Homemade Caramels

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Once you make Homemade Caramels, you’ll never want store bought again!

Once you make Homemade Caramels, you'll never want store bought again!

Remember the Whitman’s sampler, the box of chocolate covered stuff: nougat, bark, caramel, fruit flavored goo.

Every Christmas, one of these boxes showed up at our house. Being the picky child I was (still am) We would poke a hole in the bottom of each piece of candy to see what it was. What a great day it was when they started putting the map, key, chart in the lid.

Once you make Homemade Caramels, you'll never want store bought again!

What we were always searching for was the caramel ones. And if the box was really fresh, that caramel would be so soft. When you bit into it, then started to pull the candy away from your mouth, you’d get that golden string of caramel…You know what I’m talking about, and not just the string, the whole story.

So in my kitchen journeys, I’ve tried making caramels a few times. I’ve tried recipes that were too soft (wouldn’t hold shape)

too hard (you could spend days trying to chew it)

boring flavor

wrong flavor, just off, not sure how to describe it.

Once you make Homemade Caramels, you'll never want store bought again!

And then it happened, completely by accident. I was looking for something else and I stumbled on this recipe from the Joy of Baking The picture drew me, then I read the recipe and it was different. All the other recipes I’ve tried had butter in them, this one? No butter in sight. Maybe that’s it? So I have to try.



They hold their shape, and they have that caramel string when you bite into them.

And they are so easy to make!


Homemade Caramels

Homemade Caramels

Homemade Caramels


  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla (optional)


  1. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine cream, sugars and salt. Over medium to medium high heat bring mixture to a boil while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  2. Once mixture comes to a boil, attach candy thermometer and stop stirring.Remember my tips on using a candy thermometer, don't let it touch the bottom of the pan, make sure your mixture covers the mercury tip all the way.
  3. While your caramel is boiling, prepare your pan, butter well a 8x'8 baking dish, or line with parchment first and then butter the parchment.
  4. Continue boiling, without stirring until your temperature reaches 245 degrees, the firm ball stage.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla if your using. We made it with and without and the family preferred the flavor without the vanilla added.
  6. Pour into your prepared pan and Let your caramel rest for at least 8 hours or overnight before cutting.
  7. To cut, Slide spatula under caramel slab and remove to lightly oiled cutting board. Using an oiled knife, cut as desired. If knife starts to stick, rub with more oil.




You could stop right here or you could cover your caramels in chocolate.

Melt chocolate in double boiler


Using a dipping tool or a fork, dip or drizzle chocolate to completely cover your caramel with chocolate. Place on parchment paper to set.

Now make your candy pretty, Just drizzle more chocolate over your candies, this will also hide any imperfections.


Oh and all that chocolate drizzle on the parchment paper didn’t go to waste, I had children just waiting for me to finish so they could have that paper!

And here are some more wonderful candy recipes
Peanut Brittle wIMG_1179c
Homemade Gumdrops
Turtle Bark
White Chocolate Fudge with Cranberries and Pistachios
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About Joan Hayes

Mom to 3 teens, sweets and travel are her passions. Joan really does love her chocolate. She has a secret stash she hides from the kids and she has at least one bite of something chocolatey every day. She creates easy recipes any skill level can achieve to satisfy the sweet tooth in everyone!


  1. OK. We know I can’t do anything remotely close to what you do.

    But my momma can.

    I just sent her the link to your site with the words “I love this woman. Make her stuff. And take pics so I can send them to her.”

    You are simply beyond words. =)

  2. Carrie, If your momma makes these, everyone will love her!

    These are the things that make other people drool with envy (if that’s what you’re going for)

    And I think you could make these, if you can read a thermometer, you can do this!

    Go ahead, try it. Of all the candy I’ve made, other than fudge, this is the easiest. I promise!

  3. Okay, that isn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be! Thanks for sharing at Church Supper. Love seeing new faces. Please come back next Sunday, and have a blessed week.

    Everyday Mom’s Meals

  4. These look incredible! Bookmarking this recipe- so excited to see this now, because I just bought a candy thermometer TODAY! 😀

  5. This is the most perfect post i have ever seen on making Caramel!!!

    Greetings. This is my first time on your blog, but you have a terrific one. I am always on the look out for new blogs, new ideas. I especially appreciate all the details you do. Great photos makes it seem like anyone can replicate the recipe!

    I am asking, would you please consider posting a few of your favorite recipes on erecipecards.com

    It is a tool for bloggers to see and to be seen. Your posts would fit in perfectly.

    in addition, all photos, recipe titles as well as your blog name would link directly back to your blog. Thus giving you new attention and potentially new readers.

    Or, if you just want to take a look at a lot of fellow food bloggers all in one place. A great learning experience to get ideas about how to establish your own blogging voice!

    We have a very easy to follow step by step photo guide to help you get started…

    Please take a look. If you have any ideas or questions, please do not hesitate to write


  6. Wow! I too, am a caramel fan. I used to poke through the Whitman’s box, and only eat the caramels. The rest sat lonely in the box with holes in their bottoms. My caramels always hold shape, but end up a bit greasy? I’ll definitely be trying this recipe.


  7. @Krista, I’m loving all your link ups, thanks for letting me share!

    @overtime cook, candy making can become addicting, I love to make, have a sample then give away to others!

    @Dave, I’ll be popping over to check it out!

    @Comfortably Domestic, maybe your recipe uses butter? Most of the others I’ve tried in the past had butter in them, this was the first that didn’t and not greasy at all!

  8. Just what does one have to do to get a small box of these for Christmas? Ask? Please please please please please send me caramels?

    d a v e

  9. @Dave, we’ll have to see how they ship, just sent some to a friend yesterday, she should get them tomorrow, and there is more yumminess to come that will probably ship better!

  10. Your amazing, just as I was thinking you should cover them with chocolate and you did and more, wow my mouth is watering. Your so right all good caramels have whipping cream and no butter!!

    Thanks for linking up the Newlyweds recipe linky hope to see you next week!

  11. my mom makes about 4000 caramels each Christmas season — never thought, though, to dip them in chocolate! Brilliant.

  12. @Jenna, if I can put chocolate on it, I usually will!

    @Sno White, wow! 4000? Go mom!

  13. This is a GREAT idea – esp. for holiday gifts. I was planning on doing some including ones topped with Smoked Salt. Now, if only I can avoid breaking yet another candy thermometer *LOL*

  14. @Aly, Wonderful idea, if you are going to top with salt, I’d cut back the salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon otherwise the smoked salt won’t stand out. Let me know how they turn out.

  15. Caramel and chocolate…a match made in heaven! You made these look so easy. I’ll be featuring these tomorrow in my November wrap up of the Holiday Sweet Swap. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I’ve had the exact same caramel delima, thanks for solving it for me. Just wanted to stop by and let you know that as one of the co-hosts of the Holiday Sweet Swap your caramels made my top 5!


  17. Truly divine! I’m making them…even if Christmas is over! 🙂

  18. and dipping in chocolate….can it get any better?! Your post is informative and instructional..thanks! I am your newest follower..from chocolate town(Hershey)..pls follow back if you can!

  19. Ohhhhhh drooling bigtime.com here!! Found you via Home Savvy and will be your new salivating follower!!

    Tassels Twigs and Tastebuds

  20. Anonymous says:

    Can you use chocolate chips to dip the caramels in does it have to candy making chocolate? They look so good
    Sherry Baird

    • Sherry, you can use chocolate chips but you need to be careful on keeping the candy cool or the chocolate will melt. Candy melts or bark is meant to set up hard and is easier to work with.

    • Oh, I always wondered why sometimes my chocolate-dipped strawberries came out sometimes with a harder chocolate coating or (most of the time) a soft coating. Next time I will look for the Ghirardelli candy bars that you used here.

  21. I WANT, I WANT, I WANT!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!

  22. Makes sense not to have butter in them. Butter+sugar=butterscotch or toffee flavored. Pure caramel=no sugar. Great that you found that recipe, and thanks for sharing it!

    When working with sugar syrups, I always slap a lid on for a couple of minutes when it comes to a boil. That way, all the crystals are washed down the sides by the steam condensing, and you don’t have to worry about them at all! 🙂

  23. Just made mine and it is cooling down for dessert tonight! 🙂 I am going to dunk it in chocolate too! yummy!

    Thanks for posting this, and you are right, it was very easy to make.

    The not cooled version also reminded me of a butterscotch like taste with it, that or its such a pure caramel, that I forgot how it could be this good! I am thinking of making some and shipping to my Dad for Father’s day 😀
    I also used Turbinado sugar instead of white, and sucanant instead of brown, so the flavors are probably much stronger than the original recipe b/c those sugars still have the molasses flavor in them.

    Either way, AWESOME!

  24. Jennifer, I’m so glad it turned out for you! I made myself sick eating these. Looking forward to cooler weather to make another batch. It’s just too hot here already to play with chocolate 🙁
    Have a great day!

  25. Hiiii 🙂
    want to try this in sha Allah…..just have a question if we reheat it then will it come back to liquid form??? can we use as a spread in between the cakes or cupcakes??

  26. Hiiii 🙂
    want to try this in sha Allah…..just have a question if we reheat it then will it come back to liquid form??? can we use as a spread in between the cakes or cupcakes??

  27. Wendy Rusch says:

    Hi! I just love your site/blog… I love the humor you add into your recipes…I make caramels, numerous kinds, but I must add into my recipes the part about allowing pan and caramels to cool a bit then sampling whats left in the pan lol…that was my friends, family and employees favorite part about me making caramels! :o)

  28. Oh Joan these are amazing! Love them dipped in the lovely chocolate (which I reminds me, I too need to go to Sams!!!). You totally bring me back to my childhood with that Whitman’s Sampler!! I only wanted the caramels and have been known to take a bit of each candy until I found the caramels! Thanks for linking up to Iron Chef Mom!

  29. love caramels and i cant wait to try making these but i have two questions..first can i use a non stick pot for these ? and do you need to use only a wooden spoon for stiring..i only have plastic or metal…but if you say i have to i`ll gladly go buy some..thank you.. jaynie

    • A non-stick pot is fine, that’s what I use. As for the spoon, my grandma used to always caution against using metal spoons in cooking, said it changed the taste, but really it should be fine. I’d be careful using plastic as it might melt due to the high temperature.

  30. Hi there! I’m excited to make these! Can you tell me the amount of chocolate that I should use for a batch of caramels this size? Thank you!

    • I used half a package of the chocolate for these, what was leftover in my pan, I added peanuts to then dropped the peanuts onto waxed paper by the spoonful and made peanut clusters. I never waste chocolate.

  31. Hi Joan, these look Awesome I dont cook much but so want to try these. After putting the caramel in the pan did you put it in the fridge to let it set. So these caramels hold their shape pretty well at room temperature do they? I am curious, can caramels be made using a mold (which I have never done) or is dipping into chocolate the best method. Lastly is Ghirardelli a chocolate you often use. If I were trying to make chocolate bars and possibly sell at my local market, would you recommend Ghirardelli. Thanks so much, keep up the great work.

    • Hi Paul, I did not refrigerate my caramels, this recipe does hold it’s shape. I don’t know about using a mold, I’m sure you could, make sure to use a metal mold. As for the chocolate, I do enjoy Ghirardelli but my choices for candy making chocolate are also limited.

  32. I recently tried an apple cider caramel version I found on Pinterest, and you are absolutely right, all I could taste was the butter and when it sat out at room temperature, it was too soft for my taste. I loved the fall flavor of them, so I’m going to incorporate this recipe. Naturally, I’m also going to have to try the chocolate covered caramels as well. Looks heavenly!

  33. Oh, my Dad loves a good caramel so I’m going to be making these to surprise him with! Been looking for a homemade caramel recipe that has nuts in it, too. I had some once that we bought while on vacation, but can’t remember what kind of nuts they had or where we were. Maybe pecans go with caramels?

  34. Hi, yesterday I tried making these delicious looking caramels. When I tried cutting them today, they didn’t hold their shape 🙁 Do you have any tips for when I try making them again? Is it possible that I used the wrong kind of cream (only 35% fat)? Or did I not heat the mixture enough (thermometer did say 245, though)? If you have any ideas that can help me improve the shape-holding qualities, I’d love to hear them.
    The caramels taste amazing, so I’d love to make them again and try to improve my caramel-skills 🙂

    • Hi Sophie, you should have been fine on the cream. Can I ask, were your caramels runny or just soft? If it was just soft, It might be your thermometer is off a bit? I’d just cook it to 250 next time, as long as you don’t get to “hard ball” stage you’ll be fine.

      • Thank you very much! Next time I will try that. The caramel was just a bit too soft, so when I cut it, it just melted into one big piece again. I could sort of shape the caramel, but it wouldn’t hold shape en become a blob after leaving it for a while.
        Also, I was wondering how these are best stored, do you have any experience with that? Or did they disappear too fast to find out a good way of keeping them fresh? 😉

  35. Love it … saved it and pinning! I will be making these for the holidays!

  36. These look delicious! How do you store them? How long do they last? Can you freeze them?

    • I store them in an airtight container with wax paper between the pieces so they don’t stick together. I’ve never tried to freeze them, they don’t last long enough so I honestly don’t know if you can or not.

  37. I have made these they are like little drops of heaven on my tounge. I have experimented quite a bit I have place pecans on the Carmel while it is still warm then cut and cover in chocolate, I have put round pretzels on the Carmel and covered in chocolate, and I have done square pretzels with peanut butter smeared on the pretzel then place on Carmel and finally dipped in chocolate. The most recent one i did was use apple flavored licorice and pit it on the warm carmel and push it in with a butter knife almost covering the licorice completly. that was may sons favorite! I have also made them just the good old fashion Carmel.

  38. I just wanted to Thank You for sharing this recipe! For years I’ve been trying different caramel recipes & this is by far the best! I will be using this recipe for the rest of my life! And as a bonus – I am a potato candy making fool around the holidays but have been trying to figure out how to make it with caramel instead of peanut butter to no avail. This recipe will be perfect for it! My only problem is whether I should put it on top of the potato candy or on bottom before rolling it up. 🙂 Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

  39. These caramels are the best. When they were done we had a few and they were so good. Later, I packed them in some Tupperware. When we got them out again we ate one and it was grainy already. This is just one day later. Could you help me figure out what I did wrong? I followed the recipe to a “T” and they had a perfect consistency, texture and flavor at first. So I was wondering did I store them wrong? Where should they be stored? In the refrigerator or room temp.? Thank you for taking the time to look at this and help out. Much appreciated.

    • Sounds like moisture got to the caramel when you stored it. Were they completely cooled before you sealed them? When I have foods that are moisture sensitive, I’ll usually fold a paper towel and put it on the bottom of the container then a piece of wax paper on top of the paper towel. There is no need to refrigerate the caramel, room temperature is best.

      • Hi. I experienced the same thing with the grainy-ness. It was like biting into a chunk of crystalized brown sugar that tasted somewhat buttery. (I didn’t use any butter, just followed your recipe)
        I stored them after they cooled and put waxed paper in between layers. I could not even serve them. I wondered if I could melt them down again and try again or do I have to just throw them out?

  40. Can I do it if I don’t have a thermometer?

  41. Rita DeFelice says:

    These were the best and easiest caramels I’ve ever attempted.
    If you follow the directions exactly, these will be perfect. I actually
    used half the salt amt, dipped them in chocolate and topped
    with sea salt. Amazing, I did use the vavilla also.
    People raved about them.
    Thanks so much.

  42. Thought about trying this recipe, but since there is no butter was leery of wasting time and ingredients. Was there an omission of this ingredient in the recipe? Thank you. Kay

  43. My teenage son comes to me at 11 pm and says he needs to make caramel for a chemistry homework assmt. but we have no butter! Fortunately we found your butter less caramel recipe and he was able to make a very delicious caramel. Thank you so much for your recipe!!

  44. Duane Dinio says:

    Tried this recipe last night and when I cut the caramel they spread within 10 minutes of being left out at room temperature. Definitely not what I wanted. Followed recipe exactly and temperature information as well. Back to the drawing board.

    • So sorry these didn’t turn out for you. Did you use a candy thermometer? You really need to make sure you are at the Hard Ball stage (245 degrees)

  45. I made these today, and the consistency and flavor are great. Unfortunately, they are too salty for me. I used Himalayan Salt. Should I have used sea salt? Or should I just reduce it next time?

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