12 Caramel Recipes To Add More Sweetness To Your Fall

While caramel is technically a year-round treat, its flavors align strongly with fall — rich, sweet, buttery goodness so warm and comforting, exactly what is needed for the chillier months. Caramel comes in so many shapes and consistencies, from hard candies to soft, sticky-sweet syrups; whether it's a Rice Krispie treat or an iced latte, just about anything tastes better with caramel.

For those stuck in a pumpkin spice rut who want to explore other fall flavors, a good caramel recipe is the perfect elixir. Because of its sweet nature, caramel seemingly works best in desserts, but it doesn't have to just be an endless cycle of basic caramel treats. Whether looking for a decked-out cake for a fall party, a simple milkshake to satisfy a sweet tooth, or some pralines for a pick-me-up, caramel seemingly elevates everything it touches.

1. Salted Caramel Sauce

Though it's quite easy to buy caramel sauce in a squeeze bottle at the store (and there's certainly no shortage of options), it's a good idea to have basic recipes handy just in case. This one for salted caramel sauce requires a mere five ingredients and less than 10 minutes of cooking time.

Those who have never made caramel at home before will be delighted to learn that this sweet, buttery sauce comes together with no more effort than mixing ingredients on the stovetop. The only real challenge is keeping an eye on the caramel as it cooks. With some diligent stirring and mindfulness about the burner's heat level, the recipe is as simple as it is sweet.

As for putting salted caramel sauce to good use, there's really no shortage of options. Adorn an ice cream sundae, garnish a fresh batch of salted caramel cupcakes, or drizzle this sauce on apple slices or over a slice of pie for extra decadence.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Sauce

2. Southern Caramel Cake

There is no dessert more impressive than a cake, especially when decorated as beautifully as this Southern caramel one. Between the fluffy layers of homemade yellow cake and the caramel-infused frosting, all the way down to the final garnish of macaron cookies, this cake is quite the showstopper.

When it comes time to serve the cake, optionally garnish it with caramel-flavored macarons. Be sure to hold onto leftover slices, as that caramel frosting will only taste better once it has had a few days to infuse.

Recipe: Southern Caramel Cake

3. Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

If there's anything better than salted caramel cookies, it would have to be these chocolate salted caramel thumbprint cookies — the chocolate part is the cookie itself, whereas the salted caramel part goes inside the thumbprint. The result is a delightful little bite-sized cookie, combining the best of both worlds. There's something for chocolate lovers, something for caramel lovers, and especially something for those who have a hard time choosing between the two flavors.

These cookies also have a remarkably minimal ingredient list. Just eight ingredients will get the job done, nine if garnishing the treats with a sprinkle of flaky salt. The cookie batter and caramel sauce don't take long to make separately, nor do they take long to bake once they're combined into one cookie; in fact, the only lengthy part of the recipe is allowing the cookies to chill for an hour. These cookies make for the perfect after-dinner treat or sweet little snack.

Recipe: Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

4. Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Some flavors work really well together, like peanut butter and chocolate, or apple and cinnamon. While bourbon and caramel may not be on as heralded, it should be — and this bourbon caramel sauce recipe makes for a compelling argument. Incorporating many of the suspects typically found in a caramel sauce — butter, heavy cream, sugar — along with bourbon and even some maple syrup, it amps up the flavors and helps make this a more autumnal sauce.

Even those who don't like the taste of alcohol should enjoy this caramel sauce. The flavor is smooth and rich, and while it does have that strong, oaky bourbon flavor, it leans more into the liquor's natural warmth and vanilla undertones than anything else. Ideal for topping off an all-out ice cream sundae or garnishing a boozy milkshake, this bourbon caramel sauce isn't difficult to make, and the rich results are oh-so worth it.

Recipe: Bourbon Caramel Sauce

5. Spiced Banana Caramel Milkshake

Of all the milkshake flavors out there, caramel is often overlooked. This milkshake recipe is here to showcase caramel in all of its glory, alongside banana and cinnamon in this rich, spiced treat as well.

Using a premade salted caramel sauce to make the milkshake magic happen, there's no need to worry about any sort of cooking. The only appliance required is a blender. An extra drizzle of caramel and pecans make a nice garnish, as they add that final fall touch.

Recipe: Spiced Banana Caramel Milkshake

6. Salted Caramel Almond Pecan Pralines

While pralines might not be the most popular type of candy, this recipe might change even the biggest nonbelievers into praline purists. Between the rich caramel base and the crunchy, toasted nuts, these cookie-like treats can outshine even the flashiest of desserts.

A big perk to these pralines is they're easier to make than other types of treats. Toasting the almonds and pecans, make the caramel base, ensure the mixture reaches a certain temperature so that it has that hard, praline consistency, then mix the nuts in and dollop out spoonfuls to create the individual candies. 

Once the pralines harden, it's just a matter of crunching away on these sweet treats. As a final bonus, pralines are very shelf-stable and will keep in a simple Tupperware container — which means pralines all fall long.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Almond Pecan Pralines

7. Chocolate Caramel Tart

Sort of like a pie, sort of like a cookie, and sort of like a giant Reese's peanut butter cup — this recipe is remarkably easy to make; there's no need to even turn on an oven to make this tart. 

Only five ingredients are required. The only difficult part is its patience requirement; you will be going back and forth from your fridge quite often, refrigerating the crust, and then refrigerating the entire tart. If you are able to withstand the wait times, then this chocolatey, caramel-y delight will no doubt please any sweet tooth.

Recipe: Chocolate Caramel Tart

8. Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Fruit Dip

Just about any snack food can be improved with a good dip: chips, pretzels, veggie sticks, and in this case, fruit. While most fruit is refreshingly sweet and juicy all on its own, it never hurts to sweeten up the deal even further and perhaps add a little bit of decadence. This caramel pecan cheesecake fruit dip checks all of the boxes — it's creamy, sweet, and rich, and it even has some textural contrast, thanks to the final garnish of chopped pecans. 

Pecans add a bit of crunch and some nutty goodness to the dip, and as for what fruits to pair with it, that part is up to you — apples, strawberries, and mangoes are all good options.

Recipe: Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Fruit Dip

9. Whiskey-Caramel Cheesecake Bars

There's something about taking a traditional dessert, like cheesecake, and transforming it into a more casual dish that somehow makes it even more appealing. That's exactly the case with these whiskey-caramel cheesecake bars, and as the name implies, both whiskey and caramel give this cheesecake a big flavor boost. 

Any good cheesecake — or bar, for that matter — starts at the crust, and this recipe is no different. Luckily, the crust here is a simple one comprised of graham crackers, salt, and butter; the real star of the show is the whiskey-infused caramel, drizzled into the cheesecake while it's still wet.

Recipe: Whiskey-Caramel Cheesecake Bars

10. Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie treats are a classic when it comes to lunchbox desserts and after-school snacks; they're so commonly purchased premade from the store that one might forget they can be made at home, from scratch, and with little effort at that. While there's no shame in the store-bought game, this homemade recipe adds a salted caramel flair to an already buttery, delicious treat.

Pro tip: Before adding the Rice Krispies and marshmallows to the caramel mix to form the treats, reserve some of that caramel sauce to drizzle on top — they'll taste caramel-y all the same, but a little decorative drizzle won't hurt.

Recipe: Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats

11. Iced Non-Dairy Caramel Macchiato

Starbucks habit starting to put a sizable dent in the bank account? Give that wallet a break and opt for this homemade iced non-dairy caramel macchiato instead. This recipe yields a sweet, cool beverage like a Starbucks macchiato instead of a traditional espresso macchiato; the recipe calls for using non-dairy milk, but any milk will yield a delicious result. 

The only non-negotiable here is the espresso, as plain old coffee just won't do the trick. Have an espresso machine collecting dust at home? There's no better way to put it to use than by way of this sweet, refreshing macchiato.

Recipe: Iced Non-Dairy Caramel Macchiato

12. Fig and Caramel Mini Cheesecakes

These fig and caramel mini cheesecakes may not be a dessert that one might whip up on a whim, as there's a certain amount of planning that goes into making such an exquisite dessert — from tasks as simple as halving the figs to more in-depth ones, like baking the individual cheesecakes. Fortunately, none of the steps are particularly difficult, just be mindful of the details and have a touch of patience while handcrafting nine tiny desserts as opposed to one big one.

The obvious perk to this recipe is the finished product, which is nothing short of impressive. These bite-sized cheesecakes are just begging to be the centerpiece at a dinner party, and guests will surely marvel over them. Between the cheesecakes themselves, the lush caramel sauce, and the halved fig as garnish, these mini treats are perhaps not the first dessert one might think to make for an event, but that's one of the reasons they'll be a big hit.

Recipe: Fig and Caramel Mini Cheesecakes