How to Make Butterscotch Sauce - Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Dessert | How To | Videos

How to Make Butterscotch Sauce

September 17th, 2019
4.58 from 7 votes
4.58 from 7 votes

How to Make Butterscotch Sauce from scratch in just 10 minutes! Just as good as caramel but so much easier. Can be made ahead of time. This recipe makes 1 1/3 cups sauce.


Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook: 5 minutes

How to Make Butterscotch Sauce from scratch in just 10 minutes! Just as good as caramel but so much easier. Can be made ahead of time. Full step-by-step video included.

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: I love butterscotch because it's sweet without being one dimensional. And I super love adding salt in order to really bring out all the flavors! Texture: Thick, rich, and perfectly pourable. Ease: Practically fool proof, quick, and much simpler than caramel. Appearance: I mean, it doesn't look like a whole lot, but it's practically liquid gold! Pros: Never buy store-bought butterscotch again. Cons: None! I love that this stays good for 2 weeks, though I doubt it'll last that long. I make this again? Mmmhm.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

I can’t believe I’ve never shared a recipe for butterscotch before.

Homemade butterscotch sauce with sea salt

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!

Butterscotch sauce poured over vanilla ice cream

How to Make Homemade Butterscotch Sauce

Ingredients for Butterscotch Sauce - brown sugar, butter, cream, salt, vanilla

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.

Hot Butterscotch sauce in saucepan

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.

Butterscotch sauce in a jar with a spoon

More Butterscotch Recipes

4.58 from 7 votes

How to make
Butterscotch Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
How to Make Butterscotch Sauce from scratch in just 10 minutes! Just as good as caramel but so much easier. Can be made ahead of time. This recipe makes 1 1/3 cups sauce.


  • 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons dark liquor, optional


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 Video

Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American

Recipe originally published in 2016 and recently updated with new photos, recipe improvements, and tips. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

Leave a Comment & Rating

Add a Review or Question

*Please select a rating to complete your comment.

Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Yvette — March 25, 2022 at 5:28 am

    I have made a honey cake with butterscotch sauce to drizzle on top recipe said white sugar is that why it’s not as dark still yummy but not as dark

  2. #
    GG — February 22, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    This recipe is perfect!!!..I almost cried when it was done…it didn’t crystalize like other recipes I’ve used before. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. ❤️

    • #
      Emily — February 23, 2022 at 10:37 am

      Yay!! So happy to hear of your success!

  3. #
    Kelly — December 8, 2021 at 10:12 am

    My mother and I love to make butterscotch haystacks at Christmas. Last year when we attempted to melted down the butterscotch chips to make the candy the chips did not melt properly. It was very clumpy and gritty. I am puzzled lol. I received my ultimate cookie handbook yesterday and I am in love .

    • #
      Emily — December 8, 2021 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Kelly! Butterscotch chips (and chocolate chips) actually have added ingredients that help them maintain their chip shape when exposed to heat and don’t melt down smoothly. Do you use a double boiler or melt in the microwave? If in the microwave, you’ll want to use 50% power for 30 second increments at a time, stirring well after each time. You could try chopping them a bit prior to melting so they heat more quickly. You could also try adding a few drops of unflavored vegetable oil or coconut oil to the bowl prior to melting as that can help with seizing. Make sure not even a drop of water enters the bowl as that can cause your chocolate/butterscotch to become grainy. I hope that helps!

  4. #
    Anwesha Pal — June 11, 2021 at 1:16 am

    Hi. How much is 1 cup cream in ml?

    • #
      Tessa — June 11, 2021 at 10:05 am

      I don’t use a digital scale to measure milk, water or creams because there’s no air inside those ingredients, so cups work perfectly fine; however, I just looked it up on Google, and it looks like 1 cup is about 240ml.

  5. #
    J Stone — February 13, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Great recipe and very easy! Can it be frozen? I made a double batch but I don’t need quite this much.

  6. #
    Nadine — November 6, 2020 at 10:05 am

    What kind of vanilla you use?

  7. #
    Lonetta Daugherty — October 14, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Absolutely delicious! I don’t plan on buying or making caramel ever again!!

  8. #
    Patty — October 10, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    The video says to use 4T of butter and the printed recipe says to use a whole stick of butter! I am assuming 4T is the correct measurement! Please respond!

    Thank you,

    • #
      Amanda — October 28, 2020 at 7:01 am

      The recipe says 113 g butter which is 4 oz. Maybe she misspoke and meant 4 oz in the video but said 4T?

    • #
      Leslie — October 28, 2020 at 11:30 am

      The amounts given in the printed recipe is double the amounts given in the video. All depends on how much you want to make. 🙂

  9. #
    Patsy Roman — October 9, 2020 at 9:59 am


  10. #
    Leslie — January 25, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    why did this separate after I made it? I seemed as if the sugar and butter never combined. I tried this twice with the same problem each time. Help!

    • #
      Marlene — February 8, 2020 at 8:27 am

      I made it and it also separated when it cool. Was wondering what I did wrong also.

  11. #
    Melissa — December 11, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    Can I use light brown sugar instead?

  12. #
    hdbdbdnd — November 27, 2019 at 11:04 am

    omfg i love butterscotch cinnamon pie with salt!!!

  13. #
    Patricia — September 28, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    I love all the information and the description of the recipe thanks

  14. #
    Jennifer J. Harmon — September 22, 2019 at 4:57 am

    The knowledge gives by you is not only helpful for me but also for all humans. thank you very much.

  15. #
    Sabrina — September 21, 2019 at 8:30 am

    great fundamental recipe, thank you, a great resource!

  16. #
    Katiekate — April 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Your recipe has so little butter compared to mine and I’m going to try it. I’ve only made butterscotch once and, though it was delicious, it was grainy which bothered me. Once the dairy was in there I didn’t dare try cooking it more to dissolve. I was wondering if I had started by dissolving the sugar in a little water first until dissolved, would that solve my grainy problem? And in my research I read that too much stirring can cause crystallization which would yield a grainy result. A couple of your photos looked like it may have been grainy and a couple looked very smooth … did you find any graininess?

  17. #
    Carol Rhodes-Rice — March 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I would also like to know what kind of liqueur you recommend?

    • #
      Tessa — March 14, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      I’d start with a tablespoon and taste and adjust from there.

  18. #
    Ema — February 14, 2016 at 9:47 am


  19. #
    Rach’s Recipes — January 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I assume you add the liqueur with the vanilla? Any suggestions – rum seems too strong? Amaretto? Frangelico? Cognac? Brandy?

  20. #
    oskar. — January 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    you have page in Spanish

  21. #
    taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — January 15, 2016 at 4:53 am

    These look so mouthwatering! Don’t mind me over here drooling over it’s goodness! If only I had some to shovel in my face right now 🙂

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Cookie Customization Chart
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!
As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed