Homemade Caramels Recipe (2024)

I love homemade caramels, but have always been so intimidated by them. I then got up the courage to make these, and they were out of this world. They were so easy to make and tasted absolutely amazing. You will love these.

Homemade Caramels Recipe (1)

For a sweet and kinda sticky treat, give our homemade caramels recipe a try. These soft and buttery homemade caramels are a perfect Christmas candy recipe to eat and share as gifts.

Homemade Caramels Recipe (2)

I was so excited when I first tried out our homemade caramels recipe. But, I’ll be honest, I was also a bit intimidated too because caramel can be a bit finicky and hard to master, which is why I had normally steered clear of making it myself.

However, this is the best homemade caramel candy recipe you will find. Not does this recipe make some of the best soft and buttery caramels, but it is also an easy recipe that does not have to be intimidating to accomplish.

My love of caramels started back when my grandpa would always have some of the soft Worther’s candies that he took joy in (or so I assumed) sharing with me, especially around the holidays. So not only is this a great Christmas tradition to eat the caramels, but now I can make my own and share the love of caramels with other too.

If you love caramel just as much as I do, then you need to make our Disney’s Apple Caramel Pie Recipe, Caramel Pumpkin Poke Cake Recipe, and definitely our Caramel Cheesecake Bars Recipe. They are all delicious and perfect holiday desserts to share.

Homemade Caramels Recipe (3)

Ingredients You Need to Make Our Absolutely Perfect Homemade Caramels Recipe:

  • Butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Light corn syrup
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Vanilla

How To Make Our Terrific Homemade Caramels Recipe:

Follow these simple instructions to make the best homemade caramels recipe.

Start by melting the butter over the stovetop in a large saucepan.

Homemade Caramels Recipe (4)

Then add the brown sugar and salt to the melted butter a mix it all together well.

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Next, you will need to add in the light corn syrup and continue to stir it all together over medium heat.

Once that is done, gradually pour in the milk, making sure to constantly stir the ingredients until all the milk has been added to the pan.

Now, continue to let the ingredients cook over medium heat while stirring the candy mixture until it reaches the firm ball stage or 245 degrees.

Give the mixture time. It will take about 12-15 minutes to get it to the right temperature, but you don’t want to burn it so don’t get too tempted to raise the heat to high.

Once it does reach the firm ball stage or 245 degrees, then remove it from the heat and add in the vanilla extract and stir it all together until it is completely incorporated.

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When you are done, carefully pour the hot mixture into a greased 9×13-inch pan and let it cool down completely.

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Then simply cut the caramel slab into 48 pieces (6 lines down and 8 across) with a sharp knife.

After the caramel has been cut you can choose to either leave it in the pan and store it with a top at room temperature, or you can wrap each piece in wax paper.

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To Make this Homemade Caramel Recipe You Will Need:

  1. Large saucepan
  2. Wooden spoon
  3. Candy thermometer (while not 100% necessary, THIS one works great and is super helpful in making sure the caramel reaches the right temperature.)

What are Tips for the Perfect Caramels?

The biggest tip I can give you for making caramels is to make sure you are 100% prepared when you are ready to make caramel.

When making caramel a lot of the time is spent stirring the ingredients in the pot. By continuously stirring the pot you will avoid the caramel from burning and create the perfect creamy soft caramel you want.

So, make sure to measure out all your ingredients ahead of time and prepare the pan so it is ready to pour the caramel mixture into right away.

Is it Better to Use a Candy Thermometer or do an Ice Water Test?

In my personal option, I would say that using a candy thermometer is better to use than doing the ice water test.

The biggest reason for this is simply because the thermometer can sit in the pot with the mixture and you can see the temperature rising in real-time, making it super simple to know when it has hit 245 degrees.

As for the ice water test you have to guess and check every so often to see if the mixture is at the right stage. If you would like to learn how to do the ice water test without using a thermometer, Instructables has a great tutorial on how to perform the ice water test.

What Do You Wrap Individual Homemade Caramels In?

If you want to store the caramels individually or have made them to give as gifts to friends and family then choosing the right type of wrapping is key.

Since caramels are sticky you have to be careful when making your selection. The last thing you want to do is scrap your caramel off the wrapper.

So in order to avoid any scraping or unraveling of the caramels, use cut wax paper as the wrapper. You can cut a sheet of wax paper to fit the sizes of caramel you made and it is super cheap and efficient for homemade caramels.

How Long do Homemade Caramels Stay Fresh?

Caramels will stay fresh for a good amount of time. If you leave the caramels sitting at room temperature and stored them in an airtight container they will last for about 2 weeks.

However, you can store them in the fridge and they will last about 3-4 weeks. But I would suggest letting the candy come to room temperature before enjoying a piece.

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Homemade Caramels Recipe (9)

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Totally Tasty Recipes Filled With Great Caramel Flavors to Try:

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  6. Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe
  7. Pumpkin Cookies with Caramel Frosting Recipe
  8. Overnight Baked Caramel French Toast Recipe
  9. Caramel Toffee Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Family Christmas Treat to Make and Enjoy:

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  11. Homemade Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt Recipe

Homemade Caramels Recipe (10)

Serves: 50

Homemade Caramels Recipe

I love homemade caramels, but have always been so intimidated by them. I then got up the courage to make these, and they were out of this world. They were so easy to make and tasted absolutely amazing. You will love these.



  • 1 cup butter
  • cups brown sugar firmly packed
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk 1 can
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Melt butter over stove top. Add brown sugar and salt, mixing well.

  • Stir in corn syrup.

  • Gradually add milk, stirring constantly.

  • Cook and stir over medium heat until candy reaches firm ball stage (245 degrees).

  • This will take 12-15 minutes approx.

  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

  • Pour into greased 9×13 pan. Let cool.

  • Cut into 48 pieces with a sharp knife.

  • Optional: Wrap each piece in wax paper.


To make these caramels sweet & savory:

I just added a little bit of sea salt, to the caramel. Once it is in the pan, I would sprinkle it over. If you wait to long, you may be to press it in with your hands a little.


Calories: 115 kcal · Carbohydrates: 19 g · Protein: 1 g · Fat: 4 g · Saturated Fat: 3 g · Trans Fat: 1 g · Cholesterol: 12 mg · Sodium: 55 mg · Potassium: 44 mg · Sugar: 19 g · Vitamin A: 135 IU · Vitamin C: 1 mg · Calcium: 33 mg · Iron: 1 mg


  • Saucepan

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray

  • 9×13-inch Baking Pan

Recipe Details

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

(Recipe from Food.com)

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  1. Lindsay says:

    I want to make that today! Thanks for the recipe, looks amazing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Receipe looks easy. I am going to try these next Christmas.

  3. MsAngelasFinds says:

    Please add a pin it button to your posts. I love your recipes but when I try to pin one on Pinterest, it isn't able to find any images so then I can't pin it. :(

  4. s buzzella :)) says:

    ahhhh! I started making these and now I've realized that I don't know if you mean degrees ferenheit or Celsius :(

  5. Six Sisters says:

    I hope they turned out okay!

  6. ~ Adelaide says:

    I am excited to try your caramel candy's!!!!

  7. Ronda Ross says:

    I love carmels I will definatly try this thanks for sharing!!

  8. Ronda Ross says:

    I love carmels I will definatly try this thanks for sharing!!

  9. Ronda Ross says:

    I love carmels I will definatly try this thanks for sharing!!

  10. Six Sisters says:

    Hi Mary!

    I haven't tried that, but I'm sure it would be delicious!

  11. Brenda says:

    Do the wrapped carmels freeze well? If so any suggestions?

  12. Six Sisters says:

    Hi Brenda,

    I have never had enough left over to freeze them. I am not sure how it would work! I am so sorry I am not more help. Let us know if you try it!

  13. The Better Baker says:

    OOOOOOO - I Love Love Love caramels..yours look divine. MMM!

  14. Carol says:

    I think I will make these and dip them in chocolate. What is better than caramels and chocolate together?????

  15. Ellie Burgau says:

    Have you added the "Pin It" button to your bookmarks bar?

  16. Six Sisters says:

    YUM! Let us know how that turns out!! -The Six Sisters

  17. Crystal Holliday says:

    Thanks so much girls! I made these last night for my family and we really like them. Now I have to find someone to share them with. Thanks for sharing great content.

  18. shelly says:

    i made these, my first time trying to make caramels. my taste testers were so very impressed! one described it as "a nice creamy flavor and texture when you first put it in your mouth then after you swallow it , you get another beautiful burst of the most scruptious flavor your mouth will ever experience" thank you for this easy recipe and making me a big hit :) everyones already asking for more :)

  19. Six Sisters says:

    So glad they were a 'hit' for your taste testers! Merry Christmas! -The Six Sisters

  20. Katie G says:

    I am wondering if this recipe is good for making caramel apples and caramel popcorn?

  21. Six Sisters says:

    This is really similar to our caramel popcorn recipe on our blog.

  22. Hallie Gibson says:

    im gonna make these right now!

  23. Sloane says:

    These were super yummy! Thank you soooooo much!

  24. Mariah says:

    How long does it take to turn solid? Mines seems to be taking forever. Also can I make them solid by putting them in the oven or fridge?

  25. Hannah Bozoa says:

    Why are you called the six sisters?

  26. Cyd says:

    Because there are 6 of us and we are all sisters! :)

  27. Ashley says:

    How long do these take to cool? Also, can they be cooled in the fridge or will this make them too difficult to cut? Thanks!

  28. Meridith Crane says:

    I just found this recipe on Pinterest. It is very similar to my mom's classic recipe. Do your caramels harden when they cool or do they stay soft, or somewhat soft?

  29. Deann says:

    I followed the recipe exactly. The color and flavor is great but mine are really hard, instead of soft and chewy. Any thoughts? I took it off of the heat as soon as it hit firm ball. My son added some sea salt to the top of part of the pan so he could have sea salt caramel. Just wanted them to be soft. I'm stumped. Help please!

  30. Cyd says:

    They are somewhat soft.

  31. Cyd says:

    Let them cool for about an hour or so.

  32. Marilyn Demas says:

    I just saw this post the first time today. I would like to do this but I am a little concerned because of Deann's comment about them coing out hard instead of soft set. I don't see an answer to her question. Can you tell me what may have caused this so I don't make the same mistake. Also, can you tell me how long these candies will last? I don't have a bunch of family to gooble them up so I want to know if they will last a week or so in an airtight tin?Thank you! marilyn

  33. Cyd says:

    She doesn't say whether or not she used a candy thermometer. It may have cooked too long. These should be fine for a week in an airtight container. We wrap each piece in waxed paper.

  34. Christine says:

    Hello! I have a quick question. Did you make high altitude adjustments to this recipe?

  35. Debra says:

    No need to butter pans if you use silicone - works great! Just flip out onto a plastic cutting board before cutting. And I keep wrapped caramels in the fridge for a month or more this time of year and they keep perfectly fresh.

  36. Kerry says:

    I have made these twice. The flavor is outstanding but, both times I got an area on top where the caramel crystallized and was very gritty. I followed the directions exactly (stopped stirring when it started to boil, used a buttered dish and used a candy thermometer (I even cooked the second batch a little less in case my thermometer was off my caramels were not as firm but still gritty on top) What in the world am I doing wrong? I want to use these as gifts but so far only about 1/2 of the batch is salvageable. Help!

  37. Linda Smith says:

    I have made turtles for Christmas and need to know how to store them. I have read that you put them in an air tight container for a week. Well it's two weeks until Christmas and have no other time to make these. Are they going to be okay if left in the refrigerator until needed? I hate to have wasted all these ingredients and money involved. Thanks for any suggestions you can give me. Merry Christmas to you all and Happy New year. Hope to hear real soon from you. Also can they be put in layers in the container seperated with parchment paper without them sticking?

  38. Cyd says:

    They should be fine in the fridge in an airtight container. Parchment paper between them so they don't stick is perfect!

  39. Elyse says:

    Hi Kerry!I am so sorry! I can't figure out what the problem could be. I know humidity, elevation and so many things can change the outcome of recipes. I am so sorry about that!

  40. Makenzie says:

    You just wouldnt cook it to firm ball stage, soft ball temp would work best. Dont remeber off top of my head but most candy thermometers have it labeled right on them.

  41. stacy law says:

    Can cream be substituted for the sweetened condensed milk?

  42. Cyd says:

    With this recipe you need to use sweetened condensed milk.

  43. Trina Ellis says:

    This is the exact recipe I use for caramel corn.

Homemade Caramels Recipe (12)

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Homemade Caramels Recipe (2024)


Why shouldn't you stir sugar when making caramel? ›

Like dry caramel, you want to gently move the sugar mixture in that same side-to-side paintbrush-like fashion until the sugar dissolves. Then, as soon as the mixture comes to a boil, it should not be stirred, as the agitation can cause crystallization.

What is the best pan to make caramels in? ›

For these homemade caramels you want a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan. I recommend using a pan that does NOT have a nonstick coating. Heavy-bottomed simply means the pot or pan has a thicker base. It shouldn't be thin and tinny.

Why didn't my homemade caramels harden? ›

If caramels are too soft, that means the temperature didn't get high enough. Again place the caramel back into a sauce pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and heat to 244°F. If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can test with a cold water test.

What is the best thing to wrap homemade caramels in? ›

Most caramels will need a little time at room temperature in order to cut more easily. Cut in squares and wrap in waxed paper or parchment paper. Wrapped caramels can also be frozen.

Do you stir constantly when making caramel? ›

Instead of stirring, you gently swirl the melted sugar around in the pan to keep it moving and avoid burn spots. The agitation of stirring can cause the sugar to grab on to any unmelted crystals on the sides of the pan, and crystallization, or chunks of sugar, form in your caramel and they won't melt.

Why is my sugar clumping when making caramel? ›

If too many bits of sugar get stuck to the side of the pan, they will harden and can cause the caramel to seize or become gritty or grainy when you add in the butter and/or the cream. Prevent this by gently swirling the sugar around as it melts, while holding the pan's handle, instead of using a utensil to stir it.

What thickens homemade caramel? ›

To thicken a caramel sauce, use one tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch (sometimes known as tapioca flour) and one tablespoon of water per cup of caramel. Then simmer the caramel, stirring it constantly with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick.

Why are my homemade caramels greasy? ›

Toffees and caramels both contain butter and sugar in high quantities. If the toffee or caramel is not handled properly during the cooking process, the butter sometimes separates from the sugar and forms an oily layer on top of the candy.

Which method is quickest in caramel making? ›

For the "dry" caramel method, you simply heat the sugar in an empty pan until melted and caramelized. It's quick and direct, but the risk is that some parts of the sugar melt faster than others, and can burn before the rest had made it even to light amber.

Why do my homemade caramels stick to the wax paper? ›

In general the paper sold for home use is too light weight, the grain of the paper isn't made to withstand twisting (it tears), and the wax coating is too light to prevent the moisture from the candy from seaping into the paper and weakening it thus causing it to tear and stick.

What makes homemade caramel hard? ›

Temperature is key when making candy. The difference between a soft caramel and one that's hard and overcooked is all in the temperature. Candy thermometers—like this instant-read thermometer—let you know exactly what stage the caramel is in (thread, soft-ball, firm-ball, hard-ball, soft crack or hard crack).

How do you know when caramel is ready? ›

The melted sugar should be cooked until it's a deep amber colour — it's done when it starts to smoke and begins to foam just a little bit. At this point, it should be removed from the heat immediately to stop the sugar from darkening any further.

Why do you put vinegar in caramel? ›

Add acid. Acid ingredients (like vinegar or lemon juice) can help prevent re-crystallization which causes caramel to become grainy. Acid physically breaks the bonds between the glucose and fructose molecules that form sucrose and ensure that it stays apart.

Should you refrigerate homemade caramels? ›

Protect truffles, caramels, and nougats from dampness by wrapping them individually in clear plastic wrap. Chocolate candies will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Caramels can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Store popcorn balls this way, too, but consume within one week for the best quality.

What is the best way to cut homemade caramels? ›

The best way to cut the caramels is when they are cold from the fridge. Use a super sharp knife, and mark out your cuts before you make them. I find it easiest to cut the whole pan into strips first with vertical cuts, then make the four horizontal cuts.

Why do you not stir sugar syrup? ›

Combine your sugar and water off the heat, and stir it just until the sugar is evenly moistened. Avoid stirring the sugar if at all possible once you put it on the stove. Agitation can cause the sugar to crystallize.

Why can't you stir sugar? ›

Stirring or jostling of any kind can cause the sugar to begin crystallizing. For this reason, it is important to avoid stirring the sugar as it cooks or while the temperature is raising to whatever candymaking stage you need.

What happens if you stir sugar? ›

Stirring helps to increase the interaction between sugar molecules and water molecules, which causes sugar molecules to break away from each other. Hence they get dissolved faster. Q. When sugar is stirred with a spoon in a glass of water, more sugar is dissolved and faster.

Why not to stir sugar? ›

Stirring the sugar

If the melting sugar splashes up onto the sides of the pan, it quickly loses its moisture content and forms back into crystals. That can set off a chain reaction that can cause caramel to seize up, ruining the entire batch.

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