Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels

Jump to Recipe

Super soft and chewy sea salt caramels loaded with delicious vanilla bean! Step by step recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This weekend, let’s satisfy our candy addictions and make homemade caramels completely from scratch. Before you run away at the thought of making caramel, let me assure you that making chewy creamy soft caramels on the stovetop is SO easy.

A 15 minute ordeal where all you have to do is… stir.

I’m being serious. If you know how to stir, you know how to make caramels from scratch. They’re truly that simple.

Super soft and chewy sea salt caramels loaded with delicious vanilla bean! Step by step recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

And, let me tell ya, homemade caramel candies taste even better than anything you can buy at the store. Especially when you flavor them with vanilla bean and extra sea salt on top. Friends, just check out all those vanilla bean specks!! ↑ ↑

Ingredients and tools for making sea salt vanilla caramels on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here’s exactly what you’ll need to make these sea salt vanilla caramels and why. When making candy, it’s important to know what each ingredient does in the recipe. Because it really is chemistry! Delicious chemistry. There are very little ingredients (just 7!) required and each one plays an equally imperative role.

Heavy cream. Or heavy whipping cream. Cream is the base of these caramels and what makes them, well, CREAMY!

Sugar. Duh! Caramel is sugar and sugar is caramel. 🙂

Brown sugar. I looooove adding brown sugar to caramels because it keeps them incredibly soft and chewy. This is because brown sugar has a lot of moisture.

Corn syrup. It’s a controversial ingredient, for sure, but an imperative one for making candy as it prevents crystallization and keeps the caramels smooth as silk. What I like to keep in mind is that there are far worse processed ingredients in store-bought candies and only 1/3 cup of corn syrup divided over 65 candies is like .00000001 teaspoon per caramel. Or something like that.

These are the 4 main ingredients. After the caramel is made, remove it from heat and immediately stir these ingredients in for flavor:

A smidgen of butter… yum! Makes them even softer and creamier, too.

Vanilla extract and vanilla bean. Vanilla bean can be a little hard to come by, but I usually find it in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores. And there’s always online. Amazon has them for a steal!

Salt because we always need a little salty with our sweet.

How to make sea salt vanilla caramels on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here are 3 tools you’ll need and why each is important.

Sturdy pan. A thick-bottomed and sturdy pan which is KEY to even heat distribution. Thinner, cheaper pans can scorch the cooking candy and cook it unevenly. Here are some great choices: Anolon Nouvelle Copper and Crestware. I own a couple pricier copper pots because of the amount of candy I make. In all honesty, you can’t beat their quality.

Candy thermometer. Don’t get nervous! Candy thermometers make your job even easier, not harder! It literally tells you when your candy is ready, ensuring consistency and success. I prefer using digital candy thermometers. Here is an excellent choice right here!

Pastry brush. A pastry brush is imperative when making candy– its purpose is to help rid the saucepan of any sugar syrup or cooking candy that may have splashed up on the sides. The candy on the sides of the pan can burn and crystallize, ruining your batch of candy. Running a water-moistened pastry brush around the sides of the pan helps prevent this from happening.

More on my favorite candy making tools right here!

Super soft and chewy sea salt caramels loaded with delicious vanilla bean! Step by step recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Pour the hot caramel into a lined pan. I always line it with aluminum foil because it’s very easy to get that foil lined nice and snug in the pan. Lightly butter the foil so the caramels peel off easily. Then let the caramels cool for about 4 hours (or overnight) at room temperature. Then cut into rectangles or little squares.

I usually give caramels out or bring them with me to events, so I individually wrap them. And I’m sure you’ll give some away as well– I know I can’t be trusted with 65 caramels in my kitchen TAUNTING me! But maybe you’re stronger than I am- lol. I’ve tested out many different types of wrappers and these twisting candy wrappers are the easiest to use and the perfect size. They’re great for homemade truffles or other candies too! I went through a ton while writing Sally’s Candy Addiction.

Super soft and chewy sea salt caramels loaded with delicious vanilla bean! Step by step recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super soft and chewy sea salt caramels loaded with delicious vanilla bean! Step by step recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This is my go-to base for homemade caramels. Sometimes I even dip them into dark chocolate after I cut them. My piece of advice? Place one in your mouth and let it melt on your tongue. Truly an indulgence!

Sea Salt Vanilla Caramels

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (355ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
  • 1 Tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter, softened (plus more for lightly buttering the pan)
  • coarse sea salt for topping

Directions:

  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the caramel once it has set. Lightly grease the foil with butter.
  2. Combine the cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a 3-quart heavy duty saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly as the sugars dissolve. The mixture will be thick and cloudy looking.
  3. Once boiling, brush down the sides of the pan with a water-moistened pastry brush. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, making sure not to let it touch the bottom.
  4. Cook and stir gently every minute or so until the temperature reaches 245°F (118°C). Immediately remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, the vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, and butter. The mixture may burst and bubble, so be careful stirring.
  5. Pour the hot caramel into the prepared baking pan and top with coarse sea salt. Allow to cool at room temperature, uncovered, for 4 hours or overnight (no need to cover).
  6. Once set, remove the caramel from the pan by lifting out the aluminum foil. Peel the foil off and, using a very sharp knife, cut into rectangles or squares. Wrap with candy wrappers, if desired.

Make ahead tip: wrapped caramels keep for up to 2 weeks!

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Vanilla Beans | Wooden Spoon | Pastry BrushDigital Candy Thermometer | Heavy Duty Saucepan Option 1 | Heavy Duty Saucepan Option 2 | 8″ Square Cake Pan | Adorable Salt Keeper (love this!) | Twisting Candy Wrappers

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

sea-salt-vanilla-caramels

130 Comments

All Comments

  1. Hi Sally, I have been using a lot of your recipes they all look so good and this time of year I make a lot of candy, cookies, breads. But, today I tried making the caramel after making your gingerbread loaf and it is a big hit with everyone. Now back to the caramel I make perfect fudge and every candy I make but this looked great for a few hours on the counter but, after 4 hours it is hard as a rock. I don’t know what happened but I really hate to throw things away is there some way to use this block in some other way? Thank you for all the great recipes.

    1. Hi Deborah! That’s so frustrating. I’m sorry the caramel turned out too hard. Did you cook to the right temperature? If you ever want to try it again, try cooking to only 240. That should help. You can melt down your caramel on the stove to use as sauce/topping.

  2. I have made these again this year. So good! This year I picked up the twisting paper so much better than cutting parchment paper and taping them. Ha! Love your recipes!

  3. Hi! I really like this recipe, however, I’ve made it three times and yet each time it comes out hard. The second time it came out decently chewy if you suck on it long enough, but the rest are rock hard. I’ve tried cooking it for a shorter time, pulling it out at 225 to 235 and even cooking it exactly as the recipe says. I’m determined to make these perfect, soft and chewy. Any suggestions? 

    1. Hi Maddie! Are you using all the specific ingredients? Heavy cream and corn syrup, specifically? Candy is never forgiving, so it’s best to follow the recipe as written. You can always try to add another Tbsp or 2 of heavy cream or butter.

  4. Hi, I was wondering if it would harm that caramel any if I were to put it in the fridge to make it cool down faster?

  5. I don’t think I can get vanilla beans where I live, would it be possible to omit them? Also, I can’t get corn syrup either. On other websites it say to use golden syrup in its place – would this have any different effects on the caramel?

  6. I am too lazy to make caramels on the stove top. I use a can of condensed milk instead of cream and cook the candy in the microwave. It takes about 15 minutes. I stop and stir every 5 minutes.

  7. Hi Sally,
    This is my first time making candy of any sort and for some reason my caramels got stuck at 225° for a good 20 minutes. When I turned the heat up to “7” it still only increased the temp to 230° after a total boiling time of 30 minutes.
    I pulled them off the heat and poured them into the pan after a total of 35 minutes boiling, 50ish minutes total on the heat.
    Did I do something wrong to make them get stuck at a low temperature?
    I was using a standard sauce pan that came in my set of pans (2 qt I think) and it is ceramic coated if that helps figure out what went wrong.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Ceramic coated pans take along time to heat up, so I’m not surprised your cooking caramel was taking awhile. Depending on the pan and stove, it can cook in 10 minutes or 60 minutes. So next time, just let it cook to the proper temperature even if it’s taking a long time.

Reviews

Questions

  1. Hi, I was wondering if it would harm that caramel any if I were to put it in the fridge to make it cool down faster?

  2. I don’t think I can get vanilla beans where I live, would it be possible to omit them? Also, I can’t get corn syrup either. On other websites it say to use golden syrup in its place – would this have any different effects on the caramel?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×