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Caramel Sauce VS Caramel Syrup – 4 Key Differences & How To Make Them

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Maybe you know the feeling of asking a barista to put some “caramel syrup, or sauce or whatever it is in your coffee.” If you don’t work in a field that involves food or beverages, those two can seem to be the same thing.

I think there are a lot of menus out there that have caramel syrup instead of sauce or otherwise, and most of the customers will not notice this.

But since you are here, for sure, you figured out there is at least one difference between caramel syrup and caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce vs Caramel Syrup (1)

Caramel sauce vs. Caramel Syrup

The main difference between caramel sauce and caramel syrup is that caramel syrup is made from two ingredients, brown sugar, and water. In contrast, caramel sauce needs a fat substance like heavy cream, butter, or milk.

There are quite a few more differences that all stem from the difference in ingredients between caramel syrup and caramel sauce. We will get to them later in the article.

What is caramel sauce?

Caramel sauce is caramelized sugar mixture with whipped cream, butter, or milk.

You can play a bit with the fats that you want in your caramel sauce and also, you can add other ingredients like vanilla or salt if you want salty caramel.

caramel sauce

What is caramel syrup?

Caramel syrup is caramelized sugar with extra water and boiled together until a honey-like consistency is achieved.

You should be careful with the consistency you want while making caramel syrup because it will be thinner when it is hot. Once it cools down, it will become thicker.

Read Also:Butterscotch VS Toffee

4 differences between caramel syrup and sauce

-Dairy-free. Caramel syrup is dairy-free since it is made from water and brown sugar. Meanwhile, you can’t obtain caramel sauce without adding a dairy product.

-Taste. The caramel sauce has a better, richer taste since you have to add some milk fat to make it. Also, when making caramel sauce, you can add vanilla flavor to it if you want.

Caramel syrup will be sweet, but it is often too sweet since it does not have any other flavor to complement that sweetness. Both are good but in different quantities and for different reasons.

-Usage. Caramel syrup is most often used for drinks like coffee, cocktails, or other sweet beverages. You should choose caramel syrup over caramel sauce when all you want is a bit of extra decoration on food or beverages that you will eat right after you pour syrup on them.

Caramel sauce is more often used in baking or mixed with peanut butter, chocolate or cream. You should go for caramel sauce whenever you need a thicker texture that can last for a long time without losing its shape.

-Texture. Caramel sauce should be much thicker than caramel syrup, especially after cooling down. You can make syrup as liquid as you want by adding more water. It really depends on what you need it for.

As for caramel sauce, here you can be more creative since you have more ingredients to play with. 

You can choose from different types of butter or cream. Also, you can change the quantity you use depending on what you are planning to do with the sauce.

Read Also:Should Maple Syrup Be Refrigerated ?

How to make caramel syrup

When making caramel syrup, you have to boil 1:1 water and brown sugar until it starts bubbling, and the mix will have a darker brown color. All this time, you have to stir continuously to keep it from sticking to the bottom of your pan.

Then add more water little by little until you get the desired consistency. I should be a bit thinner than you want to go for, because it will get thicker when it cools down.

Now you can put it into a jar or bottle, and when it is completely cool, you can store it in the fridge.

How to make caramel sauce

When making caramel sauce, you should boil water with brown sugar in a pan and prepare another pan for heating the cream.

When the sugar and water mix starts bubbling, instead of adding more water, as in the case of syrup, you should add the cream to it and mix them together until the cream is fully incorporated.

Boil it for a few more seconds then remove the flame.

When it’s a bit cool ( not completely cool) you can add the butter and stir it again until it’s fully incorporated as well. At this step, optionally, you can add a pinch of salt if you want salted caramel, or you can add vanilla if you want vanilla-flavored caramel.

The next step is to let it completely cool down and then use it for your dessert. Caramel sauce can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for about a week.


So even though caramel syrup and caramel sauce seem to be the same thing, this can not be further from the truth.

In some cases, you can use one instead of the other, but it will significantly change the taste and texture you want to achieve in your food, beverage, or dessert. 

I recommend sticking it to the one you should use in your particular case instead of swapping them. Because this way you can be sure that you get the best taste and texture from it.

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