How to Make the Best Homemade Toffee

published Oct 31, 2021
Toffee Recipe

Crunchy butter toffee topped with melted chocolate and finely chopped nuts is the easiest homemade candy to gift and enjoy.

Makesabout 3 pounds

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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toffee broken up on parchment
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Homemade candy is a surefire way to impress your friends this holiday season, and no one has to know how easy it really is. If you can melt butter and read a thermometer, you can make toffee — I promise. Here, I’ll show you the best, easiest way to make buttery toffee from scratch, complete with a layer of rich chocolate and finely chopped nuts to finish.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

What’s the Difference Between English and American Toffee?

While Americans refer to most toffee as English toffee, there are two major differences between the two.

  1. Type of sugar: English toffee is traditionally made with brown sugar, while American-style toffee (called buttercrunch across the pond) is made with white sugar.
  2. Nuts: American toffee is usually made with nuts, while the British version is nut-free.

These are not hard-and-fast rules, however, so you’ll find nut-crusted toffees in Britain and encounter toffee in the States that starts with brown sugar.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

What’s the Difference Between Caramel and Toffee?

The biggest difference between caramel and toffee is texture. Whereas caramel’s texture can range from a thick sauce to chewy candy, toffee is always hard and crunchy.

To make caramel, you’ll melt sugar into a syrup either with a bit of water (this is termed wet caramel) or without (called dry caramel). Once the sugar syrup reaches the desired temperature, you stir in cream, butter, and flavorings.

Toffee is made by heating butter and sugar together to a higher temperature (usually between 295°F and 300°F), then pouring it into a pan to quickly cool and set up.

How Do I Know When My Sugar Syrup Is Ready?

To make toffee, you’ll heat sugar and butter until the sugar is caramelized and reaches the upper end of the soft crack stage (295°F to 300°F). If you don’t have a candy or deep-fry thermometer, you can use the cold water test to determine if the syrup is ready. Once the candy approaches the desired hue — light caramel, or the color of peanut butter — drizzle a small amount of the syrup into a cup of ice water. If the candy snaps rather than bends after cooling for 10 seconds in the water, it’s ready to take off the heat.

Pour the syrup onto a rimmed baking sheet that has been greased and lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Let the candy cool and begin to set up, then scatter chocolate chips over the top. The candy’s residual heat will melt the chocolate. Spread it into a smooth layer, then top with chopped, toasted almonds or pecans. When the candy is completely cool, break into pieces.

How Do I Store Toffee?

Store the toffee at cool room temperature, separating the layers of the candy with parchment paper. You can also refrigerate or freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container. (Did someone say make-ahead gift?)

Toffee Recipe

Crunchy butter toffee topped with melted chocolate and finely chopped nuts is the easiest homemade candy to gift and enjoy.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Makesabout 3 pounds

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup

    raw whole almonds or pecans

  • 1 pound

    unsalted butter

  • 2 1/2 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Arrange 1 cup whole almonds or pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop when cool.

  3. Use wrappers from 1 pound unsalted butter to grease the edges and rim of the same rimmed baking sheet and the sides of a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Line the bottom of the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and place on a heatproof surface.

  4. Place the butter, 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is almost melted completely, stir gently with a wooden spoon, being careful not to splash the edges with the sugar.

  5. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer to the pan and cook until the mixture darkens to a light caramel color or the color of peanut butter, and reaches 295°F to 300°F, 17 to 21 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally to break up any hot spots and to emulsify the butter and sugar. After every stir, rinse the wooden spoon well to remove all sugar crystals so the candy mixture doesn’t seed. If you notice sugar crystals around the edge of the pan above the syrup, brush those areas with a damp pastry brush.

  6. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Let cool until the bubbles subside and the toffee begins to set, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (careful, the baking sheet will still be very hot). Let until softened and melted, about 5 minutes. Use an offset metal spatula or a silicone spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle with the nuts, pressing gently into the chocolate.

  7. Let cool completely at room temperature, at least 3 hours. If the chocolate does not harden at room temperature, refrigerate for 20 minutes once the toffee is completely cool. Use your hands or a chef’s knife to break the toffee into large pieces.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Nuts can be toasted up to 1 week in advance. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer until ready to use.

Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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