These Homemade Caramels are perfectly soft and chewy and easy to make with a few pantry ingredients. We love to gift them to friends and family.

Want more candy recipes? I love this Buckeye Recipe, Homemade Almond Joys, Chocolate Fudge, and Rocky Road!

A bowl of easy Homemade Caramels, wrapped in parchment paper pieces.

Why I love these caramels:

  • Family Tradition – This is my Mom’s homemade caramel recipe we’ve been making at Christmas time for decades. They were always our food gift for friends and neighbors during the holidays.
  • Perfect – They really are soft, chewy, melt-in-your mouth delicious caramels! They truly couldn’t be any better! This is a treasured family recipe.
  • Easy – This easy caramel recipe only uses pantry ingredients and the steps are simple. But the magic is in the cooking process – it’s important to not rush these! Read my tips below for the best caramels every time.

How to make Homemade Caramels:

Combine: Add butter, sugar, and karo syrup to a large heavy-bottom saucepan then stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, about 5-10 minutes.

Two images showing butter, sugar, and karo syrup in a pot, then after it comes to a boil.

Add Evaporated Milk: Gradually add the evaporated milk, one can at a time, taking about 12-15 minutes PER CAN, while stirring constantly. Make sure the mixture maintains a constant boil, otherwise your caramels can curdle.

Two images showing evaporated milk being poured in a pot of caramel, then the caramel being stirred.

Caramelize: Stir the mixture constantly, scraping the sides occasionally, until it reaches a firm ball stage. I don’t rely on a candy thermometer. I use the ice water test: Drop a spoonful of the hot caramel into a cup of ice water then mold the caramel with your fingers into a ball. You will know the caramels are ready when they feel pretty firm and pliable. Remove from heat then stir in vanilla.

A pot of easy homemade caramel, golden brown.

Cool: Pour caramels into prepared pan then refrigerate until cooled and hardened. (Best if you refrigerate them overnight, or for several hours. They will be easier to cut and wrap). 

An easy caramel recipe poured in a 9x13 pan on top of parchment paper.

Cut: I like to use a stainless steel scraper to get perfectly even lines.

Two images showing cooled caramel being cut into small squares to wrap for candy.

Wrap: The caramel will seem hard in the fridge after they’re set, but they should be soft at room temperature. Cut soft caramels into small pieces then wrap like a tootsie roll in wax paper, if desired.

The best caramel recipe, wrapped in parchment paper to enjoy as candy.

Tips for Perfect Caramels Every Time:

  • SLOWLY stir in evaporated milk: This should take about 15 minutes per can, pouring in a little bit at a time (or warm your evaporated milk a little, to make the process faster). The caramel must maintain a constant boil the entire time.
  • Maintain steady heat: Keep your burner/stove on medium heat to avoid any changes of temperature. Maintaining heat the same is why the milk gets added so slowly.
  • Candy Thermometer vs Ice Water Test: I personally don’t trust candy thermometers. Unless you take the time to calibrate yours, they can often be “off”. And depending on your location (altitude and humidity) 238°F may not be the perfect temperature for you. The best (and easiest) way I’ve found is using the ice water method. Drop a spoonful of the hot caramel into a cup of ice water then mold the caramel with your fingers into a ball. You will know the caramel candy recipe is ready when they feel pretty firm and pliable.
  • Wrap them cold – I like to make them 24 hours ahead of time so they can get nice and cold in the fridge, making them easier to cut and wrap.
Two images showing caramel being poured into a cup of ice water, and then someone holding the caramel for the ice water test.

Make Ahead Instructions:

To Make Ahead: These easy homemade caramels will keep well in the fridge for several weeks. Take them out to come to room temperature for them to be soft and chewy.

More Caramel Recipes:

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A bowl of easy Homemade Caramels, wrapped in parchment paper pieces.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
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  • Line a 9×13” 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–9×13” 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 steady heat and constant boil (no drastic changes in temperature) 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.


Evaporated milk: Could substitute heavy cream.
  • Candy Thermometer: I don’t always trust candy thermometers, and depending on your location (altitude and humidity) temperature will vary. A good way to test them is the ice water method. Drop a spoonful of the hot caramel into a cup of ice water and mold the caramel with your fingers into a ball. The caramel should feel pretty firm but pliable in the ice water.
  • Caramel is too soft after it has set up: It needed to cook longer. You can pour the whole batch back in to a pot and warm it up again! 
  • Caramel is too hard: it cooked for too long. Use the ice water method to avoid this. 
Make Ahead and Storing Instructions: homemade caramels will keep well in the fridge, covered or wrapped, for several weeks. Take them out to come to room temperature for them to be soft and chewy.


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

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I originally shared this recipe November 2017. Updated May 2020 and November 2023.

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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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    These caramels are delicious! I tried using this recipe for dipping in pretzel rods and then in chocolate. I had some leftover caramel that I’d like to reheat later to dip more pretzels. Is there a way to do that?

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful caramels. I coated them with chocolate, so added a little salt to the caramels. Otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. 240 degrees face the perfect chewy texture. I’ll be making them again!

  3. 5 stars
    I honestly wish that I could give this more than 5 stars. These little F’ers are SO dang delicious that they became borderline addictive! I had initially made this for my spouse to bring into work to share with his co-workers, but I ended up keeping about 3/4 of it for myself. I’m not ashamed by this, because you’ll understand my gluttony as soon as you take your first bite. Good luck on your new caramel addiction, I’ll be in the kitchen making more.

  4. I just made a batch of these they looked great until I added the vanilla. As soon as I did it instantly looked like it had little dark brown chunks in it. Is this normal? I stirred it pretty well. As I was pouring it into my pan I really noticed it.

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe worked great! Even though I used heavy cream and condensed milk (16 oz and 10 oz) it still tasted good and was super chewy. If you’re going to make this, though, use the biggest pan you have – I used my second largest and it almost overflowed. Also, you can spend more like 5 minutes per can of dairy and it works fine.

  6. 5 stars
    This caramel recipe is the best. I used the caramel to make turtles. Previous recipe I used always turned into a more fudge like consistency , this is the best caramel!

  7. 5 stars
    I threw out four failed attempts at caramels before trying the recipe. It is absolutely delicious and a perfect texture. However, I watched an entire episode of SNL and half of their Christmas special while making it. Way longer than the recipe indicates. Even bringing to the initial boil was much longer than 5 to 10 minutes.

    1. I cut up the butter and preheated the pan that helped a lot. But the first time yes it took forever! I watched Christmas vacation. Lol

  8. 5 stars
    I cannot wait to make this! I’ve made caramel before using different recipes, but I’m still in search of thee one. **Can I halve this recipe by chance?**

    Thank you! Liz

  9. 5 stars
    I made these just about to the letter of the recipe, with the exception that I followed some of the comments and brought the evaporated milk to near simmer. I still added it slowly, maybe drizzling in a few tablespoons at a time. Probably 5-10 mins for all of the milk. Even with that short cut, it was a good 35-40 mins of constant stirring with a whisk. I use a javelin instant read thermometer and was checking the temp pretty regularly. It definitely took a while to get it past 220. My guess is the water inherent in the butter and milk kept the temp down. Once it was all boiled off (steam was no longer being produced) and the bubbling was constant but not quite as furious, the temp moved quicker so keep your eye on it. I took it off heat at 240 and it was just perfect. Certainly the best caramel I’ve ever made, and I think the best I’ve ever eaten. Just incredible. Be patient and you will be rewarded!!

  10. 5 stars
    If I want to make chocolate caramel with cocoa powder, how much should I add and any other adjustments needed? My son and I found this recipe 3 years ago and make 4-6 batches to share every year. Looking to change it up a little.

  11. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! You saved my Christmas!
    Every year my Mom would make Carmel’s for the older people at our church. I loved helping and when I started my own family continued the tradition. For some strangle reason my Mom’s recipe went missing and with her no longer with us, I thought for sure I would never be able to make Carmel as good ever again.
    Yep! You saved my Christmas! Thank you again! Merry Christmas! ❤️

  12. Although my caramels taste fabulous, I believe I cooked them too long. My thermometer read 242 F and at room temperature they’re a bit too firm. Not soft enough. If I re-melt some and add a bit of evaporated cream, water or heavy cream do u thunk they’ll soften up?

  13. 5 stars
    This is some real sh*t. The pot I used was a little small so it almost boiled over but when I tested it by putting some into some ice water it tasted great and was smooth and beautiful. I put about 1.5 teaspoons of brown sugar in because I always do and i think it helped a lot. Overall easy and amazing recipe.

    1. 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar makes what kind of difference in a mixture with 4 c of sugar and 2 cups of corn syrup?

  14. 5 stars
    These are delicious and exactly how we used to make them when I was a kid. I just wanted to say that it is ALOT of caramel. If making for personal use, I suggest halving the recipe. I got a blister on my finger from wrapping with parchment paper.

    1. 5 stars
      Maybe let people know APPROXIMATELY how long to boil to get to the right temp. I know everyone will have different times so an approximation would be appreciated!!

      1. I have a poorly written recipe that is very old from my mother and I didn’t understand the directions so I looked online to see if I could find some tips. Her recipe is very close to this but makes a slightly smaller batch (3#) and it said to cook on medium while stirring constantly for exactly 28 minutes! This goal is to reach the “soft ball” stage (which I see defined on the thermometer). It also says may need to turn up the heat in the last two minutes. Hope that helps.

  15. Can I use Turbinado sugar?
    What vanilla extract do you use, I feel like they all taste more like alcohol than vanilla.

  16. Hi Lauren ! I can’t believe I tried this. Definitely out of my comfort zone but turned out great. Thanks so much.Janene from Seattle

  17. 5 stars
    These were so simple and came out perfect, I made them for the first time yesterday and am using the recipe to make a caramel sauce for my apple pie. Amazing, thank you!!

  18. 3 stars
    I made these caramel chews last night and they were refrigerated all night and still were a bit runny this morning. I followed the recipe to the letter, so not sure what went wrong. I have put them in the freezer hoping that helps and they will get firm enough to cut into pieces.

    1. Hi Diane, it sounds like they definitely were not cooked long enough. They should firm up very quickly, especially in the fridge. Did you use a thermometer, or test them to make sure they reached the hard ball stage?
      The good news is you can still fix them! Pour the caramel back into a pot and continue to cook it until it reaches the right temperature!

  19. 5 stars
    My sister and I just made these, they’re still cooling down so we haven’t cut them yet but I can already tell they are going to be perfect! The cook time was about an hour just like the recipe said even though we had to upgrade to a bigger pan when it started boiling. We had so much fun doing it together and eating what was left in the pan after we poured it. Thank you for sharing your family recipe!

  20. I just finished making these and they are wonderful. I warmed the milk as one commenter suggested and it took one hour to make these from start to finish. thank you, it’s a keeper.

  21. 5 stars
    I made this last night. I was surprised at how long it took. I think I was stirring for close to 2 hours, to get the mixture up to the required temperature. The caramels are very good.

    I enjoyed making it.

  22. 5 stars
    Super easy and excellent recipe. I add 2-teaspoons of Watkins butter extract with the vanilla at the end. Also I use sweet condensed milk sometimes for a chewy caramel.

  23. Excited to try this!
    For the sugar, could I use 1 cup granulated sugar and one cup brown sugar? Will it change the flavor too much?

  24. Hi there, quick question! You never mentioned how long after adding in the 2 cups of evaporated milk to keep on heat. What’s your normal time after adding the milk? I took mine off 5-10 minutes AFTER the 20-30 mins of milk adding and they still seem to be under. Thank you for your help!

  25. My family has been making similar caramels to these for decades. I use 1 cup of dark Karo syrup instead of 2 cups light and use 1 can evaporated milk and 1 can sweet condensed milk. Also, if you heat the milks, in a separate pot, to scalding ( near boiling), then you can add it all into the boiling sugar in 2-3 minutes, while stirring, instead of almost a half hour. I also add a tsp of salt to enhance flavor.

  26. 5 stars
    This recipe is perfect as written. I added a tsp of salt with the vanilla, as I’d seen recommended in comments.

    USE PARCHMENT PAPER ONLY, top and bottom, which easily releases. 😁
    Do not use wax paper, it sticks. 🤬Don’t ask me how I know. 🙄

    Following the instructions exactly as written yielded a perfect, stretchy, chewy, candy caramel in a little over an hour of stirring.

    Slooooowly adding the evaporated milk on a heat setting of 6 on my stove kept the boil going without interruption. Each evaporated milk addition was an once or two followed by a minute of stirring, and resulted in a little reaction that enriched the color incrementally. I removed from heat at the top of the “soft ball” stage. This took a little over an hour. (The same amount of time it took me to get the wax paper off after it cooled, because I followed bad internet advice lol)

    I love this recipe and WILL use it again!

  27. 5 stars
    Use condensed milk not evaporated. Put condensed milk in at beginning. Use 1cup brown and 1 cup white sugar. Use 1 cup corn syrup not 2. This recipe is makes no sense. It wont come out right. I have been making candy for 40 years.

    1. 1 star
      I agree with Mark. I am 70 years old and have been making caramels since I was 12 years old I guess. That much granulated sugar and corn syrup will be a mess. Most importantly it will crystalize to hard crunchy caramels in just a few days. This recipe is a set up for epic holiday failure!!

      1. 5 stars
        This recipe worked great, first time I have ever made caramel and they turned out perfect. The only thing is the cooking time was nearly 2 hours instead of the hour and 10 minutes

      2. 5 stars
        I’ve been making these caramels every Christmas for years and they have always been amazing! My nephew found a caramel this past November from the previous Christmas and said it was still as good as the first one he’d eaten when he got them the previous christmas!

    2. 5 stars
      Take it from the many many positive reviews, it does absolutely come out right. I’ve made this recipe multiple times, doubled it and made it all at once, etc. It comes out perfect every time, zero alterations. I’ve had plenty of Caramel from old fashioned candy places and this stuff is as good or better.

    3. 2 stars
      I made this exactly as directed. Ended up throwing it all in the trash. It was too hard and the butter separated. . . It took me over an hour.

      1. I’m so sorry that happened–sounds like they were overcooked. Did you use a candy thermometer, and do the ice water test?

  28. Was wondering if you could use Butter flavored pancake syrup instead of karo white corn syrup? Has anyone tried any variations to the syrup ingredient?

  29. 5 stars
    This is my 3rd year in a row making these caramels. My family loves them around the holidays! This year I was rushing and forgot the vanilla extract. They are already in the pan and chilling. Do I just skip it? Or, do I dump them back into the pot, re-warm it and add the vanilla then? The warm caramel tasted good without it but I know vanilla can add a lot of flavor. I don’t want to ruin the whole batch by trying to rewarm them!

    1. Hi, you can slowly melt the caramel (think melting kraft caramels for apples), just do it slowly. Once it’s melted, add the vanilla and let it set up again. Enjoy!!

  30. 5 stars
    This is my go to caramel recipe. I tried a couple others, but they just didn’t have the depth of flavor I wanted. I always finish mine by sprinkling some flaky sea salt on top. Delicious!

  31. 5 stars
    I did make these (3-4 batches! Whew!) and yes, it’s a real time commitment but worth it. They are absolutely delicious and make fantastic gifts.
    I’m preparing to make a couple of batches today for Christmas.

  32. If you can do this recipe in the hour and change it suggests you can finish this in then you are a god. Don’t get me wrong. This was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever finished but when I set up to make carmels today I had no idea that this would be a marathon. 2 hours. I pleaded for that molten sugar to turn a shade darker than the lily white parlor I am… Two hours I go nothing. I tried every heat setting about medium. Nothing. And then just when all hope seemed lost, I noticed that it was getting closer and closer the color of my freckles. I danced a screamed for joy so loud my housemates came to make str I was okay. Then another hour passes… It wouldn’t set up in the ice water no matter which god I prayed to. After another hour I finally got it to set but I couldn’t dance for joy this time because people were starting to go to bed. After what I marked to have been 3 hours and change I finally popped that sweet goop into the fridge. All I can do now is hope it sets. What I ate out of the ice bowl tasted very good though! (I used amoretto instead of vanilla extract right at the end. 10/10 would recommend.)
    Anyway if you are doing this for the first be prepared to walk the hero’s journey before you have caramel candies. Great recipe!

  33. Gonna make this again today. Third time. It’s ALOT of work and takes ALOT of time but man of man they are perfect!

  34. 1 star
    This did not turn out well. The sugar to butter ratio is way off, flavor isn’t great. I added the condensed milk slowly over 15 minutes and never once stopped the boil, however I still didn’t end up with a smooth texture. If you say that a candy thermometer doesn’t work then a timeline would be helpful, aka bring yo a boil, add milk over 15 minutes, boil for approximately 10 more minutes and start ice water testing at 8 min. My candy thermometer is calibrated and I cooked to 242 degF and the caramels are rock hard. I would eat them like English toffee but the flavor is just okay, so I think I’m going to save my teeth and just toss. This recipe is heavy on the sugar.

    1. 5 stars
      If you used CONDENSED milk, that’s why your caramels didn’t work out. She specified EVAPORATED milk. There’s a big difference.

    2. As with all cooking and baking, I would always recomend you take your product off heat before it reaches your desired temperature. Anything will contimue to cook and hold heat for a few minutes after the burner is off. And even a calibrated thermometer is slightly useless when everything from the humidity, to the age of your cream can affect consistency. Softball or hardball test is the best method once you know what to look for 🙂

    3. Evaporated milk… not condensed! A small but easy mistake to make. I’d give it another try and make another comment when you’re done.

      1. You can make caramel with I can condensed milk, but the amounts of corn syrup, white and brown sugars are reduced to 1 cup each. I make.mine in the microwave. Takes 20 mins from start to finish.

    4. 5 stars
      I half the recipe and turn a batch out to cool in under 40 minutes with no problem. If its hard your overcooking it. I use either condensed milk or if I want chewy caramel I use sweetened condensed milk. Us a heavy bottom SS pan too.

    1. 5 stars
      I halve this recipe and it turns out every time EXCEPT when I use a candy thermometer, so I go strictly old school and use the ice water bath key word being ice there… and I have several teaspoons so I can continue to test once it turns the rich amber color… this is the only recipe I’ve found that works perfectly… and the adding the evap milk slowly is key too… the good news is now you have a delicious sauce that you can use on anything from coffee to caramel apple tarts… and it will keep FOREVER in the refrigerator… seriously months…

      1. Caramel is too hard ie. almost brittle. Can it be reheated with something added to soften up somewhat. I have made before and turned out perfect.

  35. I’ve attempted this recipe three times now, and every time, I get a huge pool of butter separated from the caramel. What am I doing wrong? I’m using 2 sticks and making sure it’s melted and combined with the corn syrup and sugar before boiling.

    1. Sounds like you might be boiling it too fast at too high a heat. I used to have the same issue until I turned the heat down to medium. Also, stir constantly to get everything integrated.

  36. 5 stars
    SO YUMMY!!!!!
    I’m not the best chef- so 3’s a charm.
    Took me three tries on the same batch to get it right. First time I didn’t cook it long enough and it didn’t harden enough. Threw it back in the pan and proceeded to cook it too long so it became too hard. Threw it back in the pan for the third time, added almost an entire can of evaporated milk and some more corn syrup which did the trick since it was so overcooked. Came out perfect and scrumptious! Took me all day – but hopefully someone can learn from my mistakes!

  37. 5 stars
    This is awesome! Thank you for the recipe.
    I have a question regarding Step 6 and 7.
    “6. 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).
    7. 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.
    wouldn’t several hours in the fridge make the caramels real hard?
    By “but they should be soft at room temperature.”, do you mean once you take them out of friedge and leave them under room temperature then it would soon become soft?
    If so, how long that may take?
    Many thanks.

    1. I like to refrigerate them because they’re easier to cut when they are cold, and hardened. Once they sit out at room temperature, they soften a bit. The pan of caramels will take at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Wrapped caramels will soften, once they’re taken out of the fridge, within 15 minutes or so.

      1. Thank you Lauren.
        I did some experimentation for a small quantity late this morning.
        1) I stopped stirring at 424F for the temperature,
        2) transferred it to sheet tray (cupcake shaped);
        3) dipped the bottom of the tray in cold water with ice for 7 to 8 minutes and then took it out
        4) left it under room temperature ( 69F ) with parchment paper loosely on its top for about 42 minutes.
        5) then, became a bit creative, use the tip of a knife to get each of them out the cupcake hole.
        They are slightly harder than desired. I tried one, pretty good.

        I was a bit reluctant to put them in the fridge for concern of flavor contamination because my fridge is crazy full.

        To make the next batch softer,
        should I stop at 420F and cool with ice for 3 to 4 minutes and room temperature cooling for 36 to 37 minutes?

        Many thanks.

        P.S. Could you please replace my email address with “Don Li”? Appreciated.

  38. 5 stars
    I made these!! They turned out so good. Had a nice buttery taste. It took so long for the carmel to reach that 240 soft ball stage I couldn’t believe how long I was standing at the stove maybe because I was stirring it constantly so it didn’t stick or burn.. I never stopped stirring which is crazy because I have ninja pans and nothing sticks haha kinda forgot about that. Any ways after I finally stopped stirring for 20 seconds and allowed it to boil and went back to the pan every 20 or 30 seconds maybe even 40 seconds. It finally reached temp I had to also switch pans early on because there was no way it was going to fit in my biggest one handle pot. So I used a 2 handle pot that I usually use for pasta or big meals and that helped. Thank you so much for the recipe, I now need to try and make a dairy free version for my daughter!! Very delicious 😋 I will be making this again after my arms recover lol!!

  39. I have been told that corn syrup has been linked to several health problems common in my family, is there an alternative (brown sugar, honey, more granulated sugar) that I can use instead? If so, please let me know.

  40. 5 stars
    Absolutely perfect. Your instructions were easy to follow and right on target. I don’t have a candy but remember helping my mom test things with the ice water so I was happy to see your instructions on that. Thank you, this turned out great for me.

  41. 5 stars
    This was my first time making caramels and I found the instructions super easy to follow. They turned out so yummy! I used a pizza cutter to cut them into squares, that worked for me better than a knife and didn’t stick at all. Thank you so much for this yummy recipe, I will definitely make again!

    1. Yes! If you search the comments several others have used a mold with success. Please let us know how it turns out for you!!

  42. Yum. Preheat the evaporated milk in a separate pot or in the microwave, then you can add it much quicker without curdling.

  43. Hi, thanks for the recipe. Super easy to follow, however, it would be helpful to have an idea how long to continue stirring when finished adding the milk. I don’t have a candy thermometer and used the drop test, but I wasn’t sure if I should anticipate 10 mins for 40 mins. I stirred for about 15-20 mins and it may have been too long, we will see tomorrow. (Fingers crossed) Thanks

  44. Made this as per instructions and it came out perfect!! Great taste and easy to work with. Now I have to learn how to wrap it? This is the first time doing this, and am very pleased. 5 stars !!!

  45. 4 stars
    These turned out wonderfully–buttery, delicious and looking even better than store-bought caramels.

    BUT I would not call this “easy” or “quick”. Stirring constantly is a time commitment. Have your thermometer ready and be prepared to stir for an hour at least! Also, cutting the caramels afterwards took time and effort–things got sticky! There was a very large yield of caramels so have a plan for them once you have made them! I wish I had thought to have wrappers and gift baggies ready to give these away.

  46. 5 stars
    Best caramel I have ever made!!! Not only was the flavor incredible, the smooth texture is exactly they way I love my caramel!! I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have found this recipe. Thank-you.

  47. 5 stars
    I wish I never made these, because we’re all hooked! I made a few different recipes to see which the family liked best, this was by far the favorite. I wrapped them in wax paper and stuck a bunch in the freezer so they’d last longer. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  48. 5 stars
    First time ever making homemade caramels but, with this recipe, it won’t be the last! I was going to take a picture of my finished product. I made the mistake of letting everyone try them before I did. They were gone in no time! Great recipe, delicious Caramels!!!

  49. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I made these to give to friends and family as part of a Christmas goodies package. I love how they melt in your mouth. I keep mine in the freezer for long term storage as they tend to get melty in a warm (wood stove) home. They are well worth the work over a stove to make them.

  50. Yes! It was my first attempt ever at making caramels. They came out great and I warn people they might pull out your fillings or crowns. Next time i will let them cool in the kitchen instead of the cold garage. By the time I went to cut them they were quite hard but when they warmed up they were more pliable.

  51. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh.. I cannot tell you how much I love these. I only made half the recipe because I just needed a few and oh man.. so amazing. I will never buy store bought caramels again.

  52. 5 stars
    First time I have every made caramels. They turned out great! Made them into small squares and dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. Gave them as Christmas gifts. Got high marks from all the neighbors.

  53. 5 stars
    This year was my second time making these caramels. I’d forgotten just how much time these take (I’m not very patient lol), but man is it worth it! Great recipe, don’t rush the process! After cooking, I poured the caramel into a 13×9 casserole dish with parchment paper. After about 4 hours or so they were hardened enough to cut, but overnight is better if you can. From one recipe, I ended up with roughly 200 caramels about 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch. 100% recommend topping with some flaky sea salt! These will likely be a Christmas time tradition in our house 🙂

  54. I want to make this caramel and use it to make Turtles. Assuming I follow the recipe precisely, will this work for making almond turtles? My son hates pecans.

  55. 5 stars
    They taste incredible! Took longer than an hour to cook .. perhaps because i don’t have a gas stove – I have a flat top stove and hard to get temp steady … but I was patient !

  56. 1 star
    No bueno. The directions said to keep the mixture @ a boil for 5-10 minutes plus another 12-15 minutes at a constant boil while you slowly add the milk. It was way too much heat. My mixture turned the color of used motor oil by the time I had finished adding the milk. The whole batch had to go in the trash. I’ve made well over 1,000 recipes over the last 50 years and believe that this is my first TOTAL failure. Don’t get me wrong, some recipes are ~ meh, but burnt and ruined? This is a first. If anybody else ventures to try this, I would suggest using a very, very low heat while you add the milk.

    1. I think you misread the recipe. You’re supposed to bring to a boil and immediately start adding the milk while boiling. I’ve followed the directions as listed and they are a beautiful caramel color and smell divine.

    2. 5 stars
      Hi Tim, I think you added the milk way to fast. You bring contents to a boil then slowly adding just a little bit of milk to the mixture keeping the sauce at a boil. Each can should take 15-20 to slowly add. This recipe is fantastic and delicious. I highly suggest you try this again.

    3. Everyone else seems to have a great outcome (including me) so maybe in this case it’s you not the recipe!

  57. 5 stars
    These are amazing! They turned out perfectly and all four of my kids love them. Thank-you so much for this wonderful and easy to follow recipe.

  58. These taste AMAZING!!! Unfortunately, they are still so gooey after keeping them in the refrigerator even overnight. I did both the candy thermometer as well as the ice water but they are hard to cut and wrap in wax paper. Any suggestions for my next batch?

  59. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this exact caramel recipe for the past 6 Christmases. They are ALWAYS a crowd pleaser & I am always happy to contribute with these delicious treats. I have definitely gotten better at keeping a good temperature throughout the process of making them, but even if you don’t, they are almost full proof if you follow the recipe and tips. I almost didn’t make them this year but I’m so glad I did! Thank you thank you!

  60. 4 stars
    I haven’t made them yet but have a question. Would using a double boiler help maintain a constant temp while cooking?

  61. 5 stars
    These are out of this world! I did add 1/2 tsp of salt at the beginning and topped it off with a little more salt when they were setting up to cool. Honestly INCREDIBLE! Thank you so much for the recipe and for detailed instructions!

      1. I plan to wrap in wax paper individually, place in clear plastic bags and give as gifts. How long do you think they will remain fresh when in a cooler room temperature place? I wanted to estimate when I should make them based on when I plan to deliver them. .

        1. 5 stars
          Best caramel recipe I’ve ever tried. It’s my go to now, and thanks to the detailed instructions, I always get caramels and not caramel sauce… my advice to anyone giving these away as gifts (like I do) wrap in PARCHMENT PAPER not wax paper. I use a buttered sharp knife to cut them but they still need wrapped in parchment not wax… unless you dip them in chocolate then you can use whatever.

  62. Will warming the evaporated milk up before adding to the pan help? Let say by warming in the jug in a microwave? Thanks

  63. I am making a Carmel apple pie for thx giving and I was wondering do u think I could use this 1/2 c. In the apple pie?

  64. 5 stars
    This worked very well to make caramels and I was pretty pleased with myself until I used it for dipping pretzels. I let it cool about ten to fifteen minutes and it was very thick so I couldn’t get an even coating. A number of pretzels broke. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find thinker pretzels like Snyder’s at the store. I want to try again, but not until I find stronger pretzels. I’m wondering if I would have been more successful if I didn’t allow the caramel to get to 240 degrees, the soft ball stage. I did the ice water trick as you suggested. Maybe 230 degrees or less. Looking for your advice. Thank you for a wonderful, detailed set of instructions.

    1. you must have doubled the recipe at the top before printing. I changes the amount of ingredients to the batch size, but does not change the information in the ingredient description which is where the (2 cans) is.

      1. 5 stars
        A family friend made these back in the 1970s for the holidays. I WAS HOOKED!
        Have used this recipe for years now and is my favorite treat. I make these in an electric skillet and it works fine using the ice water test.

  65. I am just wondering if caramels can be recooked
    I don’t think I cooked mine long enough and just wondering about recooking the for a while

    1. Hi Erica! Did you use this recipe to make caramel apples? How many caramel apples did it make? How long did you wait for the caramel to cool before you dipped the apples? Did the caramel stay on the apples? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  66. Thanks so much for this recipe! It was delicious!! My daughter has a dairy allergy so I used dairy free butter and coconut evaporated milk as substitutes and it turned out great! First time she’s ever been able to try caramel and she loved it!!

  67. Epic failure, carmels FUSED to the wax paper! What a waste of time and ingredients. Really wish i would have just greased the pan. The spoon i licked tasted good tho.

    1. You can’t use wax paper to line the pan–only PARCHMENT paper. I’m so sorry that happened! I only use wax paper to wrap individual caramels after they are already made and cold.

      1. I used parchment paper and mine are sticking also. I wonder if i didn’t cook it long enough? I cooked for almost an hour. Or cod they not be cold enough?

  68. 3 stars
    I’ve made this recipe about 5 times. The first two came out perfectly. The past 3 times i’ve made it though its been a crap shoot. The first of the three never fully set for me to cut it (i assume because there was too much liquid still in it?), the second became rock solid and wouldn’t break even when i hit it on the counter(too much liquid cooked out?), and now i’m waiting for a batch to cool but this time there is a line of oil on top. I’ve always bought the same brand of ingredients and cooked it the same way. I understand theres gonna be a bit of variety from time to time but i am beyond confused. I’ve tried different types of thermometers and the ice water trick. any help please i beg my friends all love these and i keep trying to make them happy but am disappointed in myself!

    1. This sounds like a cooking temp problem. If you get the mixture too hot, it will get into the soft or hard Crack stage and will shatter apart. If it’s not cooked hot enough, it will be more runny and won’t solidify! Did you use a candy thermometer?

    2. You To make sure that the humidity is not high outside if the humidity is high your caramels will not turn out so you can do everything right but if your humidity is over 50% say even 70 it’s not gonna work so no snow no rain they’ll turn off

  69. 4 stars
    I’m trying these with half white and half brown sugar. I want to try sending them in care packages to my boys in the Navy. Suggestions on how to pack them where they’ll stay fresh? Thank you!

    1. Whole bunch of popcorn for a little salt in my side when it’s cool pack the caramels in them in the box then the boys will have Popcorn too.

  70. 1 star
    This works better with heavy cream than evaporated milk and refrigerator for caramel s is a huge no. They need to sit 8-12 hrs at room temp before cutting and wrapping so they set properly. Rushing this with a refrigerator shortens their lifespan. When you do it right you can have candy kept at room temp in an airtight container for WEEKS. Refrigeration makes them weep and granulate.

  71. 5 stars
    I give this a 5 star on taste alone!
    So much better than store bought! I did however not cook mine long enough. I took the temp to 245 using my candy thermometer but the result is still a tad too soft. I had to freeze it slightly in order to cut into pieces and now we are eating it right out of the freezer. They get too soft and sticky from the fridge. Next time I’ll cook a bit longer. The taste is out of this world though!
    Question: do u think i could melt some with a bit of cream to make a dip for apples and for drizzling over my homemade brownies? Would that work or will it ruin the texture?

  72. 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.

    1. Hi is there any dairy free substitute for evaporated milk? – butter I can use but wondering if I can use coconut cream or something instead of evaporated milk?
      Thanks so much

  73. 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.

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

      1. WORD LAUREN! Seriously deranged?

        * Since when is using the INGREDIENTS Karo syrup & Eagle SCM not making something “from scratch”?
        I’d just LOVE to hear your complete alternative recipe, Barb. Please share it with us folks whose Grandmothers & Great Grandmothers have al been wrong. I’m totally interested in your from scratch recipe for caramels.

        All this with Love & Light

  75. 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.

  76. 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

  77. 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?

  78. 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!

  79. 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…

  80. 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.

  81. 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

  82. 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?

  83. 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!

  84. 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

  85. 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!

  86. 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!

  87. 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!

  88. 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.

  89. 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.

  90. 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?

  91. 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.

  92. 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??

  93. 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!?

  94. 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.

  95. 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!

  96. 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

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

  99. 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!

  100. 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!

  101. 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).

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

  104. 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 ! 🙂

  105. 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! 🙂

  106. 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 !!

  107. 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!

  108. 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.

  109. 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!

  110. 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

  111. 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

  112. 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!

  113. 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!

  114. 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?

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. 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..

  118. 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!

  119. 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?

  120. 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.

  121. 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!

  122. 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!

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

  124. 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.

      1. Thanks for this tip. My first attempt at this tonight. Old le cruset soup pot enameled inside. No thermometer. Gas stove dialed up to about 2.1 must have been a bit too high a medium. All seemed to go as described but at about the 50 minute mark I knew I had to stop. Doing the water test was difficult interpreting consistency and meaning. Anyway it was obvious after 15 to 20 minutes on parchment I’d gone too far. Just tried reheat with cream and now I’m in the two hour club. It sure improved things, time will tell to what extent.

  125. 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?

  126. 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!

  127. 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!!!

  128. 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!

  129. 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!

  130. 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?

  131. 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.

  132. 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.

  133. 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!)

  134. 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!

  135. 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.

  136. 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.

    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.

  137. 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!

  138. 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.

  139. 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!

  140. 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.

  141. 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 ++ ?

  142. 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.

  143. 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!!

  144. 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?

  145. 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!

  146. 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.

  147. 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.

  148. 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.

  149. 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.

  150. 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!

  151. 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.

  152. 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.

  153. 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!

  154. 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.

  155. 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.!

  156. 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.

  157. 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!

  158. 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!

  159. 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!

  160. 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.

  161. 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.

  162. 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?

  163. 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!

  164. 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

  165. 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).

  166. 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”.

  167. 5 stars
    holy cow you can’t believe so delicious best caramel you have ever eaten except for the ones I just made hahaha

  168. 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!

  169. 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!!!!

  170. 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.)

  171. 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.

  172. 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 🙂

  173. 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!

  174. 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

  175. 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!

  176. 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!

  177. 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!

  178. 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?

  179. 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!

  180. 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.

  181. 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.

  182. 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!

  183. 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.

  184. 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.

  185. 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!

  186. 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.

  187. 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 🙂

  188. 5 stars
    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.

  189. 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!

  190. 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 and the other is Rocky road fudge

  191. 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. 🙂

  192. 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!

  193. 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).

  194. 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.

  195. 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.

  196. 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…

  197. 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.

    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.

  198. 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!!

  199. 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.

  200. 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 🙁