Caramel Sauce vs Caramel Syrup: What’s The Difference?

Caramel Sauce

Has it ever happened to you that you used caramel syrup instead of caramel sauce and the dish turned out to have a completely different taste?

If you ever got confused between both the caramel types, their flavor, and how to serve them, then you have clicked the right article.

So, what is the difference between caramel sauce and caramel syrup? The main difference is ingredients, taste, preparation, serving, and consistency.

Now, let’s learn what exactly is caramel sauce and syrup to end this long charade of confusion.

What’s Caramel Sauce?

Caramel sauce is a rich mixture of sugar and water that you can easily use as a topping.

This is a huge hit if you want to use it in desserts, coffees, cookies, bars, and ice creams. Caramel sauce requires a slightly more complicated process than caramel syrup but it is so worth it. 


What’s Caramel Syrup?

Caramel syrup is the opposite of caramel sauce. With a slightly bitter taste, you can make this syrup with only two ingredients.

Nothing enhances the flavor of a cappuccino or latte than caramel syrup. So, if you are missing your favorite Starbucks coffee then try making this at home to recreate the flavor. 

Caramel Sauce vs Caramel Syrup: Comparison Table

Let’s give a look at this easy-to-understand comparison table that enumerates all the differences in an organized manner.

Category  Caramel sauce Caramel syrup
Ingredients  Sugar, water, cream, and butter Sugar, and water
Preparation  After caramelization add in the cream, and then butter After caramelization, add in more water to make it thin and let it come to a boil
Taste  Sweet, buttery, rich  Bitter 
Consistency   Thick  Thin 
Serving  As a topping  Mixed in the dish

Caramel Sauce vs Caramel Syrup: What’s the Difference?

By now, you might have realized that there are several differences between caramel sauce and caramel syrup. So let’s read more about them in detail.


Caramel syrup uses only two ingredients that are sugar and water.

It only involves the caramelization process and then it’s done. However, caramel sauce requires a number of ingredients to achieve the desired result.

Without the addition of a dairy product like cream, you cannot make the caramel sauce.

It gives all the richness to it. Hence, this is not vegan so the vegans should know the difference between them otherwise they’ll be deceived. 


The preparation method of both the caramel is also quite different. We’ll give you a step-by-step guide so you can make your choice of caramel any day.

Here’s how to make caramel syrup:

  1. In a pan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. 
  2. Bring to a point where the mixture starts bubbling and the color of the mixture changes to deep brown.
  3. Then, add more water and allow it to amalgamate with the mixture as it comes to a boil.
  4. You’ll want a water-like consistency because once it cools down, the mixture will thicken up a bit.

Here’s how you can make the caramel sauce:

  1. In a heavy bottom pan, dissolve sugar and water and let it come to a boil.
  2. In another pan, add the cream and let that too come to a boil.
  3. Once the caramelization is done, and the color of the caramel becomes deep brown, pour in the cream.
  4. Whisk with a wooden spatula and stir vigorously till they are combined.
  5. You need a mixture that has no lumps in it.
  6. Once you reach this stage, add in the butter and whisk it.


The caramel sauce has a sweet and buttery taste as compared to caramel syrup which is quite bitter in taste. The addition of a dairy element such as cream adds richness to caramel sauce. The same richness is missing in caramel syrup.

Technically, the sugar molecules break down as the temperature continues to rise, which makes caramel syrup bitter. However, in caramel sauce, we stop the caramelization by adding in the cream, hence, the flavor remains sweet and buttery.

Moreover, the kind of sugar you use also makes a difference in the flavor. For instance, with brown sugar, you’ll have a richer flavor than with white sugar. 


The caramel sauce has a thick consistency because of the cream.

Additionally, it will thicken more after it cools down. So, if your caramel sauce is quite thin, you can add a tablespoon of cream to it to balance it out.

On the other hand, caramel syrup has a thin consistency because of the presence of water. The addition of a dairy product changes the consistency of the overall caramel. 


Caramel sauce is perfect for topping ice creams and desserts because of its rich and sweet flavor. It is also easier to mix and dissolve. Caramel syrup, on the other hand, is excellent for mixing in desserts or coffees.

Sometimes, you’ll see caramel on the sides of coffee bottles, it is caramel syrup and it provides a hint of bitterness which elevates the flavor. Bear in mind that you cannot use caramel syrup as a topping because of the bitter flavor.

However, caramel syrups are versatile as you can use them in both hot and cold coffees. While caramel sauce clumps down if you don’t use it with any hot liquid.

It doesn’t work well with cold beverages. So you’ll have to add the hot liquid to mix it properly and then add ice cubes to make it cold.

Related Questions 

Can I use caramel syrup instead of caramel sauce?

No, you cannot use them interchangeably. Their process, ingredients, flavor, and texture are completely different from one another.

You can easily blend in the sauce and dissolve, hence, it is often used as a topping. On the other hand, caramel syrup has a thin consistency. Thus, you cannot use caramel syrup instead of caramel sauce. 

What’s the difference between caramel sauce and caramel syrup in Starbucks?

Starbucks is famous for the many flavors it provides to enhance the taste of the coffee.

The coffee sauces are thicker and include dairy in it, so these are not suitable for vegans. The caramel sauce is a great accompaniment in hot coffees.

On the other hand, caramel syrup is liquid and has a thin consistency. Moreover, it is more versatile and works well with iced coffees.

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