Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce

This thick, sticky butterscotch sauce is slightly different from caramel sauce, as it doesn’t contain any butter, includes corn syrup for chewiness, and has the added boost of booze from Scotch whiskey. Any blended whiskey will do—you don’t need to use your expensive single-malt here. You’ll find this sauce is a miracle on cakes as well as a serious treat poured over vanilla ice cream.–Monica Sweeney

What's the Difference Between Butterscotch Sauce and Caramel?

What’s that, you say? You want more specifics on the difference between butterscotch and caramel? While recipes vary somewhat, technically most caramel sauce recipes rely on granulated sugar that’s melted to the point of golden brown lusciousness. Sometimes cream or butter or both are stirred into the melted sweetness. Whereas with butterscotch sauce, brown sugar is the basis of the loveliness and is combined with cream—and even, in this recipe, whiskey—to achieve even loftier heights of lusciousness. What’s more, this boozy butterscotch sauce recipe is almost effortless to make. So much so that we consider it the easiest DIY dessert bling ever. You’re welcome.

Butterscotch Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes about 2 1/2 cups
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Heat the brown sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, and heavy cream in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Add the whiskey and vanilla and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a few days. (You’ll want to reheat the butterscotch sauce in the microwave in 10-second bursts or in a bowl placed over but not touching simmering water until you reach the desired consistency.)

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Recipe Testers' Tips

You’re not likely to spend a better 10 minutes anytime soon than you will by crafting this killer dessert sauce. While I could be quite content just eating this butterscotch sauce warm from the pan with a spoon, I can tell you, speaking from 3 nights running experience (ugh), it is unbelievably good over vanilla ice cream, too. Making the sauce couldn't be easier, and I'm not kidding, 10 minutes is all you need to make this magic happen. I made my awesome batch with bourbon because I didn't have any Scotch whiskey in the house, so don't feel the need to rush out for a bottle if you find yourself in a similar pinch. After making this butterscotch sauce recipe, I can't imagine I'll ever buy a jarred butterscotch sauce again; it would just be wrong. I'm banking on the fact that what little butterscotch sauce I have left after my butterscotch sundae binge will be stellar drizzled over the cake that I'll be making for a dinner party on Friday.

This butterscotch sauce recipe was a snap to make, especially compared to melting sugar to a caramel color and adding cream and butter. We didn't miss the butter at all and loved the boozy hint from the Scotch whiskey. I started timing the 5 minute cooking time after small bubbles started to form, but 5 minutes total didn't seem like enough time. The sauce was thin until I put it in the refrigerator for an hour. Next time, I would decrease the cold water to 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup. This is definitely a butterscotch sauce recipe to keep around for when you need a sort-of caramel sauce in a hurry.

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    1. They are incredibly similar, KK. We can assure you that it was published from the cookbook referenced in the recipe, however, we can’t speak to where the author got her inspiration from.

    1. Amanda, we didn’t try it without the booze so I can’t say for certain how it will turn out, however, my guess is that it may be a little lacking flavorwise without the whiskey. You may want to up the vanilla extract to compensate. My suggestion, if you omit the whiskey, is to start with 3/4 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and then take a taste and, if necessary, add a little more. As for the texture, you should be fine. The sauce is just like a typical butterscotch sauce and more on the runny side than the thick side. Good luck!

  1. This looks like an excellent idea! I’d love to prepare it and give it to my neighbors for gifts. Does it keep? Could it be processed in a water bath for canning and room temp stability?

    1. Hi Leslie, it keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Due to the dairy ingredients, it would not be suitable for canning.

  2. So maybe the LC crowd can help me with this one… since I live in Germany it is pretty much impossible to get a hold of corn syrup here. Aside from the questionable health benefits of said product, one just can’t find it at an affordable price.

    What kind of potential replacements exist? A culinary friend of mine suggested a sugar syrup, homemade, but would that have the same properties or similar ones?

    I would appreciate a few ideas.

    1. Hi Thomas, great question. I know that you can make a concentrated simple syrup using the proportions of 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water. I’ve also seen golden syrup as a replacement in many recipes. I can’t attest to how they would be behave in this recipe but it is certainly worth a try. And a taste.

  3. This is just mean!!! Four days before I have to make Christmas pies and you give us this??? Now I want a Butterscotch sundae so badly I can taste it! Hopefully this craving will wait for a New Year’s treat!

    1. Jean, you can have it now! Don’t wait until New Years. Why not a drizzle on some of those pies you are making?

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