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Homemade Butterscotch Sauce is rich, smooth, and velvety with a buttery brown sugar flavor, hint of vanilla, and touch of salt for balance. It comes together in just 10 minutes from start-to-finish and is better than anything you can buy at the store!

butterscotch sauce drizzling off spoon

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I had butterscotch sauce.

Maybe it’s from a bygone era, or maybe it’s just not that popular here. It always seems to take the backseat to its more popular cousin, caramel sauce. But butterscotch is worth revisiting!

The best way I can describe butterscotch sauce is pure decadence.

front view of glass jar of butterscotch

Take 10 minutes to whip up this butterscotch sauce and you’ll start to think of a ton of different ways to use it! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • On top of ice cream sundaes – this is a classic for good reason!
  • With sliced apple for dipping
  • Drizzled on yogurt or oatmeal
  • On buttermilk pancakes instead of maple syrup
  • Along with whipped cream as a topping for the best hot chocolate of your life
butterscotch sauce with butterbeer in background

Above: One of my favorite ways to use this sticky-sweet syrup is to make a homemade Butterbeer.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Butterscotch sauce isn’t complicated! At its core, it’s a sauce consisting of butter and brown sugar. For this recipe, we keep the ingredient list and the method simple because it works perfectly.
  • To help prevent crystallization, we add a little bit of cream of tartar! No corn syrup need, this method works like a charm.
  • This sauce keeps well for up to 2 months stored in the fridge. It’s perfect to keep on hand for ice cream night, jazzing up pancakes, or making a fancy hot cocoa.

The Best Easy Butterscotch Sauce Recipe

You are going to love how easy this decadent dessert sauce is to make! And you’re going to find a ton of ways to use it.

Ingredients

ingredients for butterscotch sauce
  • Unsalted butter – if you use salted butter, reduce the salt to 1/8 teaspoon
  • Light brown sugar – adds rich, deep notes of molasses
  • Salt – to balance the sweetness and enhance the flavor
  • Cream of tartar (optional) – this is a failsafe to help prevent your butterscotch from crystalizing! Some people use corn syrup, but instead we use cream of tartar, which is a natural by-product of winemaking. Instead of cream of tartar, you can use another acid; 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice works well
  • Heavy whipping cream – makes the sauce smooth, velvety, and absolutely luscious
  • Vanilla extract – adds a hint of flavor and aroma to make this butterscotch syrup irresistible

Step-by-Step Instructions

how to make butterscotch sauce
  1. Add the butter to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar, salt, and cream of tartar.
  2. Cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture is boiling, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Carefully add the cream (it will bubble up), and stir to combine. Let it boil for about 3 to 5 minutes until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally. It should reach 225F on a candy thermometer, but you don’t really need a candy thermometer to make this.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  5. The resulting butterscotch syrup is rich, decadent, and delicious!

Storage

Let this cool to room temperature, and then transfer it to a glass container with a lid. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

You can reheat this sauce in a double boiler on the stovetop or in 10-second increments in the microwave, stirring between each increment.

overhead view of butterscotch sauce in glass jar

Tips to Prevent Crystallization

Cream of tartar is an acid, and we use it here to help prevent sugar crystallization.

If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand or prefer not to use it, you can omit it and instead use 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. And if you don’t have fresh lemon juice, this recipe will still work, you just have to be more vigilant.

If you start to see crystallization, add more water. You can brush the sides of the pan with water, or stir a couple tablespoons of water into the sauce. Once the water cooks off, the caramelization process will resume and it should have gotten rid of the crystallization.

Pro Tip: To help prevent crystallization, don’t stir the mixture until it starts to change color.

butterscotch sauce graphic

Butterscotch Sauce FAQs

What is the Difference Between Caramel Sauce and Butterscotch Sauce?

Caramel is made with white sugar and butterscotch is made with brown sugar. They both contain butter, and frequently vanilla and salt.

Why is My Butterscotch Sauce Grainy?

Sugar crystallization can cause butterscotch to be grainy!

In this recipe, adding cream of tartar helps prevent crystallization. Alternatively, instead of cream of tartar you can add 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

How Long Does Homemade Butterscotch Sauce Last?

Stored in a covered glass container in the fridge, this will last up to 2 months.

This sauce will thicken after it’s refrigerated. To thin it out, you can reheat it in a double boiler on the stovetop or in 10-second intervals in the microwave.

butterscotch syrup in glass jar

More Sweet Sauces to Make

butterscotch sauce

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Butterscotch Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time2 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Other Time0 minutes
Yields: 9 servings
Homemade Butterscotch Sauce is rich, smooth, and velvety with a buttery brown sugar flavor, hint of vanilla, and touch of salt for balance. It comes together in just 10 minutes from start-to-finish and is better than anything you can buy at the store!

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Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Add the butter to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture is boiling, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Carefully add the cream (it will bubble up), and stir to combine. Let it boil for about 3 to 5 minutes until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally. It should reach 225F on a candy thermometer, but you don’t really need a candy thermometer to make this.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Notes

  • Cream of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid, and we use it here to help prevent sugar crystallization. If you don’t have cream of tartar on hand or prefer not to use it, you can omit it and instead use 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. And if you don’t have fresh lemon juice, this recipe will still work, you just have to be a bit more careful. If you start to see crystallization, add more water. You can brush the sides of the pan with water, or stir a couple tablespoons of water into the sauce. Once the water cooks off, the caramelization process will resume and it should have gotten rid of the crystallization.
  • To Help Prevent Crystallization: Don’t stir the mixture until it start to change color, which means the sugar is starting to caramelize.
  • Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 18 tablespoons (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) total. Each serving is 2 tablespoons for a total of 9 servings.
  • Storage: Let this cool to room temperature, and then transfer it to a glass container with a lid. Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
  • To Reheat: You can reheat this sauce in a double boiler on the stovetop or in 10-second increments in the microwave, stirring between each increment.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 49mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 415IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Butterscotch Sauce, Butterscotch Sauce Recipe, Butterscotch Syrup

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Faith! Loved it, 10/10!

    It was exactly what I was looking for to use as a cheesecake topping. I added a little bit more salt and it turned out smooth but it also packs a pleasant caramel-y punch. Thanks!

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