These homemade sea salt caramels are perfectly soft, chewy and lusciously smooth! They’re extra buttery and filled with real vanilla bean seeds. We balance the sweet soft candy with crunchy flakes of sea salt mixed into the candy and sprinkled on top.
If you’ve never made homemade soft caramels, this is a killer recipe to start with!
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what makes these the best sea salt caramels?
Simple, reliable recipe: This recipe is really straightforward, and it works. I’ve made a LOT of caramel candy and many techniques involve several different pots and a complicated process. Here, we toss everything in the pot and cook the candy to a certain temperature. Stir in flaky salt and you’re done!
Perfect chew: All those other recipes I’ve tried-- the complicated ones-- they don’t always give the best texture. Some stick in your teeth for hours, some are unpleasantly hard. These strike the perfect balance of soft, firm and chewy. And somehow, they don’t leave sticky remnants in your teeth!
Smaller batch: This recipe yields about 28 caramels. It’s a great size for family and friends. Of course, you can always double or triple it (just REALLY be sure to scale up your pot).
Rich flavor: Butter, vanilla bean, cream, and sea salt combine into the richest ambrosia ever! There’s nothing more intoxicating than the smell of making caramel candy. And the finished caramels are so buttery and complex.
Everyday ingredients: There’s nothing special needed here! Simple pantry items are all you need to make this smooth, soft, chewy caramel candy. Same with equipment: all you really need is a good instant-read thermometer.
what you need for sea salt caramels:
- heavy cream
- corn syrup
- vanilla bean
- flaky salt
A note on corn syrup:
Corn syrup is so important in homemade candy. It prevents sugar from recrystallizing and helps you make smooth, buttery caramels. Corn syrup is NOT the same as high fructose corn syrup, which has been enzymatically modified to have more fructose than natural.
Corn syrup is simply a readily available source of glucose syrup, which is used by confectioners throughout the world. Without some form of crystal blocker (“doctoring agent”), your sea salt caramels will turn gritty.
how to make salted caramel candy:
- Combine cream, sugar, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan.
- Gently heat until everything is melted.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until caramel reaches 248°F.
- Pull out the vanilla bean, stir in flaky salt.
- Pour caramel into a lined loaf pan and sprinkle with flaky salt.
- Let sit 4- 6 hours to fully harden.
- Pull out the caramel slab, cut into 1-inch squares and enjoy!
how to store soft caramels:
It’s important to protect homemade caramels from air as much as possible, especially if it’s humid out. The most effective way to do this is to wrap them in cellophane or small squares of parchment paper. You could also put them in a ziptop bag or even a vacuum seal bag.
If the caramels are exposed to humidity, the surface will get unpleasantly sticky.
I prefer to wrap them right after cutting into squares. This keeps them as fresh as possible and wraps them up before they start to stick to each other.
- Stir often! In the beginning, stirring will help keep the caramel from bubbling over. Toward the end, the stirring will prevent scorching. This might feel wrong if you’ve made candy before because too much agitation can cause re-crystallization. But here, we have enough butter, cream, and corn syrup to inhibit this.
- Soak your pot and tools in hot water right away. It will loosen the candy and make clean-up a breeze.
- Don’t refrigerate the caramels before cutting-- they’ll get too hard to cut and the humidity will make the surface extra sticky.
- Maldon sea salt is my absolute favorite! They always have gorgeous, giant flakes that look stunning and add a perfectly delicate crunch.
- Use a reliable, high-quality instant read thermometer for the best results. I love Thermapen!
more homemade candy recipes to make!
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sea salt caramels (soft and chewy!)
These homemade sea salt caramels are perfectly soft and chewy! They’re buttery, lusciously smooth, and topped with crunchy sea salt flakes!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 28
- Category: Candy
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: American
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- ½ cup corn syrup
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- ½ tsp flaky salt, plus more for sprinkling
- Butter a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and line with a parchment paper sling. Butter the parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine heavy cream, sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla bean (if using) in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until syrup reaches 248°F, about 15 minutes. Make sure to stir and watch closely to prevent bubbling over in the beginning and scorching towards the end.
- Remove from heat, stir in the salt and carefully fish out vanilla bean (or stir in vanilla extract, if using). Pour hot caramel into prepared pan and let rest 10 minutes. Sprinkle surface evenly with flaky salt. Let sit at least 6 hours to fully harden.
- Use a sharp knife to cut along edges of the pan, then pull up on the parchment paper sling to remove caramel slab from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut caramels into 1-inch squares. For longest shelf life, wrap each piece individually in cellophane and store in a cool, dry place.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Recipe adapted from Artisan Caramels by Sandy Arevalo
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 85
- Sugar: 12g
- Sodium: 57mg
- Fat: 4.3g
- Saturated Fat: 2.7g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.3g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 0.3g
- Cholesterol: 13mg
Keywords: sea salt caramels