I can’t believe I’ve never shared a recipe for butterscotch before.
I’m always rambling on about how the best chocolate chip cookies have a slight butterscotch flavor to them.
You know, that caramelized complex sweet flavor that sends you into crazy cravings mode where you NEED SOMETHING SWEET STAT just thinking about it.
Well, some sweets develop a butterscotch-like flavor due to a high portion of brown sugar and butter being cooked together.
That’s basically what butterscotch is, and if you peek at the ingredients below it’s 5 simple ingredients and just 10 minutes. No thermometer needed! No corn syrup either.
It’s especially perfect drizzled over ice cream. Check out how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker here!
How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Sauce
Why won’t my butterscotch sauce thicken?
Once your sauce comes to a bubbling simmer let it cook for 3 full minutes without touching it. If you don’t cook the sauce enough it won’t thicken. If you cook it for too long, or at a full boil, then it will thicken too much and be more like butterscotch candy.
What’s the difference between butterscotch sauce and caramel sauce?
Generally speaking, caramel is made by cooking down white granulated sugar until it caramelizes into a liquid mixture then adding it butter and cream. Butterscotch is made by cooking brown sugar with the butter and cream all at once. This saves time and is much simpler.
If you’re interested, check out my recipe for salted caramel sauce here.
What sugar to use for butterscotch sauce?
Brown sugar, as I mentioned above. I prefer to use dark brown sugar for its intense flavor, but you can use light brown if that’s what you have.
Does butterscotch sauce have alcohol?
In this recipe you’ll see I’ve written the option of adding in 2 tablespoons of dark liquor. This can be scotch (hehe), bourbon, rum, whisky, or cognac. It adds a nice hit that cuts through the sweetness and adds to the complexity of flavor. However, it’s totally optional.
What kind of salt to use for butterscotch sauce?
Sea salt is definitely best. It’ll balance out and enhance the sweet flavor. If you prefer, use a higher end flaky finishing salt for an even better taste.
How to make SMOOTH butterscotch sauce?
To ensure there’s absolutely no clumps of sugar or grainy texture, you can take the optional extra step of straining your butterscotch sauce with a fine mesh strainer after it cooks and before it cools. Stir in the salt called for after straining since the strainer may remove a large part of it.
How to store homemade butterscotch sauce:
Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Can butterscotch sauce be reheated?
Yes. Reheat the butterscotch sauce in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave until it’s slightly warmed but still thick.
More Butterscotch Recipes
(113 grams) unsalted butter
(300 grams) dark brown sugar
fine sea salt
In a large heavy saucepan or skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, salt, and cream and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Bring to a simmer. Without stirring, let the mixture cook at a bubbling simmer for three minutes. Be careful not to boil too long, or you’ll end up with chewy butterscotch candies instead of a sauce. Mixture will thicken considerably as it cools.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly before stirring in the vanilla extract and liquor (if using). Pour into a resalable container, preferably glass. Don’t scrape the sides of the pan into the container or you may end up with gritty pieces of undissolved sugar. You should end up with about 1 1/3 cups sauce.
Serving and Storage: The sauce should be served warm. It can be stored in a jar, in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks. Reheat the butterscotch sauce in a saucepan over low heat.
Recipe originally published in 2016 and recently updated with new photos, recipe improvements, and tips. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.