Slow Cooker Caramel Sauce Recipe

Store-bought bottles of caramel sauce can be packed full of preservatives and artificial flavors, so a homemade version is always going to taste better. Of course, we do have our favorite brands, which we ranked from worst to best (spoiler alert: Coop’s Salted Caramel Sauce nabbed the top spot). But a good homemade recipe for caramel sauce allows you to have a short ingredient list and room for delicious flavorings like salt or espresso powder.

The downside is that, unless you’re using a set-it-and-forget-it cooking method like a slow cooker, homemade stovetop recipes require constant attention. All the ingredients need to go into the right type of pan, and you’ll have to stir them almost the whole time so the caramel doesn’t burn. On the other hand, if you’re going with the wet caramel method, you’ll need to make sure you’re not stirring too early. It’s also crucial to keep an eye on the temperature of your mixture, since it will fluctuate on the stovetop and boiling can cause graininess in your final product.

If you break out your slow cooker, though, you can sidestep all that stirring and temperature-watching. It’s a much easier way to make the sauce because once you arrange your ingredients in the device, they can simply sit there for around 10 hours while you do other things. Plus, your house will be full of delicious, sweet smells all day long.

Adjust your timing for a lighter or darker sauce

hand pressing slow cooker button

Making slow cooker caramel sauce is a little more complicated than just dumping your ingredients in the pot, but not much. Regardless of whether you’re sticking to sweetened condensed milk and vanilla or using a range of ingredients like butter, sugar, and corn syrup, the key here is to immerse the mixture in a water bath while it slowly cooks. Find a large container or a few small ones that can withstand the heat, such as glass jars or a bowl. Then mix your ingredients together, pour the mixture into the containers, and place them inside your slow cooker.

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In addition to this being a simpler method overall, it’s a great way to make a large batch. Just make sure all of your containers fit in the device with the lid on, then fill the pot with water just until it reaches the tops of your bowl or jars. Essentially, you’re done prepping after that — simply place the lid on the slow cooker and let your sauce blossom for the next 10 hours for the darkest color and deepest flavor. If you want a lighter version, feel free to pull the plug after seven or eight hours. You should get a smooth condiment overall, but might need to give your jar a little stir if there’s any leftover lumps at the end.

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