These Homemade Caramels are definitely my favorite caramel. They make your house smell amazing and they taste like Christmas to our family!
A True Christmas Tradition
We have so many Christmas memories of wrapping these homemade caramels in wax paper for our neighbors. The house would smell like sweet caramel, the kitchen would be covered in pots and bowls, Christmas music would be playing… and we would be cutting up pieces of wax paper and wrapping these caramels like elves in Santa’s sweet shoppe. Of course when our mom wasn’t looking we would pop one or two (one less to wrap and a quick sweet treat — win-win). We always looked forward to making homemade caramels each year when we were little, and now our own kids look forward to it too! It is a true family tradition that has made its way through generations.
Easy Homemade Caramels
These homemade caramels are definitely my favorite when it comes to caramels, nothing else even compares. Plus, they are SO easy. You can even memorize the recipe by heart. It only takes 4 ingredients and 2 of everything (2 sticks, 2 cups…)! It is SO easy to memorize! My mom doesn’t even have this recipe written down – she knows it by heart (we all do) and it is perfect EVERY time. All you have to do is remember:
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups Karo (corn) syrup
Homemade Caramels Without A Candy Thermometer
We recommend using a candy thermometer for this recipe, but if you don’t have a candy thermometer or are just old-school, you can always do the “soft ball stage test”. Using a clean spoon, carefully take a little of the cooked caramel and drop it into the bowl of very cold water. Reach into the bowl with your hands and see if the caramel can be molded into a soft ball. If it’s pliable and soft, the caramel has reached the soft ball stage (234 – 240 degrees F).
How To Make Salted Caramels
If you are wanting to take the traditional homemade recipe just one step further, try stirring a splash of vanilla in with the caramel before pouring it into the pan. Then sprinkle some pink Hawaiian sea salt or coarse Kosher salt over the top after you have poured it into the pan and it has cooled for about 15 minutes. That way the salt will stick to the top and not get absorbed into the caramel. SO GOOD.
How to Wrap Caramels
The easiest way to wrap homemade caramels is to wait until they are mostly cooled before cutting them into pieces. I have found that they are easiest to wrap when they have reached room temp. Cut the caramels with a sharp knife (or scissors) into approximately 1″ x 1 1/2″ pieces and wrap them in wax paper appx. 3″x3″. Wrapping them diagonally to get full coverage, and then twisting the ends to seal them.
More Ways To Use This Caramel Recipe:
- Caramel Apples- Place cold apples on a candy stick and dip into the caramel while it is still hot. Place on wax paper and allow to cool. If the caramel mixture is too thin, allow it to cool for another minute before dipping again.
- Chocolate Dipped Caramels – After caramels have cooled, dip in melted chocolate and allow to harden. Wrap and refrigerate.
- Dipped Caramel Pretzel Bites– Place a homemade caramel between two pretzels and dip in chocolate. These are a HUGE crowd pleaser!
Your Homemade Caramels Questions, Answered:
Q. My caramels are too soft! What went wrong?
A. Your caramels didn’t get up to the correct temperature. It need to be 240-degrees F before removing from the pan. You can place the caramel back in the pan and re-heat to bring up to temperature if needed.
Q. Are Homemade Caramels Gluten Free?
A. YES! These homemade caramels can be enjoyed by those with gluten allergies or requiring a gluten-free diet.
Q. Do homemade caramels need to be refrigerated?
A. No, they can cool to room temperature and remain at room temperature after being cut and wrapped.
Q. How long do homemade caramels last?
A. Up to 3 weeks at room temperature. Just keep in an airtight contained to keep moisture out.
Q. Can homemade caramels be frozen?
A. YES. After wrapping the caramels individually (so they don’t stick together) place them in a Freezer zip-top bag and freeze for up to 6 months. To thaw, just place at room temperature for a couple hours until soft and ready to eat.
Christmas Candy Recipes
We LOVE all the candy recipes around Christmastime. Here are more of our favorites:
- Traditional Chocolate Covered Cherries
- Ritz Dipped Cookies
- Dipped Caramel Pretzel Bites
- Copycat See’s Fudge
How to Make Homemade Caramels
- Combine all ingredients in a large pan.
- Stir and bring to a boil and continue boiling until candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees.
- Pour into a large, greased cookie sheet and cool.
- Once cooled cut into bite size squares and wrap in wax paper.