Monday, December 5, 2022

Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee - plus Recipe

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. 

Recipe for homemade english toffee


Tips for Perfect Homemade English Toffee

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

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.

How do I prevent my toffee from separating?

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

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

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
Christmas candies - caramels, fudge, candied pecans, toffee, caramel chocolate pretzel bites.

Perfect English Toffee Recipe


  1. That looks SO good! We love your blog!
    Brooke from

  2. This looks so yummy! Great job and I love that you included your first try. It is nice to know I am not the only one that messes up every now and then:>

    Thanks so much for linking up and sharing!

  3. this looks sooo yummy! makes me wish i didn't have braces so i could make some! thanks for linking up last week!
    andie @ crayonfreckles

  4. yum, I love how easy this sounds!

  5. These are great hints for baking toffee. Question, has anyone made without nuts? I would like to know because I want to try this but no nuts can be in recipe. thanks

    1. Yes, you can make them nut free. Just make sure you grease the pan well so the toffee doesn't stick when you pour it in. Good luck with your toffee making endeavors!

  6. Hershey's? That's a new one! This looks heavenly.

  7. I’ll go with the brown paper bag color. Unfortunately your directions did not work for me and heating to 290 still did not produce desired results.

    1. I'm sorry that it didn't work for you. Did you happen to calibrate your thermometer? Sometimes thermometers can be off and by testing them you can cook to the adjusted temperature.

  8. Many recipes call for 300 instead of 290. Also, don't forget humidity plays a strong role.

  9. What heat do I use to bring the pan to a boil? Medium? Medium-high? Also do you think altitude makes a difference in candy making?

    1. I use medium high. Yes, altitude can have an affect in candy making. Mostly in the fact that water boils at a lower level at high altitudes than it does at sea level. Also, sometimes thermometers are not accurate. I suggest calibrating your thermometer. Basically that means to bring water to a boil for about 5 minutes and see what the thermometer reads. At sea level it should boil at 212 degrees. If you're at a higher altitude, it will be lower. Once you know what your thermometer boils at, then take the difference and either add or subtract it to the desired candy temperature.
      Hope that makes sense, my head spins a little just thinking about it :)

  10. What size sheet pan are you using?? I'm sure that's very important!

    1. I use a half sheet pan. It's 18 x 13 inches.

  11. Not everyone agrees that chewy toffee is bad toffee. In my opinion, the best toffee in the world is from Thornton's in the UK, and it's definitely chewy.

  12. I'm eager to try your recipe for toffee. However a little confused when you say chop nuts and chocolate bar. Chocolate bar Is not mentioned anywhere.

    1. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I apologize, I used to chop up chocolate bars instead of using chocolate chips. But chocolate chips are so much easier. I have fixed the recipe.