Simple Butterscotch Sauce

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I love this simple butterscotch sauce recipe. I’ve made it a bunch of times and it always turns out great. It can be used as a topping for ice cream or desserts. It’s also great as an apple or fruit dip. You can use it in recipes that call for caramel sauce.

What’s the difference between caramel and butterscotch sauce? Basically, the main differences are that caramel sauce is made with white sugar that is cooked until it caramelizes and may or may not contain butter. Butterscotch sauce is made with brown sugar and always contains butter. In my opinion, the butterscotch sauce is much easier to make and just as delicious.

Brown Sugar

This recipe can be made with light or dark brown sugar. I’ve used both with similar results.


I make this recipe with salted butter, it does not make the finished product salty. If you like salted caramel you can even add some kosher salt to the finished product.


The original recipe I use calls for milk, 2% works just fine for this sauce. Half & half, cream, or evaporated milk are also fantastic in this sauce. I’ve even made it with almond milk with great results.


The vanilla is optional, but I wouldn’t skip it. I love vanilla, especially Homemade Vanilla.

In a heavy saucepan bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil. It’s ok to stir the mixture just until the butter and sugar have melted and come to a gentle boil, then stop stirring. This butterscotch sauce doesn’t need to be stirred constantly. It does need to be at a low/gentle boil so you don’t burn it. Don’t be tempted to stir or you may end up with a grainy sauce when it cools down.

According to Taste of Home if you stir in any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan you can end up with a grainy finished product.

After 5 minutes at a low/gentle boil, remove from the stove and gently stir in the vanilla without scraping the sides.

The sauce will thicken as it cools, use it warm as ice cream or dessert topping. Once the sauce cools a little you can serve it warm or transfer it to a heat-safe container with a lid.

Cool to room temperature before refrigerating. The butterscotch sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you have any left that is. Just re-warm in the microwave or on the stovetop if needed.

A cold spoonful of butterscotch sauce in a hot cup of coffee the next day is divine.

Simple Butterscotch Sauce

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 Tablespoons
Calories: 142kcal


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
  • ½ cup butter (I use salted butter)
  • ¼ cup milk (half & half, cream, or evaporated milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)


  • In a heavy saucepan bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil.
  • Without stirring, allow the sauce to simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla without stirring in any water or sugar crystals from the sides. The sauce will thicken as it cools.


Serving: 1Tbsp | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 34mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

The butterscotch sauce makes an awesome topping on these Caramel Cheesecake Butter Bars if you don’t have any caramels on hand.

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