This recipe is for the best homemade English Toffee you’ll ever taste. It’s quick and easy to make, but it does require patience as it takes time for the sugar to caramelize. The result is a buttery, gooey mixture that will have you reaching for another piece.
I am a home cook with a passion for cooking. I love taking the time to make a delicious dish from scratch, and a family favorite holiday candy is homemade English Toffee. It’s easy to make, and it tastes so much better than store bought.
Classic English Toffee Recipe a Delicious Holiday Candy
This recipe has been made for decades by my great grandmother, who taught my mom how to make this buttery candy. More recently, my mom as taught me how to make this traditional English toffee recipe. I will be sharing my recipe for English Toffee that you can enjoy anytime of the year. If you’re looking for an amazing holiday treat or something special to share at your next party, give this recipe a try. You won’t regret it.
Ingredients Needed to Make This Christmas Candy
Granulated Sugar. The white sugar is used because it will caramelize nicely in this recipe.
Grade A Butter. We always use real butter in this recipe, and it should also say Grade A on the package. I use salted butter in this recipe as no other salt is added to the candy. I use the packages of real butter that has 4 sticks of butter sold at our local grocery store.
Light Corn Syrup. My mom swears by this ingredient. She said without this one simple ingredient, the whole mixture can separate near the end and become granny. Therefore, I make sure I add this. My English Toffee turns out perfect every time. While I am not sure why certain things work with this recipe, my mom has been making this for decades and mine turns out just like hers and that is perfect for me.
Vanilla Extract. We use vanilla flavoring for our recipe. Just a little creates a delicious flavor combination with the buttery toffee.
Water. Some recipes call for a large amount of water, our recipe uses a few scant tablespoons.
Nuts. Our family favorite combination is almond. However, my mom has used pecans, walnuts, pistachio, and peanuts. We have tried quite a few variations and we keep landing on the almonds.
Chocolate. If we can find it locally during the holiday, we use the melting chocolate that comes in large blocks. However, if we are not able to find it or make this at other times throughout the year, chocolate chips work just fine. Generally, we use milk chocolate chips. My dad likes it when we use dark chocolate.
How to Make the Best Homemade English Toffee Recipe
Grind the nuts in a food processor or coarsely chop with a knife. Set aside a cup of the ground nuts for later. The rest will be used to sprinkle on the melted chocolate topping.
Begin by adding the butter to a large heavy saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. I use my soup kettle and a wooden spoon.
Next add the sugar, light corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Continue to cook over medium-high heat stirring continuously, making sure to scrape the sides of the pan until the mixture reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit – hard crack stage. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the cup of ground nuts and stir. Once the almonds are all stirred in, pour the toffee mixture into a jelly roll pan. Make sure to scrape out the kettle and the wooden spoon.
Spread the toffee mixture in the sheet pan using an offset spatula or a stainless-steel spoon. I find the toffee does not stick to the stainless-steel. If it does start to stick, grab another spoon out of the drawer and continue.
Once the toffee is spread add the chocolate layer. Spoon half of the melted chocolate over the entire pan and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Place in a somewhere cool to allow the English Toffee to set and the chocolate to harden.
When the chocolate has hardened, it is ready to flip. Place a jelly roll pan over the top of the pan, flip over and tap on the back of the pan to loosen the toffee mixture. Add the chocolate layer to the other side. Spoon the rest of the chocolate and sprinkle nuts over the top of the chocolate. Place back in the cool space and let the chocolate harden.
Break into small pieces and enjoy.
Pro Tips for Making the Perfect English Toffee
Over the years, my mom has learned a few things about making toffee. She has had it separate near the end and there have been sugar crystals. Before she used a thermometer, she had soft crack English toffee which is just not good. It will stick to your teeth when trying to eat it.
Therefore, she has passed along all her lessons learned to me and I am sharing them with you so you can make the perfect English Toffee at home too. Believe me, she has perfected this recipe. I can’t imagine how many batches she has made over the years.
My mom told me she used to try the water method for telling if the mixture was hot enough. However, it is not an exact method. Once you have a failed attempt, it is enough to make you cry. Therefore, my great-grandmother sent her $10 in the mail so my mom could go and purchase a thermometer. She still uses this same one decades later. I just love pulling this out of our special place in the cupboard each time we make this candy.
Sheet pan or jelly roll pan. I like to use the larger pans to make this holiday candy. The toffee mixture spreads out a bit thinner and it is easier to break apart into small pieces and eat.
Use a wooden spoon. Since you should be stirring constantly once the butter melts and you add the rest of the ingredients. A wooden spoon works well for this. You can keep it in the mixture without the handle getting too hot. Once you put the spoon into the mixture, keep it in or it can create sugar crystals if you take it in and out of the mixture. When stirring, make sure to scrape down the sides occasionally.
The constant stirring keeps the mixture from scorching on the bottom and it keeps the mixture from separating.
Heavy Bottomed Large Pan. The heavy bottomed pan distributed the heat evenly. I use my soup kettle for this recipe.
Methods and Ingredient Tips
Keep the temperature consistent. I use medium-high on my burner setting and keep it there. This is a recipe that is a bit finicky when it comes to the heat. If you change the heat too drastically during the cooking process, the mixture can separate, and I have yet to bring it back together after this happens.
Use salted butter. The salt in the butter is plenty; therefore, there is no need to add any additional salt to the recipe. If you prefer to know exactly how much salt is in your recipe, you could use unsalted butter and add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the mixture.
Use the light-colored corn syrup. This is an ingredient that my mom added to my great-grandmother’s recipe. She used to have so many problems with the traditional recipe separating near the end. My mom said she saw a recipe once use this in the recipe and she tried it. She said it was like magic. For some reason, once she started adding this to the recipe, it has become more of a No-Fail English Toffee. I am thankful she has perfected this recipe as mine has turned out perfect each time.
Adding Ground Nuts
Adding nuts to the toffee mixture and sprinkled on the melted chocolate. Some toffee recipes do not have the nuts added to the toffee mixture, while others do. We have had this both ways. For us, the addition of the nuts helps this English toffee just melt in your mouth. It is delicious and easy to eat.
We prefer almonds. The recipe my great-grandmother used called for pecans. My mom has tried pecans, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, and almonds. While they were all fine, we found our favorite is the almonds.
The nuts can be coarsely chopped or ground fine. A food processor works great for this.
Prepare the ground nuts before starting the toffee mixture. Once the toffee reaches the hard crack stage, it is important to get it off the heat and add the nuts. It will set up and start to harden rather quickly and you will not have enough time to chop the nuts and then add them.
Therefore, I have the cup of ground nuts sitting on the counter ready to pour in once I turn off the heat.
Chocolate layer. Really any kind of chocolate will work for this recipe. We prefer melting chocolate, but you can use chocolate wafers or chocolate chips. My dad prefers the dark chocolate, and the rest of use prefer the milk chocolate. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe container 1 minute at a time stirring between each heating. It will only take 2-3 minutes to melt the chocolate. Pro-tip. Make sure that the container is dry. If there is any water in the container at all the chocolate will seize and I have never been able to get it back to the smooth and melty stage.
How Long Does English Toffee Last?
English toffee that is stored in an airtight container will last in a cool dry place for up to a month. The refrigerator works well for this if you do not live in a cool climate in the winter. That is generally when we make this for our favorite Holiday treats.
Can you Freeze English Toffee?
Yes, you can. This is a wonderful recipe to make ahead and freeze. Just place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 4 months. When you are ready to enjoy, let this thaw and enjoy. Store in a cool place once it is thawed, if this candy is left at room temperature, the chocolate could melt, and it could all stick together.
Making Christmas Candies as a Family
For us, these are like homemade heath bars, but I think better. For me, the heath bars sometimes taste a bit burned. This is an easy recipe that can be made any time of the year. We love doing our candy making as a family day too. My mom, aunt, and my cousins will get together one day each year and make a bunch of our favorite recipes. It is a busy and long day with lots of wonderful memories over the years.
Dress up your Homemade Candy
If you want to make this even prettier, you can drizzle on white chocolate, a bit of candy sprinkles, or a bit of caramel sauce. However, the caramel sauce will not set up so you will need to keep the pieces separate or they will stick together.
What to Serve with English Toffee?
The Best Homemade English Toffee Recipe
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English Toffee Ingredients
- 1 Pound Butter
- 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- ½ Cup Light Corn Syrup
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Nuts finely chopped, I use almonds
Chocolate and Nut Topping Ingredients
- 16 Ounces Chocolate
- 6 Ounces Nuts
- Grind the nuts in a food processor or coarsely chop with a knife. Set aside a cup of the ground nuts for later. The rest will be used to sprinkle on the melted chocolate topping.
- Begin by adding the butter to a large heavy saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. I use my soup kettle and a wooden spoon.
- Next add the sugar, light corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Continue to cook over medium-high heat stirring continuously, making sure to scrape the sides of the pan until the mixture reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit – hard crack stage. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the cup of ground nuts and stir. Once the almonds are all stirred in, pour the toffee mixture into a jelly roll pan. Make sure to scrape out the kettle and the wooden spoon.
- Spread the toffee mixture in the sheet pan using an offset spatula or a stainless-steel spoon. I find the toffee does not stick to the stainless-steel. If it does start to stick, grab another spoon out of the drawer and continue.
- Once the toffee is spread add the chocolate layer. Spoon half of the melted chocolate over the entire pan and sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Place in a somewhere cool to allow the English Toffee to set and the chocolate to harden.
- When the chocolate has hardened, it is ready to flip. Place a jelly roll pan over the top of the pan, flip over and tap on the back of the pan to loosen the toffee mixture. Add the chocolate layer to the other side. Spoon the rest of the chocolate and sprinkle nuts over the top of the chocolate. Place back in the cool space and let the chocolate harden.
- Break into small pieces and enjoy.