This ultra creamy homemade Butterscotch Sauce is exceptionally delicious thanks to 3 ingredients that are not typically found in most butterscotch recipes.
Even better, butterscotch sauce is really easy and only takes about 15 minutes to make.
Why This Recipe Works
I once heard butterscotch described as caramel's low key cousin. I love this description because the flavor of butterscotch and caramel are similar, but butterscotch is waaaaay easier and less finicky to make. And yet, caramel gets most of the glory.
This Butterscotch Sauce Recipe has 3 secret ingredients that are not typical in most butterscotch recipes, but make it exceptionally delicious:
- Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest
The recipe calls for just one tablespoon of each of these three ingredients, which isn't enough for any of them to be detected in the finished recipe. But, the difference they make in the flavor of the butterscotch sauce is really remarkable.
Butterscotch sauce is also really easy to make. The whole process takes about 15 minutes, start to finish. Which is either super fabulous or super dangerous, depending on your point of view.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare This Recipe
This recipe for Homemade Butterscotch Sauce includes the usual culprits:
- Heavy cream
- Corn syrup
- Dark brown Sugar
PLUS three not-so-traditional ingredients:
- Lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- Dark rum
The characteristic flavor of butterscotch comes from a mixture of cooked butter and brown sugar. A generous amount of heavy cream turns it into a creamy, pourable sauce.
A bit of corn syrup keeps the sugar from crystalizing as it cooks and preserves the sauce's smooth, creamy texture even after it cools. And salt and vanilla add flavor and balance out the sweetness.
It's important to use dark brown sugar. I've tested this recipe using light brown sugar and dark brown sugar and there was a noticeable difference in flavor with the dark brown sugar version winning out.
So, here's where it gets good:
The BEST butterscotch sauce includes an ingredient or two that will cut through the richness. In this recipe, those ingredients are lemon juice and lemon zest.
That hit of brightness from a touch of lemon juice and zest makes a HUGE difference in the flavor of this sauce. It adds some extra acidity to balance out the sweetness and richness of the sauce.
And honestly, that splash of rum is kind of a no-brainer. Rum already packs in the caramel flavor, so adding some to butterscotch sauce is a sure fire way to dial up the flavor with almost zero extra effort.
How to Make Butterscotch Sauce
This recipe uses 2 ¼ cups (511 grams) of heavy cream, which you'll want to divide.
Add 1 ¼ cups (284 grams) of the cream to a bowl and stir in the salt, vanilla extract, rum and lemon juice. Set it aside. This mixture gets stirred into the sauce at the end. into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Pour the remaining 1 cup (227 grams) of cream into a medium size heavy bottom saucepan and add the corn syrup, brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter. Set the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to boil.
Now you want to turn the heat down a bit and keep cooking and stirring until the sauce gets to 240° F (115 ° C). How will you know it's at 240° F? With a candy thermometer.
If you don't own a candy thermometer, making some butterscotch sauce should be all the excuse you need to get one. They are inexpensive and can generally be found in supermarkets and any big box store with a kitchen supply section.
You can, of course, also just order a candy thermometer online.
Once the sauce is at 240° F, remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stir in the rum cream mixture.
Pour the sauce into a container and allow to cool to room temperature. At this point, you can use it on whatever you like or pour it into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
What Can You Pour Butterscotch Sauce On?
I mean... what couldn't you pour butterscotch sauce on???
#1. Vanilla ice cream, obvi.
True story: Last weekend, I made my husband pause the show we were watching so I could get in the car, drive to the store, and purchase vanilla ice cream because the jar of butterscotch sauce in our refrigerator was shouting at me so loudly I couldn't pay attention to anything happening on the screen.
#2. Butterscotch Cake. My absolute favorite all-butter bundt cake covered in butterscotch sauce. Be still my beating heart.
Another true story: The recipe for butterscotch cake came about because I impulsively began baking a cake at 8pm just to have something to pour butterscotch sauce on.
#3. Anything that calls for caramel sauce. If it’s something you’d pour caramel sauce on, you an happily substitute butterscotch sauce. Such as:
#4. Anything creamy or chocolate. Such as...
A: The main difference is in the kind of sugar used. Caramel sauce is made with white sugar, cooking it until it caramelizes.
Butterscotch sauce is made with brown sugar and doesn’t require as long of a cook time. The molasses in brown sugar contributes color and flavor to butterscotch sauce and doesn’t crystallize as easily.
A: The lemon juice, lemon zest and rum are all optional ingredients. You can absolutely make a perfectly delicious butterscotch sauce without them.
However, they are virtually undetectable in the finished sauce and add flavor complexity while helping to cut the richness. In other words, the sauce is even better if you include them.
Butterscotch Sauce is a Building Block Recipe
Building block recipes are tried-and-true recipes that I consider foundational to great home baking. They are the kind of recipes I come back to over and over again, sometimes baking them as is, but often using them as a jumping off point to create something new. > Scroll through all Building Block recipes.
- 2 ¼ cups (18 ounces; 511 grams) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt, OR 1 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) dark rum
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup (156 grams) light corn syrup
- 1 cup (213 grams) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon (20 grams) packed lemon zest
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons; 2 ounces) salted butter
- Add 1 ¼ cups (284 grams) of the cream, salt, vanilla, rum and lemon juice into a small bowl or large measuring cup and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Add the remaining 1 cup (227 grams) of cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, lemon zest, and butter to a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly stir in the rum cream.
- Pour the sauce into a container and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
The lemon juice, zest and rum are all optional ingredients; however, they are virtually undetectable in the finished sauce and add flavor complexity while helping to cut the richness.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 116mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 1g