The Definitive Guide to Making the Best Homemade Caramels of Your Life

Soft and chewy caramels - two stacked on one another on parchment paper.

The Definitive Guide to Making the Best Homemade Caramels of Your Life: step-by-step tutorial, excessive pace how-to video, sweet thermometer + wrapping ideas…and all the opposite particulars you want for foolproof success!

Soft and chewy caramels - two stacked on one another on parchment paper.

This put up has been a very long time in coming! I’ve wished a one-stop, complete take a look at making one of the best do-it-yourself caramels ever for years. And in the present day’s the day. 

I’ve loads of caramel recipes on my web site. They’re all wonderful in their very own proper.

But my all-time favourite caramel recipe is that this one. I posted about it three years in the past and it’s actually the one caramel recipe I’ve made since then. I like the wealthy taste. I like the delicate and chewy texture. I like how straightforward it’s to make (I’ve the recipe memorized).

It has grow to be my go-to do-it-yourself caramel recipe. I’ve modified it each so barely through the years to make use of vanilla extract as an alternative of vanilla beans amongst a couple of different minor modifications.

Soft and chewy caramels - two stacked on one another on parchment paper with bite taken out of top caramel.

Today we’re going to undergo a step-by-step definitive information to creating one of the best do-it-yourself caramels of your life. Everything from tips on how to make them (clearly) to one of the best sweet thermometer to what to wrap them in. 

I even made you a 1 minute 15 second video of the entire complete caramel cooking course of. It’ll take you a bit longer than that in actual life, however it’s time effectively spent. 

Basic however essential instruments for making caramels

  • heavy-bottomed 4- or 5-quart pot
  • flat-edge spatula for stirring
  • pastry brush for laundry sides of pan {aff. hyperlink}
  • sweet thermometer (plenty of particulars beneath)
  • bench scraper for reducing the cooled caramels
  • wax paper or cellophane squares for wrapping (particulars beneath)

One of probably the most vital items of kit in all do-it-yourself sweet making is the pan. For these do-it-yourself caramels you need a heavy-bottomed chrome steel pan. I like to recommend utilizing a pan that does NOT have a nonstick coating. Heavy-bottomed merely means the pot or pan has a thicker base. It shouldn’t be skinny and tinny. This will assist make sure the caramels don’t burn. 

(In the images of this put up, I’m utilizing an All-Clad pot.) However, you don’t want a high-end pan. For years, I used a superb set of heavy-bottomed Farberware pans, they usually labored nice for caramel making. 

Using a flat-edge rubber spatula for stirring can also be key. It works higher than a rounded spoon or spatula at scraping up the underside of the pan totally and stopping scorching and sticking.

Heavy bottomed pot and red spatula for caramel making

Which sweet thermometer is greatest? 

Ah, this can be a loaded query. If I had a greenback for each sweet thermometer I’ve gone by way of through the years, I’d be a wealthy lady (truly probably not as a result of I’d nonetheless be in debt for all these thermometers I bought that held all my sweet hopes and goals). 

I’m satisfied there isn’t a such factor as an ideal sweet thermometer. The ones that sit completely on the facet of the pan (like these flat Taylor thermometers) have infrequently been correct temperature-wise after I’ve used them, and the numbers have worn off of all those I’ve owned.

The traditional glass bulb sweet thermometers should be retired (do they even make them anymore?). They aren’t identified to be very correct and they’re liable to breaking.

I used to like and use this digital sweet thermometer (and really helpful it for years) till it, too, disillusioned me sufficient instances in later makes use of that I needed to break up with it. 

I’ve lastly discovered an answer that works for me. It’s not good, however it’s come the closest to being so. 

ThermoPop candy and instant read thermometer

My sweet thermometer resolution

I now use a straight instant-read thermometer and use a pan clip to connect it to the facet of the pot. Bonus: this thermometer may also be used for thus many different issues (like meat temperatures, and so on).

I’ve this Thermopop thermometer from Thermoworks however there are loads of cheap related variations round {aff. hyperlink}. The clips are simply a few bucks on-line or in shops; I occurred to have a pair pan clips laying round my kitchen from who is aware of the place. I’m nonetheless in search of one which will get the thermometer nearer to the facet of the pan, however it works for now.

You need to make it possible for when the thermometer is clipped to the pan, there may be house between the tip of the probe and the underside of the pan, in any other case the temperature studying shall be inaccurate. The thermometer shouldn’t be touching the underside of the pan. 

The instantaneous accuracy of those thermometers can’t be beat, and this characteristic outweighs the one two downfalls I see with this case:

  • the thermometer will flip off a couple of times throughout cooking – all it takes is a fast press of the button (for this explicit mannequin) to show it again on; no biggie
  • I haven’t discovered a pan clip that nestles the thermometer proper up towards the sting of the pan like different sweet thermometers, so it does are inclined to get in the way in which of stirring only a bit – not an enormous deal breaker, however ensure should you use this setup to stir beneath and across the thermometer probe or else the caramel will scorch in these spots

Candy thermometer clipped to side of heavy bottomed pan

How to check the accuracy of a sweet thermometer

UPDATE: plenty of feedback rolling in about calibrating your thermometer. Consult the remark part if you need extra particulars on alternate methods to calibrate or to learn different’s ideas about this. As a degree of reference, water boils at 207 levels the place I stay. 

If you have already got a sweet thermometer, the largest piece of recommendation I may give you is to check the accuracy of your sweet thermometer. It’s actually, actually easy. 

  1. Figure out what temperature water boils at relying in your elevation. Here’s a useful chart (scroll down previous the graphs). Write down your particular quantity. 
  2. Take a studying of your thermometer in quickly boiling water (let it sit within the water for a few minutes; don’t let the thermometer contact the underside of the pan). Write down THIS particular quantity, too.
  3. If the 2 numbers are the identical, you’re golden. That means your thermometer is correct. If the quantity from the chart and the quantity out of your thermometer are completely different, you’ll want to regulate your sweet making temperatures accordingly (see beneath). 
  4. It’s not a foul concept to check your thermometer every time earlier than making sweet you probably have had inaccuracy issues up to now. 

Example: if water boils at 206 levels the place I stay and my thermometer reads 203 levels in boiling water, I’ll want to regulate sweet and caramel recipes by three levels decrease. If the caramel recipe says to cook dinner till 245 levels, I’ll need to cook dinner till 242 levels. 

Another instance: if water boils at 212 levels the place I stay and my thermometer reads 218 levels in boiling water, I’ll want to regulate sweet and caramel recipes by six levels greater. If the caramel recipe says to cook dinner till 245 levels, I’ll have to cook dinner till 251 levels. 

High altitude caramel making: I imagine should you stay at a excessive sufficient altitude the place the water boils at 202 levels, you’ll have to additionally subtract a further 2 levels for each 1,000 ft above sea degree for the temperature level listed within the recipe. You may need to do some extra googling for more information (I don’t stay at excessive altitude). 

Ok. I’m glad we had this discuss. Now let’s transfer on previous sweet thermometers. 

The greatest key for do-it-yourself caramel success is getting all the cooking provides and elements specified by a really cooking show-style method. No, however actually, it’s fairly essential. 

Caramel making supplies all laid out: pot, spatula, sugar, cream, butter, vanilla, thermometer

Measure out all of the elements and have them able to go. 

Also, get the pan prepared for when the caramels are completed cooking. You don’t need to have a effervescent sizzling batch of caramels on the good temperature solely to understand you don’t have your pan buttered (they’ll proceed to cook dinner, even off the warmth, whilst you butter that pan and also you’ll be unhappy when the one you love caramels break off somebody’s prized tooth). 

I often simply butter all of the creases and corners and crevices of a straight-sided 8X8-inch pan (this recipe doubles nice for a 9X13-inch pan). But you possibly can line with parchment for simple lifting of the caramels after they’ve cooled. 

8X8-inch square pan buttered for caramels

How to make do-it-yourself caramels

Finally! The enjoyable half. 

In that fantastic, heavy-bottomed pan (I want I could possibly be complimented for being heavy-bottomed in some unspecified time in the future in my life), mix the sugar, water and corn syrup.

Don’t go loopy right here. You don’t need to splash it in every single place up the perimeters of the pan. Be light. Be cautious. Those splashed sugar marks can grow to be sugar crystals, they usually can spoil a complete batch of caramel in the event that they get stirred again into the caramel. 

That sounds sort of doom and gloom, however don’t fear. I’m going to indicate you tips on how to simply rid your lifetime of sugar crystals eternally and guarantee you understand how to make one of the best do-it-yourself caramels of your life. 

Combining sugar, corn syrup, and water in pot for caramels

Heat this combination over medium or barely medium-high warmth till it involves a boil. It will foam and stand up a bit initially however will rapidly calm down into fairly, glassy bubbles.

Why this step? Plenty of caramel recipes have you ever mix cream (or sweetened condensed milk), butter, sugar and corn syrup from the very starting. But cooking the sugar and corn syrup like this primary means you get a complete lot of taste and cooking finished rapidly with out having to stir and with none milky/creamy elements scorching on the underside of the pan. 

It’s sensible.

cooking sugar syrup for caramels

This is while you need to fill a cup with water and use the pastry brush {aff. hyperlink} to wipe down the perimeters of the pan above the boiling sugar/water line. Just dip the comb within the water and rub it alongside the sugar crystals; they’ll dissolve and run again down into the boiling combination. This is what you need.

Once the perimeters of the pan are cleaned, you most likely gained’t have to repeat this course of once more.  

Brushing down the sides of the pot with pastry brush dipped in water

Clip your useful dandy thermometer – instantaneous learn or sweet thermometer – to the facet of the pan. Without stirring, cook dinner the combination to between 325 and 345 levels F. The vary in temperature is okay and gained’t have an effect on the delicate chewiness of the caramels. The greater the temp on this step, the darker the colour of the caramels shall be. 

cooking sugar syrup for caramels

I often cook dinner the sugar combination to proper round 345 levels. Over medium warmth, this often takes round 20 minutes on my range. 

cooking sugar syrup for caramels

Immediately however slowly pour within the heat cream. The combination goes to bubble and steam and utterly freak out. It’s okay. Just hold your fingers and fingers protected. This can also be why it’s essential to have a bigger-than-you-think pot. The combination will rise fairly a bit throughout this step. 

Pouring in warm cream to caramel mixture

Add the butter and salt. 

The temperature of the caramel combination drops considerably with the additions. 

Adding butter and salt to caramel mixture

Once the cream, butter and salt have been added, it’s time to start out stirring. You are going to stir continuously till the tip of the caramel making course of. This prevents scorching and burning. Just commit and keep it up. 

You solely have to deal with scraping the underside of the pot – don’t scrape down the perimeters as you stir. It will get all kinds of sugary crystals and laborious bits into the combo, and that’s not good. You will cook dinner the caramel combination again as much as about 245 levels F (relying on how delicate/laborious you need them). 

cooking caramels to 245 degrees

The look of the caramels modifications because the temperature will increase. At the start, the caramel combination is mild in shade and the bubbles are small and intently spaced. 

cooking caramels to 245 degrees

The Definitive Guide to Making the Best Homemade Caramels of Your Life 1

As the temperature will increase, the colour darkens and the bubbles get bigger. 

cooking caramels to 245 degrees

With my completely calibrated thermometer, I cook dinner these good vanilla caramels to precisely 245 levels. This will take about 30-45 minutes, relying in your range and the way you reasonable the warmth.

At this temperature, they’re delicate however not stick-to-the-paper delicate. I’d think about them barely softer than, say, a retailer purchased Kraft or Brach’s wrapped caramel however firmer than the caramel inside a Twix bar.

Am I making any sense? Also, why don’t they make Twix bars in darkish chocolate? And in the event that they do, why does my grocery retailer not carry them? These are the issues that hold me up at evening.

You can cook dinner these caramels to a decrease or barely greater temperature, too, relying on how delicate or agency you want your caramels to be. 

cooking homemade caramels to 245 degrees

Immediately take the pan off the warmth and stir within the vanilla. It will bubble a bit; that’s regular. As you stir it in, don’t scrape down the perimeters of the pan. 

Other caramel flavors

If you need to change up the caramel taste, now’s the time! Omit the vanilla and stir in a wide range of completely different extracts: cinnamon, anise, huckleberry or razzleberry.

The actual quantity depends upon the model and taste of the extract (and remember flavored oils are far more potent than extracts so that you’ll need to use much less). Generally talking I exploit about half of to 1 teaspoon of a flavored oil and 2-Three teaspoons of a flavored extract

You also can add meals coloring at this step, too, if you need. I want utilizing gel meals coloring as a result of a bit goes a great distance. 

Stirring in vanilla to homemade caramels

1-Minute How-To Caramel Video

Want to see that complete cooking course of condensed into a few minute? Here you go. 

Once the vanilla has been stirred in, instantly pour the new caramel into the ready pan. You ready the pan, didn’t you? I hope you ready the pan. 

Don’t scrape the perimeters and backside of the pot too aggressively – a bit scraping is okay, however cleansing out the pot is a foul concept; it will probably spoil the feel of your caramels with the tremendous sizzling caramel on the underside of the pan and sugary bits on the perimeters.

Cutting and wrapping homemade caramels

How to chop and wrap do-it-yourself caramels 

Once the caramels have utterly cooled (a few hours), it’s time to wrap them. 

First of all, it helps to make use of a flat spatula to dig them out of the pan (they need to come proper up if the pan has been effectively buttered) and place the entire slab on a reducing board. 

I exploit this can’t-live-without bench knife {aff. hyperlink} to chop the caramels. One 8X8-inch pan of caramels will yield about 50-60 caramels. 

cutting and wrapping homemade caramels

Wax paper vs cellophane

I grew up on a do-it-yourself caramel meeting line the place I often obtained relegated to the wax paper reducing station. With an excellent old style pair of scissors, I minimize tons of and tons of of wax paper shapes (they ended up being everywhere in the square-rectangle spectrum) for the do-it-yourself caramels my mother made yearly. 

Wax paper works nice. But it’s a ache within the heavy-bottom to chop into items. As of but, I haven’t seen precut wax paper for caramel wrapping. CORRECTION: however YOU superior readers have. Here’s some precut wax paper squares on Amazon a number of of you instructed me about since this put up went stay {aff. hyperlink}

Now that I’m previous and grown up with a caramel making family of my very own, I’m going straight for the cellophane wrappers. They are available packs of 500 or 1,000 (learn: they’ll final a lifetime except you make caramels prefer it’s your job), and they’re so tremendous useful. Plus, I feel the caramels look fairly in these clear crunchy little wrappers. 

I exploit these cellophane wrappers {aff. hyperlink}. There are plenty of manufacturers out there – they find yourself being between two and three cents a bit on Amazon. You can get them cheaper on-line elsewhere (like Orson Gygi or this web site devoted to Caramel Wrappers – delivery prices could range).

When utilizing the cellophane wrappers, you need to be a bit aggressive as you twist the ends or else they have an inclination to unroll a bit, however I like them and may’t think about making and wrapping caramels with out them. 

cutting and wrapping homemade caramels

Also, don’t panic and fear concerning the bubbles in that there slab of caramel. It occurs. Especially when your candy tween helps you make the caramels and by chance scrapes an excessive amount of out of the pan (that may trigger the pesky bubbles). They aren’t noticeable as soon as the caramels are minimize and wrapped. 

I hope this definitive information to creating one of the best do-it-yourself caramels of your life is useful.

Because I truthfully assume everybody must really feel like a rock star within the kitchen and make do-it-yourself caramels no less than as soon as. 

There is severely nothing like them. I’ve truly needed to delegate the reducing and wrapping to my kids as a result of my self-control is nonexistent within the face of 50 little caramels staring up at me. One for the wrapper, one for me. One for the wrapper, one for me. I often have a light to extreme abdomen ache by the tip. I do know, I do know private drawback. 

What different questions do you’ve got? 

Please ask every other caramel making questions beneath and I’ll be comfortable to reply them or refer you to somebody (ahem, google) who can! 

Homemade caramels are my absolute favourite factor to make in the course of the holidays. I additionally use this caramel recipe for do-it-yourself caramel apples and it’s grow to be my go-to for different flavors (like cinnamon or licorice).

Seriously, I’m going to finish it right here as a result of I CAN TALK ABOUT HOMEMADE CARAMELS FOREVER, and I don’t need to lose your loyalty eternally by droning on and on. Brian’s giving all of you the facet eye, like, “severely, who obtained her began??”

Love ya. Now go make your self or your neighbors a batch of do-it-yourself caramels, okay? 

wrapped homemade caramels stacked on each other

Yield: 50-60 caramels

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

The Best Homemade Caramels


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 half of cups (18.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • half of cup mild corn syrup
  • half of cup water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, minimize into tablespoon-size items
  • 1/Four teaspoon coarse, kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (see be aware)


      1. Butter the bottoms and sides (get into the corners, too!) of a 9X9-inch sq. baking pan. (Alternately, you possibly can line with parchment and butter the parchment – this will likely make it simpler to tug the slab of caramels out of the pan after they’ve cooled so as to minimize and wrap them.) Set apart.
      2. Heat the cream in a saucepan or within the microwave till steaming. Keep heat.
      3. For the caramels, in a big, heavy-bottomed pot (no less than 5- or 6-quarts), stir collectively the sugar, corn syrup, and water, taking care to not splash the combination up the perimeters of the pot.
        Clip a sweet thermometer onto the facet of the pan.
      4. Bring the combination to a boil over medium-high warmth WITHOUT STIRRING or shifting the pan. As it begins to boil, fill a cup with water and use a pastry brush to clean down the perimeters of the pan so there aren’t any granules of sugar sticking to the perimeters of the pan (you most likely will not have to repeat this after the perimeters have been well-cleaned). This prevents the caramel combination from crystallizing in later steps.
      5. Cook till the boiling sugar combination registers 325 levels F on the thermometer, about 15-20 minutes (for darker however nonetheless chewy caramels, proceed cooking the sugar combination – I’ve gone as excessive as 345 for tremendous intense, darkish caramels; beware the subsequent step will trigger far more steaming and effervescent the upper you cook dinner this preliminary sugar combination).
      6. Slowly and punctiliously pour the nice and cozy cream into the caramel. It will bubble and produce loads of steam! Add the butter and salt. The combination will bubble excessive throughout this step however will go down after a couple of minutes.
      7. Begin stirring the caramel with heatproof rubber spatula with a flat high (a flat edge does higher at stopping the caramel from burning than a rounded edge). Avoiding scraping the perimeters of the pan, and proceed to cook dinner, stirring continuously and slowly, till the combination reaches 245 levels F, about 10-15 minutes (you possibly can go as excessive as 248 levels F for a firmer, however nonetheless chewy, caramel, or take the caramel off the warmth earlier for a softer caramel; 245 is ideal in my ebook).
      8. Off the warmth, stir within the vanilla with out scraping down the perimeters of the pan – scraping the underside of the pan is okay (this is able to be the time so as to add different flavorings/shade).
      9. Immediately pour the caramel combination into the ready pan.
        Let the caramels cool utterly. I exploit a big, metallic spatula to peel the entire slab of caramel out of the pan and onto a reducing board.
      10. Cut into squares utilizing a pointy knife or bench scraper, wrap, and retailer in an hermetic container at cool room temperature for as much as two weeks.


Vanilla: for a vanilla bean model, see this recipe.

Double Batch: this recipe might be doubled (for a 9X13-inch pan of caramels). Use a bigger pan so it would not boil over. A double batch will take longer to come back to temperature at every step.

Time: the precise time for every step will rely on how low or excessive you reasonable the warmth – in addition to you probably have a gasoline or electrical range.

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Recipe Source: tailored from this recipe which was initially tailored from Cuisine at Home 2016

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Posted on December 12, 2019 by Mel

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