Microwave Caramels

December 15, 2018

Caramel is one of my all time favorite treats and this is a foolproof recipe that turns out perfectly! They’re soft and chewy and perfectly buttery with a rich caramel flavor. These make one of the best homemade gifts and no one will know how easy it was for your to make them!

Stack of caramels wrapped in wax paper set over a vintage cooling rack and baking pan.

The Easiest Caramel Recipe Ever!

Oh the things you can make in the microwave! Honestly though, I don’t know if it gets much better than this one, caramel made in the microwave. I got this recipe from my mother-in-law and it is one of my favorite recipes ever!

This is caramel made easy and they taste completely perfect. She’s used this recipe for about 30 years and she said everyone she gives the recipe to absolutely loves it and I can see why.

She also said it’s so easy that her kids always used to make it when they were younger (adult supervision required here though people, this bowl gets HOT!). And now my kids love to help me make it, and we’ve been using the recipe for 4 years.

I’ve added a few minor changes to the recipe, like adding some vanilla and adding Maldon sea salt, add them if you’ve got them otherwise feel free to leave them out.

Try a batch this weekend, you’ll be amazed!

Post originally shared Apr. 2014.

Showing how to make caramel. Whisking butter, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, salt and sugar in glass mixing bowl.

Ingredients for Caramel

  • Unsalted butter
  • Light corn syrup
  • Granulated sugar and brown sugar
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Salt 
  • Vanilla

 

Heating butter, sugar, condensed milk mixture in glass mixing bowl in microwave to make caramels.

How to Make Caramels

  • Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.
  • Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl (not anything plastic, something micro safe glass or ceramic), heat in microwave until melted.
  • Add corn syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and salt and whisk mixture very well. R
  • Return to microwave and cook mixture on HIGH power for 6 to 7 minutes (some have even mentioned 5.5 worked for them).
  • Using hot pads, carefully remove bowl from microwave. Mix in vanilla.
  • Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired.
  • Let set in refrigerator then cut into pieces and wrap.

Caramel mixture shown after cooking in mixing bowl.

Tips for This Recipe

  • Use unsalted butter, salted butter will splatter.
  • Test caramel at 6 minutes instead of going to the full 7 minutes. To do so test with a candy thermometer (should be 238 – 242d) or you can drop a small spoonful in ice water and after just a bit is should be pliable and chewy.

My first batch was too hard because I went the full 7 minutes, the time will vary based on your microwave wattage and the how large the bowl is you’re using.

Can you believe it though, caramels made in 7 minutes in the microwave!? Trust me, I’m hanging onto this recipe forever, and I’m thinking you will too!

Caramel mixture poured into buttered glass baking dish.

More Easy Treats and Desserts to Try!

Stack of caramels wrapped in wax paper with several cut caramels unwrapped off to the side.

Microwave Caramels

4.97 from 28 votes

A super easy foolproof recipe for homemade caramels! They're soft and chewy and perfectly buttery with a rich caramel flavor. These make one of the best homemade gifts and no one will know how easy it was for your to make them!

Servings: 40 caramels
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Chill Time 20 minutes
Total Time 36 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter*, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel (optional)

Instructions

  1. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl (not anything plastic, something micro safe glass or ceramic), heat in microwave until melted.
  2. To bowl with butter, add corn syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and salt and whisk mixture very well. 

  3. Return to microwave and cook mixture on HIGH power for 6 to 7 minutes**.

  4. Using hot pads, carefully remove bowl from microwave. Add in vanilla extract and mix well.  
  5. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, sprinkle top lightly with Maldon sea salt or fleur de sel if using. 

  6. Place in refrigerator until set, about 20 - 30 minutes. Cut into rectangular pieces (I cut into rows slightly less than 1/2-inch then cut each row into three) and wrap in cut rectangles of wax paper.

Recipe Notes

  • *Don't use salted butter or it will splatter a lot.
  • **I recommend taking it out around 6 and testing either with a candy thermometer which should register between 238 - 242 degrees or placing a small spoon of the caramel in a bowl of ice water then remove it from the water and it should have formed a small pliable ball - nothing too soft or too hard.
  • **If it needs a little more time return to microwave and heat in 20 second increments. Mine was done at 6 minutes 20 seconds but will will vary slightly based on the wattage of your microwave and the size of the bowl you use.
  • Recipe from my mother-in-law, thanks Jill!
Nutrition Facts
Microwave Caramels
Amount Per Serving
Calories 78 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 13mg4%
Sodium 14mg1%
Potassium 15mg0%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Sugar 8g9%
Vitamin A 150IU3%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 12mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Treat
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Caramel, Microwave Caramels
Author: Jaclyn

 

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298 Comments

  • Kailey Larsen

    So DELICIOUS!! I needed a quick recipe to make caramel for dipping apples in. I cooked it for 5:15 minutes and it came out perfect as a soft dipping caramel sauce. I used salted butter and just covered it With a paper plate as it cooked. I did t add the salt or the vanilla (because I forgot) and it was still amazing. Thank you!!

  • Janin

    I have made this recipe for 2 years and it is always foolproof. I cook mine for 6 minutes 20 seconds. I also add the mixture right into the buttered 8×8 glass pan and cook it right in the pan. Take it out and let it cool on the counter for about 2 hours before cutting. Perfect! this year I had purchased clear candy wrapping paper from Amazon and they looked beautiful and professional. They didn’t stick either. I am going to experiment with adding chocolate sometime this year and will get back to you about the results. Thanks for an easy recipe that tastes like a million bucks!

  • Ana

    I’ve made this several times and love it. Last time, we didn’t wrap them…just cut them as we were eating. Lazy, but it works since only our family was eating it. :-) I do use salted butter, I just microwave it on very low power until it’s melted then continue.

  • Maureen Haddock

    Jaclyn, I made your Microwave Caramels and my husband says they are better than his favourite toffee by MacIntosh. I am allergic to soy and can’t use premade baking toffee chips in cookies. Yesterday I chopped up these caramels and added that to my cookies, and, oh my…, the results were mouthwatering. I plan to blog about this entire story. Please thank your mother-in-law for me.

  • Jeanette

    Excellent recipe. I followed your suggestion for 6 minutes and 20 seconds and that was perfect…spot on.

    No problem wrapping at all. Make the wax paper long enough and don’t twist so tight or so close to the caramel.

    My go to recipe for caramels from here on in.

  • Dorothy

    As others have said, this recipe is simply perfect. Almost embarrassing how anyone who tries one can’t stop raving about them. My only problem is the wrapping. Very tough to do without ripping the paper. Any suggestions?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      If it’s those tootsie roll edges that are tearing maybe try not to wrap the edges so closely, twist a little ways away from the caramel. You could also try a different brand of wax paper and maybe that will help. So glad you liked them though :)!

    • Mischelle

      I bought pre-cut 4 1/2” x 5 1/2” wax paper for twisting around candies. I bought it at either Hobby Lobby or JoAnns! Perfect size.

    • Karen W

      I would love to make a mocha version – could I just add some chocolate and powdered espresso after it cooks?

      • Jaclyn

        Jaclyn Bell

        With many chocolate caramels it’s usually chopped chocolate that’s added at the beginning or mid cooking. It may take a bit of testing to see how it works out. Espresso powder should be fine to add at the end.

  • Kim Allen

    I was looking for a nice, easy food gift to be a part of my larger gift to friends and I found my way to this recipe. First, this was so easy to bring together. I sprayed an 8×8 aluminum pan, added parchment paper, and sprayed again to make clean up that much easier since I’ve never worked with caramel before. (I was afraid it was going to be sticky.) Second, I’m absolutely addicted to this stuff! I’m making more tonight for co-worker gifts and will be making a second batch just for my son and me. Oh gosh, I guess I need to do a third batch for family on Christmas Day! I’m not sure I can be trusted to not eat it all before then! It’s that delicious!

  • Sue

    I used 1/2 recipe to make chewy walnut brittle ( not exactly brittle). Cooked for 3 minutes to bare temp on the thermometer. Perfect!