Caramel Sauce Vs Syrup: What Are The Differences?

If you like caramel, then you probably have tasted it in the form of a sauce or syrup. But did you wonder if there is a difference between the two? Let's look at what makes caramel sauce and caramel syrup different.

There are a few key differences between caramel sauce and syrup. When comparing the two, consider the following:

  • Ingredients
  • Consistency
  • Taste
  • Uses

While both are great additions to sweeten coffee or top off a dessert, in cooking they are used differently. In this article, we will explain what sets these two sweeteners apart. Also, we will answer questions about caramel, including how to make it and properly storing this treat.

Homemade salted caramel sauce, in a jar, with a spoon. Caramel Sauce Vs Syrup What Are The Differences

What Is The Difference Between Caramel Sauce And Syrup?

Caramel is a popular flavoring for coffee, desserts, and even some savory dishes. To make this sweetener, you must heat sugar until it melts and turns brown.

The result is a sweet and rich flavor that can enhance the taste of many foods.

Caramel is also used to make sauces and syrups. However, while they may often get confused with one another, there are some key differences between caramel sauce and syrup.

Woman pouring caramel syrup onto fresh pancakes with blueberries at grey table


The biggest difference between caramel sauce and syrup is the ingredients. To make caramel sauce, you use sugar, butter, heavy milk, or cream. This combination results in a smooth and thick consistency, which is useful as a topping or dipping sauce.

On the other hand, caramel syrup is made with only sugar and water. This creates a thinner and more liquid syrup that is delicious added to coffee or mixed drinks.


Another key difference between caramel sauce and syrup is consistency. Caramel sauce is thick and creamy, while caramel syrup is thin and runny. Again, this difference is because of the different ingredients used in each recipe.


Another distinction between caramel sauce and syrup is taste. Caramel sauce is richer and more flavorful because of the addition of butter and cream. In comparison, caramel syrup is sweeter and less complex in flavor.

Caramel syrup can also have a bitter taste depending on the type of sugar used to create it. This is because during the process of caramelizing sugar it can become bitter.


The final difference between these two sweeteners is in their uses. Typically, caramel sauce gets used as a topping or dipping sauce for desserts. We can also use it in savory dishes, such as chicken or pork.

Caramel syrup is mostly useful in coffee and mixed drinks. However, it can also get used to top off desserts or pancakes.

However, you can do whatever you want with either of them. So get creative in the kitchen and see what you can come up with!

Salted caramel sauce in glass container on a wooden board, sweet sauce for desserts

How Is Caramel Made?

To make caramel you have to heat sugar until it changes color and consistency, turning brown. When it's ready, you end up with a wonderful food enhancer that is rich and sweet.

You can make caramel at home with a few simple ingredients and a stovetop. First, you will need sugar, water, and cream of tartar (or another acid such as lemon juice).

You will also need a candy thermometer to ensure that the caramel reaches the correct temperature.

  1. To make the caramel, mix the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepan. Over medium heat, stir the mixture frequently. Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring. Check the temperature with a candy thermometer.
  2. Allow the mixture to continue cooking until it reaches about 340 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact temperature will depend on how dark your caramel is.
  3. Once it reaches the desired temperature, take the pan off of the heat and add the cream carefully. Stir the mixture until it is smooth, then pour it into a jar or container to cool.
  4. Now depending on if you are making caramel sauce or syrup, the process will be slightly different. For the caramel sauce, you will add butter to the mixture once it has cooled. For caramel syrup, you will add water to thin it out.

That's it! You now have homemade caramel that you can use in a variety of different ways.

How Do You Store Caramel?

Caramel needs to be stored in a cool, dark place. If it gets stored in a warm place, it can become runny. You can store it at room temperature or in the fridge.

Simply place it in a jar or container with a lid to store caramel sauce. If you are making candies, you will need to wrap them individually in wax paper.

You can also put the caramel in the fridge or freezer if you want it to last longer. Just keep in mind that it will become thick and hard to work with once it's cold.

Just like with the sauce, you can also put the caramel syrup in the fridge. However, it's unnecessary since it doesn't have any dairy products in it.

How Long Does Caramel Last?

Caramel sauce can last up to 6-9 weeks in the fridge. If you want it to last longer, you can store it in the freezer for one year.

Now, if you live in an environment that has humid weather your caramel will not last as long. This is because the moisture in the air can cause the sugar to crystalize.

If this is the case, it is essential to put the caramel in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible.

Individually Wrapped Caramel Candies

How Do You Thicken Caramel Sauce?

The best way to thicken caramel sauce is to let it simmer on the stove for longer. It will allow some of the water to evaporate, making the sauce thicker.

Another way to thicken caramel is to add a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour to the mixture. Stir until it has fully combined, then let it simmer for a few minutes.

If you want to thicken caramel quickly, then you can put it in the fridge or freezer. Just keep in mind that it will become very thick and hard to work with once it's cold.

Keep in mind that if you add cornstarch or flour to the caramel, you need to whisk it constantly. Otherwise, it will form clumps, and the sauce will be lumpy.

Plus, you can always add more to the sauce if it's not thick enough. However, you can't thin it out once it's too thick. So, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Why Is My Caramel Sauce Watery?

There are a few reasons your caramel sauce might be watery.

One possibility is that you didn't let it cool long enough. Caramel sauce will thicken as it cools down. If your caramel sauce cools completely and isn't as thick as you wanted, you can always reheat it.

Another possibility is that you added too much water to the mixture. When you are making caramel, you should only add enough water to wet the sugar. You don't want there to be any excess water in the pan.

Caramel sauce isn't an easy recipe to get right. It takes practice and patience to make the perfect sauce. But once you get it down, you'll be able to make it repeatedly. And trust us, it's worth the effort!

Why Is My Caramel Sauce Oily?

As we mentioned, caramel is a delicate cooking process. If you don't execute the process correctly, it can result in an oily sauce.

The reason being is that the butter can separate from the sugar and rise to the top. When this happens, it will leave behind an oily residue.

To avoid this, make sure you are whisking the mixture constantly. Doing this will help keep the butter and sugar combined.

Another tip is to use a candy thermometer. Using this will help you achieve the perfect temperature.

Women in checkered apron with wooden spoon preparing caramel in the stainless steel pan.

What Kind Of Sugar Do You Use For Caramel?

The type of sugar you use for caramel will affect the flavor and color of the sauce. However, the most common is white granulated sugar.

This sugar results in a light-colored sauce with a mild flavor. If you want a deeper caramel color use brown sugar.

Keep in mind that brown sugar will also add a molasses flavor to the sauce. You can use dark brown sugar or Demerara sugar for an even deeper flavor.

Turbinado sugar is another type of sugar you can use for caramel. It's raw sugar that has a large crystal size. This sugar creates a sauce with a more intense flavor.

Liquid caramel is poured into a gravy boat. Caramel Sauce Vs Syrup What Are The Differences

Final Thoughts

No matter if you are making caramel for a recipe or to have on hand, we hope this guide was helpful. Now you know how to make caramel sauce or syrup, store it, and fix common problems. So get out there and start cooking!

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might find helpful:

Should You Melt Coconut Oil For Baking?

9 Types Of Oil That Don't Solidify In The Fridge

Can You Brown Vegan Butter? [What You Need To Know]

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