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.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

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

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1 caramel / Calories 56 / Protein 0 g / Carbohydrate 7 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 7 g / Total Fat 3 g / Saturated Fat 2 g / Cholesterol 10 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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331 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Tina June 14, 2015, 11:37 pm

    Hi,

    I’m am new to making candy and have tried this recipe twice. The first time it was too soft and barely set, but the flavor wasn’t there. I realized from reading the other posts that my candy thermometer was off, so I fixed that. The second batch has the wonderful flavors, but I think I boiled it too long. My burner runs hot, so it only took 7 minutes to reach the first 320. I also cooled off my thermometer in between and after adding the cream mix, it took barely 5 minutes to reach the 240. I was afraid that the color wasn’t right so I let it boil another two minutes. The directions say 5-10 minutes for the 2nd half, so did I mess it up by not following the directions and is it possible to have a soft caramel in just 5 minutes on the second part? I know this sounds dumb (you can agree) but before I try it again, should I pour it into the pan even if it only took 4 minutes to reach 240? Love your blog! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne August 10, 2015, 11:52 am

      Hi Tina, the temperatures are what is most important when making caramels, not the timing. Once the mixture reaches the temperatures stated in the recipe you should be good.

      Reply
  • Alan Anderson April 23, 2015, 3:52 pm

    How do YOU get the temp up to 320° I had to put my stove up to high to get there it said earlier to have it at med to boil did you have to turn up the heat as well?

    Reply
    • Joanne April 24, 2015, 8:51 am

      Hi Alan, we have never found we needed to increase the temperature to reach 320F.

      Reply
      • Laura June 6, 2015, 7:19 pm

        I also had difficulty getting to 320 on medium and medium-high heat. Do you use an electric stove?

        Reply
        • Joanne August 10, 2015, 11:51 am

          Hi Laura, Our stove is electric.

          Reply
          • Kimberly S September 24, 2015, 8:40 pm

            Mine is electric and came out perfect! I had to turn it down to get it to reach the lower temperature later on. It was so easy! The temperatures are the most important thing because that is where you get the candy at the hard crack stage then letting it cook to the soft crack stage. I don’t know why but it turned out very professional like.

  • Danny April 12, 2015, 11:45 am

    i added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips when it was ready and it pretty much turned into a tootsie roll! i also cooked it a few degrees hotter (before adding the chocolate)

    Reply
  • Gary Miles April 7, 2015, 10:21 pm

    Hey Everyone,
    I make specialty cookies. I want to create a salted caramel glaze for the underside of my cookies. My challenge, to make the glaze soft enough, but too soft as to run during shipping. I tried last week and although the caramel glaze was tasty, it was hard and difficult to chew… no good.
    I want a soft, delicious caramel glaze, not a hard caramel glaze. Any suggestions?
    Thanks
    Gary

    Reply
    • Ashley September 30, 2016, 12:15 am

      That would be because this is not a caramel glaze recipe. This is a caramel candy recipe. While you might achieve a soft caramel dipped cookie, this recipe won’t do for a glaze.

      Reply
  • Louise March 10, 2015, 9:56 am

    Can I substitute the corn syrup for golden syrup?

    Reply
    • Joanne March 10, 2015, 4:08 pm

      Hi Louise, While we have not tried golden syrup ourselves, other commenters have had success with it in our recipe.

      Reply
  • Melisa February 13, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Does the recipe call for brown sugar or white sugar? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Adam March 2, 2015, 2:16 pm

      White sugar.

      Reply
  • Erin February 13, 2015, 3:59 pm

    I made these yesterday for my husband for valentine’s day, and they are DIVINE!! (I had to quality-test a few myself 🙂 One question – will these go bad or do they have a pretty long shelf life? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Adam March 2, 2015, 2:16 pm

      They last a while when kept in the fridge — I think we have had them for over 2 weeks in ours before.

      Reply
  • Sharon Boren February 9, 2015, 8:14 am

    Hi…this is a rather technical question. I appreciate how you answer and your expertise. I have been making caramel corn for years using a recipe similar to this. All your facts about temperature and chrystalization are applicable to what I do.
    My question relates to a funky taste the caramel takes on during cooking. It seems similar to rancid butter. It is very annoying and we throw out batches that have acquired the taste (many people can’t taste it but we know when it’s there)We have tried so many variables to troubleshoot the cause. But it is so unpredictable, one batch good and the next bad, and the next good. We are beside ourselves looking for consistency and wondered if you have ever experienced something similar. We have suspected ingredients, transfer, cleaning pot methods, and so many other potential causes. Now I’m just trying to find someone who may have an answer due to their experience. Can you help?

    Reply
    • Joanne March 5, 2015, 10:38 am

      Hi Sharon, I’ve never really come across this, so I’m not sure I’ll be too much help!

      Reply
    • Ashleigh July 4, 2015, 2:08 pm

      This could be over cooking sugar. If your caramel gets too dark it will turn bitter and gross. There is a fine line when cooking caramel, just here it’s under done |hereisgood| and here it is bad and needs to be thrown away, now what I mean? Caramel is very temperamental.

      Reply
      • Kimberly Webster December 4, 2015, 5:34 am

        I would agree about the over-cooked sugar. As the caramel approaches 240F I pay particular attention to the aroma. Regardless of the temp. on my thermometer, if the aroma moves from fragrant to bitter, I know the batch is ruined, even if my thermometer doesn’t agree. This tends to happen more when the burner is a bit too hot and less so if I keep the temp just a bit lower and exhibit more patience. 🙂

        Reply
  • Heather February 8, 2015, 3:16 pm

    Can these be made with golden corn syrup?

    Reply
    • Joanne March 5, 2015, 10:10 am

      Hi Heather, we actually have not tried this, but have read other caramel recipes where it works nicely. If you try it, we’d love to hear how it turns out.

      Reply
  • Lee Torrence January 9, 2015, 9:09 pm

    I made these once and they were delicious. I made them today and they came out too soft. Is there any way to save the ingredients and cook it up to 240 again for 5-10 minutes with the hopes it will come out? Thanks so much for such an informative recipe!

    Reply

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