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Basic Caramel

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 2/3 cup.

The caramel will harden quickly upon cooling.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice


  • Fill a cup measure halfway with water and put a pastry brush in it; this will be used for washing down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization. In a heavy-duty 2-quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water. Brush down the sides of the pan with water to wash away any sugar crystals.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent the sugar from burning in isolated spots. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more. (Once the mixture begins to color, it will darken very quickly, so keep an eye on it.)


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Reviews (12 reviews)

  • greekdaisy | 04/24/2022

    Do not use this recipe. The water is way too much. I followed this and the caramel took forever too cook and was gooey after about 30 minutes when it started to darken in color.
    I should have looked for other recipes to get a hardened caramel that I needed. I think 2 tablespoons of water would have been okay instead of 1/4 cup.

  • meehow | 04/25/2020

    This worked great for me the first time around, and makes your kitchen smell delicious. Other sources have mentioned that a little bit of the lemon juice is foolproofing the caramel making process.

  • Saoirse1916 | 10/07/2019

    I haven't made this yet, but will very soon. Just wanted to let everyone know that you don't have to brush the pan down if you use a stainless steel pan. This is per Mary Berry, and it always works for me when I make honeycomb.

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