It's easy and fun to make a delicious Caramel Sundae at home!
Buttery, rich caramel sauce is the star of this dessert, but we'll also be adding the perfect caramel sundae toppings, like whipped cream, sprinkles, and a sweet maraschino cherry.
Keep reading to learn how to make a caramel sundae, and get all of my best tips and tricks.
If you give me a choice between hot fudge sauce and caramel (please don't actually make me choose) I'm likely to choose a caramel sundae every time.
The creamy, sweet, slightly salty, gooey caramel sauce takes a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream to a new high, and you only need a few simple toppings to enjoy a freshly made caramel sundae at home, any time you want.
Why You're Going to Love this Caramel Sundae Recipe
It's better because you made it yourself. It's been a while since I've had a McDonald's caramel sundae, but I was always a big fan of them as a kid.
There are a few problems with getting a caramel sundae from the drive-through. Not only do you have to drive there and pay a premium for the convenience, but it's never guaranteed that the ice cream machine at McDonald's will even be in working order!
I prefer not to have to worry if the McDonald's ice cream machine is working, and instead I just keep a jar of caramel sauce on hand for when that craving strikes.
Making a caramel sundae at home allows you to control all of the ingredients, so you know exactly what you're getting, and can make sure that your sundae is made just right.
Ingredients in Homemade Caramel Sundaes
Caramel Sauce - There are many delicious caramel ice cream toppings available in stores. Choose your favorite. You can make caramel sundaes with caramel syrup, caramel topping, or caramel sauce.
Whipped Cream - You can pick up a can of whipped cream at the store, or make up your own using heavy whipping cream.
Chopped Nuts - Choose salted peanuts to add another layer of flavor to your caramel sundae. Pecans, walnuts, or almonds will also be delicious.
Sprinkles - Is ice cream even good without rainbow sprinkles? Seriously though, I love these on all ice cream desserts.
Maraschino Cherries - With a cherry on top: it's the only way. I like to buy cherries with the stems still on.
Chocolate Sauce - Totally optional, but I like to add just a little bit of chocolate syrup or fudge sauce to my caramel sundaes too! I swirl both around the inside of the glass or bowl.
How to Make A Caramel Sundae
If you'd like, drizzle warm caramel sauce and hot fudge sauce into your sundae dish first.
Add 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream to your bowl. Of course, you can use more or less, depending on how hungry you are!
Then add sundae toppings. Whipped cream, chopped nuts, rainbow sprinkles, and a cherry complete the perfect caramel ice cream sundae.
The photos here are for illustration purposes. For the complete list of ingredients and instructions for making a caramel sundae, please see the recipe below.
Enjoy your sundae right away!
Tips for Making The Best Caramel Ice Cream Sundae
Keep the ice cream in the freezer. While you're getting ready to make ice cream sundaes, be sure to keep your ice cream in the freezer until the very last minute. If you pull it out first, it will get too soft while you prepare the other sundae toppings.
Be sure to drizzle! When you're adding caramel to an ice cream sundae, use a spoon or even a piping bag to drizzle the syrup over the ice cream. You want some of that sauce in every bite!
You can heat up the caramel sauce, but you don't need to. Most caramel sauces will be easily pourable at room temperature.
Get creative with sundae bowls. You don't need fancy dessert dishes to make fun caramel ice cream sundaes. Try making them in a coffee mug, pint glass, or a regular cereal bowl.
Embrace variety. The best and most fun part about making your own ice cream sundaes is experimenting with new flavor combinations.
How To Heat Up Caramel Sauce
I always recommend that you check the label on the jar that the caramel sauce comes in. Often there will be instructions there that match their specific product, and those will give you the best results.
Some caramel syrups likely shouldn't be heated. For example, Hershey's caramel syrup is thin enough that it doesn't need to be heated up. The same goes for Ghirardelli caramel sauce, Smucker's Sundae Syrup, or any other caramel that comes in a plastic squeeze bottle.
If your caramel sauce comes in a heat-proof jar, it likely can be heated. This would apply to Smucker's caramel topping, Mrs. Richardson's caramel dessert sauce, or other gourmet jarred sauces.
While you can sometimes microwave caramel ice cream topping in the jar it came in, I suggest transferring it to a microwave-safe bowl first.
Microwave the topping at full power for 10-20 seconds, and stir. Repeat if needed.
You can also heat caramel sauce on the stove in a double boiler.
Caramel Sundae Toppings
The toppings on my caramel sundae are truly just a suggestion. You should feel free to add anything you want when you make your own!
- Other Syrups and Sauces: butterscotch, marshmallow sauce, melted peanut butter. We have a recipe for homemade caramelized banana topping that would be SO good on a caramel sundae too!
- Nuts: Instead of salted peanuts, try cashews, pecans, almonds, or walnuts.
- Crunchy Toppings: crushed Oreos or other cookies, sweet crunchy cereals like Cocoa Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
- Chocolate: chocolate chips in any variety, chopped candy bars such as Snickers, Heath Bars, or Kit Kats.
More Homemade Ice Cream Recipes
Pick up your favorite ice cream from the store, or make a batch of homemade ice cream using one of our recipes, then turn it into one of these delicious desserts:
- Classic Banana Split
- Easy Choco Tacos
- Coke Floats
- Ice Cream Pie
- Homemade Ice Cream Cake
- Chocolate Milkshake
Our Favorite Ice Cream Making Tools:
- Cuisinart 2QT Ice Cream Maker - Works with ice cream, sorbets, and frozen yogurt.
- Loaf Pan - You can use any 9 x 13 loaf pan or a shallow pan, but we like this one.
- Ice Cream Scoop - Make sure you have a good ice cream scoop. This is one of our favorites.
- Ice Cream Bowls - You can use any bowl, but we think these are fun.
- Ice Cream Containers - We love keeping a couple of ice cream containers on hand for when we make homemade ice cream.
Note: Each of these links will take you to the exact product on Amazon. As an Amazon associate, I earn a little from each qualifying purchase.
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- 2 tbsp caramel sauce
- 2-3 scoops ice cream of choice
- ¼ cup whipped cream
- 1 tbsp salted nuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp rainbow sprinkles
- 1 maraschino cherry
- Optional: extra caramel sauce and chocolate sauce to drizzle in the glass.
- If desired, drizzle caramel sauce and a little chocolate sauce inside the glass.
- Place 2-3 scoops of ice cream of choice into the glass.
- Drizzle the ice cream with warm caramel sauce
- Top with whipped cream.
- Sprinkle with chopped nuts and sprinkles.
- Top with a maraschino cherry.
- Serve immediately.
- While you're getting ready to make ice cream sundaes, be sure to keep your ice cream in the freezer until the very last minute. If you pull it out first, it will get too soft while you prepare the other sundae toppings.
- When you're adding syrups to an ice cream sundae, use a spoon or even a piping bag to drizzle the syrup around the inside of the glass and over the ice cream. You want some of that sauce in every bite!
- To warm up caramel sauce, follow the instructions on the jar. Some can be microwaved and others should not be.
- You don't need fancy dessert dishes to make fun ice cream sundaes. Try making them in a coffee mug, pint glass, or a regular cereal bowl.
- Try other toppings! We have a big list of ice cream toppings here.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 975Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 545mgCarbohydrates: 137gFiber: 5gSugar: 118gProtein: 15g