Make Ahead

Butterscotch Sauce

April  8, 2014
1 Ratings
  • Makes a little over 1 1/2 cups
Author Notes

This recipe is from one of my mother's best friends, via her mother, via the San Francisco restaurant Trader Vic's. You can make it with either dark or light brown sugar or a combination of the two. It's great drizzled over crêpes and cakes. One thing to know is that it firms up as it hits ice cream, but it softens back up in your mouth. It gets quite hard and grainy in the fridge, but low heat brings the sauce right back to life. This recipe fits perfectly into a Bonne Maman jar. It keeps for months in the fridge, but it will not last that long. —Phyllis Grant

What You'll Need
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped out
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a large saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Boil until sugar dissolves. This takes a few minutes. It will froth and bubble and go bonkers. Don't panic.
  2. Add heavy cream. Stand back. The mixture will erupt and rise up. Stir in vanilla bean, vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Whisk. Bring back up to a vigorous boil for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
  3. Serve right away over ice cream or yogurt. Inside crepes. In between layers of cake. Or store it in the fridge for a few weeks.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kathleen Robertson
    Kathleen Robertson
  • Ann DeLong
    Ann DeLong
  • Phyllis Grant
    Phyllis Grant
  • Kelly
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.

10 Reviews

Kelly October 2, 2015
Just made the Butterscotch Sauce. LOVED IT. Poured it over Three Twins Vanilla ice cream. Thanks for the simple and delicious recipe.
Kathleen R. May 24, 2014
So.Delicious. It lasted less than a week in the refrigerator one spoonful at a time! I have all these jars in the fridge labeled "Phyllis's Dressing" "Phyllis's Carmel Sauce" So yummy.
Brandi April 18, 2014
Wait, there's no scotch in butterscotch?! That's a little devastating.
Phyllis G. April 18, 2014
ha! i know. such a bummer. it's fascinating. here's a bit from wikipedia: One explanation is the meaning "to cut or score" for the word "scotch", as the confection must be cut into pieces, or "scotched", before hardening. It is also possible that the "scotch" part of its name was derived from the word "scorch".
Nathan April 14, 2014
Can you substitute Lyle's golden syrup for the corn syrup?
Phyllis G. April 15, 2014
i don't know. let me know if you try. but i don't see why not. is the flavor fairly neutral?
Catherine April 10, 2014
Any substitution suggestions for the corn syrup?
Phyllis G. April 15, 2014
nathan (in comment above) asked about substituting with golden syrup. worth a shot! or just leave it out. the sauce won't be as smooth. but that's okay.
Ann D. April 9, 2014
Thank you for that. I've always wanted to know how to make real butterscotch sauce.
Phyllis G. April 15, 2014
you're so welcome!