We are about to enter a season of non-stop baking. This means that being able to whip up baking staples at the drop of a hat is absolutely essential. One such staple is undoubtedly smooth, creamy caramel, an ingredient that is sure to be used frequently in your holiday baking.

Unfortunately, most of us probably don’t have a vat of pre-made caramel just sitting around our kitchens, which means that using caramel in your baking can become quite a pain. When you have about a million other balls in the air (and dishes in the oven) who can take the time to run out a buy random ingredients like this?

The other option, of course, is to make these baking staples at home using more common ingredients. However, caramel is not one of those traditional ingredients — like say, whipped cream — that’s infamously simple to make in a flash.

Combining ingredients to make caramel.America's Test Kitchen
Making caramel is actually quite a process, usually taking anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and requiring your undivided attention. So, unless you somehow have a casual 15 minutes of time to stare at a saucepan this holiday season, you’re probably thinking that homemade caramel is off the table.

But America’s Test Kitchen has come up with a brilliant way to make homemade caramel in just minutes. It seems impossible, but you can enjoy your own sweet, delicious caramel in just 10-13 minutes of time, with almost no effort on your part.

Best of all, this recipe only requires four simple ingredients, most of which you probably have in your fridge at this very moment. It only takes three steps to make your caramel — combining the ingredients, letting them cook in the microwave, and letting your caramel sit. It’s that easy to get homemade caramel that you can use in your baking or give away as holiday gifts to the bakers in your life!

Thinking it’s too good to be true? Just check out this brilliant baking hack from our friends at America’s Test Kitchen, then let us know what you think about this quick caramel recipe in the comments section below!

Homemade Caramel

How to make caramel at home.America's Test Kitchen


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1.8 tsp. lemon juice


  1. Add your ingredients in the order listed (sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice) to a bowl and stir to combine until you’ve reached an even consistency.
  2. Once you’ve hit a smooth consistency, put the bowl in the microwave for 5-8 minutes. Choose the cook time accordingly to the strength of your microwave.
  3. Microwave until you see the mixture is entirely liquid. After the mixture has cooked, take it out of the microwave and let it sit on your counter for an additional 5 minutes. Even as the mixture sits out in the open, it will continue to cook through.
  4. Use your finished caramel in your baking or enjoy it straight from the bowl!