This blood orange caramel sauce recipe is like the grown up version of one of those Brach’s caramel’s with the orange-flavored centers.
It’s perfect over vanilla ice cream, but don’t discount its charms over pound cake or swirled into coffee or hot chocolate.
I’ll teach you how to make it, how to modify the level of sweetness and bitterness, and provide short video clips so you’ll know exactly what to do.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my dessert sauce recipes in one place. Thanks so much for being here, and I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Please see my blood orange caramel sauce web story here.
Why You Need to Make This Recipe
Blood orange caramel sauce is spectacular, friends.
If you love orange and caramel, this sauce is for you.
It’s easy to make, and you can vary the sweetness and depth very easily.
This sauce is also a bit out of the ordinary because most people make caramel sauce with heavy cream.
The truth is, you can use almost any liquid to make a caramel sauce, either as a stand-alone, or as a step in making a more complex sauce.
Once you master this sauce, the sky is really the limit.
But I wouldn’t blame you for stopping here, because this sauce is That Good!
How To Make Blood Orange Caramel Sauce
This recipe follows the procedure for making any caramel, either candy or sauce.
Here’s what you’ll need.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- sugar: To get the best idea of the color of your caramel, use basic white sugar. If you are used to working with caramel, you could use a less-refined sugar like Sugar in the Raw
- water: You don’t even need to measure the water. You just need enough to moisten the sugar so that it melts and cooks evenly
- salt: I use a fairly assertive amount of salt. Don’t leave it out, because it helps to bring out all the flavors and counteract any bitterness from both the caramelized sugar itself and the blood orange juice
- blood orange juice: In my neck of the woods, I can generally get blood oranges in the grocery store during the winter months. If you can find it bottled, you may also use that. Moro oranges are easiest to find in the US, and that’s what I recommend using
- heavy cream: Use equal parts heavy cream and blood orange juice, or adjust the proportions to suit your taste. The more cream you use, the creamier your sauce will be. The more blood orange juice you use, the more orangey your sauce will be. It’s up to you, and you can even use all oj if you prefer
- butter: Technically an optional ingredient, it does lend a bit of creaminess. I use unsalted butter
- vanilla: Because vanilla and orange complement each other beautifully. Use vanilla extract or paste
As I said earlier in this post, the procedure for making this caramel sauce is pretty much identical to how you’d make any sort of caramel sauce.
In a nutshell,
- Moisten the sugar with water.
- Caramelize the sugar to your desired degree of darkness (from light honey to mahogany)
- Turn off the heat and stop the cooking by pouring in the juice/cream
- Add butter and simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
Here’s an image collage that shows the basic process and the final product:
Equipment You May Need
You will want to cook your caramel in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. It’s much easier to watch the color of your caramel in a pan with a white enameled or shiny stainless interior.
Do not use a non-stick pan, because it’s almost impossible to gauge the color correctly.
Keep in mind that sugar will boil up alarmingly when you add your liquid (blood orange juice, cream, etc), so make sure the pot you use is larger than you think you need.
You always have the option to use all-cream and then add 3-4 drops of blood orange oil to taste after cooking.
Consider using varying amounts of cream, blood orange juice, and “regular” oj to adjust the assertiveness of the orange flavor as well as the bitterness.
If using whole fruit and not bottled juice, zest the oranges first, add them to the juice, and then heat and let steep for about an hour. Then strain out all the zest with a fine-mesh strainer and continue with the recipe.
This will give you a fuller blood orange “experience” as you’ll be using both the juice and the essential oils in the zest.
Here are some short video clips so you know exactly what you’re looking for as you make this sauce.
I hope you find them helpful!
You don’t really need to measure your water–you just need enough to moisten the sugar.
Regardless of your ratio of juice to cream, whisk the two together.
It may curdle sightly, but that will not affect the taste or texture of your final sauce. I promise.
Once the sugar gets to the color you want, pour in the cream and juice all at once.
Let the sauce boil on high for about a minute or so.
Add the butter and then simmer the sauce for a few minutes to thicken.
Pour the sauce into a clean jar.
The sauce will be fairly thin, but it will thicken as it cools.
Tips for Success
For more sweetness, take your caramel only to a medium honey color and use a mixture of cream and orange juice. For a darker, less sweet option, take the caramel to a dark amber and use all blood orange juice or a mixture of blood orange juice and “regular” orange juice which is sweeter.
For best texture, simmer your sauce for 5-10 minutes so it thickens as it coos. If you still think your sauce is too thin, you may reheat and simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes to reduce it even further. Add the vanilla off the heat once you are pleased with the texture.
After tasting your sauce, if you find it a little bitter, add additional salt. Keep in mind that some bitterness is desirable as it makes a nice contrast with whatever sweet you pair it with (cake, ice cream, etc)
Blood Orange Caramel Sauce Q & A
As written, this is a gluten-free recipe.
As written, it is not. You can make a vegan version by substituting full-fat coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut) for the cream and plant-based butter for the butter. You can also use all-juice and avoid the cream substitute altogether.
Your sauce will keep for a good 2 weeks in the fridge. It may last longer, but I tend to err on the side of caution because of the dairy component.
Since it contains dairy, I would say no. It is possible that you can pressure can it, but I’m not a canner. Please consult a master canner and/or the Ball Blue Book for best practices.
Aside from draping it over vanilla ice cream, there are many ways to serve orange caramel sauce.
Try it over pound cake, either a “neutral” whipped cream pound cake or something brown sugar-based like this brown sugar cinnamon pound cake.
Sauce a creamy New York-style cheesecake or even a creamy panna cotta with blood orange caramel.
Underscore the vanilla-orange flavor combo by pouring some on creamsicle ice cream. Heck, you could even dip your Creamsicle popsicle into the sauce if you want!
And don’t discount pairing this sauce with hot desserts. Consider bread pudding, for example!
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
This is the scale I use, love, and recommend. If you’re unsure, please read my post about how to use a food scale.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
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Blood Orange Caramel Sauce
This blood orange caramel sauce tastes just like one of those Brach's orange caramels but in sauce form. While it is fantastic on vanilla ice cream, don't discount pouring it over cheesecake, pound cake, pancakes or bread pudding.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice, strained (or up to 6 oz. See Notes, below)
- 4 oz heavy cream
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan much larger than you think you need, cook the sugar and water together until it comes to a boil.
- Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to wash away any errant sugar crystals and then cook without stirring, until the sugar begins to take on some color.
- Gently swirl the pan while heating and continue to cook until the sugar is a lovely deep amber.
- Pour in the juice and cream. Be careful, the whole thing will bubble up alarmingly.
- Turn the heat down and stir to melt any sugar that may have seized up.
- Add the salt and the butter.
- Bring up to a very light boil/high simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.
- Strain into a bowl and stir in the vanilla.
- The caramel will be fairly thin but will thicken some upon cooling.
- Reheat to serve, or serve at cold. Do make sure you stir it well first though as the butter has a tendency to rise to the top in the fridge.
If you like a sweeter sauce, consider using half blood orange juice and half "regular" freshly sqeezed orange juice since that is sweeter and less bitter. You may also adjust the proportions of cream to juice, using 2 oz juice and 6 oz cream or 6 oz juice and only 2 oz cream.
Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. It may keep for longer, but I prefer to err on the side of caution, especially when a recipe contains dairy.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 oz/2 Tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 112Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 14mgSodium 162mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 0gSugar 18gProtein 0g
The stated nutritional information is provided as a courtesy. It is calculated through third party software and is intended as a guideline only.
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Thanks for spending some time with me today.
Enjoy the blood orange caramel sauce, friends!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
What Others Are Saying...
nicely done Ms Jenni!
keep on this creating roll!
Thanks, my friend Dawn! I like it when the dessert speaks for itself. All I have to do is stand by and watch! lol 🙂
Nicole Shepherd says
This is for Blood Orange Caramel Sauce, not you Jenni.
Dear Blood Orange Caramel Sauce,
Are you single? I’m looking for a long term partner that likes small bowls, silver spoons and maybe an occasional fling with other exotic fruits. If you’re interested, do not hesitate to call me, or come by my freezer. 867-5309…Yours truly,
~Lonely bowl of French Vanilla Ice Cream
This is most definitely the best comment ever, @google-8a2a9edbdd1392ed60d4a75836e05f64:disqus ! Please tell Lonely Bowl of French Vanilla Ice Cream that he (she?) has a date! =)
Nicole Shepherd says
I thought you might think it was funny lol! In all seriousness though, this Blood Orange Caramel Sauce needs to seriously be made in my house! It already sounded awesome and amazing, but your new photos drive it on home! Welll done my friend! 🙂
Aw, thank you! I guess it was worth that trip to the store. Hooray!
Best comment ever. How could I even attempt to come up with something now? Awesome post too. This recipe need to happen in my kitchen soon. I have some lonely ice cream over here as well.
@26944d7609755849753ab8519248745d:disqus Right?! That Nicole is a ringer! lol I do hope you give this a try. It really is remarkably good!
Carrie Vibert says
Awesome. I love a treat that’s sure of itself. 🙂
This one *is* pretty cocky, I will admit, @google-ce4bdc981dfd3977c3d51ae93c5c6593:disqus ! But it is legitimately Fantastic, if I do say so myself! 🙂
Lizzy Do says
The comments are as funny as the post…and the caramel sounds amazing!!!
Nicole’s (oh, I mean the vanilla ice cream’s comment) cracked me up too, @google-96f978412c10345298e82cfeae3cb0b0:disqus ! The sauce truly is special. I am so pleased with how it turned out that I made it two days in a row! lol
Robin E. H. Ove says
Pretty saucy guest post….This is just what taste combinationI have been imagining Jennifer! Thanks for posting – say, how easily does this sauce actually strain through a sieve?
That sauce really is pretty full of himself! lol
I do hope you’ll try it, @google-ab55932ebaa39ced525f739135b58432:disqus –good stuff! It strains with no problem at all. It is pretty thin when hot, so even through a fine mesh it went straight through. I strain the juice before adding it to the pot and then strain at the end again, just to make sure it’s nice and smooth. 🙂
I have a slightly related question. Why do you specify not-from-concentrate juice? I ask because I feel the same way, and I go out of my way to buy 100% real not-from-concentrate juices, but why? My husband pointed out that if it’s concentrated it takes much less fuel to transport it, which threw my previous worldview into a bit of a tailspin. Can you help clarify? Thanks.
For me, I think juice from concentrate tastes kind of dead. I mean, the act of concentrating it sort of squeezes the floral part out I find. And yes, it does make sense that it would cost less to transport it, but I was mostly talking about juices that are made from concentrates. And that’s even dumber, in my book. So some company buys the concentrate and then adds water, slaps a label on the carton and it still costs just as much to ship as “freshly squeezed.” Weird.
I have no idea if I’ve been able to help with your existential crisis, but I hope so! 🙂
Jodee Weiland says
This looks absolutely delicious! I love the use of blood oranges for the that extra flavor in the caramel sauce. This must be an outstanding addition to ice cream.
Jennifer Field says
I tried it with three different ice creams and on pound cake. It’s definitely a good one to have in your arsenal, Jodee! Enjoy! =)
I have a pure copper pot that is just for caramel.
Will the acid from the fruit affect it?
Should I use a stainless pot instead?
Thanks and God Bless :~D
Jennifer Field says
Just to be on the safe side, I’d stick with stainless steel for this one, Charlie. Save your copper for cream-based caramels. Enjoy! 🙂
Hello! Can you recommend a temperature of when the sugar/water has hit the correct temp to caramelize properly before adding the juice and cream? I made this and my caramel sauce was very thin and never thickened up even when I tried to put it in the freezer. I did it twice with one at 320F and the other at 330.
Jennifer Field says
Hey, Lani! When it comes to caramelizing, I always go by color, so I generally am looking for a dark amber/strong tea color. After adding the juice and cream, it could just be a matter of boiling it down a bit to your preferred consistency. I hope this helps!
Thanks for your prompt reply, Jenni! I will try it by color next time!
WOWZA! This sauce is incredible! I loved it all over my vanilla ice cream.
Jennifer Field says
The preferred way to eat it! lol Glad you like it, Laura!
This sauce is totally awesome on your creamsicle ice cream – just saying!
Jennifer Field says
Oh, yes indeed!! So glad you enjoyed it!