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Elevate your fall desserts with this tart, sweet, and perfectly creamy apple cider caramel made with maple syrup! Inspired by my popular maple syrup caramel sauce, this homemade caramel recipe infuses apple cider into buttery maple syrup to make the best fall-inspired caramel sauce.
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
It’s fall, and that means all things apple, pumpkin, caramel, and even some chocolate. And before we dive into the pumpkin dessert frenzy, a little caramel sauce infused with reduced apple cider will give you all the fall-feels.
This caramel recipe combines my maple syrup caramel sauce and apple cider caramel candies recipes. Buttery maple syrup is pairs with an apple cider reduction to make the creamiest tart and sweet caramel sauce.
Imagine it drizzled over a slice of apple spice bread or pumpkin bread. Or a dollop of it on top of your favorite apple spice cupcakes or pumpkin cupcakes. However you choose to use the caramel sauce, it is sure to add extraordinary autumn flavor!
Everything To Love About This Caramel Sauce recipe
- Buttery maple syrup – Maple syrup already has caramel notes and it cooks into the best caramel sauce that is rich, thick, and full of pure flavor.
- Pronounced apple cider – Apple cider is reduced to infuse an intense sweet, tart, and crisp flavor into the caramel sauce.
- It is refined sugar free – Still sugar, but less refined!
- Only 5 ingredients – Caramel is relatively easy to make, and with only 5 ingredients, this may be your go-to recipe this season!
- The best fall dessert side-dish – A little drizzle over any dessert will evoke apple harvest vibes!
Ingredients For Apple Cider Caramel
- Apple Cider – Look for actual apple cider and not apple juice. Apple cider is unfiltered and has all the yummy goodness of a fresh apple. Apple juice will be filtered and likely diluted with water.
- Pure Maple Syrup – Make certain it is pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup to make apple cider caramel.
- Heavy Cream – I recommend heavy cream to impart a rich and creamy texture.
- Butter – A little pat of unsalted butter will finish the caramel sauce with a velvety texture and flavor.
- Salt – Just a little pinch of salt to balance the flavors.
- Small Saucepan – I recommend a heavy duty saucepan because the bottom will be thicker and distribute heat more evenly. This to ensure the apple cider caramel doesn’t burn.
- Digital Thermometer – When you make caramel sauce (or any candy for that matter), a digital thermometer will take all the guessing out of when it is done. A few degrees can mean the difference between sauce and candies.
How To Make this Homemade Caramel Sauce
- Reduce the apple cider – Simmer the apple cider until is has reduced to 1/4 cup. This will leave a bold, sweet, apple cider syrup. We do this in the apple cider donuts recipe as well.
- Add the rest of the ingredients – Into the same pan (less mess!), and stir until the butter has melted.
- Cook to 230 degrees – Stop stirring and just let the caramel sauce cook and thicken.
- Don’t over-cook – Check the sauce often with the thermometer to cook to temperature. Any warmer than 230 degrees and you will end up with thick caramel, akin to candy!
- Cool in the pan, then cool in a jar – Leave the apple cider caramel sauce at room temperature to cool in a glass jar.
- Refrigerate until needed – Unless you are going to use right away, refrigerate the sauce.
- Heat for a few seconds before serving – The sauce will thicken in the fridge. Microwave for a few seconds to loosen it.
Tips For Successful apple cider Caramel Sauce
- Reduce the apple cider – It may seem like an unnecessary step, but if you want pronounced apple cider flavor, reducing it will strengthen the flavor.
- Don’t stir the caramel while cooking – Stir to melt the butter, but then let the apple cider caramel cook on its own. Too much stirring may cause the caramel to crystalize.
- Watch the caramel temperature – Unless you want to make candy caramels, remove the caramel from the heat once it reaches 230 degrees.
- Let the caramel cool at room temperature – We don’t want to introduce any condensation, so allow the caramel to cool at room temp before refrigerating.
Yes, this recipe can easily be doubled.
You sure can! Just follow the recipe and swap the butter and cream for 2 tablespoons of canned coconut cream.
You can cook to 240 to 250 degrees and make candy caramels. Pour the caramel into a lightly greased and lined mini pan and let cool and set. Cut into candy squares when ready to serve.
Keep in mind the caramel will thicken as it cools. If it is too thin – has it been cooked to 230 degrees? Did you use pure maple syrup? Did you add too much apple cider?
It should last about 2 to 3 weeks in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Apple Cider Maple Syrup Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup apple cider (reduced to 1/4 cup)
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- pinch salt
- Reduce the apple cider – Add the apple cider to the small saucepan. Over low heat, simmer the apple cider until you have 1/4 cup. Check every 5 minutes until you have 1/4 cup – mine takes about 15 minutes.1 cup apple cider
- Add the maple syrup, cream, and butter. Over medium-low heat, stir the syrup until the butter has melted. Continue to heat the syrup and allow it to lightly boil until it thickens and is heated to around 230 degrees. You don't need to stir the caramel. Too much stirring may cause sugar crystals to form, which will likely crystallize your caramel sauce. Note – I strongly recommend using a digital thermometer because the caramel can quickly thicken and turn into candy beyond 230 degrees.½ cup pure maple syrup, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- Turn off the heat and stir in the salt. Cool the caramel in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a glass jar for storage and serving. Cool in the jar completely at room temperature. You can either serve at this point or transfer to the fridge.pinch salt
- The caramel sauce will last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It will thicken as it cools. To serve, heat the caramel in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds to loosen it up.
- Serving Size – The recipe can easily be doubled.
- Apple Cider – Be sure it is apple cider, and not apple juice. Apple Cider is unfiltered whereas apple juice is filtered and likely diluted with water.
- Maple Syrup – Pure maple syrup and not pancake syrup!
- Cook to 230 Degrees – Any longer, and you will end up with thick caramel that makes candy caramels!
- Storing – I like refrigerate the caramel sauce in a glass jar to make it easy to heat when serving.
- Freezing – You can freeze the caramel sauce. To do so, transfer to a plastic tightly sealed container. No glass, because we don’t want it to break in the freezer! Thaw at room temp, then heat to loosen.
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!