Skip the store-bought sauces and whip up a quick and easy recipe for Homemade Butterscotch Sauce.

Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce poured over vanilla ice cream in wooden bowl

I had grand plans today to share 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? Keto-lovers, shield your eyes.

Butterscotch ingredients in heavy-bottomed saucepan

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: Butterscotch sauce is made with brown sugar, while a traditional caramel sauce is made with white sugar.

Easy homemade butterscotch boiling in saucepan

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.

Pouring Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce into mason jar

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.

The best homemade butterscotch sauce over scoops of vanilla ice cream

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Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Skip the store-bought sauces and whip up a 10-minute recipe for Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce.
4.88 from 174 votes
Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce poured over vanilla ice cream in wooden bowl
Prep Time 0 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 1 cup


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon large-flake 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.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.

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Calories: 1241kcal, Carbohydrates: 111g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 89g, Saturated Fat: 56g, Cholesterol: 283mg, Sodium: 2408mg, Potassium: 235mg, Sugar: 107g, Vitamin A: 3150IU, Calcium: 182mg, Iron: 0.8mg

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    1. Hi Glenna! I haven’t tried this recipe with a sugar substitute so I can’t say with certainty what the results would be. Let me know if you try it!

  1. Hey! Could I use regular brown sugar instead? And if I don’t get my hands on flaked salt, could I use a regular one too?

    1. Hi Luka! Light brown sugar works. It won’t change the outcome, just the flavor a bit. Large-flake salt and table salt are not interchangeable so you’d need to use much, much less table salt since the crystals are so much smaller. Or, you could use 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt!

  2. 5 stars
    I have made your butterscotch sauce a couple of times and it never disappoints.
    It’s so simple to make and delicious.
    A definite crowd pleaser.

    1. Hi there! The sauce will last up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

  3. 5 stars
    There is a warm drink that is sold in a local drink shop here in our city. I tried it and knew I could make using this butterscotch topping recipe! I use 12 oz hot whole milk (or half-and-half cream), 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon warmed Easy Homemade Butterscotch Sauce from Just-a-Taste. Stir the brown sugar, cinnamon and butterscotch sauce in the hot liquid, top with homemade whipped cream and a drizzle of Butterscotch sauce and there you have it! It’s a great homemade hot drink! Thank you Kelly for your recipe so that I could make my grandchildren a great hot drink with it. They love it more than the one from the local drink shop!

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe, not only is the butterscotch sauce delicious, it is so simple and easy to make. The best things are simple.

  5. 5 stars
    Super easy to make and really quick too! I replaced the large flake salt with 1/2 tsp regular fine salt and it worked well enough. I used it as a base for butterbeer.

  6. 3 stars
    Not sure why a recipe where you dissolve the salt calls for expensive big flake sea salt. What would the comparable amount of kosher salt be?

    1. Hi John – I originally developed the recipe with large-flake sea salt, however, if you prefer to use kosher salt, I’d recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon.

  7. 5 stars
    I made the sauce which I was so excited for as my grandmother used to make for me as a treat over vanilla ice cream. I then made a bread pudding and after about 15 minutes of baking I poured the sauce over and baked it for a further 5 minutes and it came out so much better then I hoped. Yum..

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