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A jar of bourbon caramel sauce from up top on burlap and a marble tray.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce (No Thermometer)

  • Author: Amanda McGrory-Dixon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


Instantly elevate any dessert with this rich, decadent homemade bourbon caramel sauce. Your favorite ice cream or baked good may be delicious on its own, but with a drizzle of this caramel sauce, you can turn any dessert into a gourmet treat. As a bonus, you don’t need a thermometer to make this bourbon caramel sauce.



1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons butter, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste


  1. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 1 minute. It doesn't need to be hot --- just heated long enough so that it's not cold from the refrigerator. Set aside.
  2. Add the white sugar and water to a large skillet. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat. About every 20 seconds or so, grab the skillet handle and give it a gentle shake back and forth a couple times. As the mixture cooks, it will begin to boil and start to darken.
  3. Once the water and sugar mixture turn to an amber color, immediately turn off heat and whisk in heavy cream. The mixture will furiously boil up. When it subsides, whisk in butter, bourbon and vanilla. Store in an airtight container and pour over your favorite desserts. Enjoy!


  • While you can make this in a nonstick skillet, a stainless steel skillet is easier because you can see the color change better.
  • The caramel will thicken as it sits. If you need a more pourable consistency or to warm, simply warm in the microwave in short intervals and stir. Continue until it reaches your desired consistency and temperature.
  • You can store this caramel in room temperature for about two weeks or in the refrigerator for about a month.
  • Once the caramel starts to darken, it caramelizes quickly, so I recommend prepping and measuring all your ingredients before cooking.
  • Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stove-Top
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 85
  • Sugar: 9
  • Sodium: 2
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 9
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 0
  • Cholesterol: 14

Keywords: bourbon caramel sauce, homemade caramel sauce, boozy caramel sauce