This bourbon caramel sauce has the classic creamy caramel taste with a punch of bourbon flavor. It's perfect for all bourbon lovers to add a hint to your favorite desserts. Use the sauce on top of cheesecakes, cookies or your favorite coffee drink.
I'm a sucker for both a good bourbon and a creamy caramel sauce. I don't love to eat a lot of sweets, but if there is caramel, game over.
This sauce has two of my favorite flavors in one. The classic caramel with a touch of bourbon has the silky, creaminess of a caramel sauce with the bite from the bourbon.
This sauce is simple to put together and goes great topped on a variety of different things.
Add it to your favorite cheesecake, top on some cookies or simply drizzle over an ice cream or coffee.
Do you love to add bourbon to recipes? Check out my Tea Hot Toddy with Bourbon.
The number one tip for this recipe is to not use a mild bourbon! Use a stronger bourbon that has more of a punch to it. Most Canadian whisky and Irish whiskey have a more mild flavor profile.
Since this is a bourbon sauce, you want to actually taste the bourbon in the end.
When a mild bourbon is used, the power of the sugar will take over and will just taste like a caramel sauce. If you're going to make a bourbon sauce, make that flavor really come through.
Our preferred choice is Bulleit.
If you make this recipe and found a bourbon that really worked, please share which one below!
Disclaimer: Since the bourbon is added in the very end the alcohol is not cooked out so this sauce is for adults only!
Cream and Butter:
Make sure your cream and butter are at room temperature. This is really important. If needed, warm them up in the microwave.
The butter should be soft but not melted. Dicing it into ½" cubes is helpful.
Use a fine sea salt for this recipe.
Full ingredients and measurements in the recipe card.
The caramel drizzle is really easy to make. The most important part is getting that sugar to turn the perfect golden color.
Start off by combining the sugar and water in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Do not use a non stick. An enamel coated cast iron works the best.
Make sure all the sugar is dissolved in the water and mixed well. Once you start to warm it up there is zero stirring so this step is important.
How to Caramelize the Sugar
Put the pot over medium heat and start to warm the sugar up and bring to a boil.
It will be very tempting but you cannot stir the sauce!
I have made a lot of caramel sauce and have done it both ways and stirring just left me with a lot of crusty sugar.
Keep a very close eye on it. The perfect boil will be a gentle simmer throughout the entire pot.
If it is only boiling on the outer edges of the pot adjust heat accordingly. The entire pot should be bubbly.
Make sure the entire pot is bubbling. This photo shows how just the ends are.
Adjust the heat accordingly so the entire pot is bubbling.
The sauce will turn from a clear color and then to a light brown and eventually a deep caramel color. I aim for it to closely match the color of my bourbon.
Will first turn a light brown.
Then a light copper color.
And then this deep, rich brown color. Do not let it go past this point. It will burn or get too thick.
This is not a quick process. It can take almost 15 minutes to get the perfect color.
Keep a close eye on the pot while it is simmering, but again do no stir or scrape the sides of the pot.
Add in Cream and Butter
Once the perfect color has been achieved, remove the pot from the heat and slowly whisk in the heavy cream.
When adding the cream, the sauce will start to aggressively boil. Do not worry! This is perfectly normal and a good sign.
Just be careful not to burn yourself while pouring it in.
Once all the cream is whisked in, add in the cubed butter and stir until it's all melted. Again, adding the butter will make it bubble up.
Salt and Bourbon
Now the most important ingredients.
Add in the fine sea salt and pour in your bourbon.
Whisk until it's all incorporated.
Every now and then I will get lumps of sugar that didn't dissolve. This is perfectly fine.
Just run the sauce through a fine mesh strainer to catch anything that didn't dissolve properly.
The sauce will start to thicken as it cools.
Store this bourbon caramel sauce in a glass jar with a lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to warm: The sauce will be very thick once stored in the refrigerator. To get it nice and smooth again just simply warm it up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time, stirring in between until you have reached your desired consistency.
Heavy Bottom Pot: An enamel coated cast iron makes a great option. It retains the heat really well and creates the perfect simmer with the sugar. I love my Le Creuset sauce pot. It cooks the caramel perfect every time.
Silicone Whisk: Do not use a metal whisk if you have an enamel pot. A silicone whisk will not scratch the bottom.
Did you make it? Please let me know in the comments below and leave a 5-star rating on the recipe card. I love hearing from you! Subscribe to join my email list for recipes right to your inbox. We can also connect on social media via Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Water
- ½ Cup Heavy Cream Warmed up to 70-80 degrees
- 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter Cut into ½" cubes
- 1 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Bourbon See notes
- Make sure the cream and butter are up to room temperature. Heat the cream in the microwave or on the stove if needed. The cream should be 70-80 degrees and the butter soft to the touch.
- Start off by combining the sugar and water in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
- Mix well and make sure all the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the stove is turned on do not touch the sauce.
- Turn the heat up to medium and bring the entire pot to a low boil. Make sure the entire pot is simmering. If just the outer edges are, adjust heat accordingly.
- The sauce will turn from a clear color and then to a light brown and eventually a deep caramel color. I aim for it to closely match the color of my bourbon.
- It can take up to 15 minutes for it to reach the right color.
- Once it is the right color turn off the stove and move the pot off the heat.
- Slowly, and carefully, pour in the heavy cream whisking while stirring. The sauce will bubble and foam up. This is normal.
- Once all the cream has been added whisk in the butter until all melted and smooth.
- Add in the bourbon and sea salt and whisk until incorporated.
- Serve warm right away or allow to cool. It will get thicker as it cools.
- Keep in a jar in the refrigerator up to a week. See reheating instructions below.
- Do not stir the caramel. Once the sauce starts to simmer, do not stir. Leave it alone until it turns a nice dark caramel color. I shoot for the same color as the bourbon.
- Be careful when adding the cream. The sugar will get really bubbly. That is okay and normal. Just use care when adding the cream and butter.
- Keep a close eye on it while boiling. It might feel like the sugar is taking forever to turn but once it starts it will get dark really quick. It can take up to 15 minutes for it to reach the right color.