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!

Looking for a caramel syrup to flavor your coffee? Try my caramel syrup for coffee!

A nearly-full jar of caramel sauce. The lid is off and placed to the left of the jar. A spoon rests on the lid.

Please see my blood orange caramel sauce web story here.

Why You Need to Make This Recipe

Blood orange caramel sauce is spectacular, friends.

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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

2 Moro blood oranges sliced in half showing deep red/orange flesh.

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

Procedure

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,

  1. Moisten the sugar with water.
  2. Caramelize the sugar to your desired degree of darkness (from light honey to mahogany)
  3. Turn off the heat and stop the cooking by pouring in the juice/cream
  4. Add butter and simmer for a few minutes to thicken.

Here’s an image collage that shows the basic process and the final product:

Collage of 4 images showing boiling sugar, sugar turning a pale amber color, pouring blood orange juice into the caramelized sugar, and the finished blood orange caramel sauce in a white bowl.

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.

Variations

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.

Visual How-To

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

A white bowl of ice cream with blood orange caramel sauce pouring on top.

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

Is caramel sauce gluten-free?

As written, this is a gluten-free recipe.

Is this vegan?

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.

How long will it last in the fridge?

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.

Can I can this in a water bath?

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.

Serving Suggestions

A small blue dish of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce on a blue sauces on an orange-striped napkin.

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!

A spoon drizzling caramel sauce over ice cream. The jar of caramel sauce is in the background.

Questions

If you have any questions about this post or recipe, I am happy to help.

Simply leave a comment here and I will get back to you soon. I also invite you to ask question in my Facebook group, Fearless Kitchen Fun.

If your question is more pressing, please feel free to email me. I should be back in touch ASAP, as long as I’m not asleep.

A Note About Measurements

My recipes are almost all written by weight, including liquids, unless otherwise specified.

For accuracy and consistency of results, I encourage you to buy–and use–a kitchen scale.

I promise that baking and cleanup will be so much quicker and easier.

This is the scale that I recommend for home use. I have owned and used one for years.

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03/07/2024 05:03 pm GMT
5 golden stars for rating recipes
A white bowl of ice cream with blood orange caramel sauce pouring on top.

Blood Orange Caramel Sauce

Jennifer Field
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.
4.58 from 7 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 1 1/2 cups, about 12 1oz servings
Calories 112 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.
    A metal pan of caramelizing sugar.
  • 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.
    Pouring blood orange juice into caramel to stop the cooking process.
  • 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.
    Pouring vanilla into finished caramel sauce in a white bowl.
  • 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.

Did You Make Any Changes?

Notes

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.

STORING

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

Serving: 1oz/2 TablespoonsCalories: 112kcalCarbohydrates: 18gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 162mgSugar: 18g
Keyword blood orange caramel sauce, caramel sauce, dessert sauce
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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.

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29 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m thinking I will pair my batch of this sauce with your creamsicle ice cream! What do you think?

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. Hi Jenni:
    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
    Charlie

  4. 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.

    1. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. 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?

    1. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. 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

  6. 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

    1. 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! =)

      1. 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. 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.

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