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+ servings
one caramel cube on parchment paper

Meaningful Eats

Soft, Buttery Homemade Caramels

Soft, buttery homemade caramels! A tried-and-true recipe you'll want to make every Christmas. Hundreds of reviewers agree these are the most delicious homemade soft caramels around!
This post was originally published in 2012. It has been updated with new step-by-step photos but the recipe is still the same treasured recipe from an old church cookbook.
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 80 servings


  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter 1 cup
  • 2 cups white corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 12 oz. cans evaporated milk


  • Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Melt the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. (A stainless steel pot works best for these caramels.)
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the evaporated milk a little at a time, taking 10-15 minutes per can and stirring constantly. A labor of love indeed.
  • Once all the milk is added use a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to 238F-240F and not any hotter! Even a few degrees hotter will make them chewy instead of soft. (This will take another 15 minutes or so!) I highly recommend double checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer as it comes to temperature.
  • Immediately pour into the prepared pan and cool completely. (Once the caramels are cool - I recommend freezing them for 20-30 minutes before slicing. Or you can refrigerate them for a few hours. You don't want them to be frozen solid, but if they're cold this helps the caramels hold their shape when cutting/wrapping.) Cut and serve. Enjoy!



Optional but delicious: I also love adding the seeds of a vanilla bean to these caramels. Just add scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod and add them in with the sugar. They're also delicious topped with some flaky sea salt.
I like to individually wrap these caramels in pre-cut wrappers from Amazon. From there, you can store them in an airtight container or in a candy jar. I like to store them in the fridge. They will last several weeks!
  • Testing the temperature: The most important part of making homemade caramels is to be sure they come up to the right temperature. For soft caramels 238F is the perfect temperature. I like to use a candy thermometer while I’m stirring/cooking the caramels then MOST IMPORTANTLY double check the temperature with an instant thermometer. Be sure to check the temperature in the middle of the caramel mixture! If the thermometer is touching the bottom of the pan the temperature won't be correct.
  • Use a stainless steel pot if possible! These caramels turn out much butter when made in a stainless steel pot (as opposed to an enameled Dutch Oven).


Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 39mg | Potassium: 15mg | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 14mg