A fabulous, silky smooth sauce with the delicious flavors of butter and brown sugar, this Easy Butterscotch Sauce is wonderful drizzled on ice cream, tarts, pies and so much more!
Over the many years that Scott and I have been married (44!), I've often heard him reminisce about his grandmother's "amazing butterscotch pie". It sounds quite magical; a flaky homemade crust, a rich, deep butterscotch filling and a cloud of ethereal, lightly golden browned meringue as the crowning glory. When I gave him a taste of this Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce and he said, "Wow, this brings back memories of Grandma Carman", I knew I had a winner!
Although we already have an incredible Caramel Sauce recipe on the blog, there's something distinctively different and uniquely delicious about this easy butterscotch sauce.
What's the difference between caramel sauce and butterscotch sauce?
A professional pastry chef from Taste of Home explains it this way: "Caramel is typically made with white granulated sugar. Water, sugar and corn syrup are heated until the sugar dissolves. Then the mix is left to boil until the syrup turns golden brown. Butter, cream and vanilla syrup are added and the ooey-gooey sauce is heated again."
Butterscotch, on the other hand, "is made with brown sugar instead of white sugar. The traditional butterscotch recipe calls for butter to be melted with brown sugar to start. Once the mixture becomes more of a liquid (appearing less grainy), cream is added and the ingredients are boiled again until it reaches the optimal temperature.
And although the two are similar and probably grew up in the same family, if you do a side-by-side taste test, there's a BIG difference!
What does Ridiculously Easy mean?
Isn't it enough to just say "easy"? Well, no, at least not here at The Café. That's because Ridiculously Easy is a whole category of recipes for us. If you're new to The Café you can read more about these unique recipes in this post. But in a nutshell, Ridiculously Easy recipes are those that "make you look like a kitchen rockstar with minimal effort on your part". We love these recipes as much as our readers do because they're all super delicious and so easy, ridiculously easy!
How to use this sweet confection
This easy butterscotch sauce will take about 15 minutes to put together, start to finish and will result in several jars of this silky-smooth, richly hued, buttery-sweet confection. What to do with it? Oh, there are so many ways to use this fabulous sauce.
It makes an amazing (and almost no effort) dessert spooned over a dish of vanilla ice cream. Add a simple shortbread cookie on the side and you've got a dessert worthy of royalty. No one will care that you didn't spend all day in the kitchen.
It's also delicious drizzled over just about any apple dessert like this recipe for Annie's Easy Apple Pie, this Easy French Apple Tart or these Glazed Puff Pastry Apple Roses. It also pairs deliciously with pumpkin and pear desserts.
And if you're looking for a gift idea, who wouldn't enjoy a jar of this Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce delivered to their door or popped in their mailbox? Tie it with a pretty ribbon and add a little gift tag that we'll be happy to share with you. Note, that I didn't mention the Ridiculously Easy part of the gift tag. That can be our little secret! If you'd like a free printable PDF of this gift tag, feel free to leave us a comment below and let us know.
We'll email you the PDF. All you have to do is click on it and the PDF reader on your computer will be opened. You can then go to the menu bar at the top of the screen, click on the word "File" and you'll have the option to print the labels.
You might want to whip up a batch of this Easy Butterscotch Sauce today. That way you'll be all set for a delicious new recipe coming up, our Salted Butterscotch Panna Cotta. It's another super easy recipe that's a delicious and very elegant way to end a meal. Stay tuned, it's coming up soon!
So cheers to Grandma Carman, who made the wonderful butterscotch pies that Scott remembers so fondly. I'm trying to follow in her culinary footsteps, but in a much easier and less time-consuming way. I have noticed that each time Scott takes a taste of this easy butterscotch sauce, he swoons just a bit. I have a feeling that Grandma Carman saw that same look of delight each time he sat down to a piece of her (now famous) butterscotch pie!
Café Tips for making this Ridiculously Easy Butterscotch Sauce
- Look for the darkest brown sugar you can find to add rich flavor and a beautiful deep hue to this sauce. Some brown sugar is labeled "dark" but it looks almost exactly like light brown sugar. I find that my local store brand (Laura Lynn) as well as well as Dixie Crystals Dark Brown Sugar give me that nice rich color.
- This recipe calls for flaky sea salt. In my opinion, the best flaky sea salt comes from a city in England, about 50 miles north of London called Maldon. The salt is named after the city and is a fabulous flaky finishing salt, which means it's used at the end to add a finishing touch. It's a clean, mild tasting salt with no bitterness. The flakes add a delicious little crunch to meat, vegetables, desserts... anything! It's wonderful in this easy butterscotch sauce as it enhances and adds complexity to the flavor. Because it's flaky rather than hard and crystallized, you can pick up a little pinch with your thumb forefinger to crush it. Maldon is more expensive than your typical table salt or kosher salt but a box will last a long time and give your lots of gourmet pleasure.
- All that being said, if you don't have Maldon and don't want to purchase it, kosher salt will work and the sauce will still be delicious!
- This easy butterscotch sauce is fine at room temperature for several hours but should be refrigerated for longer term storage. When it's cold, however, it will get quite thick. You can re-warm it in a saucepan on low heat or in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Don't return it to a boil, just gently warm it.
- Don't skip the lemon juice! It's a minimal amount and doesn't change the flavor of this sauce but anytime you make a cooked sauce with a decent amount of sugar, there's a chance for crystallization, which can give the sauce a grainy consistency. Just a bit of lemon juice is insurance to prevent this crystallization as it creates a chemical reaction called inversion. Inversion simply means it changes the structure of the sugar molecules so they aren't able to crystalize. YAY!
- Feel free to skip the Scotch in this easy butterscotch sauce although it does add a nice depth of flavor.
- I love to use these simple but elegant Weck Mini Tulip Jars for this easy butterscotch sauce, especially when gifting. They can also be used for jams and jellies and are a really pretty way to serve the Salted Butterscotch Panna Cotta that's coming up next!
- These hexagon-shaped jars are also a pretty (and less expensive) way to jar and gift this easy butterscotch sauce.
Thought for the day:
Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- ½ cup butter (I used salted. If you use unsalted, increase the kosher salt to ¾ teaspoon at the end.)
- 1½ cups dark brown sugar firmly packed
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Scotch whiskey (optional)
- ½ teaspoon flaky salt
- additional flaky sea salt such as Maldon, for serving
In a medium-size sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine. The mixture will look like wet sand.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a slow steady boil and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture looks smooth rather than grainy. (At first the butter and brown sugar may seem to be separated but it will come together as it cooks.)
Stand back a little (as the mixture will sputter a bit) and add the heavy cream. Stir to combine then return to a low steady boil. Cook for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the vanilla, Scotch (if using) and sea salt. Sir to combine.
Transfer to glass jars and allow to cool completely. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in the refrigerator when not in use. The sauce will keep well for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Rewarm gently before serving in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Do not bring to a boil when rewarming. Serve the sauce drizzled over ice cream, pies, tarts, apple and pear desserts, pumpkin desserts, etc. Sprinkle with a pinch of extra flaky sea salt when serving.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips.
Makes 2 cups of butterscotch sauce.