Butterscotch Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    1 quart

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Butterscotch is similar to caramel sauce except that butter is cooked along with the sugar, so that the milk solids caramelize and impart the characteristic flavor of noisette butter (see “Beurre Noisette,”) to the sauce. Some recipes use brown sugar to give the sauce a deeper color and flavor, but brown sugar tends to obscure the flavor of the butter, which is what makes butterscotch sauce so delicious.

This recipe uses a caramel base that is cooked a second time with butter. Cream is added near the end to emulsify the butter.


granulated sugar 1 lb 450 g
water 2 cups 500 ml
butter 8 tbsp 125 g
heavy cream 2 cups 500 ml
vanilla extract 2 tsp 10 ml


  1. Prepare a caramel by melting the sugar in a 4-quart (4 liter) heavy-bottomed saucepan (large enough to prevent boiling over). Stir constantly as the sugar melts so that the caramel cooks evenly and doesn’t burn. When the caramel is a deep reddish brown, stand back and pour in half the water.
  2. When the water has stopped boiling, add the rest of the water and the butter. Cook the mixture to the soft-ball stage (234° to 240°F/112° to 116°C; see Note). If at any point it smells like the butter may be burning, remove from the heat.
  3. Add the cream and vanilla. Continue to simmer the sauce until it attains the desired thickness. Let cool; the sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.