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Homemade Caramel Candy Recipe

This soft and chewy homemade caramel candy recipe are a treat you’ll reach for again and again. This easy candy recipe is perfect for gifting to friends and family!

Need more candy recipes? A few favorites include rocky road candy, chocolate fudge and buckeyes!

Homemade caramel candy recipe.
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Best Soft Caramel Candy

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 caramels recipe. I was hooked and have been making this caramel candy recipe ever since!

Why You’ll Love These Caramel Candies

  • Family favorite: This is my go-to recipe and makes the absolute best soft caramel. Every bite is perfection!
  • Perfect texture: This caramel candy has incredible flavor that is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. It’s buttery, chewy and so soft!
  • Easy to make: The best caramels take a little patience but the ingredients and steps are easy to follow. For an even easier option, though, make these microwave caramels!

Ingredients

Making homemade caramel candy does take a bit of time, but the ingredient list is relatively short and simple.

Homemade caramel ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Sugar. Make sure to use white sugar for this recipe. If you use light 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 has a molasses taste.
  • 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. I like to add it when it’s room temperature.
  • Heavy whipping cream. Heavy cream is best for a homemade caramel recipe. 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.

How to Make Homemade Caramel Candy

This caramel candy makes a large batch which is perfect for holiday gifting!

How to make caramel candy in a collage.
  • Simmer. Start by adding sugar, syrup and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixture is boiling and sugar crystals have dissolved completely. Slowly mix in the cream and keep stirring (don’t let it stop boiling).
  • Add. Then mix in the butter and stir it into the mixture. Keep mixture at a boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Check temperature. Keep a close eye on the temperature to see when it reaches the soft ball stage. Once it reaches 245°F immediately remove caramel sauce from heat and pour into a buttered 9×13″ baking dish.
  • Cool. Allow the caramel to sit on the counter until it hardens (preferably overnight).
  • Cut. Once the caramel has set, use a buttered or plastic or sharp knife and begin cutting. For a rectangular shape, cut into 12 vertical rows and then cut 4 caramels from each row.
  • Wrap. Using wax paper, candy wrappers or cellophane, cut into 3×6-inch squares and wrap each piece inside similar to a tootsie roll.

Caramel Recipe FAQs

Why did my caramel candy turn out hard?

If you overcook the caramels or the pan gets too hot, they can become hard. Keep a close eye on the caramel to make sure it doesn’t burn or overcook.

How do you keep caramels soft?

Make sure to wrap the homemade caramels in wax paper and store them in a covered container.

How do you fix hard caramels?

If your caramels become too hard, you can try placing them back in the saucepan and add a few Tablespoons of water and stir until the temperature reads 244°F.

Why are my homemade caramels too soft?

If they are too soft, then the mixture didn’t get hot enough. Place the mixture back in the saucepan with a 2 Tablespoons of water and cook until it reach 244°F.

How long does homemade caramel candy last?

Wrapped caramels will stay soft in a covered containers at room temperature for about 2 weeks.

Wrapped homemade caramel candy.

Expert Tips

Here are some helpful tips for you to follow to get the best caramel recipe and texture 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 degrees 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. 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 do cold water test again.
  • Optional topping: After your caramel candy has set for 20-30 minutes sprinkle with flakey sea salt then let set completely. After caramels have set completely, you could also drizzle with chocolate if desired.

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
Caramels in a white pot.

Other must make holiday treats are this homemade hard candy, peanut brittle and this recipe for Christmas crack!

More Candy Recipes

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Homemade caramel candy recipe.

Caramel Candy Recipe

4.98 from 137 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Soft and chewy these homemade caramels are easy to make with the best buttery texture! Perfect for gifting to friends and family.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 48

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light Karo syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon table or fine salt
  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream , at room temperature
  • ½ cup salted butter , cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper or generously butter and set aside so it is ready. Fill a small glass with ice water.
  • In a large, stainless steel pot, whisk together the sugar, Karo syrup, and salt over medium-high heat until bubbling the sugar has dissolved. In a very slow trickle, whisk in the cream, being careful not to stop boiling. Whisk in the butter.
  • Whisking constantly, keep the mixture at a boil 15 to 20 minutes, or until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 240°F to 245°F (firm ball stage). To be certain the caramel is ready, drizzle 1 teaspoon into the ice water. Roll it between your fingers and if it forms a firm (yet pliable and little sticky) ball, it’s ready. If it’s still liquid, keep boiling and whisking.
  • Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Then pour into the baking dish. Don't let it overcook or the caramels will be too hard. Let sit on the counter to cool and until set. Usually, I will make in the evening and let sit overnight.
  • Once set, use a buttered or plastic knife to cut into 12 vertical rows, 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.

Notes

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 liquid, keep boiling and stirring. I like to use a candy thermometer as well to make sure it has reached 245°F.
For best results: Do not double this recipe, use a candy thermometer and follow the tips in the post above.
Storage: For best results, store in a covered container for up to 2 weeks. 

Nutrition

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

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Caramel candies wrapped in cellophane.

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