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Caramel sauce

Hi....help! I have been successfully making caramel sauce for over a year with no issues but suddenly now every time I make it, it curdles and becomes lumpy, for lack of a better word.

It tastes fine but the texture is awful.

Anyone have any ideas why this would just start without me having changed one thing about the way I make it?

Much appreciated!

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  1. Not exactly "caramel sauce" but I make homemade dulche de leche... IN the UNOPENED can. Can of sweetened, condensed milk (sans label) in pot big enough to cover with water. Bring to simmer and turn down really low for at least 2 hours... making sure you add more water if it gets low. At 2 hours it's pourable and lightly tan. The longer it cooks, the darker and stiffer it gets. Let can cool COMPLETELY before opening... unless ya wanna get seriously burned! Have had it last a LONG time (months) in fridge. One time got a little grainy, but came back after a whle in simmering water.... I store it in a mason jar. Tried it with NON-FAT and frankly couldn't tell the difference.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kseiverd

      Hi Kseiverd...thank you for your response. I do know how to make dulce de leche but it's my caramel sauce I am having issues with. I also know how to make it and have been making it for my business for the past year with no issues. This curdling thing is new and I can't figure out what is happening or why. Have not changed one thing about how I make it. It's very irritating and I do not want to serve lumpy caramel to my customers!

      Thanks for your response!

      1. re: biondanonima

        1 cup sugar
        2 cups water
        1 cup cream ( I warm it slightly)
        2 tbls butter

        1. re: snurbcooks

          It may help to add a tblspoon of corn syrup. I've had luck with corn syrup smoothing my caramels out.

      2. If it's more curdled like cottage cheese I would think it's the cream. Are you using a different brand or a lower fat cream?

        If it's more gritty, I'd look at the sugar. Do you use cane sugar? I know some people swear beet sugar doesn't caramelize as well. Humidity is always a suspect when sugar is involved, any changes there?

        I use equal parts by weight cane sugar and heavy (40% fat) cream - caramelize the sugar wet, add warmed cream and a little salt and vanilla. It always comes out great for me. Try it and see if you still have issues.

        3 Replies
        1. re: babette feasts

          it's like cottage cheese but the curds are smaller. not gritty. i have had that issue (gritty) and have figured that one out.

          just regular granulated sugar

          no change in the cream or brand

          1. re: snurbcooks

            At what point does it start to curdle? As soon as you add the cream? Or after standing?

            1. re: babette feasts

              as soon as the bubbles calm down a bit after adding the cream

        2. Since you have not changed anything, could it be the age or temp of your dairy product?

          Guessing here.

          5 Replies
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            do you think? too hot maybe? I do warm it a bit. too cold? should i warm it more?

            i never changed the way i did it which is sooooo frustrating!

            1. re: snurbcooks

              How do you make it? Cook the sugar and water together until you get the color you want and then pour in the cream? If you use cold cream it will cause the sauce to seize, of course, but that's easily remedied by heating and stirring until smooth.

              1. re: biondanonima

                Yes, I cook sugar and water until amber then add warmed cream. No seizing, just curdling.

                1. re: snurbcooks

                  Maybe try leaving the cream cold and see if that help. I've never had a problem with cold cream, although as I mentioned, the sauce does seize a bit until it comes back up to temperature.

          2. My guess is that it is the increasing humidity with which you have to deal in summer. So, have you made it in the summer before? If so, maybe I am wrong, but sugar is notoriously hydroscopic and the additional moisture can throw off a recipe.

            The other thing that I would look at is the age of the sweetened, condensed milk that you are using. Something happens to that stuff in the can when it gets old.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gfr1111

              I think you mean Hygroscopic.
              By the time the Sugar is caramelizing there is no Water.
              The OP is using Heavy Cream not SCM.

            2. Here's what I use and it always works. I think the Golden Syrup makes it a bit more forgiving. I must say, it usually takes longer than stated to get the right consistency. I go slow.

              1 cup packed light brown sugar
              1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
              1 1/2 cups heavy cream
              1/3 cup Lyles golden syrup

              Melt the brown sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often to help dissolve the sugar. Whisk in the cream and syrup and bring to a boil, taking care that the mixture does not boil over. Cook uncovered, whisking often, until the sauce is glossy, smooth, and reduced by about one-third, about 8 minutes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: onrushpam

                Thank you. I try to keep it a caramel rather than a butterscotch but maybe I will try this.

              2. There must have been a change in your Cream. It is the only variable here.

                5 Replies
                1. re: chefj

                  You're right, it is the only variable. I didn't change brands but maybe something changed in the manufacturing process. I'm stumped. I guess I'll have to try all the different ideas given here until I get it back to normal.

                  Thank you for responding!

                  1. re: snurbcooks

                    Probably the ultra-pasteurization process.

                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                      I noticed that last time I went to the US. Really tough to find milk, especially Organic that was not ultra pasteurized. When/why did that start? Just to increase shelf life? We don't do that up here in Canada.

                        1. re: snurbcooks

                          Well we can't blame ultrapastuerization then.

                2. Thank you to everyone who gave me tips. I appreciate it. Going to try a few different suggestions and see what I can figure out.

                  Thanks again!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: snurbcooks

                    not a suggestion but just a recommendation of another recipe if you need one more choice.


                  2. FWIW I use about a cup to a cup and a half of sugar, heat until it is clear and just beginning to turn brown, turn down the heat, and, all the while stirring with a small silicone spatula, add four or five pats of cold butter, a glug of store brand heavy cream, taken out of the fridge as I start melting the sugar, and a little over a teaspoon of salt. So far no problems other than my addiction.

                    1. Did you ever figure out the caramel sauce problem? I am having the very same issue! Help.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: clloukinas

                        Hi...nope. Never did figure it out. I've closed my ice cream business now anyway so it became unimportant. Sorry about that. Hope you figure it out!