How to Make Hard Caramel Candies

Three Parts:Prepare Your EquipmentHeating the SugarMolding the Candy

Caramel candies are a favorite quick snack for those with a serious sweet tooth. However, gourmet caramels can often be pricey. You can learn how to make delicious homemade candies for your own enjoyment or for a present.


  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1 and a half sticks of unsalted and softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Part 1
Prepare Your Equipment

  1. 1
    Use a heavy-bottom saucepan. Get a high quality, four quart saucepan to cook the caramel in. A heavy bottom is especially important because it allows for the temperature to distribute more evenly. Thin saucepans tend to have isolated areas of heat, which can easily burn the caramel. [1]
  2. 2
    Test the caramel with a candy-specific thermometer. Candy thermometers are crucial for cooking caramel because sugar can easily burn, ruining the caramel. These thermometers are made specifically for testing oils and sugars so you can cook your candies to the ideal temperature. Your local Target, Walmart, or other large supermarket should have these in stock. [2]
  3. 3
    Stir with a proper spatula. A rubber spatula is ideal for stirring the mixture as plastic spatulas can burn and melt under high temperatures. Stainless steel spatulas can be useful as well, but they can easily scratch your saucepan.
  4. 4
    Have a 9 by 13 inch metal baking pan at the ready. This pan is necessary for the final step when you transfer your mixture from the saucepan. Be sure to get a high-quality, clean baking pan so any rust or caked-on food won’t find its way in your candy.
  5. 5
    Gather a spoon, a bowl, and some ice water to test the mixture. These supplies will be necessary during the boiling so you can assess the consistency of the caramel. Be sure to have these at the ready so you don't waste precious time gathering the materials while the caramel could be burning.

Part 2
Heating the Sugar

  1. Image titled Make Hard Caramel Candies Step 1
    Turn the stove's burner onto medium heat. After the four quart heavy-bottom pan has heated up, pour two cups of sugar, one and a half sticks of butter, one can of sweetened condensed milk, one cup of light corn syrup, and a half cup of water into the pan. Heat the mixture up until it reaches a rolling boil. [3]
  2. Image titled Make Hard Caramel Candies Step 2
    Keep stirring! Only allow 5-10 second intervals between stirs. The sugar will start to melt and turn the color of caramel. Put the candy thermometer in the mixture and wait until it reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature is 245 degrees, but you should start testing the mixture at 240.
  3. 3
    Test the mixture’s consistency. In order to keep tabs on how the mixture is forming, it’s crucial to get a feel for the firmness of the caramel. The caramel should be solid and sturdy, while keeping a soft texture. If it’s rock hard, then the syrup has been overcooked. [4]
    • Grab your spoon, medium sized bowl filled with ice cold water, and have it ready next to the pan containing the mixture.
    • Once it reaches 240 degrees, gather a small sample of the mixture in a spoon, and then immerse the spoon into the bowl of water.
    • Give the mixture a few seconds to cool down, and then take the spoon out of the water. Feel the cooled caramel and lightly press down on it to assess its consistency.
  4. Image titled Make Hard Caramel Candies Step 3
    Remove from heat. Once the mixture reaches the right consistency, it’s time to turn the heat off. Next, add in one teaspoon of salt and stir to evenly spread it throughout the mixture. Leave the mixture sitting for roughly two hours, until it reaches room temperature, which is approximately 72 degrees.

Part 3
Molding the Candy

  1. 1
    Spoon the mixture into the baking pan. Put a baking sheet down, and scrape all the caramel into the bottom of the pan, making sure only to hold it with a pot-holder. Scrape everything into the baking pan, making sure it is evenly spread. [5]
  2. 2
    Cut your caramel into pieces. Get a sharp knife and cut the caramel into even strips. Then using the same knife or a pizza cutter, cut the strips into small squares or whatever shape you desire.
  3. 3
    Get creative by wrapping your candy. You could start eating the caramel pieces right off the pan, but if you’re giving it as a gift then it’s a good idea to wrap the individual candies. Cellophane or wax paper work well as wrappers. Measure out a small section of the wrapping paper and give it enough room to cover the candy with some extra paper to tie it up neatly. Try putting some in a bowl around your house for some homemade snacking!


  • Stir frequently and pay attention to the thermometer. It’s very easy to burn sugar and if you’re not careful you can run your whole batch by not paying attention to the temperature. Don’t leave your mixture sitting while it’s boiling. It needs to be constantly attended to so your candy doesn’t get ruined by carelessness.

Things You'll Need

  • Stove
  • Heavy-bottom saucepan
  • Rubber spatula
  • 9 by 13 inch baking pan
  • Baking sheet
  • Candy thermometer
  • Cellophane or wax paper for wrapping
  • Scissors for wrapping paper
  • Small bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cold water

Article Info

Categories: Boredom Busters | Caramel