼ cup water and 1 cup sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until mixture is deep caramel color, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Microwave ½ cup heavy cream until just warm, 30 to 60 seconds. Slowly pour cream into caramel, whisking to combine (mixture will bubble and foam). Return saucepan to medium-low heat and cook, whisking occasionally, for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into 2 pieces) and ½ teaspoon kosher salt until well combined. Cover saucepan with lid to keep warm.

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