Every now and then I make caramel sauce for this recipe by caramelizing sugar, but sometimes it either:

  • Hardens
  • Burns
  • Doesn't have that nice caramel colour

What are some tips to avoid the above situations?

The recipe states to:

Add the sugar to a hot pan over medium heat and caramelize. Slice bananas add to pan, and coat them in the caramel. Add butter and allow to melt. Add the finely sliced chili if you like it hot, and stir. Pour in the rum, and flambe (set it on fire – carefully). Add coconut milk and twirl.

  • How exactly are you trying to make it? Caramel sauce isn't made from just sugar, it's a mixture of sugar and dairy products.
    – Aaronut
    Jul 27, 2014 at 18:55
  • @Aaronut this is the recipe that I sometimes have trouble with when making caramel sauce: icookandcode.com/2014/02/11/recipe-hot-banana Jul 28, 2014 at 18:22
  • Welcome to the site, Adrian. Enjoy! Jul 28, 2014 at 20:16
  • @BaffledCook Thank you. Question: in the above comment I linked to my own recipe is this frowned upon? Jul 28, 2014 at 22:41
  • No, but you could quote the recipe. That's clearer and prevents the broken link problem. Jul 28, 2014 at 22:48

3 Answers 3


It sounds like you may be having temperature control issues. If it's not dark enough, keep it over low heat for a bit longer. If it's hardening/burning, it's probably caused by one of the following:

1) your stovetop (if burner isn't turned low enough or burner is too large and overheats sides of pan)

2) your pan (easy to burn things if your pan isn't sufficiently thick-bottomed)

3) lack of attention during the carmelization process (you need to move the sugar towards the center once carmelization begins to prevent burning at the edges, but not stir it too much).

You might find these extremely detailed directions helpful for troubleshooting.


If it hardens, you probably need to add more liquid.

If it burns, you should have paid more attention. Caramel requires attention.

If it doesn't reach the nice caramel colour, it needs more time.

Try to use the same method, the same amount of heat, the same pot and measure your results. When the result is not what you'd expect / like, change one thing only for the next try.


Try a double boiler, like a ganache

  • 6
    Do you think a double boiler will get hot enough? I don’t think so, the boiling point of water (100 C) is the upper limit for a double boiler, sugar caramelizes at significantly higher temperatures. The asker is making caramel from scratch, not melting store-bought caramels. If I misunderstood your post, please edit to explain.
    – Stephie
    Nov 27, 2019 at 6:32

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