World’s Best and Easiest Homemade Caramel Recipe!

Sep 19, 2020 | Food, Recipes

This homemade caramel recipe is easy to make in a snap! Use it to make caramel popcorn, caramel apples, or just a delicious bowl of caramel for dipping. It's sure to be a new fall favorite!

Homemade caramel in a jar, from Fun Cheap or Free

Today, I've got an amazing homemade caramel recipe that I've been making for years! It's perfect for caramel apples, caramel popcorn, dipping sauce, bathing in, the norm. It's not only a cost-effective way to enjoy caramel, but it's homemade so it's healthier for you. You're welcome. This is a perfect example of a recipe for shelf cooking since you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

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Bubba's mom has always made this recipe for caramel popcorn (check out how to make it below!), but I prefer it for making caramel apples. However you choose to use it, enjoy it! It's crazy easy to make and it will have you enjoying your fall season (or pretending that it's fall while you eat it!). Alright, so let's get on to the…


This recipe is originally from the Page Family recipe book (from my recipe book Christmas gift I mentioned HERE). I love using recipes that have been passed down from generations before, it just makes them extra special that way!


Caramel apples on a stick, from Fun Cheap or Free

The key to making homemade caramel is to continue whisking over medium to medium-low heat (so that it doesn't burn) until it gets to the desired thickness for you. I prefer to pull mine off the heat right before it reaches the soft-ball stage. If you were to drop some into a glass of water, you should be able to smush the caramel into a little ball without it dissolving in the water. At this point, it's easy to drizzle over popcorn or make caramel apples with.

If you want a thicker caramel for dipping, or if you want to make it into candies, then continue heating it until you can form a ball with your fingers once it's out of the cold water. You can also use a candy thermometer if you know what temperature you want your caramel to reach. Once it's done cooking, you can use it right away or store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Another way to know when caramel is the right consistency? Dip a clean, dry metal spoon into the heated mixture. When much of the caramel adheres to the spoon (instead of dripping right off), it's exactly how my family prefers it!


To reheat, simply microwave for 20 seconds at a time (stirring in between) until melted, or heat on very low heat on the stove or in a small slow cooker. For our caramel apple bars, we keep it in our small slow cooker on the lowest setting. Works like a champ!


Sweet popcorn in a bowl, from Fun Cheap or Free

If you're a popcorn fan, then you HAVE to make your own caramel popcorn with your delicious homemade caramel! Put some plain popcorn in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the caramel over the top and mix it up well. Put in a large baking dish and bake at 250°F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before breaking it into pieces and completely devouring (you don't wanna burn your tongue!). 😉


Enjoy this over apples, popcorn, dipped pretzel rods, or any other decadent treat you can imagine. You can also make your own caramel candies with this recipe!

Homemade caramel in a jar, from Fun Cheap or Free

Homemade Caramel

This homemade caramel recipe is so easy to make, using just a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand!
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 ounces


  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup Karo syrup, or any kind of light syrup
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk


  • Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat.
  • Whisk in sugar, then add syrup and milk.
  • Whisk on medium to medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Keep it lightly boiling and continue whisking on medium to medium-low until it comes to a soft-ball stage (*see notes), or until it reaches the desired thickness for you.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.


*Soft-ball stage: If you drop some into a glass of cold water, you should be able to smush the caramel into a little ball without it dissolving in the water. For a firmer caramel, let it boil until you can form a ball with your fingers once it’s out of the cold water.
If the softball stage feels a bit too confusing, another way I know the caramel is the right consistency my family likes when I can dip a clean metal spoon in and it drips very slowly off the spoon, leaving much of the coating on the spoon. 
Reheat the desired portion on low in a non-stick pot, stirring occasionally. Or heat in a microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until desired warmth and consistency. Note — don't overheat or it will burn!
Keyword homemade, sweet treat

Doesn't that sound so easy? Give it a try and I can promise that you won't be sorry!

Since I like to stock up in October (#Stocktober), now is a great time to stock up on the ingredients to make this delicious and easy caramel. It makes a great gift, and provides a great snack for the upcoming holidays!

Spoon dipping homemade caramel in a jar, from Fun Cheap or Free

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Check out these posts while you're snacking on your caramel 😉

Happy dipping!

Jordan Page signature from Fun Cheap or Free


  1. Michelle

    I was just wondering how many small apples this would cover. We are going to use your recipe for a school sale.

    • FunCheapOrFree

      Oh boy…I have no idea!! Haha! So sorry! It makes a large pot full though that’s not very helpful, again sorry!

    • Amarige

      mine covered 1 dozen

  2. Amanda

    What size can of condensed milk?

  3. Amy

    Could you reheat by using a crock pot on the warm setting?


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