Microwave Caramel Sauce

January 21, 2013 by Ali

Ever since I learned how to make homemade caramel sauce as an alternative to buying the store-bought stuff, I’ve never looked back. Homemade caramel sauce tastes so much better, calls for simple everyday ingredients, and is the perfect treat to go with some ice cream or a warm brownie. And I always feel like a giddy kid in science class each time I get to watch that white sugar melt before my eyes and magically transform into the deep amber, gooey, thick sweetness that is the caramel to come. It really is amazing!

But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that there is another option to stovetop homemade caramel sauce: MICROWAVE caramel sauce! Believe it or not, it’s even easier and quicker. You don’t have to stand watch over the stove because the microwave literally does 90% of the work. But you still get to pour in the cream and watch it bubble bubble toil and trouble as it is stirred into the hot sugar. So fun, and so easy. And you can have a delicious, thick, gooey, and perfectly sweet batch of homemade caramel sauce cooked and ready to go in 10 minutes.

So grab some sliced apples, or ice cream, or brownies, or just a spoon, and get to caramelizing!

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated (*see note below*)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, softened


Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a microwave-safe measuring cup or glass bowl until combined. Microwave on high for 5 to 8 minutes, until the mixture ever so slightly begins to turn a light golden color. Watch carefully—if you wait even a few seconds too long, it will turn too dark, and will thus overcook and turn slightly bitter.

Carefully remove the measuring cup from the microwave and place it on a dry surface. Let it rest untouched for about 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture turns a deep amber color.

Then add in about a tablespoon of the heated cream, and immediately whisk to combine. The caramel will bubble furiously, but whisking will keep it from overflowing. Continue adding the cream slowly in small increments until it is all whisked in. Then add in the vanilla and butter and whisk to combine. Serve immediately warm, or let it sit and come to room temperature to thicken slightly.

Store in a jar or sealed container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

*Heat your cream either in the microwave or a (separate) small saucepan until warm but not boiling.

The jar featured in the photograph is a Weck tulip jar.

Recipe slightly adapted from Debbie Koenig.

(c) 2013 Gimme Some Oven. All rights reserved.

Microwave Caramel Sauce | gimmesomeoven.com

Microwave Caramel Sauce | gimmesomeoven.com

Microwave Caramel Sauce | gimmesomeoven.com

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About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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39 thoughts on “Microwave Caramel Sauce

  1. I been trying to make a stove top recipe and always turn into Carmel chunks! Just made your version it’s perfect! I added some sea salt!

    - Leigh

  2. I was very excited to find this recipe. Result? The most perfectly colored caramel sauce I’ve ever made, hands down. Alas, everything’s a trade-off. There’s no caramel flavor. Tastes like sugar. I’ll be sticking with the stove top.

    - spluck

  3. Your final amber shade pictured is pretty dark, Ali. When I have done caramel sauce stove-top, if it gets that dark, it has a slightly bitter, burnt sugar flavor that renders it edible but not wonderful. I want to try your microwave version but I will be prepared for trial and error as microwaves cook so differently from each other that the timing will be unpredictable the first time or two.

    - Maureen L.

  4. Ohhhh, this recipe is a godsend! I’ve hated trying and failing to make a successful batch of caramel. So easy and so heavenly! Thank you for posting and sharing this.

    - Marissa M.

  5. WOW, this is a great idea…top Pinterest post for me this week! Im still getting over the fact that some other posters don’t have microwaves!!! Building a brand new kitchen and not putting one in just seems so odd to me lol!! Microwave is like having an oven to me.

    - sandy

  6. Just wanted to share that I decided to make a half batch and stupidly halved the MAX cooking time, rather than the minimum. So I cooked it for 4 minutes….. and didn’t watch it… and ended up with a black, smoking mess. Whoops. So just a reminder that if you want to try a half recipe, start with 2 minutes cooking and of course watch carefully!

    - Katie

  7. I made this recipe but the cream curdled, was it because I only used table cream?

    - ange

    • I tried this & after 3 min in my 1100 watt micro it was dark & smoking, do I lower the power or only cook 1&1/2 min? I was so looking forward to this as I am making homemade custard ice cream & wanted to swirl it in. Will this sauce harden the minute it hits the ice cream & how do I prevent this? Please give me some advice. Barbara in Pasadena, MD

      - Barbara

      • Hi Barbara,

        Some microwave temperatures differ considerably. And sadly, if it was smoking, it won’t be good to use on ice cream. I would cook the sauce on low power, and keep a really close eye on the color. The second it turns amber, pull it out. Good luck!


        - Ali

  8. Ok, so I am so going to try this but, one question… When is says “heated cream” what exactly does that mean? Heat it up in microwave or bring to a boil in sauce pan…????

    - Nicole

    • Sorry for the confusion. Heat the cream in the microwave or in a separate saucepan until it is warm but not boiling. I’ll mention this in the recipe.

      - Ali

  9. I just tried this, it was sooo easy and tasted better than the last stove top recipe I tried. Thanks fo sharing!

    - Shelly


    - AMY

  11. Just made a batch! It hasn’t even cooled and I’ve had quite a few spoonfuls. I’m addicted. :) Thanks for sharing!

    - Elise @ Paint Chips & Frosting

  12. Super!!! thanks

    Just small question, here in Belgium we don’t have corn syrup, any suggestions for a replacement?



    - Marcela

  13. Oh I’m so excited to try this! I love homemade caramel but don’t always want to stand over the stove-Love this microwave version!

    - Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake

  14. Oh my goodness – this is too easy to make, which means I’ll be making this all the time!

    - Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

  15. In the microwave?!? That’s either genius or just mean. Now I’m going to HAVE to make it. ;-)

    - Caroline @ chocolate & carrots

  16. I’m trying to decide if I want a microwave in our new kitchen – this is an excellent argument for having one!

    - Kathryn

  17. Love this, Ali! I made actual caramels in the microwave last week. It sort of changed my life. I have been nibbling on them way too often!

    This sauce is gorgeous looking! And so smooth, easy and the way to go!

    - Averie @ Averie Cooks

  18. I’m curious about whether or not this would work for caramel popcorn; as in, drizzle this on the popcorn and then bake as you would with the standard stovetop caramel method. Once we get to the weekend, I’ll give it a go. =)

    - DatPixieGirl

  19. Uh-oh. This could be dangerous. To my ice cream supply levels.

    - Sarah

  20. Wow, I’m definitely saving this recipe for the next time I need caramel sauce – so quick and easy! (Which might be tonight…knowing how to quickly make a batch will certainly make me “need” caramel sauce more often).

    - Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe

  21. Now if I only had a microwave. I love it!

    - Cassie | Bake Your Day

  22. This is so easy, it’s almost criminal. Not to mention dangerous- if I make this and have it on hand, I’ll eat it straight from the jar. Spoon optional :)

    - kelley {mountain mama cooks}

  23. Hi Ali! I did not know caramel sauce was possible in the microwave! you blow my mind. This is amazing. I could drink this stuff. I adore caramel so much, especially over chocolate ice cream. :)

    - sally @ sallys baking addiction

  24. Love how easy this is! Can’t wait to try it!

    - Jessica@AKitchenAddiction

  25. Brilliant! I love putting the microwave to use when it makes stuff like this.

    - Jennifer @ Mother Thyme

  26. This are moments when I regret that I don’t have microwave.

    - Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

  27. This is so “naughty”…I can’t wait to try i!

    - Margherita

  28. Mmm I love caramel..would this particular one work well drizzled in lattes? Thanks!

    - Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats

    • By all means! I make this for our coffee bar at church. So much better, and not to mention more economical than the store bought gourmet syrup.

      - Marissa