Canning Questions: Is Canning Caramel Sauce Safe?

Jar of caramel with sugar cubes
Home-canning caramel sauce is not recommended. Caramel sauce contains dairy products and has low acidity making it unsafe to process in a water bath or pressure canner. Preserve caramel sauce by placing it into freezer-safe, airtight containers and store in your freezer.

Is It Possible to Can Caramel Sauce?

No – there are no science-tested caramel sauce canning recipes from trusted sources. Caramel sauce’s main ingredients are butter and whipping cream. The National Center for Home Food Preservation and other canning experts warn against canning dairy products or their byproducts due to uncertain processing times and low acidity.

Jar of homemade caramel sauce
Jar of caramel

Reasons Why Caramel Sauce May Not Be Safe for Canning

Canning caramel sauce may be unsafe due to the following reasons:

Density – Caramel sauce has a thick consistency with a density similar to that of pumpkin puree or peanut butter. This means heat may not penetrate effectively into the center of the jar.

Dairy – Most caramel sauce recipes use heavy cream and unsalted butter. Experts don’t recommend canning dairy products as the saturated fats may insulate and protect botulism spores.

Lack of testing – There are no research-backed guidelines for the processing time, temperature, or storage methods when home canning dairy products.

Low acidity – Like meat and vegetables, caramel sauce is a low-acid food. Most recipes don’t use any acidic ingredients, supporting the rapid growth of bacteria.

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Salted caramel pear butter

Salted Pear Butter Caramel Sauce Canning Recipe

  • Author: Regie
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes


Canning delicious, acidified, dairy-free pear butter salted caramel sauce is safe using a water bath canner. This sweet and fruity sauce tastes so good it may just be your new go-to caramel!


  • 4 lbs pears (peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
  • 21/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt or Kosher salt


  1. Wash pears thoroughly and rinse under cool running tap water.
  2. Cut them lengthwise into halves, peel carefully, and core them.
  3. Add the coarsely chopped pears, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar in a 4-6 quart heavy saucepan or crock pot. Attach a lid.
  4. Place on a stovetop and simmer using high heat for 30-40 minutes until tender. Turn off the stove and set the pot aside.
  5. Process the mixture into a smooth puree using a food mill or immersion blender. You can also press the pears through a colander.
  6. Return the pureed mixture to a crock pot, add salt and brown sugar, cover with a lid, and set on medium-high heat.
  7. Simmer for 3-4 hours until the pulp develops a thick consistency (not runny when scooped with a spoon) and deep-brown color. Stir the mixture every 30 minutes.
  8. Wash pint-sized canning jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Rinse jars and place in simmering water until ready to use. Set the lids and screw bands aside to air-dry.
  9. Prepare your water bath canner by filling it with water halfway and heat it to boiling on the stove. Ensure a canning rack is placed inside the canner.
  10. Use a canning funnel to fill the hot jars with hot pear butter. Leave ¼ inch headspace.
  11. Remove air bubbles using a bubble popper.
  12. Wipe the jar rims using a damp paper towel. Place the canning lids on and apply the screw bands, twisting until fingertip-tight.
  13. Use canning tongs to load the jars into your boiling water canner, ensuring the water level is 1 inch over the jars. Add boiling water as necessary to ensure water completely covers the jars.
  14. Adjust the temperature to high heat to bring water to a rolling boil. Place a lid on your canner.
  15. Process the pint or half-pint jars for 15-30 minutes, adjusting the time per your altitude.
  16. Once the jars are fully-processed, turn off the heat. Wait 2-5 minutes before removing them from the hot water using a jar lifter.
  17. Place the jars on a cushioned wire rack or towel-covered countertop to cool for 12-24 hours.
  18. Once cool, remove the screw bands and inspect the canning lids. Press the top of each lid with a finger to check the seals. Vacuum-sealed jar lids don’t flex when pressed.
  19. Put any unsealed jar in the refrigerator and use them within 4-5 days.
  20. For sealed jars, label them with the contents and canning date. Store them in a clean, dry, cool place.
  • Prep Time: 5 hours
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes


  • Serving Size: 300g
  • Calories: 410kcal
  • Sugar: 89g
  • Sodium: 600mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 102g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Protein: 1g

Can Condensed Milk Caramel Be Canned?

No – both caramelized sweetened condensed milk and Dulce de leche are dairy products that are not safe for canning. That doesn’t mean you can’t make yummy caramel out of them, but you need to store it in the refrigerator for safety:

  1. Remove the label on your canned sweetened condensed milk. Use cans with sealed lids, not pull-tab lids, as they can easily pop once pressure builds while heating.
  2. Fill a medium-large saucepan or pot with water. Immerse unopened cans of condensed milk in the water. You can also use a pressure cooker or slow cooker.
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil before reducing the heat to a gentle simmer.
  4. With the can wholly submerged in water, simmer the condensed milk cans for 2-3 hours.
  5. Using canning tongs, remove the cans from the hot water and set them aside on a heat-resistant surface to cool naturally.
  6. Once completely cooled, you can open the cans and consume the caramel on ice cream, brownies, or apple pie or refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks.
A bowl of sweetened condensed milk with a spoon
Sweetened condensed milk

How to Store Homemade Caramel Sauce

With canning being a risk for caramel sauce, some excellent methods of long-term storage include:

1. Freezing

Once your delicious caramel sauce is ready, allow it to cool completely. Transfer it into clean, non-glass, airtight containers and place them in your freezer for up to 3 months.

2. Dehydration

Did you know you can dehydrate caramel sauce, pound it into a light powder and preserve it in airtight jars for up to two years? For this method, use caramel sauce that is made with only sugar. Do not dehydrate caramel that has been made with dairy products.

  1. Spread caramel sauce on a fruit roll dehydrator tray lined with parchment paper and dehydrate at 165°F until fully dried.
  2. Remove the dehydrator tray from the oven, and let the caramel cool to room temperature.
  3. Break up the pieces of dehydrated caramel and place them into a food processor, and pulse for a few seconds at a time until a powder forms.
  4. Store the ground, dehydrated caramel in clean, airtight jars. To rehydrate, simply add two parts hot water to one part caramel powder and stir until you achieve the desired consistency.

What are the Dangers of Rebel Canning Caramel Sauce?

1. Botulism

Canning low-acid foods with dairy, including caramel sauce, without following tested recipes provides a breeding ground for Clostridium botulinum. Botulism can be fatal, and there is no way to see, taste, or smell the bacteria.

2. Unpleasant Taste or Texture

Rebel canning may leave your sauce with an undesirable consistency or flavor.

3. Wasted Ingredients

Processing caramel sauce using untested times and procedures may result in a product that separates or isn’t usable. Instead of potentially wasting time and ingredients, store caramel sauce in the freezer.

Is Caramel Sauce Shelf Stable?

Homemade caramel sauce isn’t shelf-stable. The natural ingredients, including unsalted or salted butter, and lack of processing make it hard for the sauce to keep longer than 3-4 months.

Some store-bought caramel sauces may be shelf stable if they are unopened because some brands include preservatives or additives to extend the shelf life. Always read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Dark colored caramel sauce spoon being lifted out of jar
Dark caramel sauce

What is the Shelf Life of Commercially Made Caramel?

According to the USDA, canned food can last for years as long as the can isn’t dented, swollen, or rusty. However, it’s a good idea to confirm the expiration date and storage instructions before buying canned caramel sauce from the grocery store. Use the food within one year from the manufacturing date for the best quality.


Growing up as a farm girl, Regie assisted her grandparents in canning sheep meat and helped her mother sell canned carrots. This grew her passion for canning from a young age. As a writer, she uses her canning experience to give creative, practical ideas for preserving different foods to canning enthusiasts.

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