Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels

Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels are filled with autumn's best flavors. Dry-roasted pumpkin seeds give them the perfect salty bite!

Of all the caramel recipes I've made over the years, this one ranks high. It could be my new favorite of all time. Maple syrup and bourbon give the caramels complex flavor, and pumpkin seeds deliver just the right amount of salt and crunch.

After passing these out to friends and family, someone asked if they could purchase more!

I still know people who are hesitant to delve into homemade caramel-making. There's no magic involved, but you will need a trusty candy thermometer and a big pot. To begin, you'll put all of the caramel ingredients in the big pot and place it over medium heat.

I've been using a digital probe thermometer for caramel making since 2009. I like that it has an alarm that beeps when the bubbling pot is at the right temperature. I get distracted easily and beeping things help me.  Whatever version you use, place the probe in the pot while it's still cool enough to touch.

When the butter is melted, stir everything together and then leave it alone! It will take quite a while to get things bubbling up to temperature. When the mixture starts to bubble, you can usually count on it taking 20 minutes more to reach 248-250 degrees.

While you wait for the caramel to come to temperature, butter a 13x9 baking dish, or line it with parchment like I did. I recommend the latter because you can get the candy out of the pan easier. This is also a great time to cut 5x5 squares of waxed paper. You'll need a bunch for wrapping the caramels! I use pinking shears to cut the paper, so it has a pretty zigzag edge. 

Carefully pour the cooked caramel in the pan and immediately sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds.

Chill the pan in the refrigerator until the caramel is firm. Cut the caramel slab into pieces while it's still cold for the neatest slices.

These candies would make lovely Thanksgiving favors for dinner guests, and that's exactly what I'm planning to do for this year's take-home treat. I hope you'll give them a try, and if you do, let me know what you think!

Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels
Yields about 60 caramels

1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 cup (225g) light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (240ml) light corn syrup
3/4 cup (175ml) evaporated milk
1 2/3 cup (400nl) heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (120ml) pure maple syrup
1/2 cup (120ml) bourbon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 oz. bag dry roasted, salted pumpkin seeds (shelled)

Grease a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment sheets that overhang all four sides of the pan (the cooking spray will help hold the paper in place).

In a large cooking pot, stir together the butter, sugars, corn syrup, milk, cream and maple syrup. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot or insert the probe of a digital thermometer into the mixture. Set the pot over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and all ingredients are mixed. Bring the mixture to a bubble.

When the mixture is consistently bubbling, allow the candy to cook without stirring for about 20 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 248-250°F. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon and salt. Be careful! The mixture will bubble and sputter with the bourbon addition. Stir well until the salt and bourbon are well incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and immediately sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds. Let cool 10 minutes and then refrigerate until firm, about 1-2 hours. Lift the firm caramel block out of the pan with the overhanging parchment. Cut into pieces and wrap individually in waxed paper squares.

Candies will keep at room temperature for up to one week. Refrigerate for longevity, about 8-10 days.

link Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels By Published: Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels Recipe


  1. Can one omit the bourbon for kid friendly caramels?

    1. Hi Jodie -yes! To coax forth more flavor, you could add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract in its place. Thanks for asking!

  2. These caramels look so delicious and perfect for holiday season!

  3. Hi and thanks for the recipe! Could you tell me can I change sugar with another ingredient to make this recipe super healthy?

    1. Hi Stephanie! I've been researching your request, and I'm afraid I still don't have a good answer for you. I've never made caramels without granlulated sugar. There's a recipe that Truvia offers that uses their sugar blend (stevia + cane sugar) that may improve the nutritional factors you are looking for. You can find that recipe at the link that follows.


      To give it the bourbon-maple makeover, simply add 3 tablespoons maple syrup to the recipe, and 3 tablespoons bourbon to the hot caramel mixture after it cooks. Their recipe yields less than my recipe, so that's why the amounts of bourbon and maple syrup are different. Good luck!


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