Candy Desserts Food Gifts

Salted Whiskey Caramels

March 16, 2012

Hi! Welcome to So, How’s It Taste! You may have found this post through Pinterest, so thanks for stopping by! If you’re interested in caramels, please check out my posts for Chocolate Chip Caramels and Salted Caramels. Hope to see you back soon!

Tomorrow’s St. Patrick’s Day and here’s my contribution…Salted Whiskey Caramels! I didn’t use Irish whiskey, but it’s whiskey nonetheless and that counts, right? The original recipe calls for honey-flavored whiskey, which I don’t like, so I opted for good ol’ straight Jack Daniel’s and I already had it on hand. I couldn’t wait to whip up a batch of homemade caramels, since I had such success with my first try, and find out what the added whiskey did for taste.

Salted Whiskey Caramels by So, How's It Taste

So, how’s it taste?

Om nom nom! I was pretty happy with these, although I wish I had taken them off the heat about 1 second earlier. They’re a teeny tiny tad bit darker than what I’d like, although they look as dark as the ones on Betty Crocker, and the ones I’ve done before. You really have to watch the sugar once it starts to change color, it goes fast! There’s a slight difference in taste between these and the ones without whiskey. I’m not sure if it’s a slight taste of burnt sugar from taking it off a bit late or if it’s the whiskey. I can see how the honey-flavored whiskey might blend in better, but I happen to like the taste of whiskey, so I didn’t mind. I really don’t think you’d be able to tell there’s whiskey in the caramels unless someone told you. They’re still decadently rich and creamy, with a hint of saltiness to balance. I’d make these again in a heartbeat!

Salted Whiskey Caramels

barely adapted from Baked Bree via Betty Crocker
makes 64 thin caramels in a 9-inch square pan
per caramel: 44 calories, 2g fat, 6g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein


5 tbsp. butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 oz. (1/4 cup) whiskey (I used Jack Daniel's)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. kosher (coarse) salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
up to 1 tbsp. kosher (coarse) salt, for sprinkling (you may not need the entire tablespoon)


1. Line 9-inch square pan with parchment or wax paper, allowing the paper to drape over two sides; spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. In 1-quart saucepan, heat butter, heavy whipping cream, whiskey, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.

3. In 3-quart saucepan, mix sugar, corn syrup, and water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. DO NOT STIR. Boil until sugar turns a warm golden brown.

4. When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful -- it will bubble up violently. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer. Pour caramel into pan; cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with up to 1 tablespoon salt; cool completely.

5. Cut into squares; wrap individually in parchment paper.

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  • Erin March 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I have never had/seen honey whiskey. But I really like the idea of adding either version to a caramel.

    • Leah March 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      I think Jack and Wild Turkey have honey versions. I think a lot of brands have followed suit, so you should be able to find some and experiment!

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist March 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    This look sinful. I’d eat like 10000 of them. salted anything is my weakness. Touche!

  • Holly May 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    These sound wonderful for my friends at work. I would also like to try them for an upcoming bake sale. Any ideas on a good way to package them for a bake sale? Do they stick together after they have cooled?

    • Leah May 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Holly! Yes, they are a bit sticky and will stick together even after they’ve cooled. I have another post on salted caramels and you can see how I individually wrapped a few. I took wax paper and cut it into squares, then twisted the ends. You could also try dusting them with a little powdered sugar, but that might be too messy for a bake sale. I hope you enjoy them!

  • Nikki May 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Silly question but the whiskey cooks out and makes these child friendly, right?

    • Leah May 17, 2012 at 7:31 am

      I’m not sure what the required time is for the alcohol to cook out, but these do cook for about 10 minutes after the whiskey is added. I’m not sure if kids will enjoy the taste. You may want to leave it out and try my Salted Caramels instead: Equally tasty!

  • Brad June 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Kosher salt is listed twice, with two different amounts. I see it used twice in the recipe, but which amount is used at which step?

    • Leah June 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Hi Brad, the order of the ingredients go with the order of the directions. I’ve added clarification above in the directions. Thanks!

  • Brad June 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the clarification. I am a rookie, so reading recipes is kind of new to me. Can’t wait to try this one out.

    • Leah June 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      No problem! You’re diving right in starting with homemade caramels. Good luck & enjoy!

  • Jess June 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I made these and they didn’t turn out. 🙁 Did everything like it said and they wouldn’t harden up enough for me to cut them away from the wax paper. In a last ditch effort, I froze them, trying to see if they would set, but that didn’t even help. As a compliment to you, they tasted good, but I probably wouldn’t try to make these again. 🙁

    • Leah June 16, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Hmm, sounds like your mixture may have not reached the firm ball stage. Caramel is a tricky candy to make. On the bright side, you may have a great sauce to pour over ice cream or pound cake!

  • Reggie July 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Hey! My two favs…Jack and caramels!! Have you ever tried dipping the caramels in chocolate?

  • Brooke July 11, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Jack Daniels def has a honey whiskey : )

  • Anita July 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I would looooove to make these for my husband, but I’d like for them to have a definite whiskey taste. (Since you said you probably wouldn’t notice unless told.) He’s deployed & misses his whiskey! Lol. I’d love to send him a candy that could bring back one of his favorite flavors into his life. 🙂 Could you add more whiskey for a stronger flavor? Or would that mess up the whole consistency of everything? I’ve never made carmels before, so I have no clue and don’t want to completely screw it all up!

    • Leah July 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Hmmm, I’m really not sure. It cooks for so long to get to the right caramel stage, that it might still cook out. Plus it’s such a science with the amount of liquid, so I don’t know if adding more would hinder it or not. You could always experiment and see! If it doesn’t get hard enough, you’ve got a great sauce and too hard then you’ve got hard candy (might be hard to cut though).

  • TheFoodGospelAccordingToRuth July 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    These look absolutely amazing!!!! Think I am going to have to give them a try….you know, in preparation for football season and all!

  • BettyRayStewart July 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I made these using Maker’s Mark for a Kentucky themed wedding shower and they turned out great! I doubled the recipe and made them in an 8 x 13 pan. My future sister-in-law loved them (she lives in Louisville). Thank you for the fabulous recipe!

    • Leah July 27, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      You’re welcome! Glad they turned out so well!

  • Melissa V July 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    How long do these keep? And under what conditions should I store them in? I’m toying with the idea of making these for Christmas for the Men in the family.

    • Leah July 28, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Short-term, I’d store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Long-term, they freeze great!

  • jennifer August 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Have you tried any other alcohols, like a schnapps. I’m thinking of trying with butterscotch schnapps.

    • Leah August 4, 2012 at 8:42 am

      No, I haven’t, but that sounds good!

  • Art September 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    anything like these retail?

  • Patty Squirell September 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I work at a liquor store and there is Wild Turkey Honey, Seagram’s 7 Honey (my personal fave), Evan Williams Honey, and then Jack made a honey version also. These sound delicious.

  • Hederz September 18, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    How do you know it’s done? Do you use a candy thermometer? What temperature? Is there a visible texture? Or color? I’m pretty sure that the color darkens while cooling. Do you have the technical info? I’ve had bad experiences in the past with hot sugar.

    • Leah September 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Yes, all that information is in the recipe directions.

  • Cindy September 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    I think this would be wonderful on APPLES!!!

    • Leah September 19, 2012 at 7:17 am

      Yes, that sounds awesome!

  • Daniel Beckworth September 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    If you want more whiskey taste, you can work a syringe of the type that is used to add marinate to a turkey into the center and slowly inject small amounts of whiskey. Then you have to close the hole off so it does not leak out. Not easy, and I am not sure how long the whiskey will stay inside as I only make them just before a party.

  • Daniel Beckworth September 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    They have to be fairly soft but not too soft for it to work.

  • Joan@Chocolateandmore September 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    OMG! I’ve made caramels before but never thought to add whiskey to it. Can’t wait to give this recipe a try! Following you now on FB, so glad I found you. Pinned.

  • Black Kat O'Malley September 22, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Just made these today. They were awesome. Family really liked them, but the only thing that I want to add is that IMHO the 1 TBSP of coarse Kosher salt was too much to sprinkle over the top. Also, it took me more like 15-20 min. at medium heat to get the mixture to the “firm ball” consistency. I followed your recipe exactly and the only thing that I wasn’t fond of was the wax paper sticking (even after spraying with non-stick vegetable spray) to the cooled caramel. Just my two cents. Thank you again for sharing your recipe. I would make it again, but with a few changes.

  • Audra October 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

    For Jess,
    Candies don’t turn out well if it is cloudy or
    raining. Sounds like a wives tale, but it is so true!
    I might make these for Christmas gifts! I have mostly men in my family.
    I know they’ll love them.

  • Carol October 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Just made these –

    I’ve only made caramel’s a couple of times so it’s still a new thing with me. In the process of cooking the caramel (after the cream mixture goes in) the caramel started to burn (not all the way through thankfully) right when I hit the hardball stage. Would that be because I cooked it on too high of heat? I had my stove at medium low but it could have gone lower. So there’s little swirls of darker (almost burnt) caramel mixed with the good caramel.

    Also, what about stirring during that stage? I refrained from stirring but then I had to stir a little to get the bubbles down.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    • Leah October 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Hi Carol! It does sound like you may have had the heat up too high. Every stove is different. Most recipes I’ve made for caramels instruct you not to stir, but I’ve got another recipe that tells you to stir constantly. I found the ones where you don’t stir to be better, but it really is a science. Trial & error!

  • Carol October 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    By the way, I bet these would be delish with Bailey’s Irish Creme!

  • Nina P October 11, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I made these exactly to recipe and they turned out perfectly. Thank you so much for posting this. I have a feeling they’re going to be a new family favorite. 🙂

  • Dawn October 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I tried these this weekend. First batch was way too soft at 248*. So I put them back into the pan and heated them up again, this time to 300* – too hard, almost like toffee. I also had trouble with the wax paper sticking. However, the flavor was awesome! I will definately try these again, next time to 275*, maybe into some kind of candy mold.

  • Jennifer October 16, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I tried this recipe and mine didnt harden after pouring the two mixtures together. Can I reboil the mixture to re-try? or is it just too late???

    • Leah October 16, 2012 at 8:04 pm

      I’m really not sure as I’ve never tried. My guess would be that it wouldn’t work, but again I’m not positive.

  • Melinda October 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I just made these and am in love. I used this salt. It’s a very nice compliment to the whiskey.

    Next, I’m trying a vegan version, using coconut cream and coconut oil in place of cream and butter.

  • Amber October 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    We go to a potluck “Drunken White Elephant” Christmas party every year. (Think normal white elephant gift exchange, but all gifts are adult beverages…) This will be an awesome item desert item to bring for the potluck portion. Thanks for sharing! (I found you on Pinterest.)

  • Danielle October 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Really yummy caramels but I can’t taste the whiskey. I even doubled it, used it in place of the water. Tastes like normal caramels to me… although they are really good and I will not have any problem eating every last one of them… I’m still a little sad.

    • Leah October 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Me too! I so wanted more Jack Daniel’s flavor in them. Not too shabby though!

  • Lisa November 2, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Buffalo Trace makes a Bourbon Creme (unfortunately only available in Kentucky right now) Just pondering the idea of using half of the bourbon creme and half the heavy creme and still using bourbon in as called for.

    • Leah November 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

      That sounds like it could really boost the bourbon flavor. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Brea November 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    If you want more whiskey flavor youcan try exchanging the amount amount of whiskey with the amount of water since they are both liquid…this would be the best way with the least alteration to the original recipe, as far as ingrediant consistency. Truth be told: I cannot promise that this will work because with caramels I am not entirely sure that if the alcohol content will make any difference and I have not personally tried this in this recipe.

  • Rebs November 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    I don’t even LIKE caramel but I want these SO BAD!! *whines like a child*

    Anyway, easy recipe. I have all this stuff!!

  • daniel November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    instead of whiskey, try triple sec(orange liquour). i make brownies with it and it really makes a difference!

  • christine November 12, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    i think an interesting twist on this recipe might also be to try making it with Kahlua… Kahlua has such a creamy, rich flavor that I can’t help but think it would also enhance the flavor of the caramels.

  • Kim November 12, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I think I’m going to have to make these for my brother for Christmas. He loves Jack Daniels. Should I use just the regular Jack Daniels or would it work with the honey Jack? He really likes the honey JD.

  • Emily November 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    They came out perfectly! I used Bushmill’s Irish whiskey.

  • jessica November 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    What temp do you initially heat the sugar mixture to? I see the temp for the second step, but not the first. This would help to get more consistent results…trying the recipe right now!

    • Leah November 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Hi Jessica! There’s not a specific temperature for the first step. It’s all based on the color and that can vary for people at what temperature it is at that time.

  • Deana November 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I don’t think I saw any comments about coating them in dark chocolate…I’ve tried dark chocolate and sea salt caramels and they were delicious, might help keep the caramels from being so sticky to handle too.

  • lisa November 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    i used jack daniels honey – awesome flavor! my mistake was not using a candy thermometer, i guessed and guessed wrong 🙁 but, i went out today and bought a candy thermometer and i’m going for round two! i hope they turn out!! in the meantime, the first batch i’ll be dipping apples in..yum!

  • Rachel November 19, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Nothing about this recipe worked for me. The sugar and heavy cream mixture stayed seperated. Probably cooked it on medium low for twenty minutes before turning up the heat a little. It sort of mixed together then just became a lumpy brown crust on the bottom with a caramel colored liquid on top…I followed directions to a tee…

  • Erika November 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    Im having a hard time getting the mixture to the firm ball temperature. any suggestions?

    • Leah November 22, 2012 at 8:19 am

      I’m not sure. Firm ball stage is when the candy thermometer reaches 248, but equipment and stoves vary so it’s hard to say without being in the kitchen with you. Good luck!

  • Ryan November 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I found for a more whiskey taste and potency to add some right before hardball temp. You have to be careful cos the Carmel will boil up aggressively during this. Oh ya don’t smell it right after you do this…the whiskey is really strong as it mixes.

    • Leah November 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Robin November 27, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I am going to try this recipe, I was wondering if you have ever dipped them in chocolate then sprinkle with the kosher salt, if so what were the results

    • Leah November 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

      I haven’t tried dipping caramels yet. Sounds like a great combination though!

  • Robin November 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Thank you, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

  • megan November 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    How long does it normally take to cool completely?

  • Kyla November 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I made these tonight and they are fantastic! I used 100 proof Southern Comfort and you can definitely taste the SoCo but it blends amazingly with the caramel flavor!! I highly recommend using Southern Comfort with this recipe!

  • Matt December 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I made these with apple pie flavored moonshine. They were a huge hit!

    • Leah December 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      That sounds awesome!

  • WyoSpring December 10, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Going to make these right away. But these with all recipes must be adjusted for high altitude–I am little over 6000 ft. So must adjust 12 degrees higher for them to be right!!! It all has to do with the temperature and boiling point! Wish me luck.

    • Leah December 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

      Good luck!

  • Kristina December 11, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Any idea what would happen if you use a stout beer instead of hard liquor?

  • Manda December 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Made these yesterday. You have to stir the boiled sugar and the cream mixture. I tried not to, but it never properly mixed together until I stirred it. Also: the TBSP of salt on top is WAY too much. The caramel is delicious, but is so salty. Other than that, great recipe!

  • Keivn December 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    These look delicious! I can’t wait to give them a try…I think they will be good dipped in dark chocolate as well! 🙂

  • MAL December 13, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    This recipe did make a delicious caramel Sauce but I have tried twice and 248 just isn’t quite hard enough. After some research online I found many recipes recommending the 255-260 as the definition of hard ball stage. Maybe this will help some of the others in my situation!

    On the upside now I have a whiskey caramel sauced cheesecake!

  • Julie Way December 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Awesome post, I am going to try making these for my bff for Christmas! And give her a pint or so to go along with. 😉

  • Jordan G December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    In step 4, I’m guessing it needs to be stirred? Your instructions don’t specify whether or not to stir though, so I didn’t, and they didn’t turn out AT ALL. Not until I got down to comment #52, after the fact, did I see they need to be stirred. The “sauce” that I have now does taste good, so perhaps I will try again, using the other commenter’s advice.

    • Leah December 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm

      This recipe is from another blogger and I had no problems making it the way as directed, but some folks have felt the need to stir to get the proper finished product. Sorry yours didn’t turn out, but I’m glad you have a good sauce!