Our 20 Best Caramel Dessert Recipes That Go Beyond Candy

Because we’re pretty sure everything tastes better with a little caramel flavor

bySAVEUR Editors| PUBLISHED Nov 21, 2017 8:30 PM
Our 20 Best Caramel Dessert Recipes That Go Beyond Candy
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. James Oseland

Caramel recipes are a staple of the dessert world for good reason. Caramel adds sweetness, richness, and depth to whatever it's cooked into, mixed with, or drizzled on. Try it on ice cream or in a layer cake to see how versatile it can be. Caramel is made by heating sugars until they liquefy, making it ideal to mix into batters, or molding into various shapes. Pro tip: elevate your caramel by ditching the white sugar. Whether you're searching for a traditional caramel apple pie or a fresh take on caramel sauce atop avocados, our best caramel dessert recipes might make you want to put this sugary liquid on top of everything from here on out.

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. Get the recipe for Rose's Famous Caramel Cake »

SAVEUR test kitchen director Kellie Evans developed this decadent recipe—a no-holds-barred combination of earthy white truffles, salty pistachios, and rich caramel—after a trip to the Oregon Truffle Festival, where she was inspired by chef Dustin Clark of Wildwood Restaurant and Bar in Portland. The popcorn kernels require at least 8 hours to infuse with truffle aroma, so plan ahead—if you don't happen to have a white truffle lying around, skip the infusion and finish the caramel corn with a bit of truffle salt. Get the recipe for White Truffle-Pistachio Caramel Corn »

A deep-dish pie is packed with both sweet and tart apples to balance the rich, salted caramel sauce. Get the recipe for Salted Caramel Apple Pie »

Cooking time will vary according to the apple variety you choose, but be sure to use a sturdy, very tart apple such as Honeycrisp or Zestar. The smokiness and char from the wood fire, together with the theater of roasting apples over the hot coals, really makes this dessert, but in a pinch you can roast the apples on a baking sheet at 400° uncovered for 30–35 minutes. Get the recipe for Wood-Roasted Apples with Burnt Cinnamon Caramel »

Salty, bittersweet caramel meets buttery avocado in this quick treatment, perfect for dessert or as a snack served atop toast or ice cream. Get the recipe for Avocado with Salted Caramel »

Crunchy cracked caramel balances a smooth butterscotch custard filling in this simple, satisfying tart. Get the recipe for Butterscotch Tart With Cracked Caramel »

Rosemary adds a subtle, herbal undertone to a gooey caramel sauce that gets stirred into tart apples in this sophisticated yet all-American dessert. Get the recipe for Rosemary-Caramel Apple Pie »

This simple salted caramel sauce is the perfect topping on ice cream, cakes, bread pudding, and other desserts. Get the recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce »

Think of it as the more refined version of bacon popping up in your dessert: In this creative caramel adapted from Coolhaus, an ice cream sandwich maker with a national fleet of ice cream trucks, schmaltz and salty chicken bouillon add a subtle thrum of savory to store-bought caramel sauce, while crispy chicken skin lends the perfect crunch. Your guests will never guess the secret ingredient. Get the recipe for Fried Chicken Caramel »

Rich caramel sauce adds creamy sweetness to standard apple butter; spread it on toast, use it to fill pastries, or just eat it with a spoon. Get the recipe for Caramel Apple Butter »

Jonathan Brooks of Milktooth bakes these extreme pecan sticky buns atop a caramel sauce made with coconut milk, ale, coffee, and barley malt syrup—the bitterness of the sauce balances the sweet buns. Get the recipe for Sage and Coconut Caramel Sticky Buns »

This classic custard is ubiquitous in Chile, where it is served in cups for a quick afternoon snack or baked in a larger pan for a family-style dessert. Get the recipe for Baked Custard with Caramel Sauce (Leche Asada) »

You can tailor this crisp kosher dessert by using white, milk or dark chocolate, sliced almonds or dried cranberries, or even omitting the chocolate all together. Get the recipe for Dark Chocolate Matzo Brittle »

A sprinkle of bittersweet caramel brittle adds a welcome crunch to this perennial favorite, made even more special with a homemade graham cracker crust. Get the recipe for Pumpkin Pie with Graham Cracker Crust and Pepita-Sage Brittle »

Amy Thielen's version of crème brûlée involves gjetost, a traditional Norwegian cheese with a fudgy texture and caramelized flavor. She pours the cream over a red currant compote, then brûlées the top. Break that crunchy layer with a spoon and dig into the gooey, fudgey cream. Get the recipe for Gjetost Crème Brûlée »

A crust of finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs adds delicious crunch to vanilla ice cream, softened apples, and a caramel drizzle. Get the recipe for Apple Pie Ice Cream Pie »

At Boulestin, Agen prunes, prized for their caramel notes and soft texture, are infused with brewed tea, cinnamon, and armagnac and then used to top this sumptuous custard. In lieu of vanilla sugar, you can substitute 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Get the recipe for Sauternes Custard with Armagnac-Soaked Prunes »

Sprinkled on top of these delicate meringues—which float in a vanilla custard—are praline roses, caramel-coated almonds dyed a bright pink. The color's a bit shocking, but they're a staple of Lyonnaise pâtisseries and lend a nice crunch and color to this white-on-white backdrop. Get the recipe for Meringue Floating in Crème Anglaise »

The secret to achieving this cake's moist, dense-but-not-too-dense texture is to poke it all over with a knife while it's still warm, before dousing it with a rich milk mixture that will soak into the cake's interior. Get the recipe for Tres Leches Cake »

Flaxseeds add a toasted depth an sophisticated note to these chewy caramels—a heritage recipe Wetzel found when he took over the inn. Get the recipe for Flaxseed Caramels »