Butterscotch Sauce is quick & easy to make with only 5 ingredients. Richly flavored, it's great on ice cream & better than store bought!
When you think about ice cream toppings, what comes to mind?
If you look on grocer's shelves near the ice cream, you might see those, plus maybe a bottle or jar of butterscotch ice cream topping next to the maraschino cherries.
However, that butterscotch is made with preservatives, additives, and other things with names I can't pronounce.
What if I told you that you can make a quick and easy Butterscotch Sauce with common and easy-to-pronounce ingredients, and it's better than what's in the jar?
No trip to the store necessary!
What you need
You don't need anything fancy to make Butterscotch Sauce.
Well, the recipe does call for sea salt flakes, but you can use kosher salt instead if you'd prefer. Sea salt flakes are large, so if you’re going to substitute kosher salt, use ¼ to ½ teaspoon, or to taste.
You can also use light brown sugar if you'd prefer, but dark brown sugar gives a deeper, more molasses flavor. Your choice.
How to make Butterscotch Sauce
Making a Butterscotch Sauce recipe is really easy. It's mostly just dump and boil.
Ok, maybe it's a little more than that.
Step 1: Combine the ingredients
After melting the butter, stir in the brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt until the sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Step 2: Boil the sauce to your desired consistency
As you bring the mixture to a boil, you can decide how thick you'd like the finished Butterscotch Sauce to be.
A shorter cooking time, say 4 to 5 minutes (or to 227°F on a digital thermometer), will have the consistency like Chocolate Syrup. Cooking it longer, maybe 6 to 7 minutes (or to 238°F), will make the consistency more like the aforementioned Caramel Sauce.
Step 3: Add the flavorings
After the mixture has reached your desired consistency, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
For a boozy kick, you can also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of bourbon or your favorite liqueur with the vanilla. With bourbon, the sauce will have a stronger, spicier component.
Step 4: Pour the sauce into a jar to cool and store
A clean mason jar is perfect for storing your Butterscotch Sauce. You can even wrap a ribbon around it and give as a gift!
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
If the Butterscotch Sauce separates after it’s been cooled, warm it gently in the microwave (20 second increments at 40% powder) and stir until it’s smooth again.
While made in similar ways, caramel starts with cooking granulated sugar until it has browned and...uhm...caramelized. Butterscotch uses brown sugar, eliminating the need for the caramelization step. Plus, the molasses in brown sugar adds another flavor dimension to the sauce.
Again, these sauces are made almost the same. The difference is that toffee sauce (the sauce that's poured over Sticky Toffee Pudding) has the addition of golden syrup and is cooked for less time. This gives toffee sauce a consistency of runny honey, and the flavor has that honey undertone as well.
Richly flavored and easy to make
This Butterscotch Sauce is silky smooth with a rich flavor of buttery caramel with hints of molasses.
The sauce pictured here was boiled for 7 minutes (238°F) for that thicker consistency. When the warmed sauce is poured on vanilla ice cream, the texture is that of a very soft caramel candy.
And you can mix Butterscotch Sauce into whipped cream for hot chocolate or to use to make your own Butterbeer!
So when thinking about dessert sauces or ice cream toppings, move beyond hot fudge or caramel.
This quick and easy Butterscotch Sauce is on the menu!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Quick and Easy Butterscotch Sauce
- small saucepan
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed, see Recipe Notes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ tsp sea salt flakes, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add in the brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt, stirring until the mixture is combined and the sugar has melted.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. For a thinner sauce, cook for 4 to 5 minutes to a temperature of 227°F on a digital thermometer. For a thicker sauce, cook for 6 to 7 minutes to 238°F. Any longer than that and the sauce will be too thick.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon, if using.
- Transfer the sauce to a jar and allow to cool to room temperature. It will thicken further upon standing.
- Seal the jar and store the Butterscotch Sauce in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.