Tasty Soft Caramels 3 Ways

Make this yummy soft caramel recipe for your friends and family and wow them all  Make this soft caramel recipe in the original flavor, make salted caramel, black licorice caramel or Cinnamon caramels!

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword black licorice caramel, caramel, christmas candy, cinnamon caramel, salted caramels, soft caramel, valentines candy
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 15 people
Calories 151 kcal


  • 1 14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 cup White Karo Syrup
  • Sea Salt (for the top of salted caramels)
  • 1 tsp Licorice or Anise oil (to use for the licorice caramles)
  • 3/4 tsp Black food coloring(for licorice caramel)
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon Oil (for Cinnamon Caramels)
  • 3/4 tsp red food coloring (for Cinnamon Caramels)
  • 1 Candy Thermometer
  • Wax paper for wrapping caramels
  • 1 Cup of cold water if you do the water test on your caramels
  • 1 9 by 13 pan (glass preferrably)
  • 1 Nonstick spray or butter to grease the pan


  1. Start by greasing your 9 by 13 pan.  I use nonstick spray since it makes it so much easier and you are more likely to get the whole thing greased well.  Do this before you start cooking your soft caramels.

  2. Use a heavy base stock pan.  Put all your ingredients in the pan, and then begin heating on medium heat.  

  3. Once you begin heating the soft caramel mixture you must stay with it or it will burn easily.  Begin stirring and continue stirring until the caramels are ready to be poured out into the 9 by 13 pan.

  4. The caramel mixture will start to change gradually.  Bring the caramels to a rolling boil, where it is continuously boiling but not boiling too high.  Continuously stirring.  DO NOT LEAVE IT

  5. If you are using a candy thermometer, use it now and heat the mixture until it gets to 240 degrees.

  6. If you want to use the water test method(how I do mine), Once it is at a rolling boil, set your timer for 6 minutes.  When the timer is done, drop a spoon full of caramel into the cold water and move it around with your hands until it cools and forms a ball.  You will be able to tell how soft or hard it is.  

  7. If it needs to be cooked longer, do it in 1 minute increments and water test again.  I usually find the sweet spot at 6-7 minutes.  Not too hard and not too soft.  But it will vary depending on how hot you are boiling them.  I learned to make soft caramels this way, and thus I feel more comfortable doing it this way.

  8. When they are ready, turn off the stovetop.  IF YOU ARE ON AN ELECTRIC STOVE MOVE IT OFF THE BURNER OR IT WILL BURN

    If making Cinnamon or Licorice caramels, add your cinnamon oil or anise oil and food coloring now.

  9. Pour the soft caramels into your 9 by 13 pan.  Do not scrape off the caramel on the sides of the pan. This caramel had been cooked longer and hotter than the rest and will be harder.  You can scrape the pan afterwards and eat it!

  10. Let the soft caramels sit and cool.  I usually let them sit overnight.  

  11. Once the soft caramels are cool, you can cut and wrap them.  I cut mine in pieces about 1 inch square.  But you can make them smaller or larger depending on how you like them.  I use a large sharp knife for this.  I have tried cutting with a pizza cutter and scissors and all have been effective.  I cut the rows first and then cut them into pieces. 

  12. Cut your wax paper in approximately 4 inch by 6 inch rectangles.  Roll the soft caramel up and twist the ends.  Turn on a good show and wrap them all! Then try not to eat all the soft caramels.