Learn how to make homemade english toffee. Our english toffee recipe includes directions for making toffee with and without a candy thermometer.
This will become your favorite homemade Christmas candy!
This is the MEGA how-to post on making english toffee! I include so many tips and tricks so you can make our english toffee recipe at home!
I don’t want to scare you away, but I want us to have realistic expectations when it comes to making english toffee.
The first 3 batches of toffee I made FAILED terribly. And baking is part of my job!
Toffee and candy making is a skill. There are so many tiny factors you need to pay attention to!
I learned a lot of tips and tricks throughout the process, am I am going to pass them onto you so you can be successful the first time you make this english toffee recipe!
What is English Toffee?
Toffee is a type of candy that is made by heating butter and sugar on the stove until it caramelizes. You heat this mixture until 300ºF, when it hits the hard crack or hard ball stage.
The result is a sweet, buttery candy mixture. Toffee is usually topped with melted chocolate. When the toffee is completely cool, you can break it into pieces.
Kitchen Tools to Make English Toffee
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions for making english toffee.
- whole almonds – with the skin on
- unsalted butter – can use salted butter
- granulated sugar
- salt – can omit if using salted butter
- vanilla extract
- milk chocolate chips
- Christmas jimmie sprinkles – optional
I have 3 very detailed tips that will help you along your way!
1. I would recommend that you plan to buy enough ingredients to make this recipe twice. I made this recipe THREE times before I felt comfortable with the process. The actual making of the recipe is really hands on and the steps happen fast, so I recommend planning ahead and getting more then enough supplies in case you need to make another batch.
Look at the first batch as your “test” batch. Take the pressure off yourself and just notice how the toffee behaves and how quickly you need to move.
2. You *can* make this recipe without a candy thermometer, however it is really helpful so you can know what the actual temperature of the candy is.
But I will say, every time I made this recipe with my candy thermometer, it was spot on with what should be happening if you were to only rely on the color and texture as your guide.
3. Be kind to yourself! I make desserts for a living and there was definitely a learning curve involved for me, so take your time, and like I said, buy enough supplies for multiple batches!
Once you nail it, you’ll get to reap the benefits! This homemade toffee is buttery, sugary with a nice crunch and it’s highly addicting!
Important notes to read before making toffee
There are 7 critical tips I recommend reading through before making your first batch of english toffee!
Tip #1 – Once the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract, which I will refer to as “the mixture” – once the mixture is cooking in the pot, do not go any longer than 20 seconds without stirring it. Do not try to multi-task during this portion of the recipe. Have everything else ready to go, so that once the toffee reaches the correct color, you can pour it onto the silicone mat.
Tip #2 – The mixture will be a pale, yellow-y color for almost the entire time you’re cooking and stirring it. It’s not until the very end of the cooking time (about 10 minutes) that it will change color. Once it changes to the amber brown color, cook and stir for no more than 60 seconds.
Tip #3 – The mixture will boil and foam, do not panic, you’re doing great! Continue to stir at least every 20 seconds for 5-10 seconds.
Tip #4 – Consistent heating is key. DO NOT raise or lower the temperature while cooking the mixture. This can result in the butter separating from the sugar. It will basically look like a solid mass and a ton of butter that will not mix.
Tip #5 – If you are using a candy thermometer, you want the temperature to reach 300º F then remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds. You’ll notice the color will change between 285-300ºF.
Tip #6 – Once you stir in the almonds, immediately pour the mixture (using oven mitts) onto a silicone mat. Moving quickly, spread with a spatula to thin out the toffee.
Tip #7 – Let the toffee sit for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle with the chocolate chips, allowing them to get melty for a minute, then spread into a nice, even chocolate layer.
Common Toffee Problems
Why did my toffee separate?
Consistent heating is key. DO NOT raise or lower the temperature while cooking the mixture. This can result in the butter separating from the sugar. It will basically look like a solid mass and a ton of oil that will not mix.
Be sure to use a heavy bottom pan or dutch oven, as those heat evenly.
How to fix separated toffee
If the toffee separates, you can attempt to fix it by adding a tablespoon of hot water and stirring until the mixture combines.
Why did my toffee turn out chewy?
The candy mixture was not heated long enough for crystallization to occur. Remember, be kind to yourself and buy enough ingredients to make at least 2 batches!
How To Store English Toffee
Room temperature – Store toffee in an airtight container or ziplock bag on the counter for up to 1 week.
How to freeze – Place pieces of toffee in an airtight freezer storage bag. It can be stored for 6 months in the freezer.
Yes! I have a gluten sensitivity myself and I love making toffee because it’s naturally gluten free. Of course you should verity that the almonds and chocolate chips you are using do not say “may contain wheat.”
While they use similar ingredients, toffee is made with only butter and sugar. They are also heated to different temperatures which help to produce the two distinct textures. Caramel is chewy while toffee is a hard crack type of candy.
More Christmas Desserts
- 1 cup whole almonds , with the skin on
- 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips, or one 12 oz package
- Christmas jimmie sprinkles
- *Find the section titled “Important notes to read before making toffee” in our post and read it before making the toffee*
- Rough chop the almonds. They don’t all need to be the same size, a variation is perfect. Place the almonds in a glass bowl and microwave for 2 minutes – stirring after each minute. We place the almonds in the microwave to give them a quick toast. Set them aside.
- Measure out 2 cups of chocolate chips and set them aside.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter is melted.
- Once the butter is melted, set a 10 minute timer. The timer is more of a guide – the toffee will be done once turns amber brown or reaches 300ºF, give or take 10 degrees. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture for approximately 8 to 13 minutes until the mixture turns light brown or amber brown. The mixture will be a pale, yellow-y color for almost the entire time you’re cooking and stirring it. It’s not until the very end of the cooking time (about 10 minutes) that it will change color. Once it changes to the amber brown color, cook and stir for no more than 60 seconds. The mixture will boil and foam, do not panic, you’re doing great! Continue to stir at least every 20 seconds for 5-10 seconds. I know, it’s extremely hands on.
- Once the mixture changes color, immediately remove from the heat and quickly stir in the chopped almonds.
- Moving quickly, pour the toffee mixture onto the lined baking sheet. Use a spatula to spread of the mixture into an even layer. It cools fast so work fast!
- As soon as you spread the toffee, sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the toffee. Wait 1 minute and spread the melted chocolate until it is smooth over the toffee.
- Sprinkle with christmas jimmie sprinkles.
- Let the toffee cool on the counter until set. Then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.