These buttery, soft, and chewy Homemade Caramels are the perfect treat to easily wrap in wax paper and gift to friends and family.
We love to add these homemade caramel candies to our neighbor treat plates along with Christmas Crack and Snowball Cookies! Everyone loves them.
A Favorite Holiday Treat
Have you ever tried homemade caramels before? They’re one of those holiday treats that I’m always looking forward to when we get goodie plates from friends and neighbors. I never knew how to make them but decided we needed to change that. I scoured the web for the best recipe, and this one from a family friend seemed perfect, and it WAS!
The only bad thing about making caramels (or any kind of candy for that matter), is that it usually takes time. This recipe is no different. But I promise you that it’s worth every ounce of your patience to get perfectly soft and chewy caramel candies!!
My favorite thing to do with these soft candy caramels is cut them into pieces and wrap them in wax paper to gift during the holidays. Now that we have a great recipe, we will be adding these goodies to our Christmas goodie plates this year.
How to Make caramel candy
Making caramel andy is all about timing and some steps are very quick. I like to have all the ingredients premeasured and ready so that as soon as one step is finished, I’m ready for the next one.
Another thing to keep in mind when making homemade caramels is the weather. Choose a day that is cool and dry. If there is too much moisture in the air, then it will cause the candy to have too much moisture and it may not set properly.
PREP. Grease a 12×15 inch pan.
HEAT. Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, whipping cream, and butter in a medium-large pot. Monitor temperature with a candy thermometer, stirring frequently. Remove pot from heat when temp reaches 250 degrees F.
(Note: Use a BIG pot. It tends to bubble up really high and can easily boil over if the pot isn’t big enough. The first time I made these I had to switch the pot right during the middle because mine wasn’t big enough. Then it messed with the cook time and it ended up turning out harder than I wanted. So grab a bigger pot than you think you’ll need.)
SET. Stir in vanilla and pour slowly into greased pan. Let cool completely and once cool, cut into squares and wrap in wax paper.
Clean up tip: Instead of trying to soak your cooking pot for hours simply add water to the pot and bring it to a boil. The hot water will soften and loosen the stuck on caramel. Use a cleaning tool to help scrub off the caramel. You can even dip the tip of the thermometer to the boiling water to soften the stuck on caramel.
Dipping the caramels in white or dark chocolate would be absolutely delicious, you can also easily add:
- sprinkled sea salt on top
- toasted coconut to the top
- chopped nuts (mix in the same time as the vanilla)
Don’t have a candy thermometer?
Honestly, I would really recommend investing in one. It makes candy making so much easier. When using a thermometer you want to reach anywhere between 250 and 320 degrees F. This temperature range will result in what’s called the hardball stage.
- 250°F is the lower end of the stage and gives a lighter color and soft taffy like texture
- 320°F is the higher end and gives a darker caramel color and a firmer candy, but still moldable.
Ice Water Test: If you do not have a thermometer you can still try making homemade caramels. All you need is a bowl of ice water. When you feel the caramel is ready, use a spoon to drop a dollop of caramel into a bowl of ice water.
- Hardball stage: The caramel should solidify enough to roll it into a ball. If it’s too soft and won’t hold a shape, then you need to cook it longer.
- Hard crack stage: If it solidifies to a hard candy and breaks when you try to form it into a ball, then you have cooked it too long and remove it immediately. Not all is lost though, you will just have hard candy caramels instead of soft caramels.
Cutting, Wrapping and Storing caramels
Aside from spraying your baking pan, you can also line it with wax paper. This makes it really easy to lift the entire block of caramel out so you can cut them. Allow them too cool (refrigerate to speed it up). Once cooled, lift the block out of the pan and cut.
Wrap each individual caramel in wax paper. Be sure to cut the wax paper big enough that you can twist the ends closed, like a tootsie roll.
Storage: wrapped caramels can last at room temperature for about 2 weeks.
Sharing: This recipe mixes up quite a large batch. Definitely enough to share with a friend or two. Some fun gift wrap ideas include:
- Filling a small mason jar tie a festive ribbon around the top
- Buy and fill up a holiday tin
- Fill a brown lunch bag, fold over the top, and tie with raffia
- Use festive cardstock to cut out a gift bag
You can’t really go wrong with homemade caramels, but next time I’m wondering if we should try dipping them in chocolate. They’re great as they are, but I think they may be even better coated in delicious white and milk chocolate!
For more candy recipes, check out:
- Chocolate Caramel Pecan Clusters
- Sponge Candy
- Homemade Pay day Candy Bars
- Pecan Pralines
- Peanut Butter Snowballs
- Peanut Brittle
Caramel Candy Recipe
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Grease a 12×15 inch pan.
- Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, whipping cream, and butter in a medium pot. Monitor temperature with a candy thermometer, stirring frequently.
- Remove pot from heat when temp reaches 250 degrees F.
- Stir in vanilla and pour slowly into greased pan.
- Let cool completely and once cool, cut into squares and wrap in wax paper. ENJOY!
what do you generally grease the pan with butter or cooking spray? Thanks these look delicious.
I use cooking spray, but either of those would work 🙂 Hope you like them!
Do you cook it on low until it reaches 250 degrees? Also, about how many caramels does this yeild?
Low to medium, I’d say. You don’t want it to burn. 12×15 is a big pan, so depending on how big you cut the caramels, you could get quite a few.
Can’t wait to make these. I’ve been lookinG for a caramel recipe.
Glad you found this one! They are so good! Enjoy!
I couldn’t believe how easy these were to make. I have always been so intimidated, but not anymore! They were soft & chewy, just as they should be!
We love making caramels during the holidays! They make a delicious treat to give to friends!
These caramels used to intimidate me, but they really are SO SIMPLE to make! Perfect treat for the holidays!
Takes a little more time but so worth it. Homemade caramels are the best.
My daughter came home with some from a friend. I didn’t share and immediately asked for the recipe. Yum.
9 put of ten only because I had to make them lol but they are so yummy and worth it !!!!
These are delicious. I don’t trust my candy thermometer so I used the ice water test to get it to the consistency that I wanted and it worked great! According to my thermometer (not sure how accurate), the lower end of the degree scale was better for me… 250 was my number. If I cook it any more I feel like I’m going to rip my teeth out. ha ha
This was an easy and delicious recipe. I’m glad most of what was made was given to others because I almost ate rest by myself.
I am making this today and couldn’t be more excited
Hope you enjoy!!
I’ve made some using sweet condensed milk instead of the whip cream. Then I used a mixer to whip up some powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk, and cinnamon. I added it to the recipe and now I have all of my friends, family, and even kids friends asking me to make them some cinnamon caramels. I bet it would also taste good coated in chocolate. I may try that with a few on my next batch.