Homemade Sea Salt Caramels

These are amazing caramels!

When Caitlin and I were in San Francisco last month, we stopped in the Ferry Building along the Embarcadero.  It was around 11:00 a.m. and, even though had lunch plans in an hour, we thought it would be fun to wander through the marketplace.  We shared a sorbet from the Ciao Bella stand and then went across the hall to a small food store to find (something else) to hold me over until lunch.

At the checkout stand, there was a tin bin, filled with several varieties of caramels.  I can’t remember the different kinds, but I do know that we grabbed two or three to have “later.”

When we had gone to Santa Fe, I posted a cornbread recipe inspired by that trip.  After sampling the sourdough at Boudin Bakery, I thought it would be fun to try to make my own sourdough.  Unfortunately, creating the sourdough starter seemed a little intimidating.  So, subsequent thoughts turned towards our trip through the Ferry Building.  And that’s when I settled on these caramels.

These caramels were really easy to make and turned out so well.  They turned out so well, in fact, that I decided it was not safe to keep all twenty of them in my apartment.  The morning I rolled them, I promptly went to the Post Office and mailed Caitlin half of them, knowing that her will-power vastly exceeded my own!

Homemade sea salt caramels

PREP TIME: Requires a few hours of cooling
COOK TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: 16 to 20 Caramels

WHAT TO GRAB:
Vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

HOW YOU DO IT:

1.  Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.  Lightly brush the paper with the vegetable oil.

2.  In a small pot, bring the cream, butter, and one teaspoon of the sea salt to a simmer, over medium heat.  Do not let it boil.  Once it has reached a simmer, turn off the heat, and set it aside.

3.  In a deep saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar.  Over medium-high heat, stir only until the sugar has dissolved.  Then allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until the mixture is a warm, golden brown.  Watch very carefully, as the caramel can burn quickly toward the end.  (It can be helpful to use a wooden spoon and drip some of the caramel onto a white plate to gauge the exact color).

4.  When the sugar mixture is done, remove it from the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture.  Be careful because it will bubble up violently.  Stir in the vanilla.

5.  Return the mixture to the heat and cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees (firm ball), about 10 minutes.  Pour the caramel into the prepared pan.  (Don’t scrape the pot).  Refrigerate for a few hours, until firm.

6.  Remove the caramel from the refrigerator and allow it to come close to room temperature.  Pry the caramel from the pan.  On a cutting board, cut the square in half.  Using parchment paper, roll each piece of caramel into a tight 8- to 10-inch log.  Sprinkle the logs with sea salt.  Cut each log into 3/4-inch or 1-inch pieces.  Individually wrap each caramel in glassine or parchment paper, twisting the ends.  Store in the refrigerator or in an air-tight container.

169 responses to “Homemade Sea Salt Caramels

  1. I LOVED these!! And they were such a sweet (and salty) reminder to me of our wonderful trip!

  2. I’m glad you liked them!

  3. These look awesome. They are so expensive at most places you find them so making them yourself is a great idea! Of course that just means you eat more which may not be such a good idea lol. Mailing them to a friend works though.

  4. Can’t wait to try these. I tried another recipe earlier this week and failed – your post has shown me the steps and tips that they failed to mention. Great work!

  5. Ive been dying to make my own caramels lately, and yours look so gorgeous i think you have given me the final push i needed! I love how clear your photos are too, beaaauutiful :)

  6. Wow! Those caramels look gorgeous! I love the sprinkle of sea salt on top as well. Yum!

  7. Seems easy enough… and I love salted caramel! I’m going to save this recipe so I can make these at Christmastime. Very special!

  8. Wow! I recently watched The Barefoot Contessa make these on her show and now seeing them again reminds me that I HAVE to make them. I’m scared of making my own candies, but the flavor might overpower my fear!

  9. You could melt some dark chocolate and cover the bottom of the prepared pan, when you pour the caramel over it, it’ll give your candies a chocolate bottom, After a bit in the fridge they’ll come out right off.

  10. Ooh — these look delicious. Thanks for the recipe and pretty pictures. I recently made marshmallows, which helped demystify candy making a little bit. This looks like a good next project! The Golden Gate photo is lovely, too.

  11. These look amazing. I’m always afraid to delve into candy-making, but this post may have inspired me!

  12. salt + caramel = amazing.

    I need to get some of these in my mouth. quickly.

  13. Oh my gosh, that looks sooo good! I’ll have to try this!

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  15. Roger hazeldine

    Here in Thailand sea salt is at the road side ,collected directly from the sea which is directly behind their stall. True sea salt and sand.
    Your caramel was truly enjoyable. I used vanilla fresh out of the pods. These where bought from Indonesia directly. Thanks for your sharing and caring nature, JACK BLACK , living in Khao Yai. 200 miles north of Bangkok.

  16. Bookmarked!! Can’t wait to make these!!

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  18. My husband is allergic to corn. Is there a good substitute for the corn syrup in this recipe? Would maple syrup work? These look so yummy and I’d love to make them so we could both enjoy the salty sweetness. Thanks!

  19. I’ve got them chilling in the fridge as I type – a taste test proved them delicious! Only thing was it took closer to 30 minutes to hit 248F than 10 minutes at medium low heat.

  20. These caramels look great, I can’t wait to try them out.

  21. Anonymous,
    Sorry for the delay. I looked around at some other recipes for sea salt caramels and this seems to be a common question, albeit with no good answers. That said, I would suggest substituting the corn syrup with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water. The mixture will still caramelize as needed. I’m worried that maple syrup may react in an unpredictable way. If you do try this, please report back!

  22. Caramels are my favorite treats. Thanks for sharing!

  23. These look so good! Can you use brown sugar instead?

  24. I Love this. I never knew salt would go so well with caramels. Thanks for the knowledge!!

  25. Oooh. I am making these this weekend.

  26. These sound amazing, and your photos are mouth-watering. Thanks!

  27. Have to try these!!!

  28. looks delicious! my husband would love those!

  29. Wife would approve.

  30. Ahh Caramel! Reminds me of my childhood. These photos look so tasty…I will definitely have to try them.

  31. looks delicious..:-D ill try it..

  32. Yum. I just love the name…sea salt caramels. Looks a lot better than the cheap ones you get at Halloween. :) Thanks for sharing with us.

  33. I am saving this recipe to try later! Thank you for sharing it! :D

  34. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Well deserved, this is a great recipe.

  35. Wow … these look spectacular!
    :)

  36. Mmm…I’m such a sucker for caramel. I’ll take it over chocolate any day of the week! Thanks for making me drool all over the place like a mess.

  37. Homemade! sounds devine and love that you used the sea salt! Congrats on FP!

  38. I’m a huge fan of caramels and noticed in the comments that you were thinking of a substitute for corn syrup. I’ve used agave nectar in the past (equal parts to corn syrup) and it came out perfectly. I also just tried another batch using this recipe but substituting the agave for brown rice syrup (both readily available at Whole Foods), the results were fantastic both times and I would highly recommend both of them to people looking to avoid corn syrup.

    http://klutzychef.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/fleur-de-sel-agave-caramels/

  39. yum, these look delish! :)

  40. Looks good! I’ve tried making caramel (with help) before and it didn’t turn out so well…We made marshmallows instead (not too difficult by the way). Perhaps I’ll give this caramel thing another try.

  41. Wow, these look like they turned out fantastic! I have always had the worst luck with caramels — I’ve made them about 4 times, but I’ve always messed them up one way or another. Got to keep trying though — this recipe may be next!

    Halie

  42. I can’t wait to try these, Trader Joes made sea salt caramels a few years ago but stopped. I have been telling people about them and now I can make some, thanks so much

  43. oh man, oh man… i can’t wait to try this out! awesome post!

  44. Delicious stuff!

  45. Cannot wait to get my braces off so I can have these!!!! They look sooooo delicious!!! :)

  46. Congratulations on being post of the day! My sisters and I have a food blog; I’m a lawyer, my sister is a lawyer and also a judicial clerk, and my other sister is married to a lawyer. I love caramel by the way. So in short, glad to have discovered your blog!

  47. I am def going to have to make these.

  48. Beautiful! I have to make these!

  49. This looks like a very easy and delicious recipe. I love caramel, and with the addition of crunchy bits of sea salt…heaven!

  50. I made these a long time ago and actively refrain from making them again because they are like crack. I can’t stop eating them. That said, these pictures are seriously tempting me again….

  51. They sound so delicious and easy to make! I’ll have to put these on my list of “must try” recipes!

  52. YESSSSS. Can’t WAIT to make these!!

  53. These loose saltysious and delicious too! Thanks for your post.

    Delali

    http://gadel.info

  54. Wow… these look delish! Your photos are great.

    Thanks for sharing, and congrats on FP! Love your site!

  55. Hello there :) I was wondering, as peculiar as this might sound, how you went about wrapping them up as you did in that there top-most picture. It’s silly, really, but I shall attempt to defend this request by repeating that old phrase, that they (whoever “they” is/are) say “you eat with your eyes, too”. They look beautiful all wrapped and twisted and such… Thanks in advance: this is the first blog I’ve ever done a “like” on: I hope nothing bad happens :D

  56. I think I just found another project to do with my son…..yummy!!!!!

  57. Love this recipe and your photos…..Scoops Ice Cream in LA (voted #1 ice cream in the world) has this flavored ice cream. Yum!

  58. these look fantastic! I must try this recipe.

  59. Jacob,
    I wrapped the caramels in small squares of parchment paper, about 4 inches by 4 inches. Just fold the parchment paper over the caramels, and then twist the ends a few times. It’s as simple as that.

  60. Short list o’ ingrediants and easy to read and execute directions. Thanks for postin’ these! Liked for future usage ^_^

  61. These look so mouth watering!
    Thanks to Klutzychef! I was going to try the brown rice syrup fro corn syrup (not the healthiest stuff) and sub out coconut milk for cream and soy butter for the buitter to make it truly vegan. Can’t wait to try it!

  62. Desperate to try these! I love, love, love salted caramel!

  63. Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to try it, for the upcoming holidays.

  64. These look gourmet and delicious! It’s on my list of recipe to do’s!

  65. Woah I just drooled. I think I just found what I am making for my brother-in-law’s birthday present! Great recipe – thanks

  66. I always like caramel on top of sundae, and wondering how to make caramel. Now I know. I like it.

  67. O yum this looks amazing!

  68. These look great! I have to try to make these. My hubby loves them!

  69. They look delicious!

  70. Those pictures of the carmels look so delicious! They’re making me hungry!

  71. WOW!
    These look just glorious :)

  72. Oh my goodness yummy!!!

  73. Pingback: An unexpected peach encounter | Living A la Mode

  74. these look yummy, maybe i can try this.. :D

  75. I love sweets. I would love to try someday.

  76. this reminds me of my pulling taffy days, and it looks delicious. thank you for sharing!

  77. never tried sea salt caramel, would love too 1 day! it always makes me think of ross from friends in one of the episodes lol. san francisco looks beautiful aswell!

  78. I love sea salt caramels, and you have such beautifully clear instructions, I may have to give them a go 8o)

  79. now i can make my own, too. thanks for this post! very helpful, indeed.

  80. those look amazing!!

  81. Thank you for sharing this recipe. They sound amazing!

  82. very clever and looks really tasty weldone

  83. they look yummy. i might make them for christmas. thanks.

  84. wow great recipe, i think this is one i might be able to do without blowing up the kitchen!

  85. cafeexpresschef

    Great Blog, keep up the great writing!

  86. Sea salt and sweet caramel – now that sounds like a must-try-combo. Thanks for the fab recipe – I will have to try this over the weekend!

  87. yummmm. they look tasty. my mom makes the BEST caramels in the world, but she only makes them around Christmas. i might have to try this recipe out to see how they compare.
    http://www.icouldntmakethisshitup.wordpress.com

  88. I’ll likely try these because I am a caramel fiend. However, what is the purpose of rolling out the cooled caramel and then refolding?

  89. I’m not sure what you mean. You simply pour the caramel into the square pan — there is no need to roll it out. Once the caramel has cooled, it will be in a flat shape, which is why you need to fold it. There is no refolding.

  90. this looks so good!

  91. Pingback: The Powerful Drag of Inertia « lifefromthestep

  92. That looks soooooooooooooooo yummy!

  93. Pingback: This Week I Love… « Abby's Road

  94. These were great! I made them today with my kids. I used cane syrup instead of corn syrup – it gave it a toffee-like taste. LOVE the salt – totally makes the recipe. Great job!

  95. Pingback: Sea Salt Caramels | In Search of Bees

  96. Joy, I’m so glad you liked them and that they turned out well!

  97. yummy,.. the sea salt caramel look delicious.
    I want to meet you and taste your food. :)

    exotic coffee, history and seller, please visit my blog:
    http://www.luwakcoffe.wordpress.com

  98. sounds and looks wonderful. We’ll give it a go.

  99. these look delicious….if only…

  100. mouth-watering!

  101. WOW! I can’t believe it’s so simple! And it looks sooo yummy! I’m definitely saving this to try later! Thanks for sharing! I’m still relatively new to blogging, but I love all the amazing yummy creations ppl come up with here! :)

  102. Never tried my hand at making candy, but I daresay these sound so amazing that I may just run out to the store and try to make them tonight!

    Congrats on making freshly pressed also. :)

  103. Great recipe! It sounds easy enough for a novice like me that I’m actually going to try it.

  104. Yumm definitely going to try these out

  105. Mackenzie | Red Roan Chronicles

    OMG, those look delicious. And contain mostly things I am not allowed to eat. Curses! :D

  106. I want I want I want I want

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  109. I made these today!! I was amazed at how simple they were to make (especially which is a feat in and of itself since I am just learning to cook more than microwave dinners). They were super yummy too!

  110. 20 minutes my ass! overall, the tastiest caramels ever. though cooked for too short, aren’t firm enough. will try again tomorrow.

  111. I made these today, your description was perfectly technical, and they came out just perfectly! Thank you for sharing!

  112. Pingback: A Very Sweet Day! « Domestic Goddess (or at least pretending to be)

  113. These look wonderful! I love caramel in cool weather, I’m making them as soon as fall is here!

  114. CARAMEL!!!!!! Mmm my favorite flavor in the whole world! Thanks for sharing the recipe with such good instructions. It’s printed and un the pile for Christmas baking.

  115. Pingback: What we’ve got here is failure to solidify… | Mr. Sentiment's Parlour

  116. what happens if you dont add corn syrup?

  117. I think the corn syrup is essential for the consistency and helps with the flavor as well.

  118. Pingback: Keeping a Recipe & Entertaining Journal

  119. I am dying to make this but I live in Hong Kong and I just cannot find light corn syrup anywhere! But I can get dark Karo syrup or http://www.lylesgoldensyrup.com/. Do have any suggestions for substitutions?

  120. Taura,
    I looked at the golden syrup on your link, and I do not think that that would be a suitable substitute. Instead, I would suggest substituting the corn syrup with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water. The mixture will still caramelize as needed. I’m worried that your syrup may react in an unpredictable way.
    Charles

  121. Thanks Charles – and like lighting a cigarette at a bus stop makes the bus come – writing my plea brought me corn syrup! I found a Korean brand that looks clear and similar gloopiness as Karo Only ingredient listed is “corn syrup” :) Halloween treats here we come!

  122. made them! not too bad for first candy ever and the fact that i have no tablespoon measurer or candy thermometer:) thanks!

  123. Found these on pintrest.com. Great recipe, love them. I dipped the caramels in dark chocolate and then sprinkled the fleur de sel. Thank you for the recipe.

  124. Hi! i’m Re-twit you post: Homemade Sea Salt Caramels to my http://www.twitter.com/#!/slavcentrinfo

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  125. This is a great, easy to follow recipe. My caramels were delicious! I did make a perilous mistake. Not having any parchment paper in hand, I used wax paper. I couldn’t get the caramel off the paper, even though I brushed oil on it. Lesson learned!

  126. Love these! I made one regular batch, which turned out delicious, and then I made a second batch in which I substituted egg nog for cream and didn’t sprinkle any salt on at the end… for anyone who loves egg nog, YUM! Great recipe and easy to follow :)

  127. I made these. I would just like to say that the directions are perfect. I don’t think I will sprinkle salt next time. It felt a little like gilding the lily. However, delicious either way. Thank you for this perfect recipe.

  128. Pingback: Soft and Chewy Salted Caramels | Food Loves Writing

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  130. These were awesome!! Agree with other comment could do with or without salt on top depending on preference. They were great both ways. thank you

  131. I just finished making these and they are BEYOND delicious! For those commenters who were wondering what/how to substitute, for the corn syrup I used brown rice syrup (exact measurements) and I honestly can’t tell the difference. The only thing was that the rice syrup is already a golden color, so it was hard to tell when that phase was “done”. Other than that, perfection!

  132. These look delicious!

    brookeandmckenzie.wordpress.com

  133. Pingback: Last Minute Original & Frugal DIY Holiday Gifts |

  134. I just have a question, I found your blog and I love this recipe however If I cook it in 10 min, it’s to fudgy and if I cook it over 10 min it’s hard candy, How do I get to be just perfect? When I cooked it to where it was 248* it was to hard :( help

  135. Renee,
    The timing is much less important than the temperature of the candy. You should shoot for somewhere around 248 degrees, but anything from 240 to 245 should also be fine. The candy may be hard when you take it off the refrigerator. If that’s the case, let it sit out at room temperature for a little while before you roll and cut it.
    Hope this helps!

  136. Sara - Vancouver BC

    Bravely attempted this recipe amongst a two day whirl wind of Christmas baking. I don’t have a candy thermometer (has now been added to stocking stuff wish list) so I kinda… “winged it”. I was a little too tentative the first time around and I took the final product off the stove a little shy of finished, would have made an incredible caramel sauce, but I put it back on the stove the next day to evaporate more water and they’re perfect! I always do little chocolate/cookie boxes for friends and family at Christmas and I’m definitely adding these to my staples list for years to come! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  137. I’ve tried this recipe twice now and each time they come out of the fridge rock hard and continue to be at that state. What am I doing wrong?

  138. Katie,
    I just made two batches the other night and one ended up a little harder than the other – so it’s not an exact science. That said, the temperature is what determines the caramel’s consistency. If you’re up for trying again, try heating the caramels to around 240 or 245 degrees. You may also want to verify that your thermometer is right by putting it in boiling water (it should read 212 degrees).

  139. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    I have been searching and searching.
    Making failed batch after failed batch. I’m embarrassed to say how many years I’ve been going around this same track.
    And then,……I FOUND YOUR RECIPE.
    It’s perfect. It turned out beautifully. I can’t stop eating them.
    I even covered half the batch in chocolate.
    Thank you!

  140. Fantastic! I’m so glad you liked them!

  141. Saw this *pinned* and will definitely be making…Thank you.
    I am currently brewing up sourdough – have done it in the past, it’s not daunting at all! Try it – you can always start over if it doesn’t work out. It’s like having a pet – that keeps people well fed and happy. :)

  142. Yikes – put that in wrong…could you change my user name/email so it doesn’t show up like this. – TY!

  143. When I made my first batch I didn’t have a candy thermometer and I don’t think they quite got up to 248. The batch is really soft and kind of melts at room temp. Do you think I could cook them again now that I have the thermometer? Or would that just make a huge mess? I’m hopeless!

    Either way they taste delicious and they smelled dreamy cooking up. Thanks for a great recipe.

  144. I actually just wanted to follow up in case anyone else has this issue with their caramel being too soft. According to my experience, and also what I read in the thread on chowhound, reheating the caramel will work.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/283420

    I reheated it and I can tell the texture is more firm and chewy now. Thanks again for the recipe!

  145. Fantastic! I’m so glad you were able to reheat it and have it work out!

  146. Ok, this is the best caramel I have ever eaten,,,and I made it! Thanks so much for this recipe!

  147. Hi.

    Tried the recipe today. The caramel is sitting in the fridge but I am wondering why the color is yellow instead of brown? I substitute corn syrup with cane syrup cause I cannot find corn syrup anywhere.

  148. I think corn syrup is pretty vital to the recipe, but I believe there are some helpful substitutes in the comments section. The color, though, comes mostly from caramelizing the sugar, which means letting it boil until it hits that nice brown color.

  149. Hi.

    I used simple sugar syrup mixture (with added cream of tartar) in second batch which turned out great. I get the nice color too :)

    Thank you.

  150. Pingback: Homemade caramel with sea salt - Semisweetie, A geeky baking and recipe blog

  151. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. I’ve featured it in my News of the Day today.

  152. I assume from reading the above comments that to make it more liquid I should cook it for less than 10 minutes but still reaching the temperature in the recipe? thanks

  153. It’s really about the temperature and not the time. If you would like the consistency to be a little softer (though my caramels were on the soft side), then you should take the caramels off the heat once they reach around 240 to 245 degrees.

  154. I followed this recipe and they turned out so hard!! But I ate them anyways and let them melt in my mouth and they were so delcious. It is about heat, rather than ingredients right? Maybe my thermometer is off because I only let them get to 248, but still very hard!

    Any suggestions?

  155. Krystal, it is really about temperature more than anything else. I can only suggest that you do try heating them to a lower temperature and maybe giving them a little longer to come to room temperature.

  156. Delicious ! I’ve never really considered making my own caramel before I read this. I would love to make these for people, but when I left them at room temp. for too long they melted a little and they’re a tad too hard store in the fridge. Any suggestions?

  157. If they are too soft at room temperature, the next time you cook them, you might try waiting until the temperature reaches a few degrees higher (but not too much higher). Maybe stop around 250 degrees.

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  159. If you want to try a substitute for corn syrup you might give Agave Nectar a try. I substitute it in things like pecan pie all the time. I bet it might work very well.

  160. Simply divine. Just spotted them on FoodGawker.

  161. Pingback: Homemade sea salt caramel | WorldFoodRecipes.com

  162. Poured mine over pecan pieces. I can hardly wait!!!

  163. That sounds delicious!

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