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Delicious Homemade Caramels Recipe

This homemade soft caramel recipe is one you’ll reach for again and again. Perfect for making a batch of sweets to gift a teacher, friend or just to eat!

Tin full of homemade soft caramels.
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Best Soft Caramel Candies

I’ll admit it, I love a good dessert. I particularly have a soft spot for anything caramel-flavored, like these Rolo cookies, my chocolate fudge caramel brownies or my homemade Twix bars.

I can still remember the first time I had candy made from a homemade caramel recipe. It was wrapped in this wax paper that crinkled when I opened it. The flavor was unlike anything I ever had before!

It was about a thousand times better than those hard candies that are supposed to be caramel from the store. I was hooked! To this day, I still hardly ever buy caramel candy from the store. It can’t hold a candle to the real deal!

This is my go-to recipe and makes the absolute best soft caramel. Seriously every bite is perfection. Sometimes I take the easier route and make microwave caramels, but hey, it’s still homemade right?!

Making homemade caramel on the stove.

What You’ll Need

Making homemade caramel candy does take a bit of time, but the ingredient list is relatively short and simple. You’ll need the following:

  • Sugar. Make sure to use white sugar for this recipe. If you use brown sugar, you’ll end up with butterscotch, not caramel!
  • Corn syrup. Although some people say you can use either dark or light corn syrup, I prefer to use the light syrup. It has a more mellow flavor, whereas the dark one tastes more like molasses.
  • Salt. Any type of salt should work fine. However, I am a little partial to sea salt, especially with caramel!
  • Butter. This helps give the caramel that warm, rich flavor. Make sure to use salted butter.
  • Heavy whipping cream. Again, this is the only type of cream that will really work. You can find this in the refrigerated dairy section, next to the half and half.
  • Vanilla extract. If you have been hoarding away your really good vanilla extract, use it for these homemade soft caramels! You don’t need a lot (1 tsp), but it’ll go a long way.
Testing homemade caramel with a candy thermometer.

How to Make Homemade Caramel Candy

Make the caramel on stove

Start by adding sugar, syrup and salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until mixture is boiling and sugar has dissolved. Slowly mix in the cream and keep stirring (don’t let it stop boiling). Then mix in the butter.

Keep mixture at a boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly. Then stir in the vanilla once the temperature reaches 245°F on your candy thermometer. Remove from heat and pour into a buttered 9×13″ baking dish.

Let harden and then cut 

Allow the caramel to sit on the counter until it hardens (preferably overnight). Then use a buttered or plastic knife and begin cutting.

For a rectangular shape, cut into 12 vertical rows and then cut 4 caramels from each row. Using wax paper or cellophane, cut into 3×6-inch squares and wrap each piece inside.

Glass drink with ice water in it and a spoon with caramel being ready to dip.

Don’t Forget These Tips!

If you haven’t made it before, making homemade caramel candy may seem a bit daunting. You can do it, though! Here are some helpful tips for you to follow to get the best caramel recipe possible:

  • Be generous when buttering your pan. The last thing you want is to finish the recipe and have half of your caramels stuck to the baking dish!
  • Stir continually. You will definitely get your arm workout in while you make this recipe! It’s important to stir constantly so your caramel doesn’t burn or get stuck to the pan.
  • Have a candy thermometer on hand. You want the mix to get to 245°F before it’s removed from heat. Don’t let it get any hotter than this or it will burn!
  • Test to see if the caramel is done. Even with a candy thermometer on hand, you’ll want to make sure the soft caramel mixture is ready. To do so, scoop out a teaspoon of the mixture from the pan, then drop it into a glass of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, it’s done. If not, keep it on the heat for another minute or so, then try again.

5 star review

“I’ve made these caramels several times. They are easy to make and delicious . You can package them in different ways to make this homemade treat even more special. Find precut papers or make your own from parchment, then place in a nice box or bag, add a ribbon.”

– Judy
Caramel candies wrapped in cellophane.

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caramel candies wrapped in cellophane

Homemade Caramel Candy Recipe

4.85 from 13 votes
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This homemade soft caramel recipe is one you'll reach for again and again. Perfect for making a batch of sweets to gift a teacher, friend or just to eat!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 48


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light Karo syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon table or fine salt
  • 1/2 cup salted butter , cubed
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (1 pint)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Butter a 9×13" baking dish and set aside. Combine the sugar, Karo syrup and salt in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and started to bubble. Slowly stir in the cream. Don’t let it stop boiling and keep stirring. Next, stir in the butter.
  • Keep the mixture at a boil and stir constantly, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the temperature has reached 245°F (firm ball) stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat and pour into the dish.
  • Let sit on the counter until it has hardened. Usually, I will make in the evening and let sit overnight. Once the caramel has hardened, use a buttered or plastic knife to cut into rectangles.
  • Cut into 12 vertical rows and then cut 4 caramels from each row. Cut wax paper into 3×6-inch squares and then wrap the caramel inside. Caramels will stay soft for 2 to 3 weeks.


Note: Here’s an easy way to test if the caramel is ready. Place a teaspoon of caramel into a small glass of ice water. If the caramel forms a firm ball, it’s ready. If it’s still liquidy, keep boiling and stirring. I like to use a candy thermometer as well to make sure it has reached at least 245°F.


Calories: 115kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 18mg | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 22mg | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 21mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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