IMG_4456The best way to spread Christmas cheer is not by singing loud for all to hear; but rather, making caramels for those you hold dear! Oh Buddy the Elf, the things you get wrong. It is my tradition with myself to make my Grandma’s caramels every year. It is a tradition with myself because it usually happens every year sometime between the hours of 11pm-1am on a weeknight. I just can’t find anyone else with my same priorities during those hours. This recipe makes a ton of caramels! I usually make them for my yearly Christmas “neighbor gifts”. The term neighbor gifts is actually a lie. I really should give some to my actual neighbor. All I currently know about my actual neighbor is that he/she watches a lot of sci-fi movies during the early afternoon. Note: If you are my neighbor and you read my blog this is not a backdoor complaint. The Battle of Endor sound effects totally set the tone for photographing pictures of candy. While we are bringing up lies, I should mention that the original recipe my Grandma has always used to make caramels is from an old church cookbook. I found the recipe in the cookbook a number of years back and saw that it was submitted by a woman named Elda Peck. So wherever you are Elda Peck, your buttery and soft caramels are enjoyed by all year after year!

Soft, Buttery Homemade Caramels

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 60-80 caramels

Soft, buttery and perfect. Our family's tried and true recipe!


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


  1. Melt the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt together in a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the evaporated milk a little at a time, taking 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 and not a touch hotter! Even 2 degrees hotter will make them chewy instead of soft. Pour into a parchment lined 13x9 pan and cool completely. Cut and serve. Enjoy!


23 Responses

  1. Nate says:

    These look delicious Erin, how many caramels do you think it makes?

  2. Erin Collins says:

    I actually just counted because I figured that would be a good thing to know! I think between 60-80 caramels depending on their size.

  3. MK and I made caramels the other day. It was her fist time and she instinctively thought we should pull them off the heat before the thermometer reached 242F as the recipe directed. I told her we needed to keep stirring and guess what… they were just a tad too hard and chewy. Glad to know that 238F is the magic number;) BY the way, we melted chocolate chips on them and sprinkled them with just the teeniest bit of sea salt. Too good!

  4. Erin Collins says:

    That sounds so yummy with chocolate chips and sea salt! Way to go MK for having good cooking instincts! My Grandma always knows just when they are done by looking at them too. I have to use the thermometer every time because I can never tell 😉

  5. Merrick says:

    Made these tonight — can't wait to eat them tomorrow! Thanks for the delicious recipe, Erin!

  6. PS: Elda Peck was a long time member of Vienna Ward. I love that lady! Nice to know it's her recipe:)

  7. Elajr says:

    Is there a reason why we have to pour the milk slowly?

  8. Erin Collins says:

    When you add the milk the mixture boils up rapidly. You add the milk slowly both to prevent a boil over and to be sure not to bring the temperature of the mixture down too much.

  9. Claire says:

    Help! I dont have a cany thermometer so im using the cold water method. I cant get it past the thread stage. It seems as tbough its been boiling forever an i followed directions to the letter. I pride myself on my cooking and have never failed at a recipe. Regrds, Claire Moore

    • Erin Collins says:

      It does take quite awhile to get up to the soft ball stage! Sometimes even 45 minutes. I would just keep cooking it and it should get to soft ball eventually! I hope this helps.

  10. JoAnn says:

    I made these yesterday and they are delicious. I did get a bit of butter on the top of the pan when I poured them. Do you continue to stir after adding the milk and waiting for the temp to get to 238? Just wondering if I needed to be stirring more. Thanks!

  11. Mandy says:

    Hi. Thanks for sharing the recipe. As I don’t live in the States, could you please tell me how much butter is two sicks of butter.

  12. scilla says:

    Can you used this recipe for dipping apples?

  13. Robyn says:

    After you add the milk, do you need to continue stirring constantly until 238 degrees? Or do you just let it sit from that point?

  14. Natalie says:

    I’m not sure what I did wrong but my caramels are too soft and don’t hold a form…any advice?

  15. Rayna says:

    I don’t have a candy thermometer. Can you please tell me what’s a good brand/what you’re using? I guess i’ll have to purchase one to make these delicious looking caramels.


  16. Anna says:

    I have made about 7 batches of these in the last week. People have started buying them from me for $14 for 2lbs. I have made chocolate drizzled, apple, regular, vanilla and toffee. People love them.

  17. janelynn says:

    This looks just like the recipe from my mom’s Good Housekeeping cookbook I made when I was little–can’t wait to try it.

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