Difference between Toffee and Caramel

Updated on April 25, 2017

Burnt sugar candies are one of those candy varieties that are so addicting. One bite of these delicious sweets makes you crave more. They are widely available and also quite easy to make. Two types of burnt sugar candy are toffee and caramel. Their color and taste are somewhat similar but they also differ in a lot of ways. Continue reading this article and discover what differentiates them.


Toffee with chocolate and nuts

Toffee is a type of burnt sugar candy that is hard and crackly. Making toffee involves the slow and careful cooking and boiling of sugar. Apart from sugar, the other ingredients in toffee are water and butter. The mixture is heated up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit until it reaches what they call the “hard crack” stage of candy making. It is the stage where the syrup forms brittle threads that crack once you try to shape it. Due to the way it is cooked, short-grain crystals are produced in making toffee. That is why this type of candy, when cooled, hardens and breaks easily.

Toffee is usually prepared in sheets and broken up into chunks as large or small pieces of toffee candy. It can be eaten as is or used as an added ingredient or garnish in various desserts. Toffee is also sometimes combined with nuts and chocolates.

Salted caramels

Caramel is a soft and chewy type of burnt sugar candy. It is made by combining sugar, water, and milk or cream. Occasionally, butter is also added to the mix. Making caramel involves heating the mixture up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. A careful watch must be placed on cooking caramel so that it reaches yet does not exceed the “firm ball” stage of candy making. This is the stage where the syrup forms malleable candy that flattens when squeezed. Caramel has long grain crystals that bend and it has a soft texture due to the moisture that is retained from the milk. When cooled, the caramel can be eaten as is or used as an added sweetener in various dessert recipes. Some add salt to the caramel to create a delightful sweet-salty blend.

Toffee vs Caramel

What is the difference between toffee and caramel? Toffee is made of sugar, water, and butter while caramel is made of sugar, water, and milk or cream. The cooking or boiling temperature for making toffee must reach up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit compared to caramel, which must be heated to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Toffee is made up of short grain crystals, hence it easily breaks and is crunchy and brittle. Caramel, on the other hand, has long grain crystals which is why it bends and is chewy and malleable. Chocolates and nuts are sometimes combined with toffee to create more delectable candies. Caramel, on the other hand, is often eaten with small amounts of salt to create that addicting sweet-salty taste.

Comparison Chart

Made from sugar, water, and butterMade from sugar, water, and milk or cream
Cooked up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (hard crack)Cooked up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit (firm ball)
Short grain crystals (breaks easily)Long grain crystals (bends)
Crunchy and brittleChewy and soft
Usually combined with nuts and chocolateUsually eaten with salt