Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

I had grand plans today to share what I touted in last week’s newsletter as a recipe starring “nutrient-packed leafy greens.” Instead, my lack of willpower has resulted in Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce. Leafy greens. Butterscotch sauce. Same thing, right? New Year’s weight loss resolution-makers, shield your eyes.

In researching what goes into a successful—and incredibly simple—butterscotch sauce, I discovered countless discussions across the interwebs about butterscotch versus caramel. To summarize: A butterscotch sauce is made with brown sugar, while a traditional caramel sauce is made with white sugar.

I’ve caramelized sugar a million times and a thousand different ways—white sugar, brown sugar, butter, no butter, bourbon, whiskey, cream, vanilla. This recipe is hands-down the winner when it comes to a fast (10 minutes!) and easy sauce for ice cream sundaes. I tested the recipe with light and dark brown sugar, and the dark variety inevitably won out for its deeper molasses flavor and intense amber color. I also opted for large-flake sea salt to balance out the sweetness. And the texture? Silky smooth, and totally eat-it-with-a-spoon-worthy.

Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

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Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Yield: About 1 cup

Cook Time: 10 min


4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (regular or large-flake sea salt)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (not non-stick) over medium heat.

Add the brown sugar, salt and heavy cream and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until it's well blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping down the sides occasionally, and boil it for 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the butterscotch sauce to a container to cool. (See Kelly's Notes.)

Kelly's Notes:

The butterscotch thickens significantly as it cools, so it's important to not over-boil it or you'll end up with chewy butterscotch caramels rather than a pourable sauce.

If you want to add a kick to your butterscotch sauce, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of your choice liquor (think bourbon, whiskey or cognac) at the same time you stir in the vanilla extract.


  1. says

    Caramel or butterscotch…I love them BOTH! Now you’ve put me in the mood for an ice cream sundae, even though it is bitterly cold outside! Your butterscotch sauce looks incredible!

  2. Dayyna says

    This look delicious! How long will it last if refrigerated? (Not that it will last longer than an evening with my husband and boys around).

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 2nd, 2013 @ 5:06 pm

      The butterscotch sauce will last up to 4 days in the fridge, but just remember to re-warm it before eating! And I agree, mine wouldn’t last more than 24 hours :) Enjoy!

  3. says

    I totally prefer butterscotch to caramel! I guess it’s the brown sugar! I fear if I made this sauce, it wouldn’t make it to the ice cream! All I need is a spoon! Yummy Kelly!

  4. Chris says

    yum! so good. we added about 3 tablespoons of this sauce per cup of seltzer for homemade Harry Potter Butter-beer. SO good and truly easy. I will make again as a sauce. Thanks for posting the receipe

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 29th, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Chris!

  5. maggie barkley says

    I half a white peach. Fill it with ice cream and put the warm sauce over it. Then I top it with crushed macademia nuts and few raspberries. People love it

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 29th, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

      This sounds spectacular!

  6. Aubrey says

    Yum, great recipe! I’ve between hankering to make Hello Dolly bars, but the recipe calls for butterscotch pieces, so I’m thinking iof swapping with this sauce. Think it would stand up to being baked?

  7. Sonja Fagan says

    The recipe worked great but the sauce is very salty. I would reduce amousalt tont of sale to 1/2 tsp. Thx for the recipe.

  8. Zieggenfuss says

    I was wondering if anyone had dabbled in using coconut milk instead?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 29th, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

      I haven’t tried that, so I can’t say for certainty if it’d work, but it would be delicious if it does!

  9. John Cotterell says

    If you don’t at least double this wonderful recipe it will never last more than 24 hours as the family pours spoonfuls over ice-cream.

    It’s superb. Thank you very much, Kelly.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 16th, 2014 @ 10:09 am

      Haha! I love it, John! So glad you all are enjoying the recipe :)

  10. Julie Trimble says

    Kelly, as usual you have come up with somethingGreat! I,ve never made Carmel sauce or butterscotch sauce but I love them both I really didn,t know there was a difference See there you learn something new everyday! Thanks Kelly u are great!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 17th, 2014 @ 9:25 pm

      Thanks so much, Julie!

  11. says

    Hai Kelly,
    Thanks for this (and al your othet) great recipe. I was thinking of msking a caramel sause to put in a coffee. The ones they sell here in Spain have a little burnt taste to it and we don’t like that. Do you think i could use it for in coffee? And if i boil the cream first and let it cool, would it last longer?

  12. Donna says

    Hi, Loved everything about this sauce but found it very salty..next time i would halve the amount of salt! Yummy on ice-cream with sliced bananas!!

  13. Debbie R says

    Can you use this recipe for canning?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — July 24th, 2014 @ 2:46 am

      Hi Debbie! Mason jars work best for storing the butterscotch sauce, but are you referencing storing it for an extended period of time?

  14. 3petitsprinces says

    I made this with my gourmand 8 year old son. While the taste/flavor is amazing, I was disappointed how quickly it turned into a hardened state once put on ice cream. Did anyone else experience this? Any advice/suggestions? Did I do something wrong? I expected a texture like a caramel sauce.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — August 8th, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

      Hello! Glad you’re enjoying the taste! There’s a chance you maybe let it cook a bit long, as it’ll firm up significantly when it cools.

  15. Savannah says

    I was also looking for something to put in coffee.
    Normally I make caramel sauce (1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract boiled- taken off heat and adding 1/2 cup of half and half) that I mix with 1 1/2 cups of half and half.
    This time I’m trying for a Highlander Grogg flavored creamer.
    I guess all I can do is try it out!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 29th, 2015 @ 11:46 am

      I hope you enjoy the recipe, Savannah!


  1. […] For my friend Erika’s birthday we decided to make “Butter Beer” cupcakes (recipe coming soon). An avid Harry Potter fan, I knew she would appreciate them, so I looked up a good recipe. The centers called for a Butterscotch middle, which I had no recipe for. So, after searching Pinterest I found this recipe from justataste.com. […]

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