Desserts/ Holidays/ Recipe

Homemade Caramels

December 16, 2017 (Last Updated: October 29, 2019)

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

A holiday tin filled with caramels wrapped in waxed paper.

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.

Wrapping up a piece of caramel.

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 on a white board.

How do I make homemade caramels?

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


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

Homemade caramels wrapped and ready for sharing.

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.ย 
  • 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
    Fran @ G'day Souffle'
    December 19, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Thanks for the tip on the ‘water test’- I wasn’t familiar with that. Even though this type of candy might ‘wreak havoc’ on my dental work, I might give this recipe a go! Merry Christmas!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 8:10 am

      It’s a technique my mom has always used. Be careful with your teeth! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    December 18, 2017 at 9:17 am

    5 stars
    This is a family tradition I’d love to start! Nothing like sweet chewy caramels! Wonderful!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 6:13 am

      You can start a family tradition at any time! Maybe today’s the day for these caramels! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    December 18, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Love that these are a family tradition! What a fabulous idea to make your own candy – so much more satisfying (and tastier) than any store bought candy, that’s for sure! I would love to gift (or get) these as a gift. What a treat ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 6:13 am

      They are quite a treat! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    December 18, 2017 at 5:21 am

    I love homemade candy, too, but we don’t make it very often around here. I have no idea why not! These homemade caramels sound perfect for the holidays. Thanks for the cold water test explanation. I’ve never tried that out, and it sounds pretty easy. Now I want to go make a huge batch of caramels…and eat ’em all! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 6:08 am

      I will warn you – eating them all is totally possible! Not that I’ve done that or anything ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s best to give them away right away or they do disappear and then you have to make another batch.

  • Reply
    Stacey @ The Sugar Coated Cottage
    December 18, 2017 at 4:50 am

    I can see why these are a tradition! They look like perfection and would make a wonderful gift! Take care.

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 6:03 am

      Thanks, Stacey!

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 3:35 am

    Ummmmm yes please . Caramel is LIFE. These are awesome!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 5:57 am

      Thanks! I can tell you are a true caramel lover!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    December 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Caramels are a holiday tradition at our house too Kathy! I make some for us to enjoy and make tons for gifting! My favorite!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2017 at 5:57 am

      It’s a great tradition!

  • Reply
    Ashika | Gardening Foodie
    December 17, 2017 at 8:01 am

    5 stars
    Oh I love homemade candy…and these caramels look so delicious, I have got to try this.
    A real delicious famly tradition. Thank you for the great recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      December 17, 2017 at 8:16 am

      I hope you love them as much as we do!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    5 stars
    Oh yum Kathy, these look delicious plus they look dangerously easy to make!

    • Reply
      December 17, 2017 at 6:24 am

      They are delicious! Not tough at all! Wrapping the caramels takes the most time, but you can nibble while you wrap! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    December 16, 2017 at 6:57 am

    5 stars
    My favorite!

    • Reply
      December 16, 2017 at 7:36 am

      They are just about everyone’s favorite! You just can’t go wrong with a soft chewy homemade caramel!

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