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
  • marthe February 27, 2014, 2:46 am

    Hey folks,

    read all the comments but not sure if anyone is exactly the same issue… I made these twice and through they taste fantastic are still too soft in consistency. The first time I brought the final mixture to 240, second time to 245. Could this be a problem with my thermometer? The only other thing is that I am currently in Norway and corn syrup is not available. So I am using what they call just simply “light syrup” which i believe is made from beat root, rather than corn. I have made caramel in the past and my original recipe yielded exactly what i was after, but even that gave me too soft of a result so I’m looking for other recipes. Should I try to go to 250 today?

    Reply
    • marthe February 27, 2014, 2:48 am

      to clarify — my original recipe USED to yield what i am going for, but with the alternative syrup and my norwegian bought thermometer (which is new), I am getting overly soft caramel candies.

      Reply
    • Joanne February 27, 2014, 4:14 pm

      Hi there, You could try going to 250 if you’re in the mood to experiment 🙂 Quick question, though, have checked your thermometers accuracy? We’d suggest doing that first before trying any more batches. Here’s a nice tutorial for how to do it

      Reply
  • Aundrea February 19, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I just made these for the first time ever using your recipe and they turned out heavenly!!! I can’t believe they turned out so well on my first try. I wish I had come across your site sooner, Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Caroline February 19, 2014, 6:49 am

    10 stars!!!!
    I have to give an update since I left a comment back in December. I made at least 30 batches for family, friends and teachers. I’m still reaping compliments!!! Many of my friends think I should go into business, lol! I don’t know HOW people can leave negative feedback when this is such a simple recipe! Following your instructions make it foolproof in my opinion! Even my 13 year old daughter made these perfectly! I also used them to make gourmet caramel apples……awesome!
    My brother is opening a bakery and I’m thinking about making 1/2 dozen flavors of caramel for him! I have shared your website with several of my friends now! Thank you for your expertise!

    Reply
  • chris February 18, 2014, 1:04 pm

    These are great! I have made several times. The last few batches have been a little too sticky I think I might of stirred too much! I just re-read and going to try without stirring! Great directions and video…Thanks

    Reply
  • Kelsey February 16, 2014, 7:14 pm

    This is a great recipe – especially with the video. I’m new to making caramel, actually new to baking all together! Had no trouble getting smooth, soft caramel. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • Michelle February 16, 2014, 1:51 pm

    If you are pressed for time and your candy pot and thermometer have cooled, fill pan with cold water and let sit while you admire your awesome caramels!!! Thanks so much for the additional instruction!

    Reply
  • Louie Crook February 11, 2014, 7:07 pm

    I think your work and obvious love for what you do is wonderful. After reading some of the negative comments, I think the tech problems were with them, not your recipe. I am looking for a way to take these caramels and cover them in chocolate. I know I can just dip them, but I am trying to find a technique that will give me store bought quality, but with this superior taste. Check out our website -my daughter and wife- kkgivingtree.com God Bless, Louie

    Reply
  • Cheryl January 24, 2014, 11:51 pm

    what a disaster. Even though my candy thermometer was calibrated for boiling temps, apparently it’s not accurate over 250 and I tried and failed with a burned mess TWICE with this recipe. But I don’t hold that against the recipe itself. When I made it a 3rd time with a 2nd thermometer, I got a solid mass too hard to cut.
    Clearly there’s no wiggle room with temperatures for this recipe, and certainly it’s hard to find a thermometer that’s so precise. I’ve been making candy for about a decade so I feel like I can say pretty firmly that usually there is some leeway. This was a huge waste of time, and went directly into the garbage. Simple? no. “no fail techniques?” I’m going to have to go fish for a workable recipe.

    Reply
    • Joanne January 30, 2014, 12:53 pm

      Hi Cheryl, Sorry the caramels didn’t work out for you. We’re not really sure what went wrong, here! Hope you find something that works for you in the future.

      Reply
    • Kathy December 28, 2014, 6:00 am

      I’ve used this recipe for the third year in a row. The first time I over-cooked, but since then I have not had a problem. I’m not an expert and I gave up on the candy thermometer but have had good luck. I use the ice water method to judge when it’s done, I also use the color method. When the mixture is a deep amber, it’s done.

      Reply
  • Mark January 19, 2014, 6:52 pm

    I’ve never cooked any cakes or pies, I’m pretty pedestrian when it comes to the kitchen, but when my neighbor gave me some salted caramels that she had made – I just had to try. So after looking at this recipe for a couple of weeks, and getting all the things I needed (I’ve never used corn syrup and thought parchment paper came from a Nicholas Cage movie) I finally gave it a shot.
    Your step by step instructions and video made it both easy and delicious. Thanks guys.

    Reply
  • Lindsey January 19, 2014, 5:28 pm

    I followed directions provided in recipe. Was very careful to bring to correct temperatures, but caramels turned out very soft and beige in color. I don’t think 320 degrees is hot enough for the first temp. I read Krista’s comment about bringing first temp up to 350 degrees and used that as a guideline on my second attempt. Caramels were darker in color and had a better flavor. Thanks for the tip Krista!

    Reply

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