Easy 4 Ingredient Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

 EASY soft caramels you can whip up in about 15 minutes.  You don’t need a candy thermometer to make these caramels and they literally melt in your mouth! 

Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

I have two all-time favorite caramel recipes. One is my mother’s and it is famous. Really. People will say things like “Heyyyyy how’s your mom? I’ve been craving her caramels since last Christmas!” Keep in mind that it’s September. So when they say they’ve been nursing a craving for caramels for 9 months, they’ve really been suffering for quite some time. They are perfectly buttery and have the richest, most incredible flavor.

I need one. NOW.

Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

My other favorite caramel recipe is this one I’m sharing with you today. My mother’s recipe is so incredible, but it requires a candy thermometer, a giant pot, and a LOT of pot-stirring. As much as I adore those caramels, I tend to be a slightly less patient person then my mother and need something quick and easy that still delivers big buttery caramel flavor. That’s where this recipe comes in. Big flavor, little work. I love it.

Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

These caramels seriously are so easy to make. They only require four ingredients (5 if you decide to go all-out and sprinkle on the sea salt) and you spend about 10 minutes stirring and keeping an eye on the stove pot. The best part is that NO fancy gadgets – namely, the dreaded candy thermometer – are needed. Like I said, it’s easy, quick, and they are so melt-in-your-mouth yummy. The hardest part is waiting for the caramel to cool before eating it!

Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

4.8 from 24 reviews
Easy 4 Ingredient Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
EASY soft caramels with just 4 ingredients. You can whip these up in about 15 minutes with NO candy thermometer and they literally melt in your mouth!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1½ sticks butter (12 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • optional: coarse sea salt, ½ teaspoon vanilla (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan combine butter and sugar and stir over medium heat until melted. Stir in corn syrup and condensed milk.
  2. Bring to a boil and then decrease to simmer 7-10 minutes or until mixture achieves deep golden color, stirring constantly. (*For lower altitudes, simmer time may need to be reduced 2-3 minutes, watch carefully for coloring!) - See update below recipe!
  3. Pour caramel into a foil-lined 8x8 inch pan and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired.
  4. When completely cooled, cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.
Notes
*makes about 20-30 caramels (depending on how large you cut them)
**recipe prep time does not include cooling time which may be 1-2 hours
***for additional richness and flavor, you can stir in ½ teaspoon vanilla after removing the caramel from the heat and before pouring it into your prepared pan. sprinkle coarse sea salt on top of caramels for a boost of rich salted caramel flavor!

RECIPE UPDATE: Some readers have reported that their caramels didn’t “set up”. This is most likely due to not cooking the caramel long enough. To clarify: after bringing the mixture to a rapid boil (step 2), reduce the heat to medium heat. The caramel will continue to bubble from here on out. Keep stirring over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until your caramel reaches a deep golden color and the caramel starts to “pull away” from the edges of the pan. Also, if your butter starts to separate, remove from heat and whisk whisk whisk like crazy and it will come back together – then continue to whisk over heat until deep golden color is reached. 

If you aren’t familiar with candy making – it is commonly known that candy making can be temperamental due to location (altitude) and weather. That being said, I have personally never had an issue with this recipe, it always comes out perfectly! 

 

Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)
Easy No-Fail Soft Caramels (no candy thermometer required)

 

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Comments

These sound wonderful! I live in Colorado Springs and we do have to extend cooking time when making caramels and using sweetened condensed milk is “the” plus. Looking forward to trying your recipe. Thanks so much!

    I just sprinkled mine with salt 😀 So excited! Going to be giving these out in coffee cups for Christmas 🙂 I used French Sea Salt: Fleur de Sel, and since I used unsalted butter I also put a little salt into the butte/sugar mix; for that I used Real Salt. Lastly, I added a little more than 1/2 of a vanilla bean (well, you know, the seed portioned that I removed from the bean 😉 I never knew making caramel could be so fun. Can’t wait to sample these 🙂 Thanks again!!

      That’s a cute idea in coffee cups!!!

    My caramels havnt set prooperly, i have read your comments about undercooking, so can i recook and acheive caramel that will set properly

      Follow up. have recooked caramel with an extra half cup of sugar, lets see if these set 🙂 will keep everyone posted,,also a sprinkle of sea salt on top,,,fingers crossed 🙂

    I just made these FABULOUSLY awesome caramels. And at the risk of sounding a bit rude I have to say, this recipe IS really just as quick, easy & simple as it reads. No Ph.d required just following simple instructions folks.

    🍬 And darling these are truly devine.😍

Is your mom’s recipe the one with whipping cream where you add and stir and stir and stir? I make those EVERY Christmas.

How well do these keep? Like mailable to someone for Christmas??

    These could definitely be mailed in a box if you wrap them in wax paper like you see in the pictures! Somebody is getting a very delicious Xmas present!! 😉

I love how easy these look! I always have a hard time cooking caramels perfectly. Can’t wait to try this recipe! Also, your blog is adorable and I’m so glad I just found it!

in your list of ingredients, the sugar and butter are listed as divided but in the instructions, it looks like they are all added in one step with the condensed milk and corn syrup. why divide the two?

    Oops, that was a typo! Thanks for the catch! 🙂

These are the best looking caramels I have ever seen.. they look incredibly golden, delicious and packed full of flavour. I can imagine they would make great little gifts too! Thanks for the recipe & idea!

They look delicious, but I have a question: Could the corn syrup be substituted with maple syrup?

My caramel came out runny. What did I do wrong and can I fix it? It tastes great but its more of a sauce then candy.

    Hi Amber! Did you let it cool completely? Maybe even overnight? It will be runny when it first is poured into the pan after cooking it on the stove. If after letting it set up overnight it is still runny, then you might not have cooked it long enough!

      mine came out the same – looks like they’re started to set – but after a few hrs – there’s no way i’d be able to cut it into sqrs – it’s just too runny yet. Can i throw it back in a pan and cook it longer, or will i need to restart a whole new batch?

        Hi Mary – You probably didn’t cook the caramel long enough. You can try chilling it!

        It worked for me to put it back in the pan and cook some more except I did it before it cooled. Also in Montana, over 5,000 ft elevation, after bringing to a rapid boil I need to cook it for around 16 minutes at a slow boil.

      Hi Sharla, if the color is very light and it’s still runny, you didn’t let it cook long enough. You should stir it constantly over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the color is a deep golden brown.

        They don’t deepen in color as they cool, do they? I’m a little anxious because I kept seeing “deep golden” everywhere, but this comment says “deep golden brown!” 😱 Very different descriptions! I poured them over fudge so I hope it turns out…there’s no going back to the pan for me!

      Hi! What you’re describing with the butter separating can happen when the weather is not ideal. I know that sounds weird but candy making is very fragile and altitude and weather can ruin a whole batch – so frustrating! Can I ask where you live and what the weather was like when you made this recipe?

May I ask what altitude you made these?

can you tell me the size of your butter sticks please?

    Each butter stick is 8 tablespoons!

These look delicious!! I’ve been wanting to make my own caramels for my brownie recipe as my store bought ones (the Whethers) are too hard. I’m not a big fan of corn syrup, so I may leave that out. But these look absolutely scrumptious and so few ingredients too. I bet they make a great gift for a foodie lover for the upcoming Christmas season too. Looking forward to giving these a try, thanks for sharing!

    What would you substitute for the corn syrup??

Hi. Could I get your moms caramel recipe?. Pretty please :-D. Deb

Hey, do you think I could add in evaporated milk instead of the condensed milk?

    No, evaporated milk wouldn’t work well in this recipe, sorry! 🙁

Do you think Agave syrup would work as well as the corn syrup?

    Hi Tina! I haven’t tried it… The corn syrup helps to keep the caramels soft so I’m not sure how agave syrup will do to replace it… if you do try it, please tell me how it turns out! 🙂

    U have used this recipe with agave syrup every time I have made it and it works every time hope this helps

Please post your mom’s recipe too!

    This recipe looked so good I had to try it! I’m having issues though… When I brought everything to a boil it looked like all the ingredients were combined, but when I reduced the heat to a simmer, it the butter separated from the rest of the mixture. It also takes it more like 15-17 minutes for me to notice the color change. Then I pour out the caramels into the pan and there is a LOT of excess butter. I tried it twice and the second time I even poured out the excess butter before pouring the rest into the pan! What am I doing wrong? The caramels are still good, but I feel like I’m messing up some part of the recipe.

      I had the same problem, but I used an electric mixer and blended the butter back in after I let it cool a bit. They came out just fine.

      me too!! the butter is even able to be squeezed out after cooling overnight! yucky.

        Hi Lisa, I haven’t run into that issue before and I’ve made this caramel dozens of times – not sure what might be causing that??

Hi, so I was trying to make these and I keep doing something wrong. I have them on low heat but no matter what I do I seem to always burn it. What am I doing wrong?

    You’re probably not stirring enough, they need to be stirred constantly. 🙂

    Are you using a non stick pan? My first batch in stainless steel burned even with constant stirring. Since I’ve switched to a non stick pan I’ve had no problem with burning or scorching.

These look simply divine! I have been bouncing around the idea of gifting caramels for Christmas. You may have convinced me!

This recipe does not work. The butter separates.

    Hi! This recipe definitely does work, I’ve made it many many times, however it is essential that the directions are followed precisely, that you constantly stir the sauce pan, even if the butter starts to separate. Also, candy making is a fragile process and weather and altitude can make a difference – I’m sorry your didn’t turn out though!

    Hi Melissa, I’m sorry it didn’t work for you! Unfortunately the weather and altitude and make or break a candy recipe, it’s notorious for that. The recipe does work though under the right conditions, I’ve made it dozens of times with perfect caramels. 🙂

    Mine did the same, but I poured it into a warmed metal bowl and beat it with my hand mixer on low and it ended up coming out fine. It didn’t separate until I lowered the heat, so I’m thinking I simmered it at too low a temp. The color didn’t darken after 10 minutes, so I turned up the heat and cooked it another 7 minutes.

      So I made a second batch after I rescued the first one by beating it with an electric mixer. I noticed a big difference in the condensed milk that I used, even though it was the same brand. The first can (used in the batch that separated) was thin and poured easily. The second can was so thick that I had to scoop it out with a spoon. This batch did not separate at all, so now I’m thinking that it may depend more on the initial consistency of the condensed milk.

        Are you sure first batch was condensed milk not evaporated milk

I tried these today, followed the instructions to the letter and they were a complete flop 🙁 Seems like something is missing…the butter didn’t blend in and just sat in a puddle on top after I poured it into the 8x 8 dish. Let it sit and it just became hard as a rock to the point where you can’t even cut it into pieces. I’m disappointed, I was really looking forward to eating these.

    Hi Jenni, this is my go to caramel recipe, I make them often and never have a problem. You definitely shouldn’t let the caramel sit in the sauce pan though, as the recipe states you should stir constantly after adding the milk and corn syrup.

I so love salted caramels, but for some reason I cringe when I see a recipe with a candy thermometer. This one gets pinned to try.

Hi! How long do these keep? I am a make ahead type of girl and have all of my Christmas baking done. I’m assuming these wouldn’t freeze very well?

Thanks!

    Hi Ashley, I haven’t frozen these but I’ve kept them chilled in the fridge for over a week and they were still great. 🙂

These sound great! But I live in Denmark so can you tell me approx how much a ‘stick’ of butter is?? I can’t wait to try these!

    A stick is 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces. 🙂

      salted or unsalted butter?

        Doesn’t matter – I use salted!

      I don’t know where you buy your butter, but most butter comes in 8 ounce sticks, not 4 ounce. This can confuse people causing the recipe to get screwed up.

        Hi Vee – not sure where you read 4 ounces in regards to the butter, I listed the butter in sticks/tablespoons. 🙂

          A few comments up you said ounces, probably on accident. This is likely where she saw it

          Whoops! Thanks Jess I’ll check that out!

        Since four sticks of butter equals a pound (16 ounces), one stick is 4 ounces. The stick is 8 Tbsp of mass and also 4 ounces of weight.

        Actually one stick of butter is 8 tablespoons which is 4 oz or 1/2 cup

I tried these and had problems with the butter amount. I cooked it much longer and the butter didn’t mix in. I poured off about 1/3 c. They set up fine and were tasty. It is rainy here. Should I reduce the butter to 1 stick or continue to cook the mixture longer?

    Hi Pam! Unforunately it’s not he amount of butter, it’s the weather and the altitude that are giving you trouble! 🙁

Great recipe – we followed it to the letter and it worked perfectly! However, the caramel stuck terribly to the foil in the pan. The only change we will make next time is to line the pan with parchment paper, instead.

    Hi, I had trouble with both parchment and tinfoil so ieended up spraying nonstick spray on the foil and it worked fantastically.

I just finished cooking a batch using this recipe. Just a note to those having issues with the butter separating….use a wisk to stir it!! I was using a spoon but it was separating as it was cooking so I grabbed a wisk and beat it like it owed me money 😉 it blended beautifully!! I took a small sample and ran cold water over it and it set up fine. Just keep wishing away girls and I’m sure it’ll stay together!!

Trying these today. Stirred constantly and had a nice simmer for a full ten minutes. The caramel was separating from the edges, but there was still a butter layer on top. I decanted it before pouring into the pan. It seems to be setting up fine. The batter tastes great and is delicious though not addictive. For my lifestyle these work well. I will definitely make them again, although I may try using less butter in the next batch

yes the whisking! The butter separated out on top when I poured it into the 8×8 too. I quickly found the suggestion to whisk. I immediately poured it back into the warm pot and whisked away until it fully blended. I poured it back into the pan and it looks beautiful!

    I tried the same thing and it worked. Definitely need to add the wisking step to this recipe.
    Thanks.

Am converting your recipe to metric to make here in Germany. Are the 14oz of condensed milk fluid ounces or weight ounces please?

    fluid ounces

I followed the recipe exactly and I stirred it constantly, I even had my husband on and stir when I need to put on a glove because my hand was getting hot and they are a wonderful color but they are really hard – nearly as hard a toffee but not hard break. It takes 10 minutes to eat one tiny piece. Did I do something wrong?

    You may have cooked the caramel too long, when it reaches a golden color you pour it right in the pan. 🙂

      When ever I do the dark golden brown it get to hard. I stop when it’s a light brown and it’s perfect.

I tried these a few weeks ago and they are fantastic! Great recipe, and stores well. Making some more for friends & family right now!! 🙂

Can this recipe be doubled?

    I haven’t tried it myself but it would probably work – you will need a bigger pot and maybe a little more stirring time on the stove.

I always thought making caramels would be really challenging but I followed the recipe exactly as written and they turned out perfectly! So yummy! Thanks:)

I was wondering if there is a good substitute you’ve successfully used for sweetened condensed milk in this recipe?
What about homemade sweetened condensed milk?

    I haven’t tried any substitutions – I’m sorry! If you do find a good substitute please let me know, I’m sure some others would love to know about it! 🙂

These are sooo good! I was a little skeptical because of how disastrously all the others I have tried turned out, but these were great! They have set up nicely so far, I was afraid I hadn’t cooked them long enough because at almost ten minutes the color hadn’t changed and cooking it on medium was way to high it started to burn. I sprinkled with salt and am trying so hard to be patient! I live in the mountains of north carolina and it was raining while I made them. Cooking it for ten minutes on medium/low (a few ticks bellow medium) seems to have worked well (: I was also worried about using so much butter but yes it still worked and had no problems with seperation. This was also great because I dodon’t own nor have I used a candy thermometer. Thank you so much for this!

I just made these tonight. They are sooo delicious!! The butter did start to separate on me, but I used the whisk trick that someone else mentioned, and it worked the butter back in. The only problem I had is after reading all these comments on here I was too afraid of my caramels not setting up, so I wanted to be sure it came to a deep golden color. It came to be the color of store bought caramels are, so I thought I was good. They turned out very hard. I think next time I will stop cooking it sooner and go with a color in between deep golden, and light brown. Oh, and the hardness of my caramels isn’t too bad, I just microwave for a couple of seconds and they soften right up. Great recipe, yummy caramels!!!

Is the caramel stable enough to dip into chocolate? Should I refrigerate them first?

    It’s stable once it’s cooled but I would probably cut them into squares, then chill for 30 minutes before dipping into melted chocolate.

Thanks for a super easy caramels recipe! Made these today and like many other readers, there was a lot of excess butter. I’ve made caramels many times and I would make these again but with less butter. Everything else was great- they set fine and the flavor is delicious!

i just tried this twice and both times the butter separated. Looks pretty disgusting really!

    Hi Diane, if you read through the other comments, you might see that some other readers have had this issue of the butter separating and have had success with the following method: If the butter starts to separate, remove pan from heat, then whisk quickly until mixture comes back together, then return to heat and continue to stir. Repeat as needed until caramel reaches golden amber color. 🙂

    u didnt do it right

This recipe turned out awesome! D’you think the corn syrup could be replaced with thick cane syrup? My recipe needed 3 whisk times, but it is setting and looks awesome! Plus, it’s not just sweet- it’s full of flavor, not just fatty sugars. I give this two thumbs up and 360%!

Just made these today, they set up beautifully, I let them cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours. But when I cut them they are crumbling, almost taste like maple sugar candy in the texture and taste, they are not sticky like I would think they should be.

I am putting them in the frig to see if that helps, but what did I do wrong? Did I cook them too long?

I first want to say, I absolutely love your blog name! It is too cute!
Next, this recipe sounds great! I really struggle with caramel, but I hope to make it work out. I was thinking of trying it sous vide as well to see if temperature-controlled cooking makes a difference. The recipe I found seems pretty good (http://bit.ly/saltedcaramel1B).

Can you make these without corn syrup?
Or, could you substitute something else?
I love recipes like this, they are simple. I just made 4 ingredient fudge the other day. Thanks!

    Hi Cordi – I’ve only made these with corn syrup, it helps to keep the caramels soft instead of hardening. I’m not sure of any substitutes but if you do find one please let me know!

I am glad I read the comments. Mine was separating I dumped it back in the pot and whisked it . seems fine

first time and i followed it exactly. i did wisk the entire 10 minutes instead of stir. came out perfect. i may use 1/2 stick less butter next time other than that…recipe is golden

They came out good tasting but very buttery. the butter didn’t mix in well it kind of just stayed on top and once hardened some had to be scraped off the top. I cooked them for a much longer time than 10 minutes and they never “set “.

    Hi Brittany, stirring quickly the entire time will prevent the butter from separating. Many readers have commented that using a whisk works great. 🙂

Is there a good substitute for the corn syrup only my wife is allergic to ANYTHING corn.

Thanks

    Hi Ken, Although I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t vouch for the results – I have read that brown rice syrup works as an alternative to corn syrup in soft caramel recipes. Good luck!

      I’ve never tried this either, but I’ve heard honey works. LOVE these caramels! I’ve tried other recipes, but I don’t like any of them as much as I love these!!

        Ooh, honey is a good idea and I bet the flavor boost from the honey would be delish! So glad you like these Layla – they’re my go-to!!

    I used maple syrup amber colored grade a and it worked nicely. I have read many other recipes where they state you can use cream of tarter and equal parts water as to keep the sugar from crystallizing . I have not tried this variation.

They’ve become my go-to as well! They are sooo addicting! One thing I’d like to add also is Ive noticed through making these MANY times is that the butter only separates for me (needing some whisking) when I drop the cooking temp too low. If I keep it at a higher cooking temp, it doesn’t separate. Thanks again for this awesome recipe!!!

    That’s really interesting, I don’t think anyone has mentioned noticing that correlation between the low heat and the separation! Glad you’re loving it as much as I do! 🙂

Thanks so much for the recipe. Mine turned out great. I agree with one of the comments….you can’t turn the temperature down too low or the butter will separate…and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon is key. I low-boiled it exactly 10 minutes. They are yummy! ( My candy thermometer broke in a batch I tried first, had to throw it all out, so was so thrilled to find your recipe!)

Hi! I made these twice this week and both times, they were a little ruined. I could not, for the life of me peel the foil off. The second time I did it with wax paper. I still couldn’t peel it off. What could I be doing wrong?

    Hi Jasmine, That’s very strange – I’ve never ever had that problem and I’ve made these caramels dozens of times! Are your caramels coming out soft or hard? Usually the butter content of the caramels makes it easy for them to peel right off of the foil. The only thing I can think to suggest is maybe spritzing the foil with some nonstick spray before dumping the caramel in!

Any thoughts on substituting canned coconut milk for the sweetened condensed milk?

Thanks!

Sorry for sending a second post but I forgot to ask another question. I will put both questions in this so please go ahead and delete my first comment.

In regards to substitutions, what would your opinions be for swapping out:
1) canned condensed coconut milk (using just the thick part) for the sweetened condensed milk
and
2) Extra Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil instead of butter?

I know it will change up the flavor a bit, which I am fine with. But I am not a candy maker and don’t know changing one or two of the ingredients will affect the end result in texture.

Thanks!

    Hi Sandra, I really couldn’t say how those ingredient changes would react in candy making – I’ve only made this recipe as written and it always works great for me! I wish I could be of more help but I think the only real way to find out for sure is to give it a try!

      Coconut oil works great and adds a nice flavor.

I have a few questions. As I made my first batch of caramels, the color turned a light golden, is that what we want? Or do we want a deeper shade? And when I poured my caramel, it seemed to be separated by a ton of oil, could that be from over-mixing, over-cooking, or is it normal? I’ll see if it starts to smooth, but I want to make sure my next batch is perfect.

    Hi Sydney,

    You can keep your caramel from separating by whisking vigorously until you pour it. After your caramel cools, check out the texture and see if it is a soft, smooth caramel. If not, you probably didn’t cook it quite long enough. It should be a deep golden color, not too light (but not burned either!)

I made these this evening, and they turned out fantastic.
Variables: Warm Spring weather, but not overly dry or humid, made sure to wait until the mixture was a dark golden color and pulled from the sides, used a plain old spatula (my whisks were in the dishwasher), and the sweetened condensed milk was very thick not watery.
No puddle of butter or mixing issues, this was a quick way to make some awesome homemade caramel. Mine did “sweat” a little while cooling, and to be honest, I didn’t even wait a full hour, hehe. It was a little tough to peel off of the foil, but I was using cheap dollar store foil and most things stick to it anyway. I just wanted to share my experience, and have to say for my first time making any sort of candy I am so glad you posted this recipe. Totally made my day 🙂

Hi,

I live in Australia and we don’t have sticks of butter here. Could you please let me know how many grams of butter i need.

Thanks so much.

Gabby

    Hey Gabby, one stick of butter is 8 tablespoons, 4 ounces, or 113 grams.

I LOVE this recipe!!!! Homeade caramel is my favorite and I haven’t had it since my grandma passed away. I saw this recipe and although I am a terrible cook I had to try it because it looked so simple. …And it was! If you follow the directions precisely, and wait for the candy to start pulling away from the pan (I had to cook mine longer here in AZ) it worked perfectly! This recipe has taken me back to grade school heaven. Thank you so much for a recipe that even those of us who only “cook on a whim” can successfully complete!

    Aw Tisha your comment makes me so so happy! I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother passing but it makes me overjoyed to hear that this recipe can bring back a little bit of her for you. So glad the recipe went well for you, it’s my go-to caramel and love it so much!! Congrats on conquering the magic of caramel!! 🙂 🙂

This recipe was awesome; I had to stir a lot longer than 10 minutes more like 20 minutes it was thick. The only problem I have now is, I cooled them for about 5 hours and they are still too soft, not extremely soft but just too soft to wrap. Would it be okay if I chilled them in the fridge? Thank you

    HI! So sorry for the delayed response – but yes you can chill them in the fridge if you want to!

Apparently at sea level and 80 degree weather it never sets up in fact about 10 minutes in it separates in the pan and the butter all float on top and even after 15 minutes you still don’t get the brown caramel color

    Hi Marie, when that separation starts happening just grab a whisk and whip it like crazy, it comes back together!

Thanks to whoever suggested the whisk, my soft Pampered Chef whisk worked wonderfully! Thanks for a great, easy recipe! The vanilla was a good suggestion and next time I’m going to try adding some good cocoa powder. I think this recipe would make a great center for truffles…..Christmas will be here soon!

So we just tried this recipe and all of the butter didn’t incorporate is that normal?if not, how do I fix it?

    Hi Kristall! Sometimes that happens when making homemade candy/caramel but with this recipe there’s an easy fix, if you see the butter separating from the rest of the ingredients just grab a whisk and whisk away like crazy, it’ll come back together no problem!

This was really easy to make my only issue was that I’m not sure it tastes right, there is something more then a caramel to it. Not sure if it’s the butter I used or what. I also doubled the batch. But as soon as I got it poured up into pans it started setting up right away, no separation issues. It’s cooling in the fridge can’t wait to see how it comes out.

I would like to add white chocolate to the mix when and how should i do it. Should i leave out any ingredients
Thanks for the great recipe

    Hi Suzanne – not sure where you’re wanting to add the white chocolate? I’m not sure how it would turn out actually IN the caramel, but you could always drizzle it on top after they’ve cooled!

Thanks for the Caramel Recipe. It’s just what I was looking for.

these are so good but mine ended up hard but still tasted amazing but i put them in the freezer and forgot about them whoops

This recipe totally worked. Those who had trouble with it must’ve not followed instructions properly. 12 tbsp is just under a cup. A cup is 16 tbsp. if that helps some folks. I didn’t watch the time however. I just watched my caramel. When it was a Color that I liked, I stopped. My arm may fall off from all the stirring but I don’t mind.

Can this caramel be used to make bear claw candy?

    I haven’t tried it myself but that would be delicious!!!

I took the challenge today, 11/14/15 and made your caramels. I live in Duluth, MN at an elevation of 1,000′. I have a gas stovetop and the day was marvelous for the weather. Anyway, I did everything your instructions said and the timing was 17 total minutes to cook. That’s both on high and on low. At one point a small portion was scorched, but for the most part, I got a creamy light gold color. The butter never did separate and I used the whisk from the start. The set up time was a little over an hour to cool and minutes longer to actually set up. My husband is amazed with the flavor. I have pictures, but I can’t upload them. Thanks for the effort of helping all those who struggle.

Hi. I can’t wait to make these, they sound delicious and simple! I just wanted to point out a few typo’s in your recipe. In step one, you are missing the word “pan” after “medium sauce” and before “add butter”. In step 3, You spelled the first word “poor” instead of “pour”. It’s ok, I seem to find typos everywhere, it’s a gift!

    Thanks for the catch, I updated those!

This may be a silly question but i just want to be sure before I make it. Is it safe to pour the caramel on top of the foil ? (as far as it sticking to it)

    Hi Christine! I always spray my foil first with nonstick spray and this helps! If the caramel ends up sticking to the foil too badly it’s most likely that the caramel wasn’t cooked quite long enough.

Thank you so much for this easy to follow recipe! Just made a batch for thanksgiving! Came out prefect! I will be making it again for Christmas!

Looks awesome. Hope to make some for Christmas!

How long do they last for once made?

    I’ve kept these up to two weeks wrapped individually in wax paper!

    About 45 mins at my house.

I’ve kept them in the fridge for MONTHS (forgot about them). They were still delicious and friends couldn’t tell the difference between those & the ones I gave them the day after they were made.

These were awesome. Made them for a secret santa gift at work. I used parchment paper to line the pan, and to wrap the caramels in. The recipient LOST THEIR MIND they were so happy with them. I sprinkled Maldon flake sea salt on half of them.

It took a lot of beating to incorporate the butter at first. I used my electric hand mixer to start it off but then finished it with the whisk. They stayed a lovely soft texture too, but I was careful not to cook them too much. This was an awesome, easy recipe and I thank you so much for posting it.

Wow, thank you for this recipe! Tried it last night, slightly trepidatious from some of the other commentors’ struggles, but this worked beautifully! Just keep stirring! I’ve been wanting to try caramel-making for a while but have been intimidated by other recipes (and I don’t have a damn candy thermometer!) but this was easy and tastes great! I lined my pan with parchment paper instead of foil — no sticking issues! And I used a whisk and there were no separation issues,
either. My boyfriend even got in on the action; his very first Pinterest craft, aw! 😉 Can’t wait to try another batch with a perhaps a chocolate-nut topping?! THANK YOU for an easy-to-follow and tasty holiday recipe!

I made this recipe this weekend for Christmas gifts! It turned out so well. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe! I will be going back to this again and again for little gifts.

A few suggestions:

* In your recipe instructions, you say “simmer” on step 2 and “reduce heat to medium” in your recipe update. When I made my first batch, I reduced to a simmer per the first instructions — but quickly realized I needed to bring the heat back to medium. Simmer and medium heat are vastly different. Medium was perfect! This might be why some people didn’t have the recipe set up properly.

* You also mention to line a 8×8 inch pan with foil. Now, perhaps this is commonsense, but when I read recipes, I take everything literally… so I didn’t coat the tinfoil with grease and didn’t assume I should or need to. My first batch was a huge mess. They tasted perfect, but tin foil was stuck to half of it. I’d highly recommend you change tin foil to parchment paper. Parchment paper worked PERFECTLY the second go-around. 🙂

Thanks again!

I live in India. I love the taste of caramels. I want to prepare them at home but I don’t get corn syrup here. Do u have any substitute for that or can i skip corn syrup. Or if u know the method to prepare corn syrup at home let me know.

    Or can I use corn flour instead

Re: “that being said” about effects of location and weather. I’m wondering, if where you live has to do with your perfect results, so i’m curious where that is? Just figuring if i’m similar, I doubt, but my more perfect batch, a friend posted on.facebook. I’m striving to repeat that. So i tried two tonight. Not close.
Thanks for Sharing,
Carolyn,
Anchorage, Alaska

    Hi Carolyn! I’m located in Utah 🙂

Has anyone used the carmel flavored condensed milk for this recipe?

OMG, so good! I added toasted pecans and a little salt, rolled them up and sliced. It did take longer for mine, about 25 minutes but well worth it.

These are great! Mine took 25 minutes of stirring but well worth it. I added toasted pecans and a little sea salt. I so could eat them all.

I’m not a cook by any means, but my friend (who IS a cook/caterer) said that her mom always told her, “If you can read…you can cook.” Since your recipe had only 4 ingredients (and I DID add the sea salt & vanilla), I thought I’d give it a try. I read all the comments, and got some good tips, so that my first try would turn out. And…IT DID! Oh my goodness. I’ve received compliments galore (gave some in little Christmas boxes to friends), and I can’t stop eating them, they’re so addictive. I added 5 minutes to the simmer time, and made sure to use veg spray on the foil so they wouldn’t stick. I will be making this again, to be sure!! 🙂

I made these and they came out as hard as a rock. What did I do wrong? First time trying to make caramels or candy of any kind for that matter.

    Hi Becky, I haven’t had anyone report back with that! I think though that you probably cooked the caramel too long? The longer it cooks, the harder it will be after it cools…

      Jeyshree here I asked for substitute or recepe for corn syrup but you never replied.

        Needy much?

Put candy in freezer to cool faster 20 min and now it is staying hard is that from putting it in freezer?

    Hi Jeanine, I put finished recipes in the freezer to speed up the cooling process all the time, it shouldn’t change the consistency of the product when it is room temperature again. If you caramel has come to room temperature or is cool (not frozen) then they should still be soft. If they are room temperature and hard, then you probably cooked the caramel too long…

These were my first attempt at making homemade caramels and they turned out great! Thanks so much for this recipe!

Best recipe ever. The hardest part was keeping my wife & mom-inlaw’s fingers away while rapping them! Can brown suger be subbed for regular?

Your caramels were delicious, thank you! And I loved all your photos too. 🙂 Here’s one I thought I’d share as I just discovered it and it’s divine too – Lemon Myrtle Caramels with Creme Fraiche http://stirringchange.com/2015/11/26/lemon-myrtle-recipe-creme-fraiche-caramels/

I made these and they came out perfect. I only had evaporated milk so i found a way to convert that into sweetened condensed milk. You put 1 and 1/4 cups of sugar for every cup of evaporated milk and heat it on the stove until it dissolves. Let it cool and ouilla! Sweetened condensed milk! I had a 14oz can and it measured out to almost 2 cups so i used just about 2 1/2 cups of sugar and ended up with way more than 14oz that was needed for the recipe. My whole family loves these chewy caramels and with b the sea salt they are really very good! Thank you for sharing this recipe, every time i see caramel recipes that call for a candy thermometer i shy away and i have tried many other recipes that just don’t do caramel candy chews any justice! These are amazing and i will definitely be making them again!

Making this for the second time… and the first time was a huge hit. It started with someone at work bringing in salted caramels and me stating “Yeah I could probably make those”. So I made your caramel recipe (didn’t have a good time getting it unstuck from the foil though) and then laid the sheet out and used a small heart cookie cutter and cut out caramel hearts. Dipped them in dark chocolate and then dusted with sea salt. Verdict: People at work raved about them and said they were better than the ones from the candy shop.

This time I’m using an epicure bar mold (no foil) and when done will cut each bar into 2… which will yield 40 caramels, and then I will dip in dark chocolate, and again dust with sea salt. Thanks for sharing this great, and easy caramel recipe.

Hi, so I made this recipe and I have a question for you. Mine set quite well but it stuck to the foil. Is this because I didn’t let them cool long enough or is there something I could’ve done wrong?

    Hi Julia! I usually don’t have any issues with that, it might be the brand of foil you’re using? In the future you could spritz the foil with nonstick spray beforehand to prevent sticking!

I made these caramels today and they came out perfect. The butter doesn’t separate if you whisk briskly through the cooking process.

Thank You for the recipe.

Kathy

Mine have set for over 2 hours but still haven’t hardened. Should I refrigerate them?

    Hi Zaria! Shoot, they should definitely be hardening by now so I think the mis-hap was with the cooking time, you probably just jumped the gun a little bit when you took it off the stove, I’d give it a few extra minutes over the heat next time (watch for a deep rich golden-amber color) and they should set up just fine! You might be able to save this batch by popping them in the fridge for a bit. 🙂

Hi, I was just wondering if you could make these without the corn syrup? I live in a remote village in the north of Ireland so the shops around where I live don’t seem to have it. Would it affect the flavour or texture of the caramels if I was to leave it out?

    Hi Kim! The corn syrup is pretty important as it keeps the caramels really soft… I bet you could order some online??

Nice Recipe, I made this and they came out nice, added to my collection, thank you.
I make Caramels, exclusively, in that Caramels are the only Candy I make. From a dozen mouth watering soft flavores , to a hard ” 20 minute sucker” my Caramels are pretty popular during the holidays. In observation if you will permit me on your recipe. Use a thermometer. The process of caramelization in sugar is temperature dependent, not time dependent. A cooking time of “7 to 10 minutes to a deep golden color”, is open to personal interpretation of what “golden brown” constitutes. Then, when corrected for altitude of another “2 to 3 minutes”, gives you total length cooking time that varies from 4 to 10 minutes. Way too much of a range for all but very experienced candy makers to interpret. Lending to unpredictable results. Follow this recipe and add an 8 dollar Taylor 5983N candy thermometer from the big box store, and cook to 145°F stirring just enough to prevent hot spots, and this is a guaranteed success. To calibrate a department store thermometer, stick the working end into a pot of boiling water. Water boils at 212°F so whatever temperature your water actually boils at, just add or subtract that difference from your 145°F and you are calibrated for your altitude and quality of the thermometer. In other words of your water boils at 210°F then cook your caramel to 143°F.

    Apologies, the Temperature I indicated is a typo, I meant to enter a temp of 245°. Soft Ball stage.

Mm delicious, this turned out just right. Thanks for sharing.

Simon

Every year for Christmas my aunt made me caramel. Since I moved 2,000 miles from my home town and missed on the tradition this year, I decided to give it a try for my birthday in June. I was concerned I’d ruin it or my expectations. However, it turned out and it is DELICIOUS! Not my aunt’s but it’s mine 🙂
Took a bit longer than 10 minutes of simmering, maybe 15/18 minutes. But it sets fast and pretty easy.
Now I can start the tradition here in the Midwest with my new family.

Thank you a million for sharing this recipe!

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but, if anyone’s interested, here is a good article about making confectionery that has helped me understand where I’ve gone wrong in the past – it’s a bit ‘science’ based, but I get it more now and can more easily adapt recipes to what I want. Your recipe worked out great, by the way. I’ll definitely be making it again.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2010/sep/24/sugar-honeycomb-cinder-toffee

Thank you. They taste great but I don’t have the patience fot them to cool. Ha ha.

Hey. I read this recipe, and got excited, tried it. It was my first time ever making caramel! It turned out weird. When it was boiling, very dark brown lumps rose to the middle. It seemed a weird texture but I cooked it until it was golden dark brown. Excess butter separated and floats with it, and it still has dark lumps. What did I do wrong? I followed the recipe!

Does this use salted or unsalted butter? And in general, how can one tell the difference in recipes if it doesn’t specify?

Just wanted to say thanks for the best and easiest caramel recipe ever. These are a family favourite and my children and grandchildren are always requesting them. After having made them several times I have it down pat now and I cover my caramels with chocolate after I cut them into squares. YUMMO!

I have to say, this is the BEST caramel recipe EVER! So easy and delicious, i feel like an expert! I made it a few days ago and my friends loved it. So i thought id try it again to make sure i wasnt just lucky the 1st time. Thankfully, success!!!! Cant wait to send it to my kids!

There is nothing like a soft Caramels, has to be my favorite!!!!!

I made my own sweetened condensed milk. It took much longer for me to achieve the golden color and I had to turn up the heat on the simmer. My stove is not good anyway. They are cooling with sea salt as we speak. I did have to use ice water to check for the ball to be firm enough.

Very good but stuck to my foil

Just wanted to add this tip for those who don’t like to use candy thermometer, best way is to keep a cup of Icw wAter nearby. When you think it’s ready drizzle a bit into the ice water and it sets up immediately, take a bit and see if that’s the texture you want. If it sticks to your teeth then it won’t set up yet and needs more time. Once it gets too hard just call it toffee and dip in chocolate 🙂

I have a recipe very similar to this for my caramel sauce. It uses brown sugar instead of white sugar and honey instead of corn syrup, and I add whole milk and vanilla extract in addition to sweetened condensed milk. If I use my caramel sauce to make these candies, will the brown sugar and honey affect its ability to set? Thank you so much.

Love the receipe. But was wondering if you could add pecans to the mixture after it finish cooking. Thank You

Can you clarify the “stirring constantly” to what type of cooking implement should be used. Spoon, metal, wood, teflon, whisk… et cetera.

    Stir constantly with a whisk for best results. 🙂

hi i have done your caramels once but want to make again for Christmas.
how long do they last once they are cooled?
I’m making them for family members as presents.

I made these today. Read the comments and took all the advise offered. Followed directions exactly and made beautiful soft, melt-in-your-mouth caramels. What a great recipe! Thanks so much

I had an issue with the butter separating. Then when it set up it was hard. Tasted wonderful but too hard to eat and not worry about dental work. What could I have done wrong?

Here’s a tip use a ice cold water to check to see if it’s ready. Drip some into ice cold water dump out and see how it feels. That will help you tell if it’s to runny . NOTE 2 people work best seeing how you have to store alot and check… NOTE ice bowl and strainer work

I made these tonight two different ways and they both came out AWESOME! I used coconut oil instead of butter for both recipes (6 oz) and I used white sugar in one batch and coconut sugar in the other. Because coconut oil is lighter in color and the coconut sugar is so dark, I used a candy thermometer since I am not a risk taker!! I stirred like crazy until 255° on my thermometer and they turned out awesome! I did use a whisk the whole time as recommended previously. I will probably be able to eyeball this next time because the caramels starts to pull away from the sides when it’s done…. but I also know me and will probably chicken out and break out the candy thermometer!

Looks yummy! I’m making a care package to send my son for Christmas. I’m going to break up some pretzels, put them in muffin tins, pour this caramel over the top and cover them in chocolate once they set! Fingers crossed!

Every other caramel recipe i see calls for buttering the pan or buttering the foil. How do you get your recipe not to stick

Can you use something els instead corn syrup? Tanx!

I made the caramel candy tonight and it is so good. Cooking time took about 7 minutes longer, but it was so easy to do. Love this and will make again!

Thank you for your recipe! I made today, but instead of pouring onto a pan to cool, we dipped pretzels in. After they cooled we dipped again in chocolate. Fantastic!!!

So stupid question but is it butter or margarine?

    Butter, but I have also made it with margarine and it works too 🙂

Do you have a link to your mom’s recipe as well?

I’m scared to make these I never cooked before

Did you oil your foil? I had difficulty removing from foil insert.

These are wonderful! I have made them a few times now. I am wondering if I used brown sugar instead of white, would they come out correctly? Have you tried it? Thank you

    I made them with coconut sugar and they turned out great!

Can you put hard chocolate on it? If so how do you do that and how do you make that?

Just finished making these…..the color, taste and texture are fantastic! However I’d suggest lining your pan with waxed paper instead of foil….even after the full cooling time, the foil stuck to the caramel like a beast! My husband is still standing at the counter picking foil off fleck by fleck so we can get them cut and wrapped. Hoping no one ends up with a missed shard as the surprise in their candy on Christmas Eve! 😉 Anyway, other than that this will make a great go-to treat. (Added the vanilla and sea salt to mine….yum!)

i’ve just try it and they taste amazing!!!
the only issue is that it seems so stick to the foil.. got any tips on how to get it out? thanks!!

Wow! Just made these–definitely more than 10 minutes of stirring–but sooo good! it’s a magic moment when you realize the caramel is cooked. I just smoothed the hot caramel into the pan and sprinkled with a little coarse Real Salt.
I used organic butter, sugar and sweetened condensed milk–the only not organic ingredient was the corn syrup– has anyone tried this substituting maple syrup?

any substitute for the milk?

Made these yesterday and they’re simply delicious! I have zero experience in candy making so all credit goes to recipe and the tips you’ve given!
Although the butter kept separating, using a whisk instead of a spatula worked. In the end I took it off the stove once the color was golden and whisked it a little, and the butter got incorporated into the caramel.
After cooling, it got bit stuck on the foil (phew) but warmed the foiled side a little and I could remove the slab.
Thanks for the recipe. Looking forward eating these and gifting it to people too 🙂

I don’t have a 8×8 inch pan I have a 9×9 inch pan would that work or would my caramel be to thin as in flat.

    Hey Allison! It will be pretty thin if you use a 9×9 inch pan BUT a quick hack – like the pan with foil, then fold up two sides about an inch inward from the edge sso that the foil itself makes a sort of pan within the pan. Then use some extra foil, rolled up, to fill the gaps on the sides. I’ve done this before when my 8×8 inch pan isnt available!

Can i use honey instead of corn syrup as it is not readily available in India

    Hello,

    I’ve never used honey in place of corn syrup in this recipe before, but in doing a little research, I think it would work! Add a dash of lemon juice to the honey to prevent crystallization. If you end up trying this I’d love to hear your results!

Great and easy recipe! Thank you for sharing.

My first try: Is it possible to overcook these? I have an electric stove and used the medium – low setting, but my caramels seem a bit harder than they should. Not hard candy, for sure, but not soft.

Again, thanks for sharing and supporting your blog post for several years! 🙂

This recipe is AMAZING for caramel dipped pretzels! I have tried many recipes for the perfect caramel for pretzels and I almost gave up. This recipe has consistently given me the PERFECT caramel. Every time. Quick tip: If in doubt whether caramel is done, drizzle a bit on PARCHMENT paper and pop in the freezer. If it peels off easily when cool it’s done. Wax paper will melt the wax and cause it to stick.. Also, if dipping pretzels, place on parchment to cool. they peel right off perfectly to dip in chocolate. Finally no broken pretzels.. or teeth! Thank you for this awesome recipe 🙂

I’ve successfully substituted honey for corn syrup on a 1-to-1 basis. Didn’t try it in this recipe (yet) but it’s worked well in many other things for me. It will of course add a honey taste to the finished product though, some people don’t like that… Thanks for this great recipe! My first batch is cooling now. I can hardly wait! 🙂

I know this is an old post but I was wondering if anyone else’s caramels stick to the wax paper? It seems to always happen, regardless of the recipe I use (though I’ve really only tried three). I’m doing something wrong – if anyone has an idea what that might be, I am all ears and appreciation. Thank you!

    Hi Michele, I would recommend heavy duty nonstick foil and make sure you are actually using the nonstick side (it’s the dull side, not the shiny side that should be touching the food/caramel!). 🙂

I have achieved 5 star results first time round! 😀 But I hasten to add that I’m convinced , had I not thoroughly read /studied all preceding comments, I might have also failed. I’m situated 320 km inland from the coast and had to continuously stir the mixture for 20 minutes before reaching the softball and “deep golden brown” stage. After cooling the slab was sprinkled with grounded Muldan Sea Salt before cutting the slab in precisely 64 squares (2.5 x 2.5 cm.)

For wrapping I have used foil and wax paper (10 x 10 cm) and wrapped the toffees as squares. Found the foil to be the better wrap of the two, although the wax paper also worked just fine.

This is one of the best recipes I’ve discovered as far as toffee is concerned, and tasted exactly like my favorite English Caramel Toffee. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Just finished making this caramel candy. Super easy , great results ! Thanks so much.

Hey, could I use margarine in place of the butter?

    I used coconut oil in place of butter. It was just harder to tell when they were done but they turned out great

You can not get dark golden brown. When do it’s to hard to eat. Are you sure dark golden brown? I do a light golden brown and it’s perfect.

And also, Wow! Everyone loves them! They say it’s the best caramels they have ever had!

First time making candy and this was super easy and so good. People at my job and my hubby’s job loved them. My husband did too apparently because he are like 20! Thanks for the recipe!

I made these tonight with our 10 & 11 year old daughters. They were the official “dip a spoonful into ice cold water” checkers I also switched up recipe because I didn’t have some things in our pantry. The sweetened condensed milk…made my own out of whole milk and sugar! It took us about 35 minutes of SLOW simmering to get them to perfect color and texture. Most definitely keeping this recipe tucked away!! Sugar coma here we come!!!

I think it would be easier for me to use my candy thermometer rather than have it not turn out. What temperature should it be when it’s done? Soft ball?
Thank you

    Iused a candy thermometer since I am not a risk taker!! I stirred like crazy until 255° on my thermometer and they turned out awesome!

I’m anxious to try these – they probably wouldn’t survive mailing from Carmel, CA to Miami, FL for Christmas would they? Carmel is cool, but Miami?? Thanks for the recipe….i read almost all of the comments!

Wax paper is hard to come by, can they be wrapped in foil wraps or baking paper?

Made this tO use as a layer in soMe bar cookies. It was a little too much caramel so i poured tHe rest into a foil lined pan. The caramels set up great and taste delish but i cant get tham off the foil without mngling them. Is there a missing step with cooking spray or parchment or wax paper? Or did i not wait long enough? The cooled off but are still soft.

just made this and made turtles to give at christmas- thank you fantastic flavor!!!

Do you know how this works with Splenda or any kind of sugar free product

    I have not tried it with any sugar substitutes, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. Please let me know if you try it and how it goes. Thanks!

      I used coconut sugar with these and they turned out really good.

Worked perfectly i waited until It all pulled away from the side of the pan cant wait to sliCe suoer cool and Drizzle on chocolate!

    SOrry for the typo but update! i am cutting into squares if my family would quit stealing them

Made these for A CHURCH BAKE SALE. oNE OF THE FIRST THINGS TO SELL – AND PEOPLE WERE CLAMORING FOR MORE! i DID FOLLOW THE EXTRA TIPS AT THE END OF THE RECIPE; i HAD TO WHISK THE BUTTER BACK INTO THE MIXTURE 2 TIMES WHILE COOKING. tHEY CAME OUT SO YUMMY!

    Kristi, great idea for a bake sale! Glad that they turned out well for you and the sale!