Microwave Caramels

December 15, 2018  ·  Published April 26, 2014

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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 30 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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302 Comments

  • Maureen Haddock

    Sometimes I use the suggested time in an older recipe but lower the power level to 8. For this toffee recipe, my 1200 watt microwave required 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I suggest removing the toffee from the fridge after only 30 minutes and cutting it into pieces and wrapping it right then. It is still a little slightly warm. The toffee remains bendable with some effort.
    I love this recipe! So delicious.

  • Mel

    Hi! So I’m new at cooking and all. I tried this recipe and the flavor of the caramel is very tasty! But I must’ve had done something wrong! I can’t cut it into pieces, is too hard!!! Like, VERY hard! I cannot even get it out from the platter. My microwave is higher than average, I’d say. For example: pop corn says to microwave for 3 min, I have to microwave them for 1:45 min otherwise they burn immediately!
    So I put the caramel in for 3:20 min. I don’t know if I put it too much time or how hard/soft should it be after refrigeration.
    Thanks!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It could just be the microwave wattage, I would try cutting back on the time the next time around and that should help.

    • Lisa

      Mel, same thing happened to me first time.
      So the next time, I would stop my microwave after EACH minute, to give it a stir and look at it.
      After about 3 mins, I would give it the ole water test every min. thereafter.
      (you know, where you take a small drop of the caramel and put it in cold water to see HOW chewy it is.)
      -That way after about 5-6 mins, I got it to the way I like it.
      It takes practice! (good luck ♥)