Homemade Caramels -You’ll be spoiled!


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When I was a little girl we had a little store in our neighborhood which we all called “the store around the corner”. I don’t even know if it had a name other than that but kids from all over would ride their bicycles there to get treats on the weekends or pick up a loaf of bread for their mothers. They carried a few grocery staples, cold cokes, and snack cakes, and there was always a passle of bicycles scattered about out front.

I was too young to go by myself but Mama would let me go along if my brother went and I remember peddling as fast as I could to keep up with him, while he peddeled as fast as he could to lose his tag along little sister!

Caramels at that store were one penny each and I’d save my pennies and go spend every single one on them, coming home with a prized brown paper sack full of my favorite treat. I rationed them out, eating one a day, and was convinced that the rest of the world cherished them as much as I did. So, to protect my treasure, I hid them in my blue jean drawer, folding up one pants leg and lining it with caramels to foil any evil plot against them.

You know what is funny? I still ration them out today. But I gotta tell ya, these homemade ones are far better than any caramel I’ve ever had in my life and definitely worthy of a little special treatment. I hope you get to make them soon. They take a little more time but are still incredibly easy and I know you’ll be impressed with yourself when you’re done!

You’ll need: Sugar, Dark Corn Syrup, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Butter or Margarine, Waxed Paper, and Vanilla.

No, you won’t need a gallon of vanilla, just a teaspoon or so but I picked up the big old jug of fake stuff while I was shopping last time because I’m tired of running out. I could just about buy a vat this time of year and know I’d use it all with the baking I do!

I’ve had a lot of folks ask me what color my kitchen is so I went this past weekend to find the color. It is a color by Dutch Boy that I got in the Wal Mart paint department and it is called “Yellow Slip”.

Speaking of Wal Mart, oh my is it crazy this time of year! I’ve decided to try to stay away from there til after Christmas. I’m coming up on almost a week now, can you believe it?

To start with, take an 8×8 pan and line it with aluminum foil.

I prefer the heavy duty stuff for this but if you only have regular foil just go for it.

Now butter that. I just take a stick of butter or margarine and rub it over it for this part.

Margarine works a little better than butter for this in my opinion.

My opinion is a lot like my autograph – that and five bucks’ll get you a cup of coffee :)

To begin with, place corn syrup, sugar, and butter (or margarine) in a medium sauce pot.

You’re going to put that on medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.

Here is our butter starting to melt.

You really really have to stir constantly here so just settle in and get comfy.

Now our butter is melted and it’s still heating up…

Finally boiling! Once it reaches a full boil stop stirring and let it boil for four minutes.

During this time, get you a magazine or a book because the next step is of “stir constantly” is going to take ten forevers…

but it will be worth every second!

After four minutes is up, remove from heat and stir in your sweetened condensed milk.

Return the pot to the stove eye and place it on medium heat.

Here we go with the stir constantly thing again. This time it’s serious ~grins~

That sounds like a movie trailer. How cool would it be if we could get James Earl Jones to narrate a Southern Plate post?

Or Morgan Freeman, he seems like he’d be a really nice guy.

Put your candy thermometer in the pot. Now don’t you be intimidated by a candy thermometer, it really is no big deal.

Just remember, you are bigger than it. It is more scared of you than you are of it.

any of those working for ya?

It has a little clip that clips it right onto the side of the pot and you just have to make sure the bulb end of it is just beneath the surface of your liquid, but not touching the bottom.

We need to cook this to soft ball stage, and that is easy with a candy thermometer because it says right on it “soft ball stage”.

I’ll show you that towards the end so hang with me.

If you’ve never used a candy thermometer, you can buy them on the kitchen gadget aisle for two or three dollars. After you are done using it, just let it cool and then hand wash it and put it up for another day. They are really low maintenance and the key to many homemade candies.

Here it is coming to a boil. I’m stirring, stirring, stirring.

This will take about ten minutes or so. You just stir and watch your thermometer.

You could sing some Christmas songs to help pass the time. I remember when I was little and Mama would condition my hair, she’d put the conditioner on and then we’d sit there and sing a song to give it time to soak in. When we were done singing, it was time to rinse!


This is at soft ball stage.

See where the blue line ends? That is the line that says “soft ball” on the thermometer so we know we’re ready.

Remove from heat.

and look at how gorgeous our caramel looks! oh my goodness, it smells so good!

Pour in your vanilla and give that a good stir.

I found a small bottle that had just enough left in it.

Now pour into your buttered foil lined pan.

This needs to sit a while until the caramel cools some.

I don’t let mine cool all the way though, I start working with it while it is still warm to make it easier.

While we’re waiting on that to cool, cut some sheets of waxed paper.

I tear off a few sheets about eighteen inches long or so.

Then cut each of those sheets into three strips.

and cut each strip into squares (or rectangles, depending on which way the wind blows, I’m not particular)

There, now we got us a little pile.

You’ll need about sixty total but I’ll start with this because I’m tired of messing with it for now

Get you a big old honking knife and start a cutting.

We are really just kind of scoring it because it won’t stay cut.

At this point it is the consistency of taffy so we’re scoring it and then we’ll pull it apart to get ready to wrap.

You wanna make sure your hands are clean for this.

As we pull it apart it will stretch a bit and I just plop it down like little balls on a plate.

These will shape up really well as we wrap them.

For now though, just pull them all into little balls like this and then allow to cool completely. A cookie sheet or large platter or two will be needed.

Once completely cooled, place each one in the center of a piece of waxed paper.

Roll it up and twist the ends

Continue until you are done and you’ll have about sixty pieces of caramel heaven!

Homemade Caramels -You’ll be spoiled!
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter or Margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  1. Line an eight inch square pan with heavy aluminum foil. Butter foil and set aside. In large sauce pot, place sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil slowly for four minutes without stirring and then remove from heat. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Return to medium heat and place candy thermometer in pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until thermometer reads Soft Ball Stage (238 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  2. Pour into prepared pan. Allow to cool until able to handle. Cut into one inch squares and place each square (which will look like a blob at this point) onto a cookie sheet or platter to cool completely.
  3. Once cooled, place each in the center of a wax paper square, roll up and twist ends. **Update-Some folks have had problems with caramels sticking to the wrapping papers. We've played with this recipe and discovered that letting caramels cool completely before wrapping solves this problem. This happened on my last batch before I realized I should let them cool, but being the trooper I am I ate them anyway!;) SOO GOOD!

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  1. Louise says

    I used to buy my caramels at Fannie Mae Caramel shops in Northern Virginia when I lived there. Now I’m living in Spain and am excited to make my first caramels. Going to give them as Christmas presents here and the Spanish people don’t know caramels as we do. Have been here six years and in my travels never found soft, creamy caramels!!

    Some one mentioned in their review above that they should let the caramels cool before wrapping. When do you cut them — while they are cooling or perhaps after cooling over night?

    Also, I want my caramels to be really soft, not hard to chew, kind of like melt in your mouth. At what temp. should I stop?

    Thanks so much. Cross your fingers for me…

  2. Judy Roberts says

    I have tried many times to make caramels without success. I found this recipe while searching online for caramel recipes. The instructions were very detailed so I thought I would try to make them. They were very easy to make and I had them done in no time. They were absolutely delicious. I loved them. They are the best I have ever eaten. You are right, Christy. Once you make these you will be spoiled and will never use a different recipe. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  3. Michelle A. says

    I love this recipe, tastes awesome. One major problem: it comes out really greasy at the end. Any suggestions? I follow the instructions to a tee, but still they are always greasy. Can I cut back on the butter?

  4. Autumn says

    I just made these to use in a snickers bar recipe instead of buying a bag of caramels and they worked absolutely PERFECT!!! They are delicious and just hard enough that they don’t run all over, but soft enough to be really chewy and delicious. thanks so much for this recipe!

  5. Ellen says

    Thanks for this great recipe! I adjusted it a little ’cause I didn’t have corn syrup. I used 2/3 cup agave syrup instead, used soy margarine and added a pinch of salt. Perfect! What makes it even more perfect: throw in (a lot!) of sesame seeds, delicious together with the taste of caramel.

  6. Debbie says

    Oh my goodness…I just made a batch and it came out perfect!!! After attempting to do the caramel apple wedges from another recipe last week that were an epic fail! I was skeptical that these would turn into a crystallized mess. Thank~you for restoring my faith!

  7. Fiona says

    Christy, thank you so much for graciously sharing your recipe! I have made these for my family and sprinkled some sea salt on some of them, they were so good!! However, I found them greasy too, the question is, should I drop it to just 200 grams only? Also, I was wondering how to get them to cut through into squares perfectly?!

  8. Dan says

    All I can say WOW.
    These caramel chews are very tasty! you can’t stop at one.I made them twice so far. The second time I made them I ran a little short on syrup so I used a little maple syrup and use maple instead vanilla. My family loved it….
    I also let it cool completely in the pan then cut it into squares. cuts very easy.
    Thank you keep up the good work.

  9. Rebecca says

    I made these once, they came out BEYOND sticky. they were delicious but they STUCK… TO… EVERYTHING. How can I describe how sticky they were? I buttered a pan, put them in the pan, and they were sticky. so I stuck them in the freezer. For a week. And they were still gluey. What did I do wrong?

    • says

      Sounds like they needed to get a little bit higher in temp. There are a lot of factors in every kitchen that could affect the actual temperature reading so if I were you, I think I’d shoot for about 10-15 degrees higher just to be safe.


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