Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (2024)

English toffee is one of those Christmas time treats that I cannot get enough of. Good toffee is crisp, yet it almost melts in your mouth. It's buttery and sweet. And of course, it's covered with chocolate and nuts.

Making toffee at home can be a bit tricky. But if you get it right, you can enjoy that crispy, buttery flavored, yummy goodness that's so much better than a store bought heath bar.

Today I'm sharing tips and tricks I've learned over the years to make the best buttery toffee. Get ready to snap off a jagged piece of homemade English toffee.

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (1)

Over the years, I've learned a few things about making toffee. I've made my fair share of mistakes. I've made chewy toffee. I've had my had the butter in my toffee separate into an icky mess.

But the last few years, I've perfected toffee making. Here are some tips to making the perfect toffee at home. Keep reading for the BEST homemade English toffee recipe!

The recipe comes from my in-laws extended family. The only change from the original recipe is using chocolate chips instead of chopping up a chocolate bar. And I don't add nuts to the top. It's the best toffee recipe I've tried.

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Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (2)

Tip #1 - Keep the temperature constant.

Avoid rapid temperature changes. No turning it up and down. I learned this several years ago.
My oldest daughter was in school, but my younger kids were not. Now days, my kids walk home from school because they walk with each other. But back then, I had to pick her up.

I started the toffee and soon realized that it was going to take too long - I needed to pick her up soon and the toffee wasn't done yet.

I turned up the temperature in an effort to speed up the cooking process. Almost immediately after doing so, the butter separated from the sugar and the toffee was ruined.

Now I make sure I have plenty of time. I start with the heat on medium high and leave it there the whole time.

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (3)

Tip #2 - Stir constantly while making toffee.

Keep the mixture moving, or it can scorch. This is also a cause of butter separation.

Tip #3 - Avoid humidity when making toffee.

Chewy toffee is bad toffee. One of the factors in creating chewy toffee is humidity. If it's a humid day it's not a good day to make toffee.

Tip #4 - Use a candy thermometer.

Toffee needs to be heated to the correct temperature {290°F} to avoid a chewy texture.

The instructions in some recipes will tell you to "cook until the color of a brown paper bag". One failed attempt at this technique was enough for me. Apparently my version of a brown paper bag was not brown enough and I ended up with chewy candy.

I'll stick with a thermometer. Be sure to calibrate your candy thermometer.

Don't have a candy thermometer? They are pretty inexpensive, so consider buying one. I've handpicked a few items, including a thermometer that might be helpful when making toffee.

You may also use the cold water test to determine if the candy is done. You will cook it to the hard crack stage.

Tip #5 - Use salted butter

Not only does it result in a better {in my opinion} flavor, it also helps to stabilize the mixture. If using unsalted butter, add 1/4 t. salt per 1 pound of butter.

Tip #6 - Prepare pan and chop nuts and chocolate before starting the toffee

Once the toffee mixture reaches the correct temperature it's important to quickly pour it into the baking sheet. You don't have a lot of time before it starts to harden, so have your sheet pan ready to go. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan, then place chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan.

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (4)

Tip #7 - Be sure to use a large heavy saucepan that distributes heat evenly.

I have an old pressure cooker pot. I inherited it from someone when I got married. The lid is missing and it's not very pretty, but the pot is heavy and perfect for candy making. I keep it around just for that.

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (5)

Tip #8 - Store toffee in an airtight container.

This batch makes a lot. To keep that crisp texture, it's important to store it in an airtight container. I often will just pop the lid onto my baking sheet. Sometimes I will store it in layers in a plastic container with lid. I place parchment paper between the layers.

Can I save my separating toffee?

Try stirring in a tablespoon of very hot water into the toffee. It may come back together, if not, try another tablespoon or two, but no more than 1/4 cup.

Enjoy your toffee making adventures. I hope these tips help! For more tips see this Toffee Making post.

Want more homemade candy recipes? You're in luck! Pretty much the whole month of December is dedicated to Christmas candies this year.

More Candy Recipes

Homemade Fudge
Candied Pecans
Caramel Chocolate Pretzels

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (6)

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (7)

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe (2024)


What can go wrong when making toffee? ›

Stirring too quickly or too often can cause the toffee to separate. Moderate the heat as needed – turn it down if the toffee is boiling or cooking too fast so it doesn't burn. Cook until the toffee registers 285-290 degrees on an instant-read or candy thermometer and is deep amber brown in color, about 20-25 minutes.

Why did my toffee turn out chewy? ›

Low and slow. Simmering the syrup for English toffee to the requisite 300°F temperature can (and should) be a slow process — up to 20 minutes or so. Don't hurry this gradual transformation; syrup that doesn't reach 300°F, or close to it, will make candy with timid flavor and chewy (not crunchy) texture.

Can you stir toffee too much? ›

I find that vigourous stirring keeps the 20 lbs or so of toffee from separating, so that's a good tip. And I've always been told that stirring TOO vigorously can cause separation also.

How do you keep butter from separating when making toffee? ›

If the two elements melt unevenly it can result in separation. If you have good stovetop burners, we recommend turning them to medium-low to allow the butter and sugar to melt gently in the beginning stages. If the heat is too high, but butter might melt too quickly and can separate from the sugar.


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