How to Make the Best Salted Caramels at Home

Let’s talk about caramels: Caramels are one of the easiest candies you can make at home. All you need is a straight-forward recipe and a few tricks. Jump to the Salted Caramels Recipe now. Or, watch our straight-forward recipe video showing you how we make them.

These salted caramels are soft, chewy and perfectly melt away in your mouth. You probably have all the ingredients needed to make them in your kitchen right now.

Chocolate Covered Caramels RecipeYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: How to Make Chocolate Covered Caramels. We use the same recipe to make the caramels, but add one more step and covered them in chocolate. They are absolutely perfect for giving as gifts.

7 Tricks for Making the Best Salted Caramels at Home

When we first made caramels, we admit, things did not always work out. In fact, some time ago, we published a salted caramel recipe on this very blog. It worked for us, but not for others. So, we went back to the drawing boards and did our best to learn more. That’s how we can confidently share the following tricks as well as this new and improved salted caramels recipe.

7 Tricks for Making the Best Salted Caramels at Home

Here’s the deal:

Making caramels at home is easy, you just need to know these 7 tricks.

Read the Recipe All The Way Through Before You Start

Before you begin making caramels make sure you you’ve read through the recipe a couple times and have all equipment ready and ingredients measured out. Candy making can go by quickly and if you’re not ready, things can go from good to bad fast.

Do This to Prevent Crystallization

When making caramels, it is important to do everything you can to prevent crystallization, which can make your caramels grainy, ruining the texture.

For our recipe, when you’re adding the sugar to the pan, add it slowly and with control. It’s best not to allow the sugar to splash up the sides of the pan as this can cause crystallization. With that said, even when we make our caramels, we will sometimes see a few rogue sugar crystals on the sides of our pan.

To prevent crystallization, do this:

Once you have brought the water, corn syrup and sugar to a boil, we ask that you cover the pan and leave it be for one minute. This traps steam and moisture in the pan and helps melt any sugar crystals that may have found their way up the sides of the pan.

7 Tricks for Making the Best Caramels at Home

Try not to stir sugar as it cooks. In our recipe, we ask that you stir to moisten sugar before bringing it to a boil. This is fine, but after that, there is no need to stir until you begin to add the butter and cream – even then, though, we only ask that you use the bottom of the candy thermometer to stir, not a spoon.

Make Sure You Use The Right Kind of Cream

In our recipe, we call for “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream.” If you check the back nutrition panel of cream cartons, you will notice that the percentage of butterfat can vary. For our caramels recipe we need cream that contains at least 36% butterfat. So, use either “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream” since they contain 36% or more. Do not use “whipping cream,” since that is only made up of 30%.

Use a Candy Thermometer

Don’t try this without a candy thermometer. The temperatures matter.

Our recipe is a two-part process:

First, we cook the sugar syrup (sugar, corn syrup, and water), and then we add the cream and butter.

Since this recipe has two stages, there are two temperatures to look out for:

Candy ThermometerIn the first stage, we ask that you cook sugar, corn syrup and water until it reaches 320 degrees F (160 degrees C). According to the stages of candy making, this is past what is called the “hard-crack stage,” which means there is virtually no water left in the sugar syrup and if you were to drop a little of the molten sugar into cold water, it would become brittle and most likely crack when bent. The “hard crack stage” is when the sugar syrup is between 300 and 310 degrees F (149 and 154 degrees C). Since we are passing this stage, the sugar syrup will start to “caramelize” and you will actually notice that the syrup will begin to take on an amber color. It is important not to pass 320 degrees F (160 degrees C).

In the second stage, after reaching 320 degrees F (160 degrees C), we ask that you add a butter and cream mixture to the sugar syrup. Then, you will cook that until 240 degrees F (115 degrees C). At this temperature the once the caramels have cooled completely, they will be soft and chewy. If you wanted a slightly harder caramel, you could bring the temperature closer to 245 degrees F (118 degrees C).

Salted Caramels

One more note about temperature and candy thermometers. Most candy thermometers will show an “immersion” line. From our experience, the majority of candy recipes will never be large enough of a batch to actually reach the immersion line. With that said, we have found success as long as the tip of the thermometer is fully immersed. Also, most candy thermometers have a guard to prevent the thermometer from touching the bottom of the pan, if yours does not have this guard, make sure the tip of the thermometer never touches the bottom of the pan as this will affect how accurate the thermometer reading will be.

Pouring the Caramel Mixture

Don’t Double the Recipe

Don’t double or triple caramel recipes. Timing is essential when making caramel and doubling a recipe can affect cooking time, something that could affect your end results.

Cutting the Caramels

Don’t Sweat the Cleanup, Here’s How to Do It

Cleaning the pot and candy thermometer after making caramels can be a little sticky. From our experience, we’ve found that if you add water to the pan then bring it to a boil, the caramel stuck to the sides of the pan will melt away.

You can also add the candy thermometer to the boiling water to remove sticky caramel from the bottom of it, too.

How to Clean Up After Making Them

One More Thing (About the Weather)

We know this seems a little odd, but weather can affect the your success when making candy. Cooking sugar to a certain temperature is all about achieving a specific ratio of sugar to moisture. So, if you can, make caramel on a cool dry day. If the air is humid, the caramel can actually reabsorb some moisture, which might negatively affect the texture and softness of your caramel.

Salted Caramels

Recipe updated, originally posted December 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

How to Make the Best Salted Caramels at Home

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

These salted caramels are soft, chewy and perfectly melt away in your mouth. Before starting to make our salted caramels recipe it is best to be sure you have all equipment ready and ingredients measured out. This caramels recipe has been inspired and adapted from Jacques Pépin’s book, “Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of a Cook.”

Makes approximately 40 caramels

You Will Need

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (36-40% butterfat content)

3 tablespoons water

1/4 cup (60 ml) light corn syrup

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1/2 teaspoon course or flaked sea salt

Directions

  • Prepare Pan and Ingredients
  • Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan then measure and cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit inside the pan and come up the sides by at least 1 inch. Next, lightly oil the parchment paper and place into the pan. Set the pan aside.Salted Caramels Recipe Step 1

    Cut butter into 8 pieces then combine with heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until hot and butter has melted. Set aside, we will use this later.

    • Make Caramel
    • In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup. Then, add the sugar, but try your best not to splatter the sugar up the sides of the pan. Now, use a spoon to gently stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, just moistening the sugar.

      Heat over medium heat until the sugar has come to a boil. Then, cover with a lid for 1 minute. This adds steam/moisture to the pan, so any sugar that may have stuck to the sides of the pan melts and falls back into the boiling sugar.

      Remove lid then attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Then, cook sugar for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320 degrees F. At this temperature, the sugar will take on a light amber color around the edges of the pan.

      The moment the sugar reaches 320 degrees F, carefully pour about a sixth of the butter and cream mixture then stir, using the base of the candy thermometer to incorporate it. Repeat with the remaining cream and butter (adding a sixth of it at a time then stirring). The sugar will bubble violently as you add the butter and cream – so do this carefully and slowly to prevent the mixture from bubbling over the sides of the saucepan.

      By adding the cream and butter, the temperature will drop. Now, continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the caramel reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F. This will create a soft caramel, if you want slightly harder caramels, bring the temperature closer to 245 degrees F.

      The moment the caramel reaches your desired temperature, pour into the prepared loaf pan. Cool 20 to 30 minutes then scatter the salt over the caramel. Then, let the caramel cool 3 1/2 hours.Salted Caramels Recipe Step 4

      • To Finish
      • Unmold the caramel. If the caramel is too soft to work with, place into the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes to firm up. Then, use a large sharp knife to cut into your desired shape. We like to cut into 1-inch by 1/2-inch rectangles.

        Wrap caramels in plastic wrap or waxed paper and enjoy immediately, or you can refrigerate or freeze for enjoying later.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Softer caramels: This recipe makes soft and chewy caramels, for softer caramels, experiment with adding 2 to 4 more tablespoons of cream.
  • Corn syrup substitutes: Corn syrup is reliable in this recipe, however, we have had success substituting pure honey and golden syrup.
  • Don’t forget to watch our salted caramel recipe video.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

Get Free Recipes by Email

Get insanely delicious FREE recipes and cooking videos in your inbox. Enter your email address below:

246 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Ali November 26, 2016, 12:21 pm

    These came out delicious!Only thing is it took the sugar 25 min to get to 320,rather than 5 to 10 min.

    Reply
  • Niks November 6, 2016, 1:58 am

    If I wanted to make these with vanilla bean, when do you recommend adding?

    Reply
    • Joanne November 10, 2016, 3:09 pm

      We recommend splitting the bean, scraping out the seeds and adding to the butter and cream mixture. The seeds will infuse the cream.

      Reply
  • Barbara Herbst September 24, 2016, 1:20 pm

    My question is how long do you think the caramels would last if cut, wrapped and then put in a vacuum bag? I am trying to do some things ahead of time for an upcoming wedding.

    Reply
    • Joanne October 10, 2016, 4:07 pm

      Hi Barbara,

      We’ve kept these caramels for at least 2 weeks in our fridge without any issues and could imagine that they would last even longer than that.

      Reply
  • Jaemee September 19, 2016, 10:52 am

    Hi! I searched the Internet for reviews on good caramel recipes, and I’d like to make these for my husbands Jack Daniela themed birthday, but do you have a recipe or suggestions on how to adjust the recipe if I want to add alcohol to them? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne September 19, 2016, 1:43 pm

      Hi there, We have never made these caramels with alcohol added to them. If we were going to, I’d add it to the butter and cream mixture. The texture and softness might change some so you might need to test a batch before making them for your husbands birthday.

      Reply
  • Chrystal August 25, 2016, 6:56 pm

    After trying several other recipes I came across this one and I must say this is the BEST!! The only thing I did different was at the end when I took it off the heat I added 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste. AMAZING!!

    Reply
  • Lauren Shisler August 21, 2016, 7:09 pm

    Made these last night! They were a hit with my family, more than half are already gone! Maybe I added a hare too much heavy creamy because mine are a little on the soft side.( I also added a whole vanilla bean, who knows if that added moisture)

    My question is how on earth did you get yours to cut with such pretty edges?!

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    • Joanne August 22, 2016, 1:46 pm

      Hi Lauren, we use a heavy (and sharp) chef’s knife. You can also try warming the knife in hot water, drying it then cutting. (This helps with cutting brownies, too).

      Reply
  • Kitty August 9, 2016, 11:57 am

    Made these last night. Texture was great, did the second reheat to 242 to make them slightly firmer but still able to melt in the mouth.

    My problem is the depth of flavor and the amount of butter. There’s no complexity to these caramels so maybe I need to cook them longer or add vanilla. But the butter issue…. Can I reduce it to 3/4th a stick? Or half a stick? Keeping the cream at the same amount would keep the texture right, but these are too buttery with a whole stick.

    Reply
    • Joanne August 10, 2016, 12:51 pm

      Adding vanilla is a nice touch with these — we’ve even added vanilla paste or actual vanilla beans before and it was wonderful.

      Reply
    • Lauren Shisler August 21, 2016, 7:12 pm

      I found this issue as well. I’ll have to test it out a bit.. Maybe half a stick of butter? Add a extra table spoon of heavy cream?

      I also agree I want to darken the sugar a little more beyond “light Amber ”

      Alton brown has a recipe that used soy sauce, might be worth a try to deepen flavor!

      Reply
  • Bernard Linde August 8, 2016, 12:43 pm

    Tried this yesterday and this recipe is awesome! Came out PERFECTLY! I can also confirm for those of you in countries where Golden Syrup (e.g. Lyle’s Golden Syrup) is the norm and corn syrup is almost impossible to find, that the corn syrup can be replaced in equal quantity with golden syrup. Will definitely make this again (wasteline permitting…).

    Reply
  • divya July 17, 2016, 6:14 am

    hi
    i don’t know why but the heavy cream curdled when in the micro.
    also when the final product came out,all the butter separated and came to the top. it didn’t emulsify with the other ints.
    even when i pored it in the tin,all the butter came to the top. its cooling now but a lot of butter has come to the top. am i going right here/

    Reply
    • Joanne July 28, 2016, 5:15 pm

      Hi there, I’m sorry the caramels didn’t work out for you. The cream curdling is a bummer. It’s possible that the cream was close to the end of it’s life. The older cream/milk products get the less stable they become. Next time, if you notice the cream has curdled, it may be best to start over. If you are concerned with microwaving, try warming the cream/butter on the stove over very low heat. I hope that helps a little.

      Reply
  • Lucia de la Barra April 26, 2016, 4:35 pm

    Hi I’m from Mexico City i tried to make this caramels today and tbey are a little bit,hard. I, dont know ir ir could be that Mexico y to high and rhe temperture that you said takes longer time because of high level.How can I fix ir?

    Reply
    • Joanne May 19, 2016, 12:49 pm

      Hi Lucia, Since the caramels were a little too hard, try reducing the temperature by a few degrees to see if that helps things. Happy caramel making!

      Reply
  • Judy March 27, 2016, 6:28 pm

    I’m just now in the cooling phase of the caramel. I’ve substituted Nutriwhip for the cream and vegan margarine for the butter to make these vegan for my sister, as well as using 1/2 Lyle’s Golden Syrup for the corn syrup.

    I just wanted to make one comment about pan size: It *has* to be a smaller saucepan. I made my first batch of sugar syrup in my larger medium saucepan that I typically use for small batches of fugdge, and the syrup burned at just under 300F.

    Reply
  • Jessica March 21, 2016, 11:51 pm

    5 stars! I found this recipe after trying another that led to disaster. Amazing! I’ve made it half a dozen times as is, but this last time I substituted strong black coffee for the water, half heavy cream and half irish cream liqueur, and I topped with smoked scotch whiskey sea salt. Dreamy.

    Reply
  • LW March 12, 2016, 5:36 pm

    Great recipe! My first time making any type of caramel. I added 1/2 C toasted walnut pieces and they were even better. Then I made a second batch and added dark chocolate. The video is the best part of this recipe! Thanks so much!

    Reply
  • liz December 30, 2015, 12:32 am

    These are AMAZING!!! I have made this recipe for three years now! This year as my boys and I were passing out the caramels, everyone said, “oh I’m so excited, these are my favorite gift of the season.” Thanks for taking the time to post!!!!

    Reply
  • Heather December 22, 2015, 7:55 pm

    This recipe was really easy to follow. The caramels came out nice n’ soft. The only issue is that they taste like toffee! It’s weird having soft toffee but I like the taste. I just wish they tasted like caramel!

    Reply
  • Lisa philbrick December 15, 2015, 10:08 am

    I’ve been making caramels for years, and this recipe is terrific! They exactly what you are looking for in a caramel- soft, salty and caramelly! Temperature is EVERYTHING if you want a good outcome. Great recipe, I’ll be adding it to my holiday repertoire! Thank you! Lisa

    Reply
  • Kris December 11, 2015, 3:54 pm

    I love this caramel! My problem is…the Wax Paper always seems to stick, so I end up cutting it off and losing half my caramel. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Dawn December 23, 2015, 5:36 pm

      Use Parchment paper not wax paper. There is a difference. And I would still lightly spray with a BAKING spray (one with flour in it). That should help the sticking!

      Reply
  • Lynnette December 10, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Hi!
    I am a huge fan of whiskey caramels, but haven’t found a great caramel recipe until this one. I don’t want to add too much liquid though for fear of ruining the caramel. Has anyone tried making this with whiskey or honey whiskey? Wondering if I should just replace the 3 tablespoons of water with whiskey, or some of the cream?
    Any ideas?

    Reply
  • MissMarie December 6, 2015, 10:07 am

    I tried to make caramels for the first time yesterday and used David Lebovitz’s recipe. While it made caramel, they were hard as bricks and shattered when dropped.

    I found you next, and success!!!

    I doubled your recipe and added a smidge extra cream and a teaspoon of vanilla; they came out absolutely perfect!

    Thank you so much for the thorough directions and easy recipe.

    Reply
  • Sunny Dudding November 23, 2015, 12:31 am

    Ours turned out great. Two questions… can you double the recipe? Do you have any suggestions about what kind of salt?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Joanne December 22, 2015, 1:18 pm

      Hi there, We don’t recommend making a double batch since it can be tricky to find a pan the correct size and timing will be different. I’d just make the recipe twice. For the salt: Maldon sea salt or another flaky sea salt is nice. Or, try a pink or smoked salt.

      Reply
  • Holly September 29, 2015, 7:46 pm

    These look so good and easy enough to make. I was wondering how well something like this would ship through the mail, though? Is it something that would need to have a priority put on it or should I not even try at all?

    Reply
    • Joanne October 16, 2015, 12:49 pm

      I bet they would ship well. They don’t like heat — so if you’re shipping somewhere warm, I’d be worried about that.

      Reply
  • Kimberly S September 24, 2015, 8:37 pm

    It came out beautiful…perfect and I live in VA with lots of humidity. I had to lessen the heat to get the temp to go down but it was such an easy thing to cook. I doubled the batch and it came out perfect though I admit I cooled it in the fridge so I could cut it sooner to send off with a family member but wow what a perfect recipe.

    Reply
  • Joanna August 20, 2015, 10:11 am

    Will this recipe be good to dip rice krispy treats that are on a stick and then dip in chocolate?

    Reply
    • Joanne October 16, 2015, 1:03 pm

      Hi Joanne, We’ve never tried it, but it might work — you’ll need to work fast, though.

      Reply
  • DShort August 10, 2015, 1:51 am

    Hello! Looks like a lot of success with this recipe. I have a great caramel sauce that I make but I went looking for a firmer recipe for candies and came across this. All looks great except for the corn syrup. I do organic and non-GMO cooking/baking so I wonder if there is a way to leave out the corn syrup or a better substitute that is non-GMO?? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Joanne August 10, 2015, 11:36 am

      Hi Liv, You should be able to use honey as well as Golden or rice syrup. We have not tried it yet, though. It is on our to-do list to experiment with our own recipe as well. Good Luck!

      Reply
    • LW March 12, 2016, 5:39 pm

      You can buy non-GMO corn syrup at a health food store.

      Reply
  • Juliet July 25, 2015, 9:01 pm

    Hi!

    So I am definitely caramel cursed. I have tried so many recipes. Yours looked the best, and had the least amount of ingredients, so for my 10th time trying I tried this recipe. Somehow I have a problem already when I am just waiting for it to get to the 360 point. I calibrated my thermometer like the link suggested, etc, but when my mix reaches 360 it is WAY darker than yours, and starts smelling of burnt sugar… so the first one I threw out. The second time it did the same thing but I followed through the rest of the recipe and each step of mine just looked WAYYYYY darker than yours. Your caramel is a light brown color, mine is pretty much dark brown… Do you know where I could be going wrong? I tried changing sizes of saucepan etc… Because its already failing in the early steps, should I get a new thermometer anyway? Sorry for the long post, you can just email me back if you dont want to post it… Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne August 10, 2015, 1:45 pm

      It is possible your thermometer is to blame. Using a heavy-bottomed pan so the mixture heats evenly is best, too. Hope that helps a little!

      Reply
    • Pat September 13, 2015, 10:01 pm

      Hi Juliet! The recipe calls for 320 not 360 so that might be your issue. Hope you nail the recipe Best luck Pat

      Reply

Leave a Comment or Review

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you so much for waiting. First time commenting? Please review our Comment Policy.

If you are visiting from a mobile or tablet device, our star review system can be tricky for some devices. If you plan to leave a star review, please write the number of stars (1 to 5) in your comment and either Adam or Joanne will amend your comment with your star review. Thanks!

Did you make it? How was it?:

 

Previous Post: Next Post: