How to Make: Nuoc Mau (Caramel Sauce)

What you need:
4 tablespoons sugar (enough for my thit kho recipe)
1/2 cup of warm water
silicone spatula (I like that it’s non stick, but you can use anything, really. Just don’t scratch up your pan.)

What to do:
Add sugar to the pan on 50% heat. 50% is low enough to control the process, but we will jump to the caramel stage of sugar quickly, so don’t take your eyes off the pan.


Constantly stir the sugar so it heats evenly. It will begin to clump.


Not dark enough yet! It will start to take the color of caramel, but we want it a bit darker. For Thịt Heo Kho (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Egg), we are adding this to a pot of about 1-2 quarts of water so the color will be diluted. If you are unfortunate to have an electric stove like me, you can lift the pan off the heat to slow down the cooking process a bit and continue to stir until it reaches the desired darkness. Otherwise, just turn your flame down towards the end.


When it gets darker than caramel and just starts to smoke, you are done. Add the warm water to the sugar to halt the cooking process and stir until the sugar dissolves.

caramel coloring in a pan

What is caramel cooking sauce?

Caramel cooking sauce is a rich and thick sauce that you can add to dishes, like thịt kho, as base and adds a nice brown coloring to stewed dishes.

Why is my caramel sauce bitter?

After adding your sugar over a heated pan, carefully watch over and occasionally stir your sauce. Sometimes when you overcook the sugar, it can burn the sugar and give you a bitter caramel sauce.

What should caramel look like?

You should cook the sugar down to a darker caramel color. When it starts to smoke a bit, you can add the warm water and stir. It should be a dark copper color.

How to Make: Nuoc Mau (Caramel Sauce)

This easy and fast caramel sauce is the perfect base to add to Thit Heo Kho (Vietnamese Braised Prok with Egg stew).
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Author: Hungry Huy
Cook: 5 mins


  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 c warm water


  • On medium heat, add sugar to your pan. Carefully watch over your pan and stir the sugar evenly to prevent your sugar from burning. The sugar will start to melt and continue cooking as it reaches a caramel color.
  • When the sugar becomes very dark brown and almost begins to smoke, remove it off the heat immediately and add the warm water to stop the cooking process. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add this sauce to your Vietnamese Braised Pork stew and enjoy.
Course: Dipping Sauces
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: thit kho, vietnamese

Like this recipe? Subscribe to my newsletter!

1 thought on “How to Make: Nuoc Mau (Caramel Sauce)

Comments are closed.