How to Make Caramel Syrup

Maybe just like you, we both love fancy coffees. I hate to say it but one of my vices is getting a nice cup of coffee out. I love adding a touch of caramel to my coffee. I can show you how to save money by making your caramel syrup for coffee from scratch.

homemade caramel syrup and a cup of coffee

Homemade Caramel Syrup for Coffee

For a pure hit of caffeine as you rush out the door in the morning, any old coffee will do. But if you have the time for a relaxing afternoon pick-me-up, you owe it to yourself to have something a bit more indulgent.

Why not try your everyday brew with a splash of cream and a touch of caramel syrup? This coffee drink is smooth, with just a hint of sweetness. Sure, you can use store-bought caramel coffee syrup, but do you really want to drink corn syrup or sodium benzoate with your coffee?

Besides, this homemade syrup is so easy to make and costs less than a tenth of what commercial caramel syrups sell for in the store. Try this two-ingredient coffee syrup recipe, and there is a good chance you will wind up thinking it is one of the best coffee syrups you have ever tried.

What is the difference between caramel sauce and caramel syrup?

The answer is simple, caramel sauce has more ingredients. If you are making this recipe with the expectation of making a caramel sauce, you will be disappointed. They both contain sugar and water.

Caramel sauce also has butter, cream, and salt. All those additional ingredients not only increases the complexity and cost of the recipe but the calorie count as well.

While this coffee syrup recipe isn’t the same as caramel sauce, it does provide a similar flavor to caramel sauce when added to beverages.

Caramel Syrup Ingredients

This recipe has a minimal amount of ingredients. There are no preservatives in this recipe. To make your own homemade caramel syrup you will need.

  • White granulated sugar
  • Water
ingredients to make caramel syrup for coffee (sugar and water)

How to Make Caramel Syrup

Cooking up a batch of homemade syrup is simple. All you need is a pan with a heavy bottom and a wooden spoon. Use the longest wooden spoon you own because you don’t want to get any melted sugar on your skin. A hot sugar burn isn’t fun.

Be prepared to stir the sugar constantly. Sometimes when we cook we don’t need to be actively involved with the process. This is one of those recipes where you need to be actively involved the whole time. Don’t walk away, burnt sugar isn’t pleasant.

Start by combining the water with the sugar in a small saucepan into the mixture that looks like wet sand. You may need a little more or water depending on several factors.

When the sugar mixture is at the right consistency, place the saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Give the sugar mixture one good stir and shake the saucepan until it is level.

Bring the sugar mixture to a boil. At this point, you need to pay careful attention to keep the sugar from burning. Try to avoid stirring because excess stirring can cause the sugar to crystalize.

homemade caramel syrup in a skillet

Continue to cook the sugar mixture until it reaches the color you want. Never leave the saucepan unwatched. The sugar mixture can go from pale to burned in a minute or two.

This caramel syrup tastes just as good as any that you will buy.

How to Store Caramel Syrup

When I make a small batch of this syrup, I always store it in the refrigerator. Since this doesn’t have any preservatives, you need to make sure you store this in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for a couple of months, not that you will have it for that long.

Is caramel syrup the same as simple syrup?

Both have the same ingredients (water and sugar), but what makes caramel syrup different is that the sugar is cooked and caramelizes during the cooking process. The cooking process gives the unique flavor we all love.

Safety Tips for working with caramel or caramel syrup

This recipe has one step in it that you have to be very alert, and that is when we combine the caramelized sugar, and the water.

I suggest that you perform this task over your sink. Do not place your face directly over the pot when you add the water.

Also, when stirring your caramel syrup use a heat-resistant spatula or a wooden spoon. Metal utensils conduct heat and may become warm while you are stirring your caramel syrup.

Tips for Making and Storing this Caramel Coffee Syrup Recipe

  • Keep your sugar from recrystallizing. Add a few drops of lemon juice to after the sugar mixture comes to a boil to prevent it from clumping.
  • Store in the fridge. Unlike store-bought caramel syrups, this version doesn’t have any preservatives to keep it shelf-stable. That means you need to store it in the refrigerator. It should last for at least a week or two. If you want, you can add a teaspoon of vodka to help preserve it a little longer.

Other ways to use caramel syrup, in addition to caramel coffee

This syrup is very thin, so it is great to add to beverages, here are a few more ideas for what you can do with your homemade caramel syrup.

  • Make your own Caramel Latte
  • Pour a bit over ice cream
  • Add to a vanilla milkshake
  • When making a cake, brush a little of this mixture over the cake before you frost it, it will give your cake extra flavor and keep it very moist.

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a container of caramel syrup and a cup of coffee

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homemade caramel syrup and a cup of coffee

Homemade Caramel Coffee Syrup Recipe

You can make caramel coffee syrup at home. Save money when you make caramel syrup for coffee instead of buying it.
4.96 from 21 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel syrup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 20
Calories: 38kcal


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • Heat sugar over medium high heat until it begins to melt. Stir constantly. If the sugar begins to burn, discard, and try again.
  • When the sugar begins to brown quickly stir in boiling water. Stand back, as the mixture may steam.
  • Stir until well blended. Cook mixture for an additional 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Do not let the sugar burn. Remove pot from heat source, and allow the mixture to cool before placing in an airtight container.



Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Sugar: 9g

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Cassidy

    I’ve tried looking all over the internet and I can’t find a clear answer to this question, do you have to use granulated sugar or can you use cane sugar for this recipe?

    • Stephanie Manley

      So I think you are asking can I make this with sugar made from things other than sugar cane. I made it with granulated sugar made from beets. So, I would answer your question as yes, you can make it with granulated sugar.

  2. Sarah

    5 stars
    I tried another recipe before this one and it failed two times. The mixture would boil then turn back into sugar. This one worked great the first time and tastes lovely. Mine didn’t come out as dark as the video but I was worried about burning it. I will make again and probably let it melt a little longer. Thank you!

  3. Emily

    I’m excited to try this recipe! Any thoughts on how long it can be stored? I’d like to make this once a week if it will last 7 days…?

  4. Lindsay

    Ive tried this recipe twice and each time it comes out smelling like soap. and am not getting the caramel flavor my sartbucks caramel syrup has. Any thoughts on that? Im doing everything exactly as you have and it looks the same, just smell and taste are throwing me off.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t know what’s going on here, the sugar could smell flat out burnt should it go too far. My question may be was the sugar near anything to pick up another scent? I don’t know how to describe it, but sugar can smell well like sugar. To me, this isn’t a soap flavor. I am guessing when you say something smells like soap, you mean how it is scented like soap.

      • Carol Mastin

        I think it depends on the type of pan you use: teflon, stainless steel, cast iron. I think at a high hear the Teflon coating could release some soap residue locked on to the coating. Most things have enough flavor that you would not notice it

        I used an All-Clad pot since it’s got a very heavy bottom and wouldn’t get too hot and.burn the sugar. First batch I had added a T of brown sugar for some carmel color and flavor and a tsp of butter because when I cook butter and brown sugar it turns into a carmel sauce. I know I left it cooking too long thinking the sugar should ALL melt and look like carmel sauce as that is what BEGAN to happen so I kept cooking. I rechecked the recipe and saw that I was supposed to add he water as soon as it started melting. Since it had cooked so long the water just made big hard globs of sugar carmel colored cement. I stirred it and strained the water off thinking I would end up with a Carmel flavored syrupy something

        I added a bit of vanilla and I had some chopped chocolate so I just threw it in there. It melted the chocolate right away. So what I ended up with was a chocolate carmel simple syrup. Lol. It may work well enough in my coffee

    • Kate

      Are you using a nonstick pot to make it? After time, nonstick breakdown and will develop a soapy taste and scent. I have slowly been eliminating all our nonstick cookware and upgrading to stainless. I recently had a large nonstick pot that left our pasta tasting like soap. I thought I was crazy, but when it did it again with potatoes the next time I used it, I did some research and learned this is fairly common with nonstick cookware. In my opinion, one more reason to get away from the toxins associated with it.

      If you are not using nonstick cookware, I have no thoughts on what could be causing this!!! But I do hope you figure it out! Best of luck!

  5. Patty

    Also hoping for a sugar free version and no idea how to make it 🙂 For now though I will try the sugar version, looks easy enough!

    • Foodchemist

      Making sugar free caramel syrup is near impossible at home since you would have to isolate the diacetyl, furan, furanone and maltol compounds from the remaining sugar(These are the compounds that give caramel its complex flavor).

      • Stephanie

        Thank you for your comment. I know I have read that caramel is highly complex. I tend to stay away from sugar-free recipes. I just don’t understand how they behave.

  6. Olen

    I’m not going to bash this idea, since sugar and water are so cheap that it’s a good one.

    But, I think this process can be improved in two ways, versus how the process is describe:

    First of all, you don’t seem to realize how much “fire” you are playing with. Sugar caramelizes starting at 320 degrees F. It starts to burn badly at 350 degrees. Adding water at just under the actual boiling point, 212 degrees, to something that is over 100 degrees hotter, can cause more than just some steam…it could cause a literal flash explosion of it. The only reasons why scalded by such an explosion are likely to be that you’re making a small quantity in a relatively large pot and adding the water fast enough to rapidly cool the hot caramel. But, sooner or later you’re gonna get burned!

    The better idea would be to add the hot caramelized sugar to the water, not the other way around…perhaps stirring the water, right at the same time, with an inexpensive immersion “stick” blender. (For the chemists among you, this method, as described, is similar to adding water to concentrated acid…which is a “no-no”, and the opposite of how the two should be mixed…always add acid to water, not the reverse).

    Also, trying to do this “by eye”, and risking burning the sugar, and wasting it, is silly when candy thermometers are so cheap. No modern cook makes candy or cooks sugar, like this, by trying to judge the right color or judging the “hard crack” stage, and so on.

    It’s also better to add a bit of the water to the sugar before heating it. Then, the temperature will rise at a slower, but more controllable rate, as the water evaporates out of the mixture. No candy-maker, that I know of, starts with pure sugar unless they are just caramelizing a few spoonsful in a fry or sauce pan.

  7. Jarrod

    5 stars

    Do you have any thoughts on preservatives that would allow syrups to be stored at room temperature?

    When I make simple syrup (sugar & water) for cocktails, I tend to add a little vodka to help it last… but I think I would prefer not to do that with this.

    If you can suggest anything other than alcohol, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate, I would really love to hear it.



    • Stephanie

      I think your vodka might be the better solution. It doesn’t have a lot of taste, but you need to add something to stop the alcohol formation. I believe anything with starch/sugar and water will turn to alcohol. I would want to offer suggestions that an everyday person can find in your everyday grocery store.

  8. dawn wilson

    When ever I click on your recipe it goes straight to some add. I don’t know if this intentional or not, but it is very frustrating.

    • nikonmerryth

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    • Tami

      Oh yes…agreed. I eat low carb and sugar free is important. I do spend a lot of money on the s/f flavored syrups. It would be awesome to make my own.

  9. Peggy Whitehead

    Thank you Stephanie … I LOVE caramel but would also like to know about the “sugar free” version if possible.

4.96 from 21 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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