Foolproof No-Stir Homemade Caramels {With Step-by-Step Tutorial}

Foolproof Caramels Recipe

Although I have several caramel recipes here that I really quite adore, I was so, so happy when my Aunt Marilyn passed on this foolproof, no-stir caramel recipe to me a few weeks ago. (I actually asked her about it in my quest to make about a bazillion caramel apples, and in the process, it kind of stepped in as my new go-to caramels recipe for literally everything caramel.)

I’ve never made an easier caramel recipe and I really mean that. Other than gently combining the first set of ingredients as they begin to melt (and then stirring in the vanilla at the very, very end), it truly is no-stir throughout the cooking, caramelizing process which means you don’t have to sit and babysit the caramel while it cooks. I mean, don’t go off and start that new DIY doghouse you found on Pinterest or anything, but you can certainly unload the dishwasher and help child A and B with their homework while the caramel bubbles away.

The trick is to use a heavy-bottom saucepan (nothing fancy; my old school Farberware set is plenty good for the task) and moderate the heat of your stove so that the mixture maintains a simmer without burning. If you turn down the heat and the caramel stops simmering, simply increase the heat little by little until a good simmer is reached and then leave it there. You’ll be good to go.

Foolproof Caramels Recipe

These caramels are rich and creamy and perfect. I’ve made them at least a dozen times in the last couple weeks (don’t ask why; I fully recognize that’s way too much caramel for any normal person) and I’m sold. Fantastic, perfect recipe.

You will need a candy thermometer; my favorite one is this electronic model. I’ve been using it for years and it still cooks at the right temperature (because, you know, that’s kind of important) and it hasn’t failed me yet. It will vary slightly, but if you are wondering on timing, I’d say plan on about 45 minutes to an hour to make the caramels start to finish (not counting the cooling time).

I included a little step-by-step tutorial below the recipe. So what are you waiting for! Go make some caramels already!

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Foolproof No-Stir Homemade Caramels

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided (meaning, you’ll add half at the beginning and half later)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Line an 8X8-inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, salt, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup of the cream. Over low heat, warm the ingredients until the butter is melted. Gently stirring during this part is ok to help combine the ingredients – just take care not to stir too vigorously and splash the liquid high up on the sides of the pan; also, take care to use low heat for this step. Too high of heat can cause the ingredients to melt unevenly and cause the butter to separate.
  3. Once the ingredients are warmed and melted, increase the heat to medium-low (I keep my stovetop dial between a 3 and 4 the entire time; each stove is different so just keep an eye on the heat). Because these are no-stir caramels, too high of heat will burn the ingredients on the bottom. Moderate the heat of your stove so that the mixture maintains a simmer without burning. If you turn down the heat and the caramel stops simmering, simply increase the heat little by little until a good simmer is reached and then leave it there. You’ll be good to go.
  4. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 236 degrees F. Pour in the remaining 1 cup cream. Gently swirl the caramel once or twice with a wooden spoon or spatula to incorporate.
  5. Again, bring the mixture to a simmer (don’t adjust the heat to sharply – I keep mine set the same as before) and cook until the thermometer registers 245 degrees F.
  6. Off the heat, carefully stir in the vanilla. It will bubble; just like before, just gently swirl with a spoon or spatula.
  7. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared pan – don’t scrape the sides, just tip the pan until no more drizzles out. Let the pan of caramels cool completely at room temperature before cutting into pieces.
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Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my Aunt Marilyn (added a bit of salt, decreased the cooking time just slightly)
caramels collage