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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 PĂŠpin’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

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304 comments… Leave a Comment
  • TERRY February 26, 2017, 6:10 pm

    awesome delicious esay. Best friends spent the day just kicking it at home decided to made 3 batches, 1 salted, 1 with vanila and one to dip in chocolate. It was easy and fun and we had woundrful day. These caramels feel like home. Thanks, look forward to seeing if you have a good butter cream recipe for next time!
    best regards,
    Terry & Debbie

    Reply
  • Rebecca February 21, 2017, 8:53 pm

    Hi i would like to find out how long these keep for. Would they melt if not stored in fridge/freezer?

    Reply
    • Joanne February 22, 2017, 1:46 pm

      Hi Rebecca, the caramels do not melt at room temperature. If your kitchen is unusually warm, I’d store in the fridge since the butter might “sweat” a little.

      Reply
  • Sharon Herald February 20, 2017, 4:51 pm

    Is it possible to mix the salt in at the last?

    Reply
    • Joanne February 20, 2017, 6:42 pm

      If you want to add the salt to the caramel mixture and not on top, add it to the warmed cream and butter.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth Lhamon January 29, 2017, 7:11 pm

    5 STARS

    I’ve never made anything that required a candy thermometer before but the recipe was so well laid out I felt confident to start here and OH BOY was I happy. So happy, I’ve made it 5 times since Christmas! Having never made candies, I had to play with the temperatures so I didn’t rush the heat too fast (my first batch was dark but still yum) but now that I know boiling sugar is not the same as boiling water, I feel unstoppable! Thank you so much!! And for the cleanup tips too– made my life so easy!

    Reply
  • Ladee January 18, 2017, 11:13 am

    I was wondering, since so many of the mishaps are similar (but locations are not listed), if there are special instructions/precautions to take for high altitudes?

    Reply
    • Joanne February 6, 2017, 1:20 pm

      Hi Ladee, Great question. Caramels do cook differently at higher altitudes. We have only ever made this recipe at sea level. While it has not been tested at higher altitudes, a good rule of thumb for making caramels at higher altitudes it is a good idea to lower the cooking temperature by 2 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet you are above sea level.

      Reply
  • Aleksandra January 18, 2017, 4:47 am

    Joanne,

    I want to thank you for sharing your caramel recipe and experience with us. Great recipe in every meaning of the word. I’ve make them twice. Both, first and the second batch were complete success even I cooked over 245F cause I have RTD digital thermometer which have very quick response time.

    Also flowed your advice and add a bit salt and vanilla extract in the butter mixture for the second batch and turnout perfect.

    Thank you ones again.

    Aleksandra

    Reply
  • Erin January 7, 2017, 5:50 pm

    I’ve made this recipe for times now and it is been perfect every time even the hard ones that I complained about that broke my knife are still perfectly tasty. I just tried making them with honey instead of the corn syrup and they smell amazing I have yet to taste them; still cooling. Everyone in my family that has tried them said that they’re better than Werthers originals. Awesome recipe thank you so much!!!!! 😋❤️

    Reply
  • Savannah January 6, 2017, 5:38 pm

    I tried this recipe this morning and it turned out awesome! Only made one rookie mistake and forgot to oil the wax paper that touches the caramel…a little hard to peel off but managed to salvage it! Great step by step guide.

    Reply
  • Daniel January 5, 2017, 4:34 pm

    Hi, what size pot do you use? The ingredients seem to be about 3 cups worth but what size would be good to handle the foaming as well?

    Reply
    • Joanne January 6, 2017, 12:48 pm

      Hi there, We use a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed pan. The mixture will bubble close to the top, but should not go over. (Especially when you are careful to add the butter/cream mixture slowly).

      Reply
  • Randy January 5, 2017, 4:31 am

    This recipe was super easy to make and made beautiful walnut turtle candies! After letting it cool for just a few minutes I spooned it over little mounds of walnuts on parchment paper. I’m keeping this recipe!

    Reply
  • Cindy January 2, 2017, 3:28 pm

    I make these every year now, and they are amazing! Just wondering, however, can the caramel be poured into silicone molds after you take them off of the heat?

    Reply
    • Joanne January 4, 2017, 1:13 pm

      Hi Cindy, Silicon molds should be fine.

      Reply
  • Helen R December 31, 2016, 5:11 pm

    This is my third time making these caramels. Hoping they will turn out this time around. The first time the theomometer I had didn’t reach a high enough temp so it ended up resulting in delicious hard caramels, not what I wanted though. Second time around cooking the sugar mixture to 320 resulted in burning the mixture and burnt caramels. I adjusted the temp this time and watched for the amber color, then added the cream mixture and cooked until 240. They are still setting but after running my spoon under cold water, the caramel that was left on it was the perfect flavor and texture. Hoping for the best! Giving you a three star since when I followed exact instructions I ended up with burn caramels.

    Reply
  • Robert December 30, 2016, 12:59 pm

    As a salted caramel lover I was looking at recipes today, I was a bit reluctant to use this one due to the failed attempts by your readers. Never making candy before I closely followed your instructions , making two batches one per recipe, and one with 2 Tblsp more of cream. Let me say that both batches are perfect as I will emphasize I followed the directions to a T. So to the readers I used a commercial heavy stainless pot…. this one is a keeper…. thanks to the publisher….rjm

    Reply
  • Erin Powers December 29, 2016, 3:41 pm

    My caramels are way too hard, they actually broke my good knife trying to cut them….I only cooked to about 242-243 degrees to make “slightly harder” caramels…what happened? I’m glad I didn’t go until 245 like the instructions said….

    Reply
  • Erin December 29, 2016, 2:54 pm

    Great recipe!! Turned out AMAZING!!!! Thank you

    Reply
    • Erin December 29, 2016, 2:56 pm

      The bottom is the pan had a little burnt spots on it, it’s a great pan that dissipates the heat well, should I stir while it’s boiling to prevent this? Either way my caramels still turned out very well!

      Reply
  • Ann December 24, 2016, 11:56 am

    Was wondering why my tried and true caramel recipe didn’t work last night….I was trying to save time and make a double batch! D’oh! I ended up with caramels that were too dark and too hard. Now I’ve tripled my time because I still need to make 2 more single batches. Wouldn’t be Christmas Eve with out something causing a freakout!

    Reply
  • Edward Gillman December 23, 2016, 12:19 am

    Decided to try this caramel recipe for the holidays and I’m so very disappointed. I tried it twice, and both times resulted with the ingredients separating so that, after cooling, I had a semi-solid butter layer on top and runny liquid in the bottom– even after several hours in the fridge. I feel like this might be from so little stirring, but it looks like others had much better results than I did.

    The recipe was followed to the letter and the second time I even let it cook to about 250 after adding the butter and cream, hoping I wouldn’t have the runny mess I did the first time around.

    I also wasn’t crazy about the flavour, so I didn’t bother saving it as a sauce.

    I’m not sure what went wrong, but I’m rather sad that this didn’t turn out after two attempts, it looked good.

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:44 pm

      Hi Edward, We are sorry the recipe did not work well for you. The caramel may have separated due to the gas/stove was at too high of a temperature. If you give the recipe another try, go for a lower burner temperature and see if that helps a bit.

      Reply
  • Kathy Burns December 22, 2016, 3:59 pm

    I’ve been using this recipe for years, Never had a problem until today. It’s too dark, Have you changed anything since last year?

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:31 pm

      Hi Kathy, The recipe has not been changed.

      Reply
  • Nancy December 19, 2016, 1:32 pm

    I’ve made this twice with two different thermometers and am dealing with the sugar mixture not just browning, but burning before my thermometer reaches 320. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:32 pm

      Hi Nancy, Are you using a heavy-bottomed pan? The heavier the better since that helps reduce hot spots while cooking the caramel.

      Reply
  • Abby December 18, 2016, 1:00 pm

    I have tried this recipe twice now and both times I ended up with caramel sauce. They were way too soft. I’ve noticed when I add the butter and cream it only takes a few minutes to reach 240 degrees, not 5-10 minutes. Should I cook longer? Drop the temp when I add the cream? Add cold cream and butter? I tried cooking the mixture to 250 degrees and it still did not set. Please help!

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:35 pm

      Hi Abby, I’m not quite sure what is going wrong. Have you calibrated your thermometer? It is possible the reading is inaccurate. Here’s a tutorial for how to calibrate it.

      Reply
      • Alyssa January 11, 2017, 10:12 pm

        So it seems I’m having the same issue as several other bakers. I thought sharing my experience may possibly help us to come to a better idea of what we are doing wrong. I have calibrated my thermometer and this is not my first caramel recipe. I usually make a recipe that involves adding cream only at the end stage. The amount of cream seems a little short in this recipe. I put the lid on my pot and did not notice any of the sugar crystals dissolve so I proceeded to do what I normally do and dip a pastry brush into warm water and carefully remove them from the sides of the pan while the mixture continued to boil. I let the sugar reach 320 degrees exactly it was very dark at this temperature. Slowly I added the cream (heavy cream) and butter mixture. My sugar temperature did not fall hardly at all. I actually had to remove my pan from the heat to risk burning the caramel. At 245 degrees I took it from the stove top approximately 2-3 minutes after adding the cream and butter. I now have very dark caramel that is not creamy and almost cloudy looking like my usual caramel it is glossy and overly sweet. The caramel did not get harder than a thick fudge consistency. I hope this detailed run down helps us to better understand what the other readers and myself are doing wrong. Happy new year everyone!

        Reply
        • Joanne January 12, 2017, 1:47 pm

          Hi Alyssa, Thanks for sharing! How high was your burner set when doing this? I am wondering if the heat level on the burner is set too high for those of you who have had the issue with the mixture not dropping after adding the cream and butter. Setting the burner at a slightly lower heat might help with this. Thanks for your input 🙂

          Reply
  • connie.batesole December 16, 2016, 9:52 am

    I followed instructions on this recipe exactly but the caramel did not come out well at all. It did not harden and now I have caramel syrup….

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:41 pm

      Hi there, I’m sorry the recipe didn’t work well for you. Is it possible that your candy thermometer was not calibrated correctly?

      Reply
  • Heather December 14, 2016, 5:44 pm

    I must have read a hundred recipes for caramel and this one sounds like “the one”. I want to make a homemade version of Purdy’s Sweet Georgia Browns. Will I be able to spoon or pour this over the pecans quickly enough that it doesn’t harden in the pan? I will be using standard tart pans. My cookware is 5 ply multi core so they retain the heat very well but this may not be ideal as your recipe says the caramel should be poured into the prepared pan “immediately”.

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:41 pm

      Hi Heather, I don’t think you will have any issues. Pouring is best (instead of spooning).

      Reply
  • Tara L December 10, 2016, 11:30 pm

    This is the second time that I tried to make sea salt caramels, the first with this recipe.

    I have to say that it was awesome – super easy to follow and very clear. Thank you for making this so easy!!!

    Reply
  • Lauren S December 10, 2016, 7:46 am

    Hi – the recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try them but I was just wondering if I could use glucose syrup instead of corn syrup….? Thanks

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:40 pm

      Hi Lauren, Glucose syrup should work in place of the corn syrup.

      Reply
    • Diana Collier April 15, 2017, 8:47 pm

      This the easiest recipe that I have found. I used blue agave instead if corn syrup and it was fantastic. I also used Plugra butter. I used gas stove so you really have to turn down the heat or your sugar will burn.

      Reply
  • Belinda December 7, 2016, 10:04 pm

    Just made these and it was super easy and they’re super tasty! But when I poured mine into the pan, there were a lot of air bubbles that never went away. How do I prevent this?

    Reply
    • Joanne December 23, 2016, 6:37 pm

      Next time, pat the pan a few times against the counter or drop it a few inches above the work surface to push the air bubbles out.

      Reply
  • Abigphish December 4, 2016, 8:39 pm

    Like so many others that have left comments, this was the first time that i attempted to make caramels. And call it beginners luck but they were perfect. The second batch is cooling now and I will dip these in chocolate tomorrow.

    Reply
  • Mary Lynn December 3, 2016, 4:10 pm

    Oh my goodness! First time turned out perfect. So easy and soooo good.

    Reply

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