Caramel is a staple of the dessert world for good reason. It adds not just sweetness, but richness and depth, to whatever it's cooked into, mixed with, or drizzled on. From nutty brittles to decadent cakes to fruity pies, we've rounded up our favorite caramel recipes.
The most basic way to enjoy caramel is as a sauce that you can serve on ice cream, pie, or anything else you want. Making your own caramel sauce is incredibly easy—in just 20 minutes you can whip up a batch of our salted caramel sauce. The salt intensifies the sweetness of the caramel. If you want something more adventurous try our fried chicken caramel—yes, it's really made with chicken skin, fat, and stock. It might sound weird, but the sweet-savory combo is totally delicious.
Mix buttery caramel with nuts, let it cool, and you have brittle. This crunchy dessert is a great gift, though you might want to keep it around to snack on yourself. Our pecan pie brittle uses broken peanuts and vanilla to evoke the Southern classic. A little more savory is our pine nut brittle scented with rosemary.
We love the combination of bananas and caramel. In our banana tarte tatin, tart Manzano bananas are set on a layer of rich caramel, covered in puff pastry, and baked. Glacéed bananas are an addictive treat. To make them, bananas are quartered, deep-fried, and dipped in caramel. Shocking them in ice water hardens the caramel into a crispy shell.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of caramel recipes.
Literally named “crunch in the mouth,” croquembouche is an edible monument of caramelized pastry.
Adding baking soda to molten sugar creates bubbles that get trapped once the mixture cools. The hardened result has an airy, honeycomb-like structure. Morgenstern’s of New York City adds honey and instant coffee to its version of this candy, which, when crushed up, becomes a bittersweet, crunchy topping that offsets the sweetness of ice cream. Get the recipe for Coffee Honeycomb Crunch »
Chewy, pleasantly salty caramels are flavored simply with coconut milk and sugar.
This sweet riff on the Indian yogurt drinks known as lassis comes from Lingaraj Lassi, a popular refreshment stand in Bhubaneshwar in the east Indian state of Odisha. Its honeyed taste and caramel hue come from the sugars in the milk, which caramelize as the milk reduces, deepening and intensifying it in color and flavor.
Lavender and Earl Grey tea lend this caramel sauce a citrusy, floral note—serve it warm on top of ice cream.
A cinnamon-spiced sauce of butter and melted caramel candies poured over apples makes a wonderfully sweet, gooey pie filling.
Inspired by a dessert from Beijing’s China Club restaurant, chef and restaurateur Cecilia Chiang coats fried bananas in a thin, delicate shell of caramel. Get the recipe for Glacéed Bananas »
This buttery cake slathered with rich caramel icing has earned local fame on Chicago’s South Side—it’s one of our favorites to make for special occasions.
An irresistible British dessert, banoffee pie has its share of fanatics on this side of the pond, too. Banana slices, sticky toffee, and whipped cream are arranged in layers over a cookie-like crust, resulting in a dense, cool treat. Get the recipe for Banoffee Pie »
This decadent take on an iconic New Orleans dessert, from Mat & Naddie’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, gilds the lily, pan-frying white chocolate-enriched bread pudding, and plating it with satiny caramel and brûléed bananas. Using caramelized white chocolate gilds it even more.
Crunchy, salty, and rosemary-scented, pine nut brittle makes a great gift.
Chewy caramel topped with crushed peppermint candies is one of many versions of kola, a kind of semisoft toffee adored all over Sweden.