Homemade Caramels are soft, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth candies, that are the perfect treat for guests or gift-giving. With just a few staple ingredients and a bit of time, creating homemade candy has never been easier. If you are searching for amazing dessert recipes, look no further than our classic, homemade chocolate chip cookies!

Homemade Caramels on parchment paper, from overhead.

How to Test Temperatures Without a Thermometer

No thermometer? No problem. You can use the cold water test. To get the perfect soft caramel texture, cook the sugar syrup until it reaches the “soft ball” stage. As the syrup heats up, water evaporates, making it more concentrated. When the syrup reaches 240°F, it will form a soft, flexible ball when dropped into cold water. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, this cold water test is a reliable way to check if your syrup is ready.

Understanding Candy Temperatures

Knowing the temperature stages can make your first candy-making experience smoother:

  • Thread Stage (230˚-235˚F): Syrup-like consistency, ideal for drizzle over desserts.
  • Soft-Ball Stage (235˚-240˚F): Perfect for soft caramels and fudge.
  • Firm-Ball Stage (245˚-250˚F): Slightly firmer caramels.
  • Hard-Ball Stage (250˚-265˚F): Great for rock candy or gummies.
  • Soft-Crack Stage (270˚-290˚F): Best for taffy, forming bendable threads.
  • Hard-Crack Stage (300˚-310˚F): Results in brittle toffee.
Homemade Caramels on parchment paper.

Storage Tips for Homemade Caramels

Proper storage ensures your homemade caramels stay fresh and delicious. Here are some tips to keep them at their best:

  • Cool, Dry Place: Store caramels in a cool, dry place to prevent them from melting or becoming too soft. Avoid areas with high humidity or direct sunlight.
  • Airtight Containers: Use airtight containers to protect caramels from moisture and air exposure. This helps maintain their texture and flavor.
  • Individually Wrapped: Wrap each caramel piece in wax paper to prevent them from sticking together. This also makes them easy to grab for a quick treat.
  • Refrigeration: If you live in a warm climate or prefer firmer caramels, store them in the refrigerator. Make sure they are in an airtight container to avoid absorbing any odors from other foods.
  • Freezing: For long-term storage, you can freeze caramels. Wrap them individually in wax paper, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature before enjoying.


Experimenting with different variations can elevate your homemade caramels to a new level. For a gourmet twist, dip the caramels in dark chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt for an extra touch of flavor. You can also try adding different extracts like almond or peppermint, or mix in nuts, dried fruits, or spices to create unique and delicious combinations. These variations make your caramels perfect for gifting or enjoying as a special treat.

Homemade Caramels on parchment paper.

Homemade Caramels

Prep Time 12 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 27 minutes
Indulge in soft, melt-in-your-mouth caramels with our easy recipe. Includes a gourmet dark chocolate twist and storage tips


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and set it aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and ¼ cup of cream. Stir continuously and bring to a boil.
  • While continuing to stir, add the remaining cream. Insert a candy thermometer and keep stirring as the mixture heats to the soft ball stage, around 240°F. The sugar syrup will become transparent and boil rapidly.
  • When the mixture reaches 240°F, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into the prepared baking pan.
  • While the caramel is still warm, use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles that rise to the surface. Let the caramel cool overnight.
  • Once cooled, use a thin knife or small offset spatula to loosen the caramel block from the pan. Transfer the block to a cutting board and cut it into your desired size and shape. Wrap each piece individually in wax paper if desired.


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