Save Recipe

Sign in and save recipe to your profile.

Sign In
Get free recipes sent straight into your inbox!

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!

Caramels with salt on top.

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).

  • Storage Instructions:

    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.

A bite taken out of a caramel.

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.

Caramels with salt on top.
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!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  • Butter a 9x13 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 9x13 pan.
  • Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Wrap in pieces of wax paper for individual servings if desired.
Notes
Don't have a candy thermometer? 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, then when it is removed, it should flatten. 
Serving size is based on cutting caramels into 1-inch squares. A 9x13-inch pan will produce approximately 117 1-inch squares. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 48kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 18mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Homemade Caramels
Subscribe
Notify of
14 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 15, 2020 8:42 am

Oh my gosh I am going to make these. What’s better than a good Carmel? I just love you everything is easy to make and so yummy. Girl you rock keep us happy.

December 8, 2020 4:10 pm

Caramels my favorite I can’t wait to try this. Thank you so much!

Pamela Willis-Tozier
December 22, 2020 8:35 am

5 stars
So good! I made these as my first Christmas goodie and they turned out really good. chewy and sweet, nice texture! I should have added more salt on top and whatever you do, do not refrigerate before cutting them unless you have a chainsaw 🙂 Once back at room temperature, i was able to cut and wrap. I will be sending these to family and friends ’tis the season

Constance Sorgen
December 9, 2020 1:23 pm

Every thing I try from this site is terrific! Thank you for so many inspiring recipes and fun videos!💖

Laura Wendland
December 13, 2020 2:26 pm

I put chopped pecans on bottom of the pan. Amazing turnout! Best recipe by far.

Pranav Koimattur
December 11, 2020 7:52 pm

5 stars
I usually don’t make reviews only ANY recipe, but if I am being honest here this was so DELICOUS! My family doesn’t like caramel..but this? Yes! Thank you! Will try to make more recipes. 🙂

Kari Wenzel
December 10, 2020 3:04 pm

I just made these and I think they turned out … gotta wait for them too cool. I did run my candy thermometer under cold water and scrapped a bit off and it taste amazing and didn’t seem to hard or soft. I tried making caramels a few years ago (not this super easy recipe) and it turned out like hard candy. So I’m very excited to have cooled to see how this one turns out!! Thank you so much for sharing everything that you do with us and the easy to follow videos. I will be going to the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Kari Wenzel
Linda Barnhart
January 9, 2021 12:06 pm

5 stars
This caramel recipe is so simple and absolutely the best texture of any I’ve ever tried. I got lots of compliments at Christmas time.
This is the first site I come to when I’m looking for something. Never, ever disappoints me.

Pam
January 3, 2021 2:44 pm

I tried this recipe to give as gifts and my family raved about them. They couldn’t believe I made them. I went by the softball stage. Thanks for such a great recipe.

Kathleen Hedges
December 22, 2020 5:34 pm

5 stars
Made these cause I love Carmel. I love these. All my friends love them too. Now it’s on my List to make all year around

Kim Anderson
December 17, 2020 10:32 am

5 stars
I’ve never made caramels before and this recipe was easy to follow!
I put them in my Christmas Goodie Bags for friends and neighbors and everyone is raving about them! Thank you so much!

Kristina P.
December 15, 2020 8:19 am

These were amazing! The texture is perfectly soft and creamy, and yes, the brown sugar is the secret to that wonderful flavor. I’m at sea level, so I went to about 241-242 degrees. They turned out PERFECT! I included them in our gift baskets to colleagues. This is a new holiday favorite for sure. Next I’m going to try Laura Wendland’s idea of putting chopped nuts on the bottom. Yum!

Richard Waggoner
December 9, 2020 11:02 pm

Made these tonight. They have very good flavor. I must have done something wrong though because they are a little too greasy. I went to 240 on the thermometer, maybe I should have gone a little higher or perhaps I buttered the pan to heavily?

Debby
December 9, 2020 6:25 pm

Made this today, and all I can say is, DELICIOUS!! I have made several of your recipes and have never been disappointed. Thank you!😊

Become a Member

Sign up to save recipes in you recipe book, write reviews and more!

Sign up with

By signing up you agree to thestayathomechef.com's terms of use and privacy policy.