Desserts/ Holidays

Homemade Caramels

December 16, 2017 (Last Updated: December 1, 2020)

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Soft and chewy homemade caramels are perfect for gift giving or filling your candy jar. 

Caramels wrapped in waxed paper on a white board with a snowman tin behind the caramels.

These are a family tradition. My mom has made homemade caramels for years. She still makes several batches of this delicious caramel every year! They are treats for the family and gifts for co-workers and neighbors. 

A slice of caramel on a piece of waxed paper.

When I moved away, I realized I needed to make these delicious treat too! I’m not as diligent as my mom, but I do try to make at least one batch of this homemade caramel  every year.

A piece of caramel being folded up into a piece of waxed paper.

These caramels aren’t hard to  make. The toughest part is knowing how long to cook them. You can either use a candy thermometer or the cold water test.

I always use the cold water test. It’s super simple. You simply drop hot boiling caramel into a glass of cold water. You test the texture of the caramel with your fingers to see if it’s done.

Wrapped candy pieces in waxed paper on a white board.

How do I make caramel candy?

To make these caramels, you put all ingredients, except for the vanilla in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often  After the mixture comes to a boil, you continue stirring for 5-10 minutes. The actual time varies depending on the size of your burner, the type of pan you are using and the type of heat (gas or electric).

After 5 minutes of boiling you will want to start testing the caramel to see if it’s done. Take a small glass of cold water. Drop a small amount of boiling caramel into the glass. Let set for about 10 seconds.

Reach into the glass with your fingers, pull out the caramel and test the texture. If it forms together and holds its shape, it’s done!  If you use a candy thermometer you will boil until mixture reaches 245 degrees.

A homemade caramel with a bite out of it.

Other great holiday treats


A holiday tin filled with homemade candy.


If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below and snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @beyondthechickencoop

Caramels wrapped in waxed paper on a white board with a snowman tin behind the caramels.

Homemade Caramels

Soft and buttery homemade caramels
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Candy
Cuisine American
Servings 80 caramels
Calories 61 kcal


  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup Corn Syrup
  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla


  • Butter a baking dish. I use a 9 x 13" pan.
  • In a sauce pan, place all ingredients except vanilla.
  • Place over medium heat, stirring until all ingredients are melted and combined.
  • Continue cooking over medium to medium low heat until mixture boils. Stir every few minutes to avoid scorching.
  • If using a candy thermometer, boil until temperature reaches 245 degrees. 
  • If not using a candy thermometer, begin testing caramel in a glass of cold water after 5 minutes of boiling. Drop a small amount of boiling caramel into a glass of cold water. Test caramel with fingers. It should retain its shape and not flatten out, but should still be soft. 
  • Remove caramel from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  • Immediately pour caramel into prepared pan.
  • When caramel has cooled, remove from pan. Slice into strips and then into individual pieces. Wrap each piece of caramel in a piece of waxed paper.


  • Please use caution when cooking caramel. It is extremely hot.
  • To remove from pan, use a knife to loosen sides of caramel from pan. Invert baking dish over a plastic cutting board. Allow caramel to slide from pan. If caramel doesn't want to come out of pan, place dish in microwave for 30-45 seconds to slightly warm dish and caramel. Invert dish over cutting board. 
  • Caramel does need to be individually wrapped or it will become hard.


Calories: 61kcalCarbohydrates: 10gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 41mgPotassium: 14mgSugar: 10gVitamin A: 80IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 12mg
Keyword homemade caramels, how to make caramels, how to make caramels without a candy thermometer
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


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  • Reply
    [email protected]
    December 20, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Homemade caramels are definitely a fantastic gift! Wishing you and your family a magical holiday season!!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 3:22 am

    I remember such homemade caramels from my childhood as well, I wasn’t much into sweets then but I loved these one. It never occurred to me to make them myself, but what a great idea! My kids would love them!

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