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These sweet & chewy homemade Salted Vanilla Bean Caramels, made with the goodness of browned butter and lots of vanilla beans, are the perfect holiday gift!

wrapped salted vanilla bean caramels

Welcome to Day 7 of my 12 Days of Holiday Treats Series! That means that I’m well past half way done. What on earth will I share next?!?

12 Days of Holiday Treats | Self Proclaimed Foodie

I’ve been wanting to make chewy homemade caramels for my holiday cookie boxes for years now. As much as I love holiday cookies, the overwhelming amount of flour gets a little tiresome. I like to mix it up on occasion with a chocolate truffle or something like these unbelievably delicious caramels.

uncut salted vanilla bean caramels

Until this past year, I’ve been deathly afraid of boiling sugar. It all comes back to a tragic gingerbread house incident where I was making homemade gingerbread (yes – long before the days of those easy to make kits) and was gluing the pieces together with boiling melted sugar. Well, I’ll have you know that boiling sugar works fantastic as a glue because it instantly holds the gingerbread together… much like it instantly bonds to your flesh when you sister accidentally spills some on the back of your hand. Yeah. Well. I was finally able to overcome my fear when I made some salted caramel sauce this summer.

a small pile of vanilla bean caramels

The process is reasonably similar for these caramels in that you need to get it to a very specific temperature to yield the very best results. I don’t have a candy thermometer but I do use my digital meat thermometer. Works like a charm! I also keep my hands protected from the heat by wearing my silicone oven mitt while I stir. I did a few things to take these caramels to good to DAMM GOOD. First, instead of just melting the butter, I browned it first. Then, I used a heck of a lot of vanilla beans. This is a no brainer for me because I just pull them out of the gallon sized jar of homemade vanilla extract that I’ve had soaking in my closet for the past year. I’m a firm believer that everyone should always have at least 20 vanilla beans on hand. Finally, top your sweet caramel with the most delicious flaked sea salt and you have yourself an outstanding treat that makes a fantastic gift!

A close up of a vanilla bean caramel

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Salted Vanilla Bean Caramels

Prep20 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Total35 minutes
Servings 48 caramels
These sweet & chewy homemade Salted Vanilla Bean Caramels, made with the goodness of browned butter and lots of vanilla beans, are the perfect holiday gift!


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 vanilla beans split with seeds scraped (you'll use both)
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon flaked salt I use Maldon
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  • Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil or parchment lined foil. Butter any sides of the dish that are not covered in the liner.
  • Using a medium to large saucepan (I used an 8 quart because hot bubbling sugar scares me), begin to melt butter over medium high heat. Whisk continually as butter melts and bubbles, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. When butter has successfully browned, you will have a wonderful caramel nutty aroma. Remove from heat.
  • Combine the water, sugar, vanilla beans with scraped seeds, condensed milk, corn syrup, and browned butter in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant rubber spatula. Continue stirring while cooking until the batch reaches 245ºF. You may need to use a heat protective glove over your hand while stirring.
  • The instant the caramel reaches 245ºF, immediately pour into the prepared pan and remove the vanilla bean pods using a fork. If you do this too early, the caramel won't set. If you take the temperature above the setpoint, you risk having caramel that's hard as a rock as opposed to chewy.
  • As soon as you've poured the caramel, sprinkle the salt flakes over the surface. Allow to cool completely to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Remove the sheet of caramels from the pan. Cut into the desired size pieces using a sharp chef's knife. For easy wrapping, caramels may be chilled before handling. Wrap in pieces of wax paper for individual treats. Store in airtight container at room temperature.


Calories: 105kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 64mg, Potassium: 32mg, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 110IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this? Leave me a comment below

Hi! I’m Krissy.

I love to create the BEST versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to cook, love to eat, or just have a deep appreciation for good food, you're in the right place! Stick around... I have hundreds of recipes for you to make.

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5 from 4 votes

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  1. 5 stars
    Oh yum! The browned butter adds such a rich flavor. I love using it in my baked goods, but never thought to try it with candy. Amazing!

  2. 5 stars
    THESE are delightful! And horribly addicting! So delicious. I love the salt. That might be the part that is so addicting… Gonna have to make these more often!

  3. 5 stars
    Had these over the holidays! We really loved the flavors of the salt, vanilla and caramel together! So good!