Easy Homemade Caramels

Soft, chewy and buttery homemade caramels are one of the easiest candies to make at home with a few simple ingredients. This classic treat is perfect for the holidays and makes one of the best homemade gifts! 

Caramels on a plate and on a grey board.

Making homemade candy like this walnut fudge recipe, Bailey’s chocolates or chocolate almond bark, is one of my favorite holiday traditions. These easy homemade caramels with their soft and buttery texture are perfect to add to the list! 

A homemade caramel recipe is easier to make at home than you think! The key is not to rush the cooking process and the result will be delicious melt-in-your mouth caramels. 

The recipe makes a large batch so it’s perfect for Christmas gift giving along with these chocolate covered Oreos or coconut macaroons!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Buttery texture: Chewy soft homemade caramels are creamy, buttery and melt-in-your-mouth. It’s the best!
  • Classic candy: Handmade caramels are a creamy indulgence that everyone loves!
  • Fun to make: Some might say it is tedious to continuously stir, but really the magic is in making this homemade caramel candy at home!
  • Perfect gift: Soft buttery caramels are great for the holiday season and this easy homemade caramels recipe makes a large batch.

Homemade Caramels Recipe Ingredients

  • Vanilla: While a lot of recipes may say this is optional, I always include vanilla extract as it elevates the flavor.
  • Butter: Cold butter is a key ingredient in caramels. If you use salted butter, reduce the added salt. 
  • Half and half cream: Or half cream, at least 10% fat. 
  • Light corn syrup: Another non-negotiable ingredient as it helps the homemade caramel candies achieve the correct smooth texture and prevents sugar crystals. 
  • Granulated sugar: Not brown sugar. White sugar must be used for the correct color and texture.
  • Salt: Balances out the sweet flavor.
Ingredients for the recipe.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Salted caramels: Sprinkle chewy caramels with flaky sea salt. 
  • Caramel and nut chews: Pour caramels over nuts like cashews or pecans. 
  • Caramel chocolate: Drizzle melted chocolate on the caramels before refrigerating or dip caramels into dark chocolate. 
  • Evaporated milk: Could be substituted for the half and half cream.

How to Make Easy Homemade Caramels

To start, in a medium pot add the cold butter, cream, syrup, sugar and salt. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring the entire time until it reaches the correct temperature.

Ingredients in the pot.

When candy is ready, remove the pot from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla. It will be hot and bubbly so be careful! 

Caramel melted in the pot.

Quickly pour the hot caramel into the prepared square baking pan. Don’t scrape the pot or sides of the pan. Cool in the pan then cover the pan and refrigerate until firm.

Caramel in the pan.

Remove the caramel from the pan, then using a sharp knife cut it into squares.

Expert Tips

  • How to cut homemade caramels: Always line your pan then chill your caramels. Dip your knife blade or bench scraper in cold water to prevent sticking, then easily slice your caramels into squares or long shapes if desired. 
  • Prevent butter from separating: Keep your heat on medium to low heat, otherwise your butter will melt too quickly and separate from the other ingredients. 
  • Avoid the caramel seizing up: Adding all ingredients at once will prevent this from happening so follow the recipe exactly as directed. 
  • Stir constantly: This prevents any sugar pieces from sticking to the sides and leading to grainy results. For best results, stir constantly at a low and slow temperature. 
  • Use a candy thermometer: While there are many methods to test your caramels for doneness, using a candy thermometer will lead to accurate results. The temperature should be about 248°F and have reached a firm ball stage.

Storage Instructions

This homemade soft caramel recipe can be stored for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will become too soft if left at room temperature.

They can also be stored in the freezer for a few months. Thaw before enjoying. 

Caramel stacked.

Recipe FAQs

What should I do if my caramels are too soft even after chilling?

This can indicate that it did not cook long enough. Pour it back into the pot, warm up again and cook it longer. 

How to test homemade caramels for doneness?

There are a few ways! First, you can utilize the eye color test. If the caramel color is turning from light brown to dark brown it is ready. Next, you can use an old-fashioned ice water testing method. Drop a spoonful of caramel in ice water and mold it into a ball. It should be firm but still slightly sticky. The most accurate way is to use a candy thermometer, though! Your caramel should be 248°F (120°C).

How to wrap caramels.

Either use pre-cut candy wrappers or cut wax paper into 4×5-inches. Place caramel in the middle of the paper, roll up tootsie roll style, then twist the ends. It’s really simple and gives it a nostalgic feel! 

Do I have to use corn syrup to make caramels?

Yes. Corn syrup helps keep the sugar from crystallizing. This helps your caramels achieve that soft, smooth, buttery texture that is not grainy. 

Can I make these in the microwave?

Unfortunately not. This recipe has only been tested on the stovetop. Most microwave recipes for homemade caramels use sweetened condensed milk and this recipe does not. 

Caramels on a white plate.

More Caramel Recipes

Caramels on a white plate.

Easy Homemade Caramels

Erika Marucci
Soft, chewy and buttery homemade caramels are one of the easiest candies to make at home with a few simple ingredients.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 5 minutes
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 50 caramels
Calories 96 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • ½ tablespoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup Butter – cold
  • 2 cups 10% cream -half and half
  • 1 cup Light corn syrup
  • 2 cups Granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt

Instructions
 

  • Line a square 8×8 inches baking pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium pot add the butter, cream, syrup, sugar and salt. Cook on medium/low heat, stirring constantly until it reaches 248F( 120C). Check with a cooking thermometer. It will take some time and you will see the colour change from a light brown to a dark brown.
  • When ready, remove the pot from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla, it might bubble so be careful.
  • Quickly pour the liquid into the prepared pan. Don't scrape the pot. Let the caramel cool in the pan for 30 minutes then sprinkle with seas salt or drizzle chocolate over it if desired. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the caramel from the pan, cut into squares and enjoy!

Notes

This homemade soft caramel recipe can be stored for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will become too soft if left at room temperature.
They can also be stored in the freezer for a few months. Thaw before enjoying. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 96kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 0.3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 65mgPotassium: 15mgSugar: 14gVitamin A: 197IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.01mg
Keyword caramel, caramels, homemade caramels
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