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How To Thicken Caramel Sauce ⋆ The Best Ways ⋆

Caramel sauce is nothing else but delicious. This rich, indulgent, sweet golden sauce is the perfect accompaniment for ice cream, waffles or any other dessert food. That being said, it is also true that caramel sauce needs to have the right buttery consistency. It should not be too thin that it dribbles all the way down the sides and not too thick that it doesn’t drizzle. But if you’ve found your caramel sauce is on the runny side, don’t worry; I am here to the rescue!

So, how do you thicken caramel sauce? One of the most effective ways to thicken caramel sauce is to simmer it on the stove for a little longer since cooking time is a key component to getting that perfect consistency. Other than that, you can try altering the recipe (even if you had followed a recipe it to the tee). You can also try adding a thickening agent like cornstarch or tapioca.

Whipping up a good tasting caramel sauce is one thing; not burning it or making it overly sweet are achievements in their own right.

But getting the right consistency; well that’s a whole other ball game.

Before moving on to how you can fix your runny caramel sauce, let’s focus on why it turned out this way in the first place so you can avoid it happening the next time.

Why Is My Caramel Sauce Not Thick?

There might be a couple of reasons why your caramel sauce didn’t turn out thick even though you followed the recipe precisely. It could be due to insufficient cooking time (which can vary based on your stoves heat or the pot you are using). The recipe also might produce a sauce thinner than how you’d like it.  

That being said, you always have options to thicken it up by adding more ingredients or simmering it to the right consistency.

You can also alter the ingredients by reducing the amount of water or upping the sugar used in the recipe to get the consistency you prefer.  

How Thick Should Caramel Sauce Be?

The consistency of your caramel sauce should be creamy and smooth. It should be thick (or thin) enough to dribble over the sides, but not spill all the way down. So, if you’re topping ice cream, it should drip a little but thick enough to stay on top.

This also varies according to personal preference, the recipe requirements, and what you are eating it with.

Some recipes call for a thicker, almost candied caramel; other recipes want the drippy kind.

You can easily adjust the thickness of caramel sauce by altering the cooking time or the volume of the ingredients – as we shall shortly explore.

Remember that any sauce made over heat thickens as it cools down, so make sure to factor that in!

What Can You Use To Thicken Caramel Sauce?

Apart from simmering it over the stove, you can thicken caramel sauce by adding in more sugar, cream, or introducing a thickening agent like tapioca, flour, or starch slurry.

If you used sugar in a lesser ratio to the other ingredients, you might want to try increasing that first.

Make sure that you heat the sauce before adding in the sugar; otherwise, it will get a gritty texture that you wouldn’t want in a caramel sauce.

If you want to use sugar without heating up the sauce again, I suggest you use caster sugar since it’ll dissolve easily and won’t ruin that creamy caramel texture.

If your caramel sauce is thick but not as thick as you prefer or the recipe calls for, you might want to add thickening agents or starch to thicken it to just the right consistency.

How To Thicken Caramel Sauce – 4 Simple Methods

Before you get onto thickening your caramel sauce, make sure you know what consistency it should be. You can look for images in your recipe book/ check online or even take a look at a YouTube video like the one below to get a rough idea.

This way, while thickening, you know what you’re going for and you shouldn’t overshoot it!

Also, since this sauce is cooked up on a stove, it will get thicker once it cools down, so there is no need to fret if you’ve just cooked up a warm batch and it doesn’t seem the right consistency at first.

Once your sauce has cooled down completely and you’re sure you need to thicken it, you can do that by simmering it again over the stove to reduce the liquid. You can also add some caster sugar cream or alternatively add thickening agents like cornstarch slurry, flour, or tapioca.

Now let’s go onto how you can use each of these methods to fix your caramel sauce to the right consistency.  

Method One: Increase the Cooking Time

The key to the perfect caramel consistency is cooking it over the stove long enough to evaporate the water added in the recipe. This is enough for the sugar to turn brown.

If your caramel sauce is runny and lighter in color, chances are that you haven’t cooked it long enough.

Also, if you’ve already been cooking it long enough, but it still hasn’t thickened, you might have added more water or less sugar and cream than the recipe calls for.

If that’s the case, heat it up on the stove again and let it simmer for 10 more minutes.

Make sure you’re stirring it continuously and simmering it on low heat because you wouldn’t want the sauce to burn.

For even quicker results, try using a bigger pan, so the surface area that is heated is larger, so the process yields the results quickly.

Method Two: Add a Thickening Agent

Cornstarch or flour is something that you would have in your pantry.

This is a quick fix to thicken your caramel sauce without the process of heating it up again and then cooling it down yet again to the right consistency.

To do this, you have to make a cornstarch slurry by mixing two parts of cornstarch with one part of water (for example, one teaspoon of cornstarch with ½ teaspoon of water).

Combine them till there aren’t any lumps.

The next step is to add it to your caramel sauce and mix it until it is fully incorporated.

This is the simplest way to thicken your caramel sauce and is perfect for the times when you have to serve it right away.

Depending on the quantity of your sauce, I recommend that you start with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and increase it till you get the right consistency.

Method Three: Add Tapioca

If you have it in your pantry, you can also add tapioca to your caramel sauce. This is the quickest method to thicken your sauce.

Tapioca flour or starch is known for its chewy texture. It absorbs liquid, leaving you with thickened caramel sauce almost instantly.

Simply add ½ to 1 teaspoon of tapioca flour to your sauce (depending on how thick you want your sauce to be).

The tapioca will also retain the glossy texture of your caramel sauce, thus making it the perfect solution for thickening caramel.

Method Four: Altering the Recipe

The last method is to alter the recipe at the start if you’re looking for a thicker than usual caramel sauce.

You can cut the amount of liquid (milk and water) you put into the sauce to begin with. Lessening the liquid will result in a thicker sauce.

Another way you can alter the recipe is by adding more sugar to it to increase the sugar to liquid ingredient ratio.

Sugar is a natural thickening agent, but it kicks up the sweetness, which is why it cannot be used as a thickening agent like cornstarch or tapioca.

Adding a little more sugar to your recipe at the initial stage will get you the luscious thick texture you want.

A third way to alter the ingredients is substituting milk with cream in the recipe.

This will reduce the amount of liquid you add to the recipe, thus making the sauce as thick as you desire. 

Does Caramel Sauce Thicken As It Cools?

Caramel sauce does thickens considerably as it cools, so long as it has been cooked for long enough. This is true for any sauce that is cooked over the stove, and at temperature.

The two reasons why caramel sauce thickens is due to the high amounts of sugar, along with the fact that liquid evaporates during the cooking/cooling process.

Finally

Caramel sauce may use just 3-4 basic pantry ingredients like milk, sugar, and butter; but it requires a bit of technique to get it to the right flowy but not drippy consistency.

You might be following the recipe to the letter, but that does not mean you get that perfect texture.

Or at least a consistency that you prefer.

Using the right proportion of ingredients and cooking it at the right temperature for long enough are two principal factors that yield the perfect golden goodness that is caramel sauce.

So, if you’ve whipped up a caramel sauce batch, keep your fingers crossed to see how thick it turns out when it cools down.

Failing this you can always step back in with the suggestions recommended above.

And don’t worry, there’ll come a time when you can tell at a glance long before it completely cools how thick the sauce is going to be.

Want to learn how to thicken any type of sauce? Then check out my definitive guide: