Ask Difference

Butterscotch vs. Caramel — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on November 2, 2023
Butterscotch is made with brown sugar and butter, often with a creamy taste; caramel is sugar heated until it browns and liquifies, with a richer taste.
Butterscotch vs. Caramel — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Butterscotch and Caramel


Key Differences

Butterscotch is a confection that is primarily made from brown sugar and butter. The mixture is heated to a soft-crack stage, resulting in a rich, buttery flavor often accompanied by a hint of salt. Caramel, however, is made by heating white sugar until it changes to a deep amber color, which creates a sweet, slightly toasty flavor profile.
The texture of butterscotch is typically smooth and creamy, which can be attributed to the high fat content from the butter. Caramel's texture can range from soft and chewy to hard and brittle, depending on how long it is cooked and whether creams or fats are added during the cooking process.
In the creation of butterscotch, lemon juice or vanilla can be added for flavor complexity, but the primary taste is the rich sweetness from the brown sugar. Caramel’s flavor can be enhanced by adding cream or milk, leading to a creamier texture and a rich, dairy-enhanced taste that complements the sweetness of the sugar.
Butterscotch confections and sauces are commonly used in desserts like sundaes or as a filling in candies. Caramel is versatile in its usage, serving as a popular flavor for candies, sauces, and an array of desserts, including flan and creme brûlée.
Butterscotch has a distinct tan color due to the brown sugar, while caramel has varying shades of amber to deep brown, dependent on the caramelization of the sugar. The deep color of caramel is also indicative of the more intense flavor it can have compared to the milder butterscotch.

Comparison Chart

Main Ingredients

Brown sugar, butter
White sugar, sometimes with cream


Creamy, buttery, with a hint of salt
Rich, sweet, toasty


Smooth, creamy
Can vary from soft and chewy to brittle


Amber to deep brown

Cooking Temperature

Soft-crack stage
Until the sugar caramelizes

Compare with Definitions


Butterscotch sauce is a dessert topping made with melted butter and brown sugar.
Butterscotch sauce drizzled over pancakes makes for a decadent breakfast.


Caramel is sugar that has been cooked until it browns and liquefies.
She made homemade caramel to fill the chocolate cups.


Butterscotch candies are hard or chewy sweets flavored with brown sugar.
Grandma always had a bowl of butterscotch candies on her table.


Caramel candies are soft, chewy sweets made from caramelized sugar.
Caramel candies are my favorite treat at the movies.


Butterscotch is a confection made from brown sugar and butter.
I topped my ice cream with warm butterscotch sauce.


Caramel sauce is used as a topping or filling, often made with sugar and cream.
The apple pie was served with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.


Butterscotch flavor is sweet, buttery, often with a hint of salt.
The butterscotch pudding was a hit at the potluck.


Caramel color refers to the deep, golden brown color of cooked sugar.
The baker achieved a perfect caramel color for the sugar garnish.


Butterscotch is a type of confectionery whose primary ingredients are brown sugar and butter, but other ingredients are part of some recipes, such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt. The earliest known recipes, in mid-19th century Yorkshire, used treacle (molasses) in place of or in addition to sugar.


Caramel flavor is known for its rich sweetness with a slightly burnt edge.
The caramel macchiato had a perfect balance of espresso and sweetness.


A brittle yellow-brown sweet made with butter and brown sugar.


Caramel ( or ) is a medium to dark-orange confectionery product made by heating a variety of sugars. It can be used as a flavoring in puddings and desserts, as a filling in bonbons, or as a topping for ice cream and custard.


A syrup, sauce, candy, or flavoring made by melting butter and brown sugar together.


Sugar or syrup heated until it turns brown, used as a flavouring or colouring for food or drink
Caramel ice cream
A gateau frosted with caramel


A golden or tawny brown.


A smooth chewy candy made with sugar, butter, cream or milk, and flavoring.


A hard candy made from butter, brown sugar, syrup and vanilla.


Burnt sugar, used for coloring and sweetening foods.


A sauce or syrup made of similar ingredients.


A moderate yellow brown.


A light brown colour, like that of butterscotch candy.


(uncountable) A smooth, chewy, sticky confection made by heating sugar and other ingredients until the sugars polymerize and become sticky.


Of a light brown colour, like that of butterscotch candy.


(countable) A (sometimes hardened) piece of this confection.


Having the flavour of butterscotch.


(color) A yellow-brown color, like that of caramel.


A hard brittle candy made with butter and brown sugar


Of a yellow-brown color.


In color terminology, butterscotch refers to a pale brownish-yellow color.
She painted the wall in a butterscotch shade to warm up the room.


To caramelize.


Burnt sugar; a brown or black porous substance obtained by heating sugar. It is soluble in water, and is used for coloring spirits, gravies, etc.


A kind of confectionery, usually a small cube or square of tenacious paste, or candy, of varying composition and flavor.


Firm chewy candy made from caramelized sugar and butter and milk


Burnt sugar; used to color and flavor food


A medium to dark tan color


Having the color of caramel; a moderate yellow-brown

Common Curiosities

Can you use caramel and butterscotch interchangeably in recipes?

It depends on the recipe, as they have distinct flavors and textures.

Does caramel have to include cream or milk?

No, cream or milk is optional and used when making soft caramels or sauces.

Is butterscotch always made with brown sugar?

Traditionally, yes, butterscotch is made with brown sugar.

Can butterscotch be used as a flavoring in coffee like caramel?

Yes, butterscotch can be used as a flavoring in coffee.

Is butterscotch sauce the same as caramel sauce?

No, they have different ingredients and flavors.

Are butterscotch chips the same as caramel chips?

No, they have different flavors and ingredient profiles.

What's the key ingredient difference between butterscotch and caramel?

Butterscotch is made with brown sugar and butter, while caramel is typically made from white sugar.

Can both butterscotch and caramel be made into hard candies?

Yes, both can be made into hard candies by reaching the hard-crack stage.

Which is sweeter, butterscotch or caramel?

Sweetness is subjective, but caramel may taste less sweet due to its slightly burnt flavor.

Which cooks at a higher temperature, butterscotch or caramel?

Caramel typically cooks at a higher temperature to achieve caramelization.

Does butterscotch or caramel have a more intense flavor?

Caramel typically has a more intense flavor due to the caramelization process.

Are there any common allergens in butterscotch and caramel?

Both can contain dairy, which is a common allergen.

What's the primary use for butterscotch in desserts?

Butterscotch is commonly used in toppings and fillings for desserts.

Can caramel be made without a candy thermometer?

Yes, though using a thermometer helps ensure the correct stage is reached.

Is it possible to make butterscotch without dairy?

Yes, but traditional butterscotch flavor is achieved with butter.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Mismatched vs. Mixmatch
Next Comparison
President vs. Provost

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms