How To Make Caramel: Here are your best steps to success when making caramel!
Hi Bold Bakers!
I think we are all in agreement that making caramel can be stressful. After years of working in kitchens I have crystallized and burnt my fair share of caramel (and then washed the pan really quickly so my chef didn’t see it), so I understand the stress as well as anyone when trying to figure out how to fix crystallized caramel, or avoid it altogether.
I even remember when I was young my mum would make caramel squares every so often, and while she was making the caramel layer we weren’t even allowed in the room. We had to wait behind a closed door. From then on I knew that making caramel was serious stuff.
Below are your steps to success, and a base caramel that can be turned into sauces, caramels, and more (like my Caramel Apple Tarte Tatin). However, making caramel is not just about following the steps — it’s also about control. Be in control of the heat and be patient, and I guarantee you will succeed.
How To Make Caramel: What are the steps?
In this post I have given a step by step guide to successful caramel making. I highly recommend that you also watch the video so you can get a good visual of what to do and most importantly what not to do.
How To Make Caramel: Step 1
Use a good quality, heavy bottomed saucepan when making caramel. Thin, cheaper cookware heats unevenly and will make your caramel process very difficult. Also do not use a non-stick pan as it is not ideal for for this job. Make sure it’s a medium size pan too, as your caramel will likely bubble up during cooking.
How To Make Caramel: Step 2
Make absolutely certain the pan is clean AND your sugar is clean and free from impurities like dirt or residue. Sugar crystals can hook up with those impurities causing your caramel to seize and crystallize.
How To Make Caramel: Step 3
Over LOW heat, let the sugar dissolve without letting it simmer ! If it starts to simmer and your sugar is still in granules and has NOT dissolved, that can crystalize your caramel. You can swirl the pot — or at this point, you can go in with a clean spatula and stir it. Once all the sugar is dissolved, THEN you can turn up the heat and allow the mix to simmer.
How To Make Caramel: Step 4
Once your mix is at a steady simmer, no more stirring!!! NO MORE! Putting a spoon or spatula in there now once it’s simmering can crystalize your caramel. If you’re following my steps and tips there really isn’t a need for you to put a spatula in there from here on in.
Ok. Sometimes, if not all the sugar was completely dissolved, you can get sugar crystallizing around the caramel. You don’t want these because during the simmering they can fall back into the caramel and that can crystalize your caramel further.
How to avoid this: Using a wet pastry brush (dipped in water), wash down/dissolve the sugar crystals which collect on the side, because this will stop them from building up around the edge of the caramel.
How To Make Caramel: Step 5
Be Patient. Caramel takes time to happen, maybe 20 plus minutes. If you think “forget that, I’m going to crank up the heat and make it caramelize faster,” then you are out of luck. Take your time and be patient. then you will get the best results.
Why is my caramel crystallizing?
There are a few different reasons sugar can crystalize while making caramel, which are all addressed in the 5 steps above. My short video also gives you a visual of what to look for and what to avoid.
How To Fix Crystallized Caramel?
Sorry for the bad news, because there is no coming back from crystallized caramel. Just clean your pan and start over. It can’t be used or saved. So. How do I respond when asked how to fix crystallized caramel? Avoid crystallization in the first place — and I hope this article on How To Make Caramel helps you do just that!
What to do with burned caramel?
If you burn a caramel, there’s not much you can do but toss it. It’s impossible to hide the taste of something burnt—so don’t even think about it. The best thing to do is to add more water to the pan and let it simmer, which will release the caramel and make the pan easier to clean.
How do I clean the pan after burning my caramel?
If you burn your caramel DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE SINK!
Remove it from the heat and pour a big glass of water into the pot. Stand back as it will bubble up once you add water. Then, over low heat, let the pot simmer away for 5 to 10 minutes. This will dissolve the sugar and dilute the caramel. Once the sugar has dissolved and you have a watery caramel you can then pour it down the sink without worrying about it setting in your drain.
Do I need a candy thermometer?
You only need a candy thermometer when actually making candies, sweets, marshmallows, etc. and the recipe requires you to bring the sugar to a certain temperature, like soft or hard ball stage. They are inexpensive and very handy to have in your kitchen drawer. However, you don’t need a thermometer for making a basic caramel.
Recipes To Use The Perfect Caramel You Just Made!
If you made it through the process of How To Make Caramel, that’s wonderful! If you didn’t, I hope you won’t give up — you’ll get it, and when you do, you’ll be ready to make some of my absolute caramel favorites, like my Signature Salted Caramel Sauce recipe.
If you want that caramel taste in the easiest way, though, be sure to try my Microwave Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe! And if you’re vegan, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered there too: my Vegan Caramel Sauce.
More Bold Baking Basics to get you baking with confidence!
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Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I’m passionate about sharing my years of experience to show you how to make game-changing baking recipes with over-the-top results! Join more than 1 Million other Bold Bakers in the community for new video recipes every week!
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