If you can stir, you can make Grandma’s Homemade Caramels! These are soft, chewy, and so easy to make. We’ve even included instructions on how to make caramels without a candy thermometer!
Homemade caramels are meant for enjoying in this cold, blustery weather. We’ve always had a soft spot for caramel, even the hard kind wrapped in foil that everyone’s grandparents always seemed to have on hand. While store bought caramels are good in a pinch, nothing is quite as comforting as soft, chewy, homemade caramels.
Some of us were extra lucky and had grandparents who made caramels from scratch! Making caramels today really takes us back to the good old days of spending a day off of school with family, and helping in the kitchen; frilly aprons on, flour and butter everywhere, baking Christmas cookies, homemade fudge, and especially caramels. If you’ve never experienced homemade caramels, this is a must make recipe for you. Trust us, your life will never be the same.
Candy Thermometer: Optional?
Don’t have a candy thermometer? Our grandparents didn’t either! You can determine if your caramel is ready the old fashioned way. Fill a drinking glass or bowl with cold water. Add in just a drop of the caramel from the pan on the stove. For the soft-ball stage, the caramel should form a small round ball in the cold water. When it is removed from the water, the caramel should flatten.
Do I have to use corn syrup in caramels?
Corn syrup is an invert sugar. Invert sugars inhibit the formation of crystals giving you smooth and creamy caramels every time. If you don’t have corn syrup or don’t want to use corn syrup, you can always make your own homemade invert sugar using sugar, water, and an acid (usually cream of tartar or citric acid). If you need to replace the corn syrup in this recipe, you’ll want to use another invert sugar that will also prevent crystalization, including:
Once your caramels are wrapped in wax paper, they should last approximately 2 weeks at room temperature if stored in a ziptop bag or airtight canister. If you made a large batch, store wrapped caramels in a freezer safe bag to freeze for up to 6 months. Allow time to thaw completely before eating.
If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious holiday dessert recipes:
Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.
Grandma’s Homemade Caramels
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Butter a 9×13 pan well to coat. Set aside
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, pour in sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, and brown sugar.
- Use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until it starts to simmer, scraping the sides and bottom regularly.
- Once simmering, continue at a constant simmer, stirring constantly until caramel reaches the softball stage of 235 and 245 F, with higher elevations using the lower temperature range, and lower elevations using the upper end of the range.
- At the soft-ball stage, immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt. Pour caramel into the prepared 9×13 pan.
- Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Wrap in pieces of wax paper for individual servings if desired.