Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels (with free printable labels for gifts)

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Make these buttery, chewy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels (with real pumpkin!) in way less than an hour. Then wait for the rave reviews to come rolling in! The free printable labels make them perfect for gifting!

The inspiration for these Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels was a picture that came through one of my feeds a few weeks ago. It was an image of a plate of shiny, deep golden caramels with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt atop each one. Being a huge caramel fan, I didn’t hesitate to click on the link. I loved that the list of ingredients included real pumpkin vs simply pumpkin spice as in so many other pumpkin caramel recipes. As I perused the recipe, however, I discovered that (being a little lazy) it was a little too labor-intensive for my liking. Two saucepans, three separate bowls and a fairly lengthy list of complicated instructions. I was about to click out of the site when I had a thought…

Horizontal photo of a white serving plate of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels with a mini pumpkin in the center.

I remembered my Easy Microwave Caramels and wondered if I could adapt this new recipe to the easy microwave technique I discovered back in 2017. I could hardly wait for a few spare minutes to give it a whirl. A day later, I made those “few spare minutes” happen. I pulled out butter, cream, a can of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, corn syrup, vinegar, pumpkin pie spice and kosher salt.

All the ingredients went into a microwave-safe bowl and, over the next 25 minutes, were melded and married with the magic of the microwave. No worries about burning or constant stirring needed! Just an occasional check with an instant thermometer to ensure perfect doneness.

I poured the molten mixture into a prepared pan and let it cool briefly then stashed it in the fridge to solidify. Honestly, the most difficult part of this recipe was waiting for the caramel to cool.

Vertical photo of a white pedestal serving plate filled with Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels.

The results? SO, SO delicious! And SO, SO easy!

Horizontal extreme closeup photo of a batch of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the steps – so much easier than you could imagine! Ready?

  • Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and microwave until everything is nice and hot.
  • Give the mixture a good stir and then repeat.
  • Repeat and repeat at 5-8 minute intervals.
  • Use an instant thermometer to monitor the temperature as you go.
  • When it’s just right, pour the delectable mixture into a prepared pan and your work is done!
  • There is a (somewhat difficult) wait for the caramels to cool, but you can be doing your business at this point. The refrigerator does the work and an hour or so later, your caramel slab is ready to cut into squares or rectangles or whatever your heart desires.

Vertical extreme closeup photo of a batch of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels.

Ridiculously Easy

I call these caramels “ridiculously easy” because they are… but also because they fall into our collection of Ridiculously Easy recipes. You can read all about our Ridiculously Easy recipes in this post and see the whole collection here but I have come up with a simple nut-shell description: “These are the recipes that make you look like a kitchen rock star with minimal effort on your part”. These caramels will be sure to do just that!

How to cut caramels

Now that you’ve made this beautiful pan of Microwave Pumpkin Caramels, you need to cut them for serving or giving away. If you plan to give them away, you’ll also need to wrap them.

Vertical overhead photo of a batch of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels on a wood cutting board surrounded by mini pumpkins.

Let’s talk about cutting first. I like to put the caramel pan in the refrigerator for an hour. This firms up the caramels a bit so they’re easy to remove from the pan without distorting the shape. It also makes them much easier to cut.

Choose a long, sharp knife and spray it lightly with cooking spray then use a paper towel to wipe off any excess. After the caramels have been chilled in the refrigerator, remove them from the pan with the parchment paper extensions. I like to measure and score the surface of my caramels before cutting to ensure even pieces. You can decide if you want squares or rectangles.

Horizontal overhead closeup photo of the process of cutting Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels into perfect squares.

Once the caramel is measured and scored, cut it along the scored lines with the prepared knife. Press the tip of your knife into the side of the caramel farthest from you and draw the knife towards you, cutting quickly and evenly.

How to wrap these Microwave Pumpkin Caramels

Once the caramels are cut, you can serve them on a platter or wrap each one to keep them fresh. Some people like to use wax paper, others like parchment paper. I like these clear cellophane wrappers. The caramel doesn’t stick to them, they show off the candy and they twist nicely.

Depending on what shape and size you cut your caramels, you may have to trim the wrappers a bit. I like to have the ends overlap just a bit. For these square-cut caramels, I stack 6-8 wrappers and trim off about an inch from one end. I place a wrapper on my counter and place a caramel in the center. Then I fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the caramel and roll the caramel toward the top end of the wrapper. All that’s left is to twist the ends several times then repeat with the remaining candies.

It’s much easier to wrap caramels if they’re cold so I like to pop them back in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes after cutting them. If you wrap room-temperature caramels, they tend to lose their shape.

Give them away!

This recipe makes a big batch (64 1-inch caramels), so you’ll have plenty to enjoy and also some to share with family, friends, neighbors, etc. We created a festive label for these Microwave Pumpkin Caramels that we’re happy to share with you.

Horizontal photo of a box of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels decorated with custom labels for gift giving.

To receive a free printable PDF for the labels, just leave us a comment in the comment section below this post, letting us know that you’d like them. We will email the PDF to you with instructions on how to print and use the labels. If you’d like any of our other labels, please request them in the comment section under those particular posts. That’s how we my daughter-in-law, Lindsay, who sends out tons of labels every day, stays organized!

Horizontal overhead photo of Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramel custom labels for gift giving.

Corn syrup confusion

One last thing… if you check the ingredient list for this recipe, you’ll notice corn syrup. Corn syrup is important when making candies and some other treats with sugar. Why? Corn syrup prevents sugar from crystalizing which causes graininess. It’s a scientific reaction that you can read more about here. Other syrups like maple syrup and honey sadly do not work the same way.

This is NOT high fructose corn syrup that you hear lots of controversy about. Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are two different products. The Kitchn, a popular recipe site, explains it this way; “both products are made from corn starch, but regular corn syrup is 100 percent glucose, while high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has had some of its glucose converted to fructose enzymatically.” The article goes on to say, “Scientists are examining the potentially negative effects of consuming large amounts of fructose in the form of HFCS, but regular corn syrup is not part of that consideration, as it does not contain fructose”.

I use Karo brand corn syrup for this Microwave Caramel Corn which does not contain fructose. Its ingredient list includes, “corn syrup, salt, vanilla”. To be safe, I would recommend checking the label of the corn syrup you purchase.

Rave reviews

Ready for those rave reviews? Set aside an hour sometime soon and make a batch of these Microwave Pumpkin Caramels. No one needs to know how easy they are to make – we’ll keep that secret between you and me!

Cafe Tips for making these Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels

  • This recipe calls for brown sugar. I like to use dark brown sugar for a deeper caramel color and a richer flavor but light brown sugar also works well.
  • You’ll need an 8-inch baking pan for these caramels. If you only have a 9-inch pan, it will work but your caramels won’t be as thick. I like this 8-inch pan as it has square corners instead of round resulting in perfect square or rectangular caramels. If your pan has rounded corners though, no worries! Those irregular-shaped candies are destined for the chef’s enjoyment!
  • You’ll also need a microwave-safe bowl that will hold at least 2 quarts. A microwave-safe bowl is one that doesn’t heat up excessively in the microwave. I really like these pyrex bowls with a handle which makes them easy to use. A microwave-safe bowl should have this simbol on the bottom.

Stock Microwave symbol.

  • The total time to make these caramels is approximate as every microwave is different. For your reference, I have a 900-watt drawer microwave. It does not have a turntable. For perfect caramels (not too soft or too hard), it’s important to use an instant thermometer towards the end of the cooking process. Instant thermometers are not expensive and also work well to ensure that meat, fish, poultry, etc. are not over or undercooked, hence will save you lots of money in the long run!
  • This recipe calls for Pumpkin Pie Spice which is a spice blend used for traditional pumpkin pie. You can find Pumpkin Pie Spice at most grocery stores in the spice section or online. Here’s a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice if you prefer to make your own.
  • This recipe calls for ⅔ cup pumpkin puree (also called pure pumpkin) so you’ll probably have some left over. Save the rest to make another batch or try out one of these other pumpkin recipes.
  • These caramels get a little sprinkle of sea salt after being chilled. I like to use Maldon or Fleur de Sel. These are finishing salts, meaning they’re used sparingly at the end of a recipe, not as a seasoning salt, such as kosher salt. The salt gives a lovely little salty crunch with each bite. I tested adding the sea salt at different points and found that adding it after the caramels are chilled ensures that it doesn’t simply melt into the surface.
  • Don’t get pumpkin puree confused with pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin puree is simply pureed pumpkin. Pumpkin pie filling has sugar, spices, etc.
  • I understand that everyone does not have a microwave. If you don’t, you could use this recipe to make the caramels. It’s more labor intensive but the results will be delicious!
  • If not wrapped, these caramels are best served within 24 hours.

Thought for the day:

Now to the King eternal,
immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:7

What we’re listening to for inspiration:

Invisible God

Square Cafe Email Subscription Button for subscribing to The Café Sucre Farine food blog posts.

If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.

Ridiculously Easy Microwave Pumpkin Caramels

Make these buttery, chewy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels (with real pumpkin!) in way less than an hour. Then wait for the rave reviews to come rolling in! The free printable labels make them perfect for gifting!

Author: Chris Scheuer

Prep Time:
20 mins

Cook Time:
30 mins

Total Time:
50 mins

Servings: 64 caramels

Calories: 55 kcal


  • cup
    pumpkin puree
    also called pure pumpkin, I like the Libby brand
  • 1 ¼
    heavy cream

  • cups
    granulated sugar
  • ¾
    brown sugar
    I like dark brown sugar but either light or dark ill work

  • cup
    maple syrup
  • ¼
    light corn syrup
    I use Karo brand
  • ¼
  • 3
    I use salted butter

  • teaspoons
    pumpkin pie spice
  • ½
    kosher salt
  • 1
    white vinegar
  • 2
    vanilla extract
  • flaky sea salt
    for finishing such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel (French sea salt)


  1. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper with two ends extending over 2 edges of the pan. Spray the parchment on the bottom of the pan with non stick cooking spray then use another piece of parchment to line the bottom and the other 2 sides of the pan. You should now have 4 parchment paper extensions hanging over the edges of your pan. (The bottom will be double-lined.) Set aside.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl (at least 2 quarts) except the vanilla extract and the flaky salt. Stir to combine (don’t worry about the butter at this point – it well melt as the mixture cooks. Place in the microwave and cook on high power for 5 minutes then stir well to combine.

  3. Continue cooking for 5-minute intervals, stirring in between. After 15 minutes, begin checking the mixture with an instant thermometer after each stirring.

  4. When the temperature rises to 235˚F (112˚C), check the mixture every 2-3 minutes as the temperature can rise quickly at this point. Your goal is 243-245˚F (117-118.3˚F).

  5. In my 900-watt microwave, it takes right around 27 minutes in total to reach the correct temperature. Your time may be longer or shorter. That’s why it’s important to use an instant thermometer to check the temp as you go.

  6. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave with oven mitts. (The mixture will be extremely hot!) Add the vanilla and stir. The caramel will bubble furiously when you add the vanilla, that’s normal! Stir until the bubbling settles down and the caramel gets nice and smooth.

  7. Transfer the caramel into the prepared baking dish. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes the refrigerate until completely cool, at least 1 hour. This will make the cutting much easier.

  8. Cool to room temperature, wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 30 minutes. This will make the cutting easier.

  9. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.

  10. Spray a long, sharp knife with cooking spray. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel. then cut into squares or rectangles. I like to cut my caramels into 1=inch squares. If the knife blade gets sticky, clean it with a hot damp cloth and spray again with cooking spray.

  11. Wrap the caramels, if desired (see the post for how to wrap) or place on a parchment lined serving tray. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.

If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.

Calories 55kcal

Fat 2g

Saturated fat 1g

Trans fat 0.02g

Polyunsaturated fat 0.1g

Monounsaturated fat 1g

Cholesterol 7mg

Sodium 26mg

Potassium 18mg

Carbohydrates 9g

Fiber 0.1g

Sugar 9g

Protein 0.2g

Vitamin A 482%

Vitamin C 0.1%

Calcium 8%

Iron 0.1%

Ridiculously Easy Sea-Salted Pumpkin Microwave Caramels (with free printable labels for gifts)

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