Desserts, How To Tuesdays, Sauces and Condiments

How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

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Last updated on October 16th, 2023 at 06:25 pm

I actually wasn’t planning on making my own butterscotch sauce. But I had another recipe to make that required butterscotch and the store was all out. Normally I just purchase some Smucker’s butterscotch sundae syrup. But the section where ice cream toppings are was empty, as were the end caps near the freezer section with the ice cream. But in the end, it was kind of nice to be forced to make this from scratch. It added to my overall kitchen repertoire.

Basically, I’m saying I’m that much more awesome now. And you can be too!

Bubbling brown sugar and butter forms the base of butterscotch sauce

This recipe hews very closely to the buttery salted caramel sauce that I have made before. However, there are some key differences that will make this taste entirely different than that caramelized sauce.

Making this took me a couple of tries actually. I was thinking too much of my caramel sauce. I’ve made that sauce many times, so I wasn’t approaching this recipe fresh. There were some preconceived notions and methods. And they were wrong. Though I have failed, you do not have to. Learn from my mistakes.

Butterscotch vs Caramel

So what was my great mistake?

I tried cooking everything for far too long. When making caramel, you have to cook the sugar long enough that it will melt and then begin to caramelize. And because I was so used to making that caramel sauce, I tried to do it the same way but with the main altered ingredient (more on that below). Butterscotch does not need to cook long, and in fact, should not caramelize. Essentially I kind of made a toffee sauce.

So in my first attempt, I ended up making a weird hybrid caramelized butterscotch. It wasn’t bad, but the flavor had too much caramel to it. And it wouldn’t work for my purposes. So I looked more into making butterscotch and changed the error of my ways.

Cooked sauce ready to cool and serve

Besides the cooking time, the biggest difference between a caramel and a butterscotch sauce is granulated white sugar vs brown sugar. Brown sugar is what helps give butterscotch its signature flavor.

Brown sugar is a type of sugar that still has some molasses content in it. This can be due to how the sugar is processed, or by just adding molasses to some refined sugar.

Using Your Butterscotch Sauce

The recipe I wanted to make with butterscotch sauce was some good old Harry Potter Butterbeer. It is an interesting combination of cream soda and butterscotch. Plus it is really fun and great for drinking while watching any of the Harry Potter movies.

However, butterbeer is not the only option for using your homemade sauce. Try topping ice cream, pancakes, or waffles, whisking it into hot chocolate, filling a cake with it, drizzling it over cupcakes/frosting, mixing it with whipped cream, or just eating a straight spoonful.

Note that if you are using it with ice cream you will definitely want to let the sauce cool down before topping it. No sense melting your ice cream with hot-off-the-stove butterscotch.

Whatever your end goal with butterscotch, it is relatively easy to make your own sauce at home and well worth the effort. In no time you can have your own homemade golden-yellow sauce cooked to perfection.

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Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: Desserts, SaucesDifficulty: Moderate


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Cooking time


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A golden-yellow sauce homemade from brown sugar, butter, and cream that is perfect for drizzling over all sorts of desserts


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon large flaky salt


  • Add the butter and brown sugar to a saucepan on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is all melted and fully combined with the brown sugar – it will look kind of like dark wet sand
  • Whisk the cream into the brown sugar mixture until fully combined
  • Add in the vanilla and salt and whisk it together
  • Cook it to the desired consistency then remove from heat and let cool before using – cooking longer will release moisture and lead to a thicker sauce

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