Easy Microwave Caramels

Microwave Caramels 2

Who doesn’t love biting into a soft, chewy, sweet caramel? Nobody, that’s who. It’s our go-to selection when we step foot in a candy store, and we bet we’re not alone there. Candy making can seem daunting, so caramels are a task we’ve always left to the professionals. Well, until now.

See, these caramels are EASY. As in you don’t even need a candy thermometer. As in, you don’t even need to turn on your stove. Seriously. Irresistibly chewy homemade caramels are well within your reach, my friends. These caramels are made in the microwave, and they’re so easy you just might find that you always have caramels in the house. But there are worse problems to have, right?

Microwave Caramels 1

These caramels take maybe fifteen minutes of effort; the rest is just cooling time. Here’s how you do it:

You combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a big bowl and start microwaving. (Emphasis on big, you really don’t want this to boil over.) You microwave in four minute increments and stir in between. After the third round, you want to see if your caramel has reached the softball stage yet. You drop a little ball of caramel in some cold water and see if it holds together. If it does, you’re pretty much done. If it doesn’t, nuke it for another minute or so.

Stir in a touch of salt and some vanilla extract and pour it all in a pan to set up. We’d recommend adding a little sprinkling of sea salt over the top at this point… there’s just something about that salty-sweet contrast. Let them cool, and then slice them up, and get to snacking. You can wrap them individually in cute little papers or store them in the refrigerator in an air tight container. If your family doesn’t take down the whole pan right away, that is.

Microwave Caramels

30 minutes to prepare serves 6-8


  • 2 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sea salt, as needed for topping (optional)


  1. Line a with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. (Use a 9x9-inch pan for thicker caramels or a 9x13-inch pan for thinner ones.) Set aside.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, and stir to combine.
  3. Microwave for 4 minutes. Remove and stir. Microwave again for 4 minutes; remove and stir. Microwave 4 more minutes; remove and stir.
  4. Test caramel for doneness using a soft ball test. Drop a small ball of caramel into a glass of water. The caramel should hold together, but still be soft. If caramel is still too soft, microwave for 1 to 2 more minutes.
  5. When you’ve reached desired consistency, stir in vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until combined. Pour caramel into prepared pan, top with a little sea salt, if using, and let sit until completely cooled.
  6. Remove from pan and cut into squares or rectangles. Wrap each caramel in paper or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Adapted from Little Dairy on the Prairie.