How to Caramelize Sugar in the Microwave

How to Caramelize Sugar in the Microwave is an amazing kitchen hack you need in your life! Easily turn sugar into liquid gold in minutes!

It’s been months since our last kitchen tip here at Kawaling Pinoy so, today, let me share with you a ridiculously simple hack on how to caramelize sugar in the microwave. Please excuse the poor quality photos. I took them with my phone because I was rushing to get the caramel ready for a recipe I was working on and I didn’t want the extra encumbrance of setting up my camera.

I will be posting that recipe soon so stay tuned for something super yummy coming your way.

Caramelization is a process wherein sugar is heated on low heat until it changes in color, taste and composition. The by product of this process, caramel, is used in a variety of candies and confections such as brittles, nougats, pralines, and our very own yema and leche flan.

There are two ways on how to turn sugar into caramel, the dry and the wet method. The dry method, which I will delve into greater detail in another tutorial, uses ONLY sugar, while the wet method, which we are doing today in the microwave, uses sugar plus water.


Both methods, of course, have their own set of pros and cons. Some find the dry method a little trickier and needing more tending as the sugar burns more quickly. On the other hand, in the wet method, there is a higher risk of the sugar crystallizing when combined and reacts with water.

I’ve used both dry and wet methods interchangeably over the years but I have to say, doing it the microwave is by far the most foolproof way to make caramel.

Easy Tips on How to Caramelize Sugar in the Microwave:

  • Make sure to use a clear or light colored microwave-safe bowl to accurately gauge the change in color.
  • Since the caramel continues to cook and darken in the residual heat, remove from the heat source at a shade lighter than the desired color. Or, you can put the bowl of caramel in a bowl of cold water for a few seconds to halt the cooking process. Aim for a honey-gold tone as the caramel bitters as its color deepens.
  • As microwaves vary in wattages, you may need to watch the caramel carefully and adjust cook time accordingly.
  • Use the caramel in your recipes immediately as it thickens and hardens as it cools.

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