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The Best Caramels - 2021

Last updated on November 5, 2021
Best Caramels

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Our Picks For The Top Caramels

Show Contents
Our Take
  Top Pick

Tara’s Gluten Free Copper Kettle Cooked Sea Salt Caramels

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Tara's

Gluten Free Copper Kettle Cooked Sea Salt Caramels

Overall Take

Rich TasteThese caramels are handcrafted using a time-tested recipe for a rich, luxurious taste.

  Runner Up

Kraft Baking & Snack Caramels, 2-Pack

Kraft

Baking & Snack Caramels, 2-Pack

Overall Take

Great for BakingThese individually wrapped caramels are delicious for snacking or when used in recipes.

  We Also Like

Werther’s Long-Lasting Chewy Caramels 12-Pack

Werther's

Long-Lasting Chewy Caramels, 12-Pack

Overall Take

Everyday SnackThese caramels are perfect for everyday snacking, with a smooth and rich taste made for satisfying your sweet tooth.

  Strong Contender

Sunny Island Bulk Individually Wrapped Caramels

Sunny Island

Bulk Individually Wrapped Caramels

Overall Take

Great for SharingIf you’re looking for a sweet treat for a party or goody bag, this 2-pound bag of individually wrapped caramels will go a long way.

Guide written by Stephanie Faris
Last updated on November 5, 2021

Butter, sugar and cream — those are the key components to many types of desserts, including caramels, which have become a classic sweet treat. Whether it’s being used in recipes or enjoyed on its own, creamy, smooth caramel can satisfy any sugar craving.

But not all caramel is created equal. Often, the caramel you make at home will taste well above what you buy in stores. You can also find candymakers who sell handcrafted caramels that are better than you can make at home. Why? Because they’re made from a recipe has been perfected by an expert candymaker.

The right ingredients are only part of the equation, though. How caramels are cooked is directly related to how they turn out. The first big moment comes in the choice of dairy product. Some use heavy cream while others use evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is a lower calorie, healthier version, but heavy cream will give you a richer, smoother taste.

Pouring the cream or milk into the sugar and butter mix is when the second big moment comes. You’ll want to gradually add it in, making sure the boil remains consistent throughout the pouring process. During cooking, also make sure heat is applied steadily to keep the mixture from curdling.

To test to see whether caramel is done, drop a spoonful in a cup of ice water and try to roll it into a ball. Once the texture is firm and pliable, you’ll know the caramel is ready to pour into a pan. You’ll need to allow your caramel mixture to cool completely before cutting to make sure you get clean, solid cuts without a struggle.

If you’re making caramel for use for coating food, you’ll only need to wait for the caramel to cool for a few minutes to dip your items in. You won’t want it to completely harden until it’s covering your apple, pretzel or other yummy treat.

The Best Caramels

1
  Top Pick

Tara’s Gluten Free Copper Kettle Cooked Sea Salt Caramels

Made with real butter, heavy cream and Madagascar vanilla, these caramels are made from a recipe that’s more than a century old. They’re made in small batches with no artificial flavors or colors for a homemade taste. Each toffee in this 20-ounce jar is individually wrapped to retain freshness.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Tara's
Model
2
  Runner Up

Kraft Baking & Snack Caramels, 2-Pack

You’ll get two 11-ounce bags of individually wrapped caramels in each order. These caramels are popular for use in making candied apples, cookies and other tasty treats. With a long history dating back to 1940, these caramels are typically what people think of when they refer to caramel candy.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Kraft
Model
3
  We Also Like

Werther’s Long-Lasting Chewy Caramels 12-Pack

You’ll be well supplied in sweets with this set, which includes 12 5-ounce bags of individually wrapped soft caramels. These chewy treats are a great alternative to hard candies. Each bite is made from real butter and fresh cream to give you that soft, smooth taste.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Werther's
Model
4
  Strong Contender

Sunny Island Bulk Individually Wrapped Caramels

You’ll get about 110 individually wrapped caramels in this 2-pound bag, with each caramel wrapped in clear plastic. Each caramel has a rich, buttery flavor and chewy texture that makes dessert-lovers crave candy. The plastic can be a little challenging for small hands to unwrap, but the lightweight packaging does make it easier to pack more caramels into each bag.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Sunny Island
Model
5
  Also Great

Blue House Gourmet Boxed Caramels

You’ll get 20 handcrafted caramels in this set, delivered in a gift box that you can wrap or give directly to a recipient. Each caramel is individually wrapped in easy-to-open plastic. The ingredient list is short, with no artificial ingredients and mostly brown sugar, butter and corn syrup.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Blue House
Model

Our Caramel Buying Guide

Butter, sugar and cream — those are the key components to many types of desserts, including caramels, which have become a classic sweet treat. Whether it’s being used in recipes or enjoyed on its own, creamy, smooth caramel can satisfy any sugar craving.

But not all caramel is created equal. Often, the caramel you make at home will taste well above what you buy in stores. You can also find candymakers who sell handcrafted caramels that are better than you can make at home. Why? Because they’re made from a recipe has been perfected by an expert candymaker.

The right ingredients are only part of the equation, though. How caramels are cooked is directly related to how they turn out. The first big moment comes in the choice of dairy product. Some use heavy cream while others use evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is a lower calorie, healthier version, but heavy cream will give you a richer, smoother taste.

Pouring the cream or milk into the sugar and butter mix is when the second big moment comes. You’ll want to gradually add it in, making sure the boil remains consistent throughout the pouring process. During cooking, also make sure heat is applied steadily to keep the mixture from curdling.

To test to see whether caramel is done, drop a spoonful in a cup of ice water and try to roll it into a ball. Once the texture is firm and pliable, you’ll know the caramel is ready to pour into a pan. You’ll need to allow your caramel mixture to cool completely before cutting to make sure you get clean, solid cuts without a struggle.

If you’re making caramel for use for coating food, you’ll only need to wait for the caramel to cool for a few minutes to dip your items in. You won’t want it to completely harden until it’s covering your apple, pretzel or other yummy treat.

DWYM Fun Fact

Kraft may have brought caramels into the mainstream, but caramels were first made a thousand years ago by crystalizing sugar in boiling water. Early versions of caramel were harder, softening only after milk and fat were added to the recipe in later renditions.

Most consumers were first introduced to the tasty treat in the 1930s, when Kraft introduced caramels as part of a new spinoff company called Favorite Brands. They soon became known as Farley’s Original Chewy Caramels and were direct competitors of Brach’s Caramels. In 2000, Kraft took the brand over again, and its caramels are sold under the Kraft name to this day.

The Caramel Tips and Advice

  • In addition to cream, milk, sugar and butter, vanilla is a key ingredient in many caramels. Madagascar vanilla can add a little something extra. Some handcrafted caramels are made with that type of vanilla.
  • Most caramels ship individually wrapped. This is typically in plastic or some type of parchment paper. In some cases, the plastic can be sticky and tough to unwrap, so keep that in mind if you’re shopping for candy for someone who might have difficulty unwrapping it.
  • Caramel can tend to melt, so if you’re having it shipped, make sure you’re home to intercept the package, especially if the weather is warm where you are when it arrives.
  • Often the caramels sold in stores are packed with preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavorings. Check the ingredient list before you buy and weigh that against options that are all-natural.
  • Caramels aren’t just for eating. You can also buy them to use in recipes. If you’re making candied apples, for instance, you can melt caramels for coating your fruit to save a little time.
  • Store-bought caramels can be extra chewy and tougher than those you make or buy handcrafted. If this is a concern, look for caramels that bill themselves as homemade or smooth.
  • If you’re looking for a treat to hand out to a large group of people, you can buy individually wrapped caramels in bulk as a unique freebie for gift bags or place settings at meetings.
  • Some caramel is sold in a box, similar to how truffles are sold. The gift-friendly packaging makes them popular as a replacement for boxes of chocolates.
  • For a slight twist on caramels, consider toffee. It has a richer taste and eliminates the cream or milk from the ingredient list.

About The Author

Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and business writer whose work has appeared on numerous blogs. She worked for the State of Tennessee for 19 years, the latter six of which were spent as a supervisor. She has written content for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2011. In addition to her online content, she is also the author of eight novels for Simon & Schuster, including the Piper Morgan chapter book series.