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How to Make True Caramel

Learn how to make True Caramel three different ways. From homemade caramel sauce, to chewy caramels, to caramel hard candy! 

If you are looking for more caramel desserts, try some of my other favorites like Salted Caramel Brownies, Simple Salted Caramel Cake, or Banoffee Icebox Cake.

how to make true caramel
caramel lollipops

What is true caramel? 

True caramel is the traditional or old fashioned way to make caramel. Caramel flavor originated from caramelizing sugar. As sugar cooks, it melts, darkens, and caramelizes which is what caramel flavor actually is. It’s just caramelized sugar crystals. 

So, true caramel means the act of dry burning sugar until it caramelizes. And that is the base of true caramel. True caramel (or real caramel) is made using this technique and only adding in butter and heavy whipping cream.

While some caramel recipes may include brown sugar, corn syrup, water, or even molasses; if a recipe tells you to add multiple ingredients into a pot and stir, you’re not making true caramel. True caramel is made from the technique of dry burning sugar until it caramelizes. If you are not dry burning the sugar, you are just mimicking caramel flavor with a mix of other ingredients and not making true caramel.

how to make true caramel

Why You’ll Love This Recipe 

Pure: Learn how to make true caramel with this simple and pure recipe! This is how caramel was created, so it’s the most pure and delicious way to make homemade caramel of any kind. 

3 Ingredients: I’m going to teach you how to make true caramel with just 3 ingredients! Organic cane sugar, butter, and heavy whipping cream is all you need to make homemade caramel sauce, homemade chewy caramel candies, or caramel hard candy.

3 Types of Caramel: With this recipe you’ll learn three different versions for true caramel. You’ll learn how to make homemade caramel sauce, homemade chewy caramel candies, and caramel hard candy. With the same technique and different ratios of ingredients, you can make three different types of caramel easily! 

how to make true caramel

Ingredients for True Caramel

Wholesome Organic Cane Sugar

Organic Valley Salted Butter

Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream

Tools Needed

Digital Food Scale

Small Pot

High Heat Spatula

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Different Types of True Caramel

You can make true caramel in three different ways. But, the process is exactly the same. The different ratios of sugar, butter, and cream are what will determine if the caramel becomes a homemade caramel sauce, homemade chewy caramel candies, or caramel hard candy. 

More butter and cream soften the caramel and make it into a sauce. By reducing the amount of butter and cream to sugar, the caramel hardens more and becomes homemade chewy caramel candies. And even less butter and cream will create caramel hard candy. 

The process of making all three of these types of true caramel is exactly the same. Whether you are making homemade caramel sauce, homemade chewy caramel candies, or caramel hard candy, the way you make it doesn’t change! It’s only the amounts of sugar, butter, and cream that differ. So, once you learn how to make true caramel, you can use this technique to make any kind of homemade caramel you want! 

caramel lollipops

How to Make True Caramel 

Step 1 

In a medium pot, add the cane sugar and put over medium heat. Once the sugar on the bottom starts to melt, stir with a high heat spatula to keep from burning. The dry sugar will then sink to the bottom, so it can melt. Sugar clumps will form until the sugar turns into a liquid.

Step 2

Once the sugar has completely melted into a liquid, add the butter. Be careful because steam will rise up quickly. Stir rapidly until the mixture is combined.

how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel

Step 3

Once the butter is completely combined, add in the cream a little at a time. Be careful, because the cream is colder than the sugar mixture so more steam will rise up quickly. Stir rapidly to combine completely when each amount of cream is added. Once about half the cream is added you can add more at a time.

how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel
how to make true caramel

Step 4

Once completely combined, remove from heat. Strain the caramel with a strainer to remove any clumps. (This is optional, but if you are new to caramel making, this is a good idea as you learn). 

Step 5

Transfer caramel to a glass jar for caramel sauce or to your molds or silicone mat if making caramel candies. Let come to room temperature before using in recipes. 

how to make true caramel

Tips for Making True Caramel

  • Use a high heat spatula. This is important because caramel gets hot and the spatula is in the pot doing a lot of work. If you don’t have a high heat spatula, you can warp your spatula.
  • Be patient. Making true caramel takes patience, so just breathe while you take your time. 
  • Work quickly but efficiently. When it’s time to add the butter and cream it’s best to work quickly but efficiently. You need to be sure to stir quickly and entirely in order to prevent clumps from forming or from burning the caramel. 
  • Store homemade caramel sauce in a glass jar. It can be left at room temperature for about 2 weeks. You can store it in the fridge for about 1 month. 
  • Store homemade chewy caramel candies and homemade caramel hard candy at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. 

How To Use Homemade Caramel Sauce 

  • Use as a topping for cupcakes or cakes like my Simple Salted Caramel Cake
  • Dip apples, pretzels, or cookies in it. 
  • Drizzle over ice cream.
  • Add into coffee and hot chocolate.
  • Make milkshakes with it. 
  • Add into buttercream frosting or a simple cookie glaze to make caramel frosting.
  • Make my Caramel Apple Pie
  • Add into jars and give as holiday gifts. 

How to Use Homemade Chewy Caramel Candies 

  • Buy candy molds and pour the caramel into molds to make chewy caramel candies. You can also dip or coat these in chocolate. 
  • Add on top of brownies for a chewy caramel topping like my Salted Caramel Brownies
  • Pour onto a silicone mat and let cool. Then you can break off tiny chunks to add into cookies and brownies before baking. 

How to Use Homemade Caramel Hard Candy 

  • Pour into candy molds for hard candies or make my Caramel Lollipops
  • Pour onto a silicone mat and spread evenly. You can then break or crack this into pieces and use as cake and cupcake toppers for shards of caramel. 
how to make true caramel

FAQ's

Can I use unsalted butter? 

Yes, but if you do you will want to add some salt to the finished caramel. It’s usually about ¼ teaspoon of salt per ½ cup of butter. 

Can I make salted caramel?

Yes, just add salt to the finished caramel. Start with 1 teaspoon, taste it and add more if you want.

Do I need to strain the caramel?

You do not have to strain the caramel. But, if you are making caramel sauce and you are new to making caramel, then I would recommend straining it at first until you get the hang of it. This will remove any big clumps so they don't get into your sauce. If you are making chew caramel or hard caramel candies, I wouldn't worry about it as much.

How should I store homemade caramel sauce? 

Store homemade caramel sauce in a glass jar. It can be left out at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. It will last in the fridge for up to 1 month. 

How should I store homemade caramel candy?

Chewy caramel candy and hard caramel candy can be stored in your pantry for up to 1 month. 

Craving More?

how to make true caramel

How to Make True Caramel

Mimi Council
Learn how to make true caramel three different ways with this easy recipe. True caramel is the process of dry burning sugar until it caramelizes, which creates a caramel flavor. This is the old fashioned, real, or true way to make caramel. Easily make caramel sauce, chewy caramels, or caramel hard candy by simply adjusting the ratios of sugar, butter, and cream.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Ingredient
Cuisine American
Makes 30 ounces
Calories 139 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

Caramel Sauce

Chewy Caramel Candies

Caramel Hard Candy

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot, add the cane sugar and put over medium heat. Once the sugar on the bottom starts to melt, stir with a high heat spatula to keep from burning. The dry sugar will then sink to the bottom, so it can melt. Sugar clumps will form until the sugar turns into a liquid.
  • Once the sugar has completely melted into a liquid, add the butter. Be careful because steam will rise up quickly. Stir rapidly until the mixture is combined.
  • Once the butter is completely combined, add in the cream a little at a time. Be careful, because the cream is colder than the sugar mixture so more steam will rise up quickly. Stir rapidly to combine completely when each amount of cream is added. Once about half the cream is added you can add more at a time.
  • Once completely combined, remove from heat. Strain the caramel with a strainer to remove any clumps. (This is optional, but if you are new to caramel making, this is a good idea as you learn).
  • Transfer caramel to a glass jar for caramel sauce or to your molds or silicone mat if making caramel candies. Let come to room temperature before using in recipes.

Video

Notes

High Altitude – Follow the recipe as noted.

Nutrition

Calories: 139kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 0.5gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 29mgPotassium: 16mgSugar: 16gVitamin A: 327IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.02mg
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