Homemade caramels are perfectly soft and chewy.  They are so easy to make and are great for gifts for friends and neighbors or just for your family to enjoy! 
  Homemade caramel candies some wrapped and some unwrapped. |
So let’s talk caramels! Do you know there is a difference between caramel and carmel?  Caramels are these scrumptious little candies that you are hopefully planning to make today.  Homemade, perfectly soft and chewy caramels are my weakness, and this is a treasured family recipe.

My family usually reserves them for our special treat at Christmas time. We give them as neighbor gifts and always have a huge batch to enjoy ourselves!

The ingredients for these caramels are very simple. Butter, sugar, karo syrup, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract. However, the key to creating magic–that amazing rich caramel taste and texture–is in the cooking process. These can’t be rushed! Read my tips below, for making perfect caramels, every time.

Side by side images of cooked caramels in a sheet pan and caramels cut into small pieces.

Once you pour them into a jelly-roll or 9×13” pan, allow them to cool completely. You can refrigerate them for a long time. I usually refrigerate them until they are nice and cool, pull the whole pan of parchment paper out onto a cutting board, and then cut them into small squares. They are much easier to cut when they are cold.

A hand using a tool to cut caramels into small squares.
They are seriously the tastiest little caramels ever! “Melt-in-your-mouth delicious” is probably the best way to sum them up!
 Homemade caramels cut into squares, with three wrapped in wax paper.
Tips for perfect caramels:
Slowly stir in the evaporated milk:
It is imperative that you add the evaporated milk just a little bit at a time, taking about 15 minutes per can, to stir it in, so that the mixture maintains a constant boil the entire time. This is a really simple, easy step, but if rushed, you can ruin the caramels.
*If you add the evaporated milk too quickly, the sudden change in temperature of the caramels will cause them to curdle.
Maintain steady heat:
Maintain your burner/stovetop at medium heat. Again, you don’t want any drastic changes in temperature as you cook the caramels.
Candy Thermometer vs. Ice Water Test
I personally don’t trust candy thermometers. Unless you take the time to calibrate yours and make sure it’s correct, they can often times be “off”. And, depending on your location (altitude and humidity) 238 degrees F may not be the perfect temperature for you.

The best (and easiest) way I’ve found for success in any location, is using the ice water method. Drop a spoonful of the hot caramel into a cup of ice water. Mold the caramel with your fingers into a ball. You will know the caramels are ready when they feel pretty firm and pliable.

 

CONSIDER MAKING THESE CHRISTMAS SWEETS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON:


You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST for more great recipes!

 

Recipe

Prep 10 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 10 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 24 ounces evaporated milk (2 cans)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Line a 9x13'' pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. (If you don't have parchment paper you can generously butter the pan.) Either size pan will work--9x13'' will yield thicker caramels.
  • Add 2 sticks butter, sugar, and karo syrup to a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Gradually add the evaporated milk, one can at a time, taking about 12-15 minutes PER CAN to slowly add it, while stirring constantly. You want to make sure the mixture maintains a constant boil, otherwise your caramels can curdle.
  • Stir the mixture constantly, scraping the sides occasionally until it reaches a firm ball stage (about 240-245 degrees F on a candy thermometer). It takes patience and time, but it's sooo worth it! (Also, I don't really trust or rely on a candy thermometer--I like to test it the old fashioned way. Drop a spoonful of hot caramel sauce into a cup of ice water and mold it with your fingers into a ball. When ready it will feel pretty firm and pliable, but still slightly sticky.) 
  • Once you reach 240-245 degrees F / or the firm ball stage, remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour caramels into prepared pan. Refrigerate until cooled and hardened. (Best if you refrigerate them overnight, or for several hours. They will be easier to cut and wrap). 
  • The caramel will seem hard in the fridge after they're set, but they should be soft at room temperature. Cut caramel into small pieces and, if desired, wrap like a tootsie roll in wax paper.
  • Try these dipped in chocolate or pretzel rods.

Notes

Don't miss the tips and tricks for this recipe listed above in the post!

Nutrition

Calories: 94kcalCarbohydrates: 17gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 34mgPotassium: 26mgSugar: 17gVitamin A: 90IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 24mg

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @TastesBetterFromScratch on Instagram with #TastesBetterFromScratch!

Have you tried this recipe?! 

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

Related Posts

Share Recipe

Categories

About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Best caramel recipe ever. I have tried several recipes and after using this one, there is no need to look for any others. They do take time but so worth it. Printed and saved as my go to recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 5 stars
    My grandson asked out of the blue if we could makes caramels. And yes, it’s CARE-ah-mels. This recipe is foolproof using a big old enamel cast iron pot. A nonstick pot of even professional quality will not produce the result you want. I added my evaporated milk all at once and didn’t suffer. Three teachers and a neighbor received little gifts of it today and there’s plenty more to share. Just don’t, whatever you do, say CAR-mull. That’s in California, pronounced car-MELL.

  3. I looked at recipe because it said from scratch, corn syrup and canned milk is definitely not from scratch.

  4. 5 stars
    I needed to calm down after a trying day fighting to get my package of Pecans delivered. Got them. And wanted to make some caramel. I did not want to try and find my recipe. Found yours and with 5 stars 189 votes I was in. Besides standing and stirring for nearly two hours was just what I needed to calm down and have one thing to focus on and that was making great delicious Carmel. I tell you it was worth every minute. I did however mix evaporated milk with heavy whipping cream. I love your recipe great way to destress after work. Thank you so much.

  5. 4 stars
    I made a half batch just putting all the ingredients but vanilla into the saucepan over medium heat.
    Stirred occasionally until it was starting to get candylike, then pretty close to constantly.
    Once it was in the general range I added vanilla & CBD then dumped it into a pie pan lined with parchment paper.
    Waited until it was cool enough not to melt plastic wrap, covered ut, and put it in the fridge.
    Cut them a couple of hours later.
    Worked great

  6. Could I make these, freeze them and then melt them later if I want to add them into cupcake batter or as a drizzle over cupcakes?

  7. 5 stars
    I love your recipe! You were right – patience is key and cooking at even temperature. If I didn’t refrigerate; would they set at room temperature? Thank you for this recipe and I know my family will enjoy for years to come!

  8. 5 stars
    Pure yum!! I made these today and I added heavy cream as well as the milk and it was pretty awesome! I split my batch and added chopped, salted almonds to 1/2, and left the rest as the recipe intended., turned out amazing. I will be making this recipe again. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us all ❤️

    1. 5 stars
      After reading the comments about caramel taste, I substituted 1 cup of light brown sugar in place of 1c of granulated. I also combined the butter and sugars over medium low heat first (about 2 mins, stirring constantly) to develop the flavors and then added the corn syrup. It tastes great! Far better than any commercially made I’ve ever eaten. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. I’ve made caramels for years, using brown sugar in place of 2 cups of granulated. Mine are sought after by everyone. That may be the problem with lack of caramel flavor with your recipe, just a thought…

  9. 1 star
    I made ‘this’ recipe last year, but I’m pretty sure it changed. I remember 2 tbsp of butter, not 2 sticks. The butter was added near the end of the process. I tried it anyway, following each step closely. At the end I got caramels that had the right texture and color, but the caramel flavor was very weak. Plus there was a puddle of butter fat on top of the caramel when I poured it into the pan. Either I did something very wrong or the current recipe is bad.

    1. This is the same recipe that’s been passed down in my family for decades. The amounts listed are correct and have never been changed.

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe is great! I used dark karo syrup instead of the light karo. They seemed to be a little richer but still taste great. The family loves them and want me to make more! Hehe

  11. I made these last week for Christmas and they turned out well. The first batch was a little too gooey (undercooked the caramel) so I reheated the caramel the next day and dipped more pretzels, they turned out perfect . Refrigerated the pretzels and realized that the caramel was too hard to eat and needed to be brought back to room temperature to serve. What is the best way to store the pretzels so that they remain crisp but the caramel not too hard?

  12. I can find 0 (zero) bagged caramels that don’t have Palm Oil in them. I will not use any product with palm oil due to the environmental issues (read about it and it’s effect on orangatans). I’ll be using this recipe for caramel apples!

      1. I’m reading the comments here. I want to make turtle fudge and this recipe looks great. Some people have mentioned not a strong Carmel flavor, I wonder why that would be. Also I think I’ll throw the pecans in as it’s ready and then swirl it into my fudge, pour and pray it works ! Curious how to make sure the Carmel flavor is good. Thanks!

  13. Wondering if anyone has ever tried heating up the evaporated milk before adding it to the caramels to help prevent the drop in temperature when adding it? Just wondering if that would work well.

    1. Many caramel recipes use a combo of these ingredients. I use an old family recipe which uses condensed milk instead of evaporated and also a half cup of heavy cream. All of the ingredients are put together, except for the vanilla extract, at the very beginning, so they heat up together. I really see no point in waiting to add the evaporated milk later which would definitely cool down the other ingredients.

      1. PS My family’s recipe also includes a cup of milk, in addition to the heavy cream, also added at the very beginning.

    2. 4 stars
      Erin, That is exactly what I did. I melted the butter and karo syrup in a large pot I heated the evaporated milk in a small pan. Then I added the sugar to the Kari. When the sugar mixture just started to boil I added the preheated milk. Constantly slow stir and washing the sides. Removed caramel @242. Poured caramel into a greased jellyroll pan. Came out delicious, smooth and creamy. Good

  14. 5 stars
    I’ve made these and they are a huge hit!! How long do you think they keep? I used a silicone mold for mine and then individually wrapped them in a cellophane square!

  15. 5 stars
    I also at a high elevation and it took at least an hour after adding the milk to reach the right temperature, but it was worth the wait. This was my first attempt at caramels and it was a success!

  16. 5 stars
    Okay I never review recipes, but it would be wrong if I didn’t review these caramels (as I quietly eat one while laying between two sleeping babies). SO SO GOOD. Perfect. The best I’ve ever made. I’ll be honest, I did add the evaporated milk a little quicker than the recipe said (more like 10 minutes per can) because mama is busy, but they still turned out perfectly. This made a ton of caramels, I will probably repurpose them in other recipes.. or freeze some? Not sure yet. I will make these again for sure!

  17. 5 stars
    This was my first time making this recipe and it tastes fantastic! Just be sure you have time if you are at altitude and make the proper adjustments. It took me an hour and a half to get it done at 6500 feet, but it was worth it! It also worked great as a filler in handmade turtles and chocolates. I used half for that and did a smaller pan with the remaining caramel.

  18. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for the first time yesterday. The only changes I made were to substitute 2 c. brown sugar for 2 c. granulated sugar and threw in a few pieces of vanilla bean that I had on hand, removing just before the caramel reached the firm ball stage. It took well more than an hour of cooking time in addition to the initial time in adding the 2 cans of evaporated milk. The smell in the house was amazing but it’s tiring standing and stirring over the stove for 1-2 hours. I am at 2800′ elevation and I wonder if that makes a difference. I refrigerated the caramel overnight but it is difficult to remove the squares in tact. Even after cutting, they stick to each other and I’ve had to roll and wrap most of them. I did get some squares out of it. They are delicious! They are very sweet so once I have it down, I’ll probably experiment with using rice syrup instead of corn syrup.

  19. 5 stars
    First time making caramels! Flavor is amazing but I’ve had them in the refrigerator since last night and they are still pretty soft. Did I do something wrong?

  20. 5 stars
    This was my first attempt to making homemade caramels. They’ve been in the fridge for several hours now and I skimmed a minute amount from around the edge and they taste fantastic….however I have one question….I know fat (butter) rises to top , so I have some spotty places on top that you see where the butter solidified. I tried to stir it after pouring it into the 9×13 pan but it still stayed on top. Your photo does’nt show that….did I do something wrong or is it always like that? I don’t care just want to know if that can be prevented or not. Thank you for your reply. Would love to keep making that recipe and maybe get the silicone mold and funnel.

    1. Hi Diana. I made this recipe for the first time yesterday and I did notice a film of butter in a small area where I had applied the butter to the pan more thickly. I think it was just the butter melting from the sides onto the surface of the caramel when the hot mixture was poured into the pan.

    2. In regards to the butter separting during the end of the cook-
      Sometimes this might be due to the temperature fluctuating. Maybe from turning the heat up (or down) or not stiring constantly. Even a very cold room can put it off. For this type of recipe its important to keep a very slow fluid stir that scraps the bottom. Try to avoid lifting the spatula in and out of the caramel.
      A possible FIX- as soon as you notice the oil separating, take the pot of the heat and gently stir until the oil is incorporated again. Then add bake on the stove (low heat) and continue on with the cook. This should take care of it. Good luck.
      *retired candy maker

      1. Suzan, I would sure like to pick your brain!! I am a pretty competent cook, but I’ve had issues trying to get going in the candy scene. I wish there was some way to take a class. But I’ve looked in my area ({Phoenix) and I can’t find anything. Have you ever thought of offering such a thing?
        Please feel free to contact me directly.

        sharon@canaday.com

  21. 5 stars
    Great recipe!!! Mine was very sticky. Could not get them off the wax paper. How do I get them to not be sticky and not stick to my wax paper??

  22. Is there a way to extend their freshness time? Could I freeze them individually wrapped in wax paper in a zip lock bag and then defrost them before gifting them? Or what’s the best way to make them ahead of time!?

  23. 5 stars
    These are amazing. I started off with a pit that wasn’t big enough. Somehow, while stirring, my husband boiled water in a big pot to warm it. We were able to transfer it without changing the temp. These caramels are delicious!! Thank you. It took about an hour in all, to get them to the right temp.

  24. 5 stars
    This definitely took patience but they turned out beautifully. They are soft and delicious! I’m going to be giving these out to neighbors this Christmas. Thank you for sharing this reciepe!

  25. 5 stars
    I made these last year and they were amazing.
    I made them a month ahead of time and stored them prewrapped in the freezer.
    Out of all the goodies I made, these were the favourite ones. I have been asked to make them again, as they are an absolute necessity now.
    Thanks for the great recipe

  26. These were a complete fail. I don’t know what I did wrong but they curdled even though I kept it a boil. Also, they were way too soft even after refrigerating them for 24 hours. What did I do wrong?

    1. Curdling happens with change in temperature, hot or cold. Either the heat was adjusted to much or the milk was added to quickly, or it wasn’t stirred constantly.

  27. 5 stars
    These look delicious! I was wondering if I could cut the recipe in half by dividing the ingredients by 2. Would that mess up the caramels or is it fine? Also, I’ll be using 2% evaporated milk, is that ok?

    1. Hi, Although I haven’t used this recipe specifically, mine was handed down in the family and is nearly the same. I personally use Heavy Cream instead of evaporated milk and almost double the butter. I’ve had excellent and disastrous results over the years…the key is temperature. I also don’t bother with Candy Thermometers because it’s never consistent. Also, I’ve had best results with Jelly molds as opposed to parchment paper…easier to wrap for gifting. My caramels cook for about 30+ minutes at a constant boil before they are ready, but don’t walk away because they go from syrup to hard in a matter of about 5* F degrees.

  28. How do I store them – in refrigerator? How long can I store them? I want to make them a week or two before Christmas and give them for gifts. Thanks

    1. I just used sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk! Because of the sugar in the condensed milk, I only did 2 cups of sugar instead of 4. They turned out great!

  29. Outstanding caramels! They came out great on my first try! I had no thermometer so I used iced water to test it. I was a little worried about the amount it made… until I tried one… they lasted a week… oops.
    Thanks for my new favourite sweet recipe!

  30. 5 stars
    I just made these tonight and they are incredible! I added 1/4 tsp. of cherry flavoring to the recipe and they turned out equally as good as my favorite Cherry Caramels from the local candy shop! These are going to be trouble around here. Thank you for sharing your beautiful recipe.

    1. Not that I can think of, that would still yield the same result. I’d choose a different recipes (I know of others that use sweetened condensed milk in the caramels).

  31. I made these caramels today…I love the taste of these caramels, however, after I put them in the frig to set, I brought them out and they never got soft after coming to room temperature. I have to work hard to cut them, and then I have to put a piece in the microwave for about 10 seconds to be able to eat them.
    What did I do wrong? I’m thinking that refrigerating them might have been the problem. Other recipes do not call for refrigerating….Thank you!

    1. Hi Judy, I’m sorry but it sounds like your caramels were overcooked. Did you use the ice water bath method to test them?

    2. I did the same thing my first time making them this year and you just have to cook them less. For me I made the mistake of fully waiting until they were almost hard when in the ice water whereas it worked better to take it off the heat once it came together into a ball for the fist time in the ice bath. Hope that helps.

  32. So my baby was screaming which meant I couldn’t get the caramels on the pan to set in the ridge right away. Can I reheat the caramels on the stove or microwave or would it ruin them? Also, I was wondering if I could mix it with marshmallows.

  33. 5 stars
    I love love love the video to go along with it — when I hear “boil” it can be hard to tell how calm or fierce of a boil is best — I’m a novice. Without the video, I would have worried too much about burning it and would not have got it going as energetically as it should. I would’ve thought, “okay, my stove has been known to run a bit hotter than most, maybe a little lower is right”.

    Thank you ! 🙂

  34. Is there an easy way to incorporate a flavoring in? My mom is desperate for some Brandy flavored caramels and I’m not sure how to add alcohol without messing with the consistency of the candies. I can’t find a recipe for this anywhere so I thought I would edit a current one. TYIA! 🙂

  35. 5 stars
    Made these twice, only half a recipe. Dipped them in chocolate with sea salt and left some plain. They were delicious . My family loved them !!

  36. 5 stars
    perfection! I’ve not had much success with candy making but was REALLY craving a sugar rush… and just in time for Father’s Day (husband LOVES caramel)! Tried the recipe, unsure… so did only 1/2 recipe … at first… just HAD TO come back and make another WHOLE recipe… ! And now we have caramels on hand for baking cookies, taking to neighbors… eating… etc…

    Only thing… I’ve found I have to store on parchment paper because even wax paper these caramels stick to too much.

    Take your chocolate chip cookies to the next level… roll out some of these caramels between 2 piece of parchment and place the flattened caramel right on top when they come out of the oven…. SOOOOOOOO good!

  37. Loved..loved….they where to soft…i didn’t cooked long enough…had to keep in frig….so delicious and yummy.

    1. Here’s a recipe with sweetened condensed milk.

      1/4 c salted butter
      1/2 c white sugar
      1/2 c brown sugar
      1/2 c Karo syrup (light or dark)
      1/2 c sweetened condensed milk

      Combine all and cook medium high for 5 min, stirring constantly.
      Pour into lightly greased square dish or pan.
      Cool in fridge
      Cut, wrap in wax paper and store in airtight container.

  38. 5 stars
    I made these last night and let them sit in the fridge overnight . OMG! PERFECT! I love caramels and this recipe is so easy. This was my first attempt at homemade caramels and they’re wonderful. I put some sea salt on top after they had been in the fridge for a bit. My neighbors agree, too. LOL Thank you for posting it!

  39. probably a dumb question but do you see any issue with halving this recipe? i only have one can of milk and don’t want to run to the store. TY my 10 year old is begging to make these today.

    1. Are there any good substitutions for the corn syrup? I don’t have any on hand and really want to make today

  40. Do you know if this makes a pound or more of caramels? I’m trying to figure out how many batches I would need for a couple pounds? Thank you

  41. Once these are wrapped in wax paper is it best to place in refrigerator or out at room temperature. I just made a batch and they are amazing!

  42. 5 stars
    Cannot keep them they are delicious and am constantly making more, I cook them over low heat stirring constantly andthey are worth my effort every time!!Thank you for this recipe Fortune

    1. 5 stars
      I just made this yesterday and I could not figure out why it didnt taste right AT ALL, not sweet kinda gritty. Knew I had to have done something wrong bc I’ve made caramel before. Realized I forgot the freaking sugar (ya know, just the most important ingredient). I laughed. I cried. I laughed again and redid it, the correct way this time. Freaking delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  43. Hello, I made this today and everything turned out just fine! I did the water test and my caramel balled up firmly just as it should!
    My problem is after being in the fridge for 10hrs the caramel is still very soft! Is there anything that I can do to make them hard?

  44. 5 stars
    I use medical marijuana to reduce my use of opiods, so I used infused butter in the recipe. Your recipe totally hid the resin taste from the weed. I foresee making a batch every few weeks. Thank you!

        1. 5 stars
          Thank goodness someone answered my question! I was wondering if I could use coconut oil in place of butter. I see that it will make the caramel less than solid. Thanks for saving me from doing that.

  45. Mine never got hard. I love this recipe and they are crazy soft and chewy bc I guess my candy thermometer was not correct. Any suggestions to help them set to the right texture?

    1. It sounds like they needed to cook longer– definitely use the “ice water test” I talk about in the post, as opposed to a candy thermometer–it will be much more accurate when you can actually feel if the caramel has cooked long enough.

  46. I’ve made this and this by far rocks out if all the diffrent ones I’ve made.. Everyone is screaming for them I ball when cool dip in chocolate and add sea salt to the top yummy..

  47. This was my first stab at home made caramels (or any candy, for that matter), and they turned out awesome! I was starting to worry that I did something wrong, because it wasn’t thickening, but then I read Timothy’s comment, saying it took him 90 min to get up to temp. I just kept stirring, and it finally hit 238 (I just used a standard digital kitchen thermometer). I used half to make turtles, and the other half I poured into a 9×9 pan. Pulled them out of the fridge this morning, and cut them into squares. I did let them sit out for about 15 minutes, to soften a bit, as they were very difficult to cut, right out of the fridge. Don’t let them soften too much though, or they’ll stick to the knife. I did forget to pour the vanilla in at the end, but I don’t think that hurt them at all. They are still delicious! I can’t stop eating them!

  48. Hi, i want to top these with a bit of sea salt. Should I do this right as the mixture gets put in the pan or give it time to cool first?

  49. 5 stars
    First time ever making caramels and they turned out perfect I was so happy and so was everyone else they also tasted great with brownies.

  50. I’ve made these the last three years and love your recipe! I just got out the ingredients to make them again this year and realized I don’t have any vanilla. Is that essential to the recipe?
    Thank you!

  51. 5 stars
    Patience is the key! Took me 90 minutes of continuous stirring to bring the temp up to firm ball stage. Definitely worth it, though … they are so yummy!

  52. I bet you could soften them in the microwave just a bit to use them for making turtles. I’m going to try it!

  53. I put mine in the refrigerator to cool and now they are hard as a rock. Will they soften after being left out for awhile?

    1. If they are still hard after you take them out. Put the pan in the oven for a few min until the caramel softens. Add the caramel back to a pot and add 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream. Stir and let boil for a few min. Pour caramel back onto parchment paper and allow to cool. They will be soft again.

  54. 5 stars
    First time and surprisingly they turned out amazing. Took two of us and lots of patience. I made some plain and some chocolate covered. Can you freeze them?

  55. 5 stars
    I used this recipe a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the recipe and I’ve tried others. This makes the best tasting caramels and everyone who sampled these agreed they haven’t had better. It took me a while to find it again but I knew I had the right one when I read the part stressing how slowly to add the evaporated milk. Going to make these right now. By the way I HATE how patient I have to be to make these, but they are totally worth it. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  56. 5 stars
    So, my first attempt at these was a fail. I cooked them too long and they turned into very hard chunks. Second time was a work of art. They turned out perfect!! I dipped some in chocolate!! Yum! Also, as a side note, I did have luck preheating the evaporated milk (carefully mind you) before andding to the recipe. Thank you for sharing!!!

  57. 5 stars
    I give this recipe 5 stars. So critical to slowly add the evaporated milk. I waited till the carmel was slightly tjickening and turning a honey brown
    It was about 250f on the candy thermometer and formed a nall in water. I made an 7 1/4 x 11 pan and halved the ingredients. Excellent!

  58. 5 stars
    My batch got a little overcooked, probably because I haven’t had a lot of experience with making caramel, but tasted amazing. Getting ready to make a second batch, definitely not gonna cook them as long this time. Thanks for a great recipe!

  59. I used the proportion in this recipe to make a small batch: 1 TB butter, 4 TB sugar, 2 TB corn syrup, 3 TB condensed milk. Microwaved on high, stirring every 30 seconds until 238*. Added 1/8 tsp vanilla, poured int ice cube tray. Makes 9 dainty caramels.

    1. Good idea making a mini batch in an ice-cube tray! I’m wondering, did they come out of the ice cube tray ok? Did you grease it first?

  60. I note that the evaporated milk needs to be added slowly so as not to change the cooking process. Could the evaporated milk be heated some before adding to he mixture to speed up the process?

    1. I haven’t tried it, so I cant confidently advise you to pour more in. That theory makes sense, I just can’t say for sure.

  61. Fantastic and easy to follow! Only question I have is, what is the best wrapping for them? I really would prefer not to use wax paper or saran wrap.

    1. I’m so sorry, that means they are overcooked. Did you use the ice water method to test them? I think that’s a better method than using a thermometer.

  62. 5 stars
    These are amazing! Definitely the best caramel recipe that I’ve come across. They even taste great without vanilla essence (I may have forgotten to add it in a couple of batches!)

    Just a couple of questions. How long do these last? And do they have to stay refrigerated?

    1. I’m so glad you liked them! You can store them at room temperature, they just dont do well with any heat, so somewhere cooler. They will last a very long time in the fridge–at least a month, if they’re wrapped (I’ve never been able to keep them around any longer than that!)

  63. 5 stars
    Thank you for this perfect recipe! I followed your instructions and the end result was beautiful. I wrapped them individually in parchment paper and I now have a huge bowl full of soft,yummy caramels. My Mom just left with a big pocketful and declared them delicious. Thanks again!

  64. 4 stars
    I used this recipe, only did a half batch and I still got 80 out of it, I added distillate RSO at the end to use them for medical purposes. very tasty and soft. The hardest part was wrapping them.

  65. I am about to try this recipe for the first time and I am wondering if a 2 quart sauce pan is large enough to use.
    Thanks

    1. You can sub with RAW honey, measuring cup for cup! I do this and it works out great, just check at about 235-238 degrees (they may set a little sooner). I also use dark brown instead of white sugar…so much more flavor.

  66. I love this recipe! I’ve made these twice using silicone molds for caramel. The first time they turned out amazing! Everyone at the party loved them! This time I noticed my temp got a little too high for a bit 245. I very slowly added the milk, took about an hour. I had my daughter take over toward the end, she poured them in the molds and placed them in the fridge, then the freezer, because of time constraints. It’s now 24 hours later and they’re still soft, very soft, too soft to mold in your hand, in the freezer! Please help, where did we go wrong?

    1. Hi Kelly, if they are too soft they just need to continue to cook longer (did you do the ice-water test?). You can put them back into the pot and continue cooking them!

  67. 5 stars
    At first I was doing it wrong, so I thought this recipe was bad. Then I realized it was me being silly so I started over and they turned out splendid! Me and my son were very pleased with the results and they were gone too quick for my husband to get any.

  68. 5 stars
    This recipe also halves nicely, and it seemed easier to control the temperature when I made a half batch. The only problem was having half as many caramels!

  69. 5 stars
    Just love these, took some time waiting for the boiling to increase in temperature but be patient it is worth it in the end for sure. These caramels are amazing and I used salted butter in mine for that salted caramel taste love ’em.

  70. 5 stars
    Came out great!! Followed the recipe to the T. Was a hit at my son’s birthday party with kids and adults. Gold star and A ++ ?

  71. So is this supposed to boil out from a liquid to some form od solid? Because its boiling right now and its so liquid in my pan, help me what happening? I followed the directions plzz help

    1. Have you watched the video? The mixture will thicken but it wont boil from a liquid to a “solid”. Use the ice water method or a candy thermometer to test if it’s done.

  72. 5 stars
    Lost this pin in a sea of pins on my board. Looked through almost 3000 pins to find it. So happy I did! Love these so much!!

  73. I loooooove this recipe. Have made it twice so far and the second time I made it, I used 1/2 light corn syrup and the other half dark corn syrup. The latter produced, I think, a nicer flavor. I have made this in anticipation of melting them later on to dip pretzel sticks; I will then dip into chocolate followed by sprinkles for baby shower favors.
    I am contemplating making this recipe again with light brown sugar in place of the regular granulated sugar followed by dark corn syrup. Do you think its ok?
    The only problem I have encountered is that towards the end, the butter seems to separate from the caramel. My first batch, I used unsalted butter, the second, I used salted, based on suggestions I read when I Googled this situation. Any suggestions?? Also, how would you recommend I melt the caramel for future use? microwave or stovetop so I can dip my pretzels?

  74. This recipe is perfect if you follow the directions precisely as written. A must when making candy. I made this recipe twice. The first time I inadvertently boiled the candy for a bit without stirring after adding the condensed milk which, of course caused a slight burning then added roasted walnuts which, surpisingly tasted like the old caramel theater popcorn without the popcorn! Kids loved it! Second time I added 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg with 2C roasted whole walnuts and 1 1/2 C whole roasted almonds which tastes like nutty caramel
    doughnuts without the doughnuts. A person can use fewer or a few more nuts to one’s taste. Recipe is so adaptable to creative candy making!

  75. Would you know if reducing the sugar and using sweetened condensed milk work at all with this? I’m going to do this recipe either way but just atm i only have the SCM eek. these look amazing, hoping the texture of them would work as a drizzle over oatcakes.

    1. Sweetened condensed milk wont work for this recipe. I worry that reducing the sugar would keep them from setting up properly. Hope you get to try them soon 🙂

    2. I have yet to try these, but I have a great go-to recipe that does use sweetened condensed milk…and the sugar and corn syrup are reduced:

      2 c sugar
      1 can sweetened condensed milk
      1/2 c water
      6 oz butter
      1 c light corn syrup
      1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
      1 tsp vanilla

      Cook to 245 *F, stirring constantly. Add vanilla after you take it off the heat.

  76. 5 stars
    I found that a pizza cutter works well to cut the pieces. I took a few passes to cut gradually. If you use parchment paper and remove from the pan to cut, you can move each row to the side a little to keep them from sticking together again. Same when you cut the pieces.

  77. 5 stars
    This took me a surprisingly long time. You will notice that there are plateus to the temperature. For instance it will stay at ~212F until the water is boiled out, then plateaus at ~220F u til another compound boils out, and the temperature can go up again. By the time it reaches the right stage, you will think you are stirring melted caramels.

  78. Don’t use wax paper!! What a joke. Tasted great if you had the patience to chew it off of the paper like a dog! Use butter in your pan

    1. It looks like you misunderstood–The pan should be lined with PARCHMENT paper (not wax paper). The wax paper is for wrapping the caramels after they have cooked and cooled.

    1. Unfortunately there’s not a good substitute for this recipe. You may want to try another recipe for caramels that doesn’t call for it. Sorry!

      1. 5 stars
        I substituted Golden Syrup and it turned out fabulous! Mine were to soft, but I probably didn’t cook it long enough. I will try the water test the next time.

      2. 5 stars
        I substituted the corn syrup (since I am allergic) with 1 & 1/4th cup sugar melted into 1/4th cup hot water and 1/4th cup honey. Worked like a charm, caramel has existed way longer than corn syrup.

  79. 1 star
    Came out hard as a rock.was hopin to suprise my family but just wasted hour of my time instead! I would suggest you not tell people to cook it to 238 degrees .thats obviosuly way too high.dissapointing

    1. I’m so sorry–that’s why I recommend the ice water test and not using a thermometer (I talk about why, in the post, and mention it in the instructions).

    1. If it curdles, add a teaspoon of baking soda and reheat the caramels in the pot. It will foam and bubble a bit but will hopefully take care of the problem. The curdling takes place when the milk is added too quickly!

  80. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I would like to make a caramel pecan sauce for cheesecake. Obviously I don’t want to take it all the way to the candy stage. What temperature would you recommend for a thick sauce? Thanks in advance and have a sweet holiday.

    1. Yes, You can definitely half the recipe and use a smaller pan when you pour the caramel out of the pan to cool.

    1. Hi Amanda,
      It’s very difficult to say since there could be so many variables here. The simple answer is that the caramels just need to cook longer. Here is an online thread that my provide some answers.

  81. Can you make these ahead a few days in advance to give as a gift? How long can you store these in the fridge? Or what would be the best method to keep them until they are needed to gift?

    1. Hi Kimberly,

      You can DEFINITELY make these ahead as a gift! I would recommend wrapping the caramels individually and storing them in a bag in the refrigerator (or outside if it’s cold). You can even leave them at room temperature and they will still last for about 3 weeks (even longer in the fridge). You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

  82. I made this recipe last year and they turned out great! I’d like to double or triple the recipe this time. Would that work or would I need to make separate batches?

    Also, would you consider a nonstick caphlon pan to be heavy bottomed? Thanks so much!

  83. Hi thank you for sharing your recipe. I would like to add cashews to this recipe would I increase any of the ingredients?
    Thank you.

  84. I see that your recipe calls for evaporated milk however the other ones that I’ve looked at call for condensed milk. I just wanted to verify this before I attempt these. They sound wonderful.!

  85. 5 stars
    This is the same recipe that I have made for 50 years and they are much better if you add at least a cup and a half of chopped nuts.

  86. 5 stars
    Hi, you explained it so nicely. I’ll definitely make this tomorrow for the holiday treat. Wish you a very Happy Holiday and a Very Happy New Year!

  87. Would this work well for candy apples? The cost of store bought doesn’t seem too high until you have to buy so many bags at once. Plus, they are a pain to melt. Would I be able to dip the apples while the caramel is still warm? Or should I let them set and re-melt them later?

    1. Hi Dee,
      You can definitely use this recipe for caramel apples, and no, you don’t have to let them set. You will need to make sure that the caramels are at the right consistency (use the ice water test I describe in the post) before you dip the apples! Also, be sure to remove the wax from the apples first before dipping them in caramel, otherwise it will just slide right off (see this resource). Also note that this recipe makes quite a lot of caramel. Good luck!

  88. 5 stars
    I made these for the first time yesterday and they are fabulous! Your hints helped immensely. Will have to make another batch as I keep eating them and there won’t be enough to give as gifts. Wonderful recipe!

  89. 4 stars
    I have tried on two occasions to make carmels and on both occasions ending with the same results. Syrup! I boil and boil over an hour and still the same. I test with the drop in ice water no luck and my candy thermometer will not rise above 220. Is it altitude, boiling point, temperature unable to reach 238 degrees? Help I’m stuck in the syrup!

    1. Hi Richard,
      I am sorry for your struggles . Caramels can be a little temperamental but I am surprised you have had such difficulty raising the temperature. Maybe this thread will have some answers that apply to you.

  90. I just came across this recipe and realized it was the same as my grandmothers. But instead of making carmels we stirred it into a mixture of cherrios, rice crispies, puffed wheat and puffed rice and peanuts. We called it cereal candy. I believe my grandma was making it back in the 30s.

  91. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I am a novice baker and found the recipe easy to follow with success on the first try. They are so delicious! How/when would I add salt if I wanted to make it a salted caramel?

  92. Can I substitute margarine for the butter? (Not that I want to, but the butter here where I live in a developing country is so expensive and we have a large family – 8 children – so we will want a lot.) Excited to try this, I even found a recipe for homemade corn syrup because that is not available here. And I always have to make my own evaporated milk from powdered whole milk, but definitely want to try this! The reviews make it sound amazing . . ..

    1. Hi Amy, I feel so bad, but I’m really worried these wont turn out for you with those substitutions and homemade ingredients. Also, butter is where most of the flavor comes from which you just can’t get with margarine. I just really don’t want you to waste time of money and not have them turn out!

  93. Just wanted to say my daughter and I made this recipe today and it was so much easier than I thought. Looks and tastes beautiful. Thank you

  94. What do I do if it does curdled it smells and tastes fine it’s just got big lumps in it that’s not crystallized sugar

    1. Hi Jamie, try adding one teaspoon of baking soda. It curdles because the heat may have been drastically changed while cooking (most likely from adding the milk too fast).

  95. 5 stars
    I have this exact same recipe that I got from my mother-in-law (who is no longer alive) over 30 years ago and it is a big hit no matter where I take the caramels. I have found the easiest and fastest way to cut them is with a pizza cutter on a covered cutting board. It was only the last 3 years that I discovered this. lol At first I used scissors to cut them and then a knife. My motto for getting older is “work smarter, not harder”.

  96. 5 stars
    holy cow you can’t believe so delicious best caramel you have ever eaten except for the ones I just made hahaha

  97. Would you say that the way they should come out in the ice test is pretty much the way you’d want them to come out when they’re finished so that people have a guide? If they’re pliable and can form a ball they’re good and if you can form a ball but they wouldn’t hold their shape it’d be more like sauce? I just want to make sure before I start them to understand the best way to know for certain when testing them in ice water. Thanks!

  98. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for 2 weeks. Last night I did! This is EXACTLY what I wanted. I made no substitutions and just followed the recipe! They are PERFECT and delicious!!! Now I wish I hadn’t made it because I can’t stop eating them!!!!

  99. 4 stars
    They taste amazing(i added salt afterwards). Only problem is they are EXTREMELY soft. I had to put it in the freezer to overnight to get it cuttable and now thats where the pieces are. The too softness just make the way too sticky.
    I did both the temp and ice test.
    Also, wear long sleeves and ovem mitts ehen adding the evaporated milk, as it get explosive with just a drop.
    Still, they are so rich Id say they replsce 3 fully decked out bowls of ice cream in flavor and satisfaction.

    1. Thanks Christian! If they are soft, just cook them a little longer next time. (And you can even scoop the completed batch back into the pot and boil it for longer, if needed.)

  100. 5 stars
    I tried making them for the first time today and they turned out amazing! There really isn’t anything as satisfying as pouring out a successful batch of caramel into the trays. Thank you for your recipe!

    1. I agree with you– so satisfying! I’m really happy you enjoyed them 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  101. Hi there, I was wondering if it would be possible that I could swap out the condensed milk with half-and-half and the syrup for honey? I want to make this for my mom for Mother’s Day, but I couldn’t find these ingredients anywhere! Lovely recipe by the way, some people that I know ( amazingly enough ) found where to get the ingredients, and said it turned out amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe 🙂

    1. Hi Olivia, where are you located? You could substitute half and half for the evaporated milk (I don’t use condensed milk in this recipe–just *evaporated milk*). Corn syrup is an invert sugar which helps keep the caramels soft and chewy. Honey would change drastically change the taste (and texture), and I’m not confidant at all that it would work well, but you can try. Sorry I can’t be more help. I’d love to hear what you decide to do 🙂

  102. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe exactly (even putting a 15 minute timer every time I poured a can to make sure I did it slowly). The only difference was I kept mine on very low heat once it started really going as to avoid burning. Came out perfect!

  103. 5 stars
    After carefully reading your recipe, tips, reviews and watching the video my 9 year old daughter and I decided to attempt your caramels. We are happy to report that it is perfection! I can definitely see how patience is key. Even my daughter kept reminding me and quoted you, “It takes patience and time, but it’s sooo worth it!” We strongly agree! We do not have a candy thermometer and were halfway through the stirring process of the milk when we decided to call a trusted neighbor with cooking supplies. I’m glad we did. We did the ice water test and used the thermometer to 238 degrees. From start to finish it took us 1 hour and 15 minutes. Thanks Lauren for being a part of our new tradition!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing!! I’m thrilled you and your daughter tried them, and I loved reading your experience. I have such great memories making these with my mom <3

  104. 5 stars
    I made these as a gift for friends and they were amazing. I got a ton of compliments and gave the recipe to so many people. Thanks for the step by step instructions!

  105. 5 stars
    My husband’s favorite candies are the molasses chews that come in the Russell Stover box, so I have been trying to make my own, since each RS box only comes with ONE molasses chew. I found your caramel recipe and substituted molasses for the Karo syrup hoping to make a sort of RS copycat recipe. Well, after over an hour of stirring the caramel at a rolling boil, it never reached the hard ball stage, so dipping them in chocolate was…messy, to say the least. The taste was great, so we will put it on ice cream and the like, but they are too soft to dip in chocolate. That was my first ever attempt at making caramels, so I’m pretty happy with how it came out. Maybe next time I’ll just follow the recipe and enjoy some regular caramels!

  106. 5 stars
    I made caramel at the fair in batches to dip 1 case of apples. You can use heavy glucose syrup, but I am not sure about the measurement. When you make a batch you really like, save some, and add 1 caramel to the butter when you melt it. Also, drizzle the milk down the side of the pan as you add it. This warms it a bit so it doesn’t drop the temperature as much. 20 minutes per can ofthe milk would not be unreasonable. Enjoy!

  107. When you do the hard ball stage, should it feel like you want it to feel when it is finished? Or just that it can form a soft and pliable ball?

  108. This! This is exactly what I am looking for 🙂
    One quick question though: Is the 24oz of evaporated milk including the cans or without (sorry, from Australia, we generally measure in ml)
    Thank you!

    1. Without the can. Just use whatever measurement is on the can and convert it. You might even find the can already has the right amount already!

  109. Every time someone incudes “butter” in a recipe, I have the same issue/problem…. there is more than one type of butter ! Do you use “salted” or “unsalted”. I really wish everyone would specify this when they post a recipe.

    1. Hi there,
      I understand how that can be frustrating :. Generally when a baking recipe uses butter and calls for salt, I assume they used unsalted butter. If I am planning to use salted butter, I just omit or lessen the amount of salt the recipe calls for. The caramels could also use unsalted butter – just add a pinch of salt. This method should help you in the future. You can use salted or unsalted recipe in almost any recipe using this practice.

  110. 5 stars
    Great recipe, thanks for sharing.
    I heated the milk almost to boiling before adding it, hoping to be able to add it a little faster and it seems to work.
    I did add it slowly but not as much as the recipe says.
    As for the final temperature, gel point for marmalades is 8deg Farenheit (about 4C) above the boiling point of water at your altitude.
    I thought something similar would work for caramel but it didn’t. The iced water method worked beatifully though.

  111. Hi I am currently cooking these and the caramel is not forming to a ball, it’s just slightly getting thicker and it doesn’t reach anywhere above 222 degrees. Is there a way to help it get thicker?

    1. I’m sorry you are having trouble with the temperature. The mixture itself will not form into a ball. When you do an ice water test (as described in the post), the caramels will form into a ball around 238 degrees).
      Most likely the caramel just needs more time to cook!! Maintain a steady heat and continue cooking them!

  112. I tried this recipe on Christmas Eve hoping to have some candies for relatives. Do t k is what I did wrong but it would not pass the hard ball/cold water test and never ‘set up’ – any ideas of how it failed?? I did exactly as instructed. ?

    1. Hi Susan, I’m sorry you had troubles. I have never had that problem. If you maintain everything over medium heat during cooking, the whole mixture should get hotter and hotter. The caramels will either be too hard if you cook it too long, or too soft if you don’t cook them long enough.

  113. 5 stars
    I am in love with these caramels, they take practice though. The first time I did these they were too soft and sticky, second time I cook them too long and they were as hard as rocks. Third time was a charm though and they turned out perfect! Such a great and classic Christmas gift/treat to give friends, families and neighbors. I made them with my daughter, we had a lot of fun together so I am planning on making this a new tradition of ours. I would like to see a video of you actually doing the ice test though Lauren, I did it a few times but I don’t know if I left it in the water long enough for it to pull into a ball. how long do you leave the tablespoon of caramel in the ice water? Anyway, these caramels are amazing, my absolute favorite, like most of the other recipes on this blog!

    1. Hi Heather! I’m so happy that you like the caramels. The video is a great idea, I will have to do that.
      I put a lot of ice in my water cup so that when I add a spoonful of caramel, it cools instantly. I can usually tell how done it is within 10 seconds or so of molding it in my fingers. I look for it to be a pretty firm ball, but still pliable inside the ice water.

  114. I added the evaporated milk slowly but probably 5 min per can instead of 15 … even though the mixture stayed boiling the whole time, it still curdled. Added pinch baking soda and popping it into freezer a bit to firm up for dipping pretzels. Still delicious. I’ll have to try again another day and be more patient! Waiting on caramel is the hardest bc it tastes SO good!

  115. 5 stars
    This is my FAVORITE carmel from the very first time I made it!
    Question though. I have under cooked it. It’s on pans, because I doubled it, and isnt setting up. I was a little impatient. What can I do to get it a little firmer?

    1. Hi Rashell, thanks so much! My best advice, if you’re willing to be patient with it, is to scoop all of it back into a pan, slowly bring it back to a boil, and cook it a tad longer.
      Otherwise, you can refrigerate them and serve them cold/firmer.

  116. 5 stars
    After many, MANY failed attempts at making homemade caramels I had given up for a few years but forgot to buy caramels for my Christmas baking so I decide to give it one more try. I followed this recipe to a tee (except I halved it) and they turned out beautiful. Yay! I used most in my Twix squares and made salted caramels with the rest. Both were awesome! Just a note too Karo syrup is also called light corn syrup for those that were having trouble finding it.

    1. Hi Tasha, thank you so much for sharing! I’m so happy you tried again! Those treats sound amazing. Thanks for taking the time to comment with your experience. I hope you get a chance to try more of my recipes 🙂

  117. 5 stars
    Kate,
    My family has been making these caramels for 3 generations. It’s always a big event to make the caramels before Christmas (One night of stirring a double batch and one night of wrapping). It is worth all the trouble because everyone loves these caramels.
    Things I have learned: the slower you cook the caramel the better it tastes. Browning the butter adds a nice nutty note to the candy. Our recipe calls for adding 1/4 of the milk to the butter/sugar mixture from the start and we’ve never had a curdling problem adding the rest (slowly, but more like a minute per can). We also add chopped roasted pecans at the end. Yum!!

    1. 5 stars
      I tried this version as well, browning the butter and adding some evaporated milk to the butter/sugar …. turned out exceptionally well, though I did take forever adding the rest of the milk.

  118. Great recipe! I used heavy whipping cream and like you said…slooooowwwww and stiirrrrrrr. Wait for that amber color and the thickness of the caramel sauce. I used both thermometer and ice water. Thanks for including that tip. Never heard of it and it worked amazing! i used several thermometers i had around and the newest one we had did say the correct temp. I sprinkled my with sea salt, threw them in some dollar store tins with a bow and they will make a perfect gift for my daughter’s teachers, neighbors and maillady! Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  119. 5 stars
    These are AMAZING! I love caramels and I was dying to find one. The only thing was there are some black spots in the caramel mixture, I think it might be from the vanilla.
    Also, do you know if “tastesbetterfromscratch” has any fudge recipes?
    Thank you for a wonderful Christmastime dessert! 🙂

    1. Thanks Madeline! So happy you liked them! The black spots in the caramel would most likely be from scraping bits from the bottom of the pan that were getting overcooked. Next time just make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pans really well as you go 🙂
      I do have two fudge recipes I LOVE. The first is this perfect chocolate fudge https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/perfect-chocolate-fudge/ and the other is Rocky road fudge https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/rocky-road-fudge/

  120. I dont want to make hard toffee caramel; I want it thick and gooey to go on top of a bed of digestive biscuits/graham crackers, to be the crumbly base for banoffee pie. It has to be firm enough to support the sliced bananas & double whipped cream.Any help out there Good People regarding cooking times ? Thanks in advance. Dave.

    1. Hi Dave, I would cook it until the “soft ball stage” (about 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer) instead of the hard ball stage, and that should be the consistency you’re looking for.

    1. Sure! Just make sure to cut all of the ingredients exactly in half. I’d pour it into a 9×13” pan for thin caramels or a 9×9 or 8×8 pan for thicker. 🙂

  121. I tried these Friday night and they turned out amazing! I have to admit, though, I didn’t realize this was going to be a solid 2 hour investment. I wouldn’t have done it at Grandma and Grandpa’s if I knew that!

  122. I used this recipe to make carmels for the first time ever and everyone who tasted them went nuts over them. I’m making some today (for Easter!) This time I’m going to dip some of them in chocolate. I highly recommend you line the entire jelly roll pan with parchment paper ( including up and over the sides) … when it has firmed up, you pick it up and lay on flat, hard cutting surface. I cut it with a pizza cutter … Not the roller kind, but the curved blade type).

  123. I made the mistake of not reading the recipe carefully! I mistakenly added the evaporated milk right away. Is there any way to save the Carmel?

    1. Hi Barb, I’m sorry! There’s a good chance your caramels will curdle. If the evaporated milk is added too quickly it changes the heat of the candy too quickly, causing it to curdle. My best advice is to stir it constantly, and try adding 1 tsp of baking soda if it curdles. But I’m honestly not sure if that will save them… Best of luck.

  124. I tried this recipe twice and both times it failed. I wonder if high altitude causes a problem. The first time the mixture had not reached more than 200 after 2.5 hours at medium heat. The next time after an hour at medium heat I started turning it up gradually but by the time it reached 240 on two different thermometers the butter had separated. I put it in the pan and into the fridge and the butter just formed a layer on top.

    1. Mandy, I’m so sorry to hear of your struggle! I have learned when making caramels to never rely on a candy thermometer. They’re not dependable when you have people cooking at different altitudes and climates. I ALWAYS rely on the ice water test, as described in the instructions. Spoon some hot caramel into a cup of ice water and try to pinch it together with your fingers in the cold water to test for done-ness. It should come together in a nice ball that’s not overly soft but not brittle.

    1. Hi Karen, I’ve never tried freezing them, but they keep in the fridge very well for a looong time. You could make them and wrap them, store them (wrapped) in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.

    2. I used to freeze a coffe can of Carmel’s that were hand dipped in chocolate. A working mom is – teacher went to the freezer and found the can EMPTY!!! Guilty Culprit- my husband- found the pile of hidden wax paper wrappers behind his parents portrait on the mantle. Never made em again…we’re divorced now so I’m doing a batch for Christmas to take to my sons!

    1. Hi Vicki, you can if you don’t cook it for nearly as long–cook it barely to the soft ball stage. 🙂

    1. Hi Kristi, I’m sorry the caramel is overcooked. You have to check it religiously as it get golden. I use the ice water method, since I’ve found using a candy thermometer to lead to harder caramels. Next time make sure to check it using the ice bath method–if you think it’s even getting close to the hard ball stage, remove it from the heat and pour it into your pan. If the caramels are too soft you can always add them back to the pot later and cook them longer, but you can’t fix overcooking them. I hope you get to try the recipe again because they’re delicious.

    1. Hi Connie, I never use a candy thermometer (see my notes in step 4 about this). I use the ice water method to test the caramel and when it comes to a hard ball stage in the ice water It’s finished.

  125. I made these for a family gathering as I am in charge of desserts more often than not. I want to just say they were a total hit. I salted half of the pan while cooling with course kosher salt but next time will use pink Himalayan salt. I will also be adding this to my regular holiday treats as it was easy and tastes wonderful melts in your mouth…. Thank you for the sharing of this recipe…

  126. I am from Australia and I have been trying to get a good recipe for caramels, however I cannot get kayro syrup can I substitute glucose the recipe also calls for evaporated milk can I use sweetened condensed milk?
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.
    Chris

    1. Hi Chris, I honestly couldn’t say about using glucose vs Karo syrup since I’ve never used glucose…I wouldn’t substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk either, in this recipe. A better substitution would be half and half or heavy cream instead of evaporated milk.
      Also, I know many good caramel recipes use sweetened condensed milk, so you could try a different recipe. The ratios of sugar and butter would be different than this. Sorry to not be of more help!

      1. 5 stars
        You can use glucose, glycerin, honey or golden syrup. Hope that helps. I’ve used all of these with perfect results. I actually like the honey and golden syrup the best. You can also use Maple syrup.

    2. Yes i was watching The Chew. Its a cooking show on everyday here in the states and the added sweetened condensed milk. Not sure about the karo syrup. Good luck.

    3. 5 stars
      I used sweetened condensed milk. I had to cook it an additional five minutes. But they turned out awesome.

  127. Hi,

    I’m wondering what size you cut your caramels to, that yields the 80ct. I’m trying to gauge about how much of this recipe I would need to match a Kraft 14oz. bag of caramels, as I have recipes that call for those, specifically, by the bag. Theirs have about 50 pieces in a bag and are 3/4″ by 3/4″ at 1/2″ height. Thanks!!

  128. I haven’t ever made this exact recipe, but I’ve made one similar to it for the last 15 years. I like to throw my wrapped caramels into Ziploc bags and freeze them. Then I get to enjoy delicious caramels year round.

  129. Hi! I just wanted to say that I attempted to make this recipe today, and failed miserably! The caramel never got thicker, and I looked at other recipes that said you should let the sugar boil first that way your caramels won’t be gritty. REALLY wish I could have pulled this off, they looked great 🙁

    1. It takes quite awhile, and some patience for it to get thick…but as the sugar boils it should get thicker…hope you can try again!

  130. I tried your recipe. Didn’t work. The mixture curdled, and then burned. They never got to hard ball stage, so had to throw the whole thing out. I’ve never had caramel mixture curdle before.

    1. Hi Ellen, the best way to avoid curdling is by making sure the mixture is constantly boiling. If you do have a problem with it curdling, a great trick is to stir in a pinch of baking soda while the mixture is cooking.

  131. Hi there, was looking forward all week to making these caramels. I was planning on finding a good recipe so I could cover in chocolate and give as gifts, this was my test batch but was really hoping I’d nail it so I could wrap and give these out as well. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up with a lumpy mixture. The only thing I can think of is maybe while pouring the evaporated milk I took too long and at some point it seperated. Also a few times the boil was more of a simmer while adding the milk so I stopped for it to boil again. I stirred it fairly regularly and once I noticed the lumps I busted out a whisk and was relentless until it reached the firm ball stage, hoping for a Christmas miracle that it would cook out. No such luck. They are in the fridge now because I just refuse to give up on these guys. Any pointers? Is it normal for it to smell like brown butter? Lol, Help!

    1. Hi Jessica, it sounds like your mixture curdled–which can happen if you don’t maintain a constant boil. A really great trick to fix the curdling is to stir in a pinch of baking soda while cooking. Hopefully you can try again and they’ll turn out great

  132. I made these today using some of the caramel for Chocolate Turtles and it turned out AMAZING. I nearly didn’t have the patience, but in the end it totally paid off 🙂 I love caramel!
    Super excited as Turtles are my mom’s favorite and now she can have some gluten free ones ^.^

  133. Do you think these could be dipped in chocolate once they are refrigerated, cooled and cut into pieces and if yes, what chocolate recipe could you suggest?

    1. Hi Helen, that would definitely work and be delicious! I would just melt any type of good quality milk or semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler! Yum!

  134. I made these on Monday and they taste delicious! The cost ended up being around $6.19. And I ended up with 143 caramels. I suppose my caramels must be smaller than what you cut out. My friends are addicted to them! I will be making them every Christmas! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    1. Is it cold or at room temperature? If it’s at room temperature and still hard as glass then it’s overcooked–sorry! I’ve never tried reheating it and adding milk–if you have the time you could try, but I’m not sure if it will soften it…

  135. I was so excited to find this recipe and set time aside to make it. I did everything by the directions, but I’ve never made anything like this before so I had no idea what firm ball stage was and is it really the right consistency. I boiled for 1 hour and decided it was ready but it never set up all the way. I decided to try to scrap it off and boil that batch again for another 30 mins and test it again. This time I did it on a low setting and watched it carefully, but I somehow managed to burn the sugar and now have chunks in my caramels haha. It tastes fantastic….but doesn’t look so pretty. I decided to put that batch into a mason jar and use it for ice cream topping and the next batch will be better. I plan to give these as gifts for Christmas! Thanks for the recipe!!

    1. Hi Meghan, I’m sorry it didn’t set up right for you. You were right to add the caramels back to the pot to cook them longer. Depending on where you live (altitude and humidity) they may take longer to set. Make sure to cook them on medium or medium-low heat and stir constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn. It can be time intensive, but the end result is wonderful!

  136. This recipe is really awesome, however, when I made them they didn’t turn out like I had planned. I was wondering if you coulld give me some advice on what to do next time. I followed the directions like they were written but after they had cooled and I had refrigerated them for a little while I tried to cut them and they were still too soft and I couldn’t get them out of the pan without messing them all up. I thought you may have an idea of something that I could do a little different. But other than than that they tasted amazing!!

    1. Hi Taylor, If they were too soft they just need to be cooked longer. You could even scoop the entire batch back into your pan and continue cooking it. Use the ice bath method to test it and make sure you reached firm ball stage 🙂 Glad you liked them though!

      1. I’ve been making caramels for years to give as Christmas gifts. Got the recipe from my red & white Betty Crocker cookbook, using the fast cook method they are ready in 1/4 the time. I also use a smaller pan so they are thicker.

  137. I just got done making these! So good and easy. Only thing I will add, make sure your pot is bigger than you need and you can sub out butter rum oil for the vanilla for a new flavor, soooo good.

    1. Hi Tonje, do you have access to heavy cream? That would work as a substitute–just make sure to cook the caramels on a low temperature. It may take a little longer than normal, but cook them low and slow to ensure the cream doesn’t curdle.

  138. Just made these and my entire house loves them! Thank you for the recipe! Mine developed this layer of oil over the top when I poured them into the pan, I used paper towel to soak up the oil so no worries but is there a way to avoid this?

  139. Hi, I great recipie. I would like to make these.
    Would I be able to use ‘golden syrup’ I can’t find any Karo syrup in the UK :/

    Thanks,
    Anna

    1. I’m not totally sure what “golden syrup” is, but it sounds like the same…I wouldn’t be able to say if they’ll turn out the exact same or not…sorry!

    2. You can get corn syrup from Amazon. It’s about £11 for 3 bottles. Golden syrup works but it makes it extremely sweet. If you don’t want to order corn syrup, then you can get glucose syrup from the chemist, which works as well as corn syrup. I have to order glucose syrup in though, Boots carries it at Christmas time, and also you can find it at cake decorating suppliers.

      1. Is there something I can use to substitute for the corn syrup? I can’t consume corn products… This sounds sooooo yummy!

        1. Hi KJ, I’m really not sure what would be the best substitute…you may want to try a different recipe, perhaps one that is sweet and condensed milk based. Sorry, to not be more help…all the caramel recipes I’m familiar with use corn syrup.

  140. Hi, this is my 2nd try at making them, the first batch didn’t set and I cooked it for an hour. I’m on 30 min now and it’s still looking the same as the 1st batch what might I be doing wrong?

    1. Hi Kim, I’m really sorry they haven’t been setting for you. However, they do take a long time to cook, especially if your located somewhere with high altitude or humididty–they usually take me at least an hour…

    1. Hi, just wanted to say I made the caramels today and it turned out great and they are wonderful. I cooked them to the firm ball stage and they were a little chewy. Kind of reminds me of a Slo-Pok sucker. Next time I will not cook quite to that point. They are delicious and I will definitely use this recipe again. Thank you for sharing.

  141. Ive been looking for the perfect simple caramel recipe, what I’d like to do is once its set, cut it and make ropes out of it to wrap around pretzel rods… would this particular recipe work? once it’s wrapped in the caramel, i plan on dipping it in chocolate, these are for gift giving … if you have time can you get back to me please
    thank you and thank you for sharing your recipes

    Stella

    1. That sounds amazing! Yes, I think this caramel recipe would work great for wrapping around the pretzel rods–however, I wouldn’t quite cook it to “hard ball” stage but just a little less so that it’s easy to roll into ropes. Good luck!

  142. I have been looking for a good caramel recipe and I finally found it. I just made these today and they are amazing! Great recipe!

    1. I’m happy they turned out so well! I’ve got to give full credit to my mom–it’s her awesome recipe! 🙂

      1. I am thinking about making these for a bake sale. How long in advance do you think they would keep? Also, have you ever added nuts?

  143. I love making caramels too but found a recipe where you can make them in the microwave! So simple, so easy and only takes 15 minutes. Use the same ingredients in this recipe but microwave in 3 minute intervals. After each 3 minutes, stir well. After 15 minutes pour into a dish that has been covered with parchment paper. Cool and cut into desired shapes either logs or squares. Have fun!

  144. These look fantastic, I have been wanting to make a cookie stuffed with caramels, these will be perfect!

    1. Hi Jean, You could add the salt on top of the caramels after you’ve poured them into the jelly roll pan and let them cool for a few minutes! Yum!

  145. These look delicious and I’ve never tried to make caramels. Do you need to store them in air tight containers or the fridge?

    1. Hi Kathy, After they cool in the jelly roll pan you can refrigerate (put cling wrap over them) until you’re ready to wrap them. I wrap them in wax paper. Once they’re wrapped you can keep them at room temperature or in the fridge.

    1. Hi Jen, Althought I’ve never tried, I think it should work great–you may want to cook it to a “soft ball” stage, so it’s not too hard for the apples…

      1. 5 stars
        Has anyone ever tried it for caramel apples??
        This is my favorite caramel recipe and i want to make caramel apples with it tomorrow!

  146. So when you say firm ball, you mean all of the mixture turns into that? And if so, how hard is stirrng the vanilla in going to be?

  147. this is a wonderful recipe. How often did you stir? I found if I stirred too much, the temperature stayed around 230.

    1. I also could not get the temp over 225 F and ive had it chilling for over 4 hours and it is still soft. It tastes good but I wish were firmer. (Wanted to cover them with chocolate) im afraid to recook the caramel after a previous comment said hers burnt when she tried to recook it. Any reason why my temp never got up? Yes I did increase heat too.

  148. I will say, I wish there was a picture of what it looks like when it’s ready to pull off the stove to cool. I think I’m getting close!

  149. I am do delighted you posted this recipe. Caramels can’t be found in Hong Kong. Now I can make my own at home. Have a super week! Take care, Bobbi

  150. Your recipe looks pretty good. All the times I’ve tried to make caramels I’ve failed miserably!

    1. Oh no, well I really hope you will give this one a try! This recipe always turn out perfect for me!

    1. You need to! There’s nothing quite like homemade caramels and of all people, I think you’d really appreciate them 🙂