DIY toffee bits require just a few minutes of time and they are so worthwhile! Brown sugar and butter are boiled in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and vanilla extract then poured into a thin layer to cool and harden at room temperature. No chilling required. Break apart into the most crunchy, buttery toffee pieces to use in cookies, as an ice cream topping, or to eat plain.
Add this perfect toffee to Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases made by clicking the links in my post.
Why you will love this recipe
Not to be confused with chocolate-covered toffee bits such as Heath bar or Skor bars, homemade english toffee which is made with almonds, or saltine toffee, toffee bits are made simply from brown sugar and plenty of butter. Smaller than bark, this toffee is technically candy, but don't let that intimidate you!
Here are some of the many reasons you'll love making your own crunchy toffee:
- This is an easy recipe and makes for the best toffee shards you can use in your baking recipes such as cookies or blondies, or to give away as holiday treats in cute little packaging.
- If this is your first time making toffee or any kind of candy, you will love how easy and quickly this recipe comes together. And it is better than anything you can buy at the grocery store!
- The best part if toffee is made using simple ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen pantry. And it takes just 15 minutes to prepare using a small saucepan, then set aside to cool and you've got yourself the best homemade toffee.
Ingredients needed to make this buttery toffee recipe
- Brown sugar: Use either light brown sugar or dark brown sugar to make toffee. Granulated sugar is typically used to make caramel which remains soft at room temperature, however, you can substitute granulated white sugar for brown sugar in this recipe if that is all you have. Be sure to cook the butter and sugar until it reaches hard crack stage or 305ºF otherwise you will end up with caramel that never hardens. If you do not have a candy thermometer, keep a very close eye on the boiling butter sugar mixture and stir continuously. Constant stirring ensures the toffee mixture will not burn at the bottom. The toffee is ready when it has thickened and gotten smoother. This typically takes about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter for this recipe so you can control the amount of salt in the recipe. Salted butters tend to vary in terms of the level of salt added, which can your recipe to end up too salty or not salty enough. Adding your own salt allows you to control exactly how much gets added. Having said that, if you only have salted butter, go ahead and use it, but be sure to omit the added salt in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract: Toffee can be made without vanilla extract, so feel free to omit if you do not have any or you prefer plain toffee. I like to use vanilla because it gives this buttery toffee a wonderful hint of vanilla.
- Salt: It may seem contradictory to add salt to sweet toffee, however, the salt helps balance out all the sweetness. Don't worry, your toffee will not taste salty!
Equipment needed to make delicious toffee bits at home
In the homemade candy making cooking process, certain temperatures need to be reached to create the proper consistency.
To make toffee, the hard crack stage needs to be reached. This is when the candy forms hard, brittle strands that break easily. If the toffee does not reach hard crack stage, it will remain soft and pliable when cooled, rather than hard and brittle. Hard crack stage is reached at approximately 305ºF.
The best way to measure if the toffee mixture has reached hard crack stage is with a candy thermometer. The good news is these are inexpensive to purchase and clip onto the side of the pot so you can easily see when the mixture has reached proper temperature.
If you do not have a candy thermometer, keep a very close eye on the boiling butter sugar mixture and stir continuously. The toffee is ready when it has thickened and gotten smoother. This typically takes about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
Otherwise known as a silpat, these are reusable mats used for baking. They provide a nonstick surface perfect for baking and for making toffee. The mat will not melt when the boiling mixture is poured on top of it and the hardened toffee will easily peel off the silicone mat once cooled.
I would not recommend using wax paper, as it may melt when the boiling toffee mixture is poured on top. Parchment paper is a good substitute for the silicone baking mat if you do not have one.
Baking sheet or jelly roll pan
Line the baking sheet or jelly roll pan with the silicone baking mat and place this next to the stovetop where you are making the toffee mixture. This enables you to immediately pour out the hot butter sugar mixture onto the pan to cool because the toffee will immediately start to cool and harden once removed form the heat. Therefore, you will want to be prepared to pour out the toffee quickly once it has reached the proper temperature.
How to make this homemade toffee recipe
In a medium saucepan, add the brown sugar, butter, pinch of salt, and vanilla.
Place over medium-low heat, bringing to a boil while stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture just starts to brown and thicken, about 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 305ºF (hard crack stage).
If the butter separates from the sugar, remove the pan from the heat and whisk vigorously until combined. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking over medium heat.
Once the toffee mixture has reached 305ºF, immediately remove from the heat and pour the hot sugar and butter mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet, quickly spreading into an even layer. Allow to cool at room temperature at least 20 minutes or until hardened.
Once cool, break up into small pieces with your hands or by gently banging with a rolling pin or mallet. Be gentle, as the pieces break easily and will fly all over your kitchen if hit too hard.
Like this recipe? Follow me on Pinterest for lots more recipes just like this one! And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later by clicking on one of the images below the recipe. Or, click on any of the images in this post to save to Pinterest.
How to store homemade toffee bits
Place toffee pieces in an airtight container, bowl with a lid, or ziplock bag until ready to use. Toffee should be stored at room temperature and will keep for up to two weeks.
FOR ALL MY FAVORITE BAKING TOOLS INCLUDING THOSE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE, CHECK OUT MY BAKING RESOURCES PAGE!
Did you enjoy a KICKASS BAKER recipe? Please share a comment and leave a 5 Star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Rating on this recipe! We appreciate you sharing your feedback!
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Place a silpat or piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set right next to the stove top.
- In a medium saucepan, add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and pinch of salt.1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, pinch of salt
- Place over medium heat, bringing to a boil while stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture just starts to brown and thicken, about 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 305ºF. If the butter separates from the sugar, remove the pan from the heat and whisk vigorously until combined. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking over medium heat.
- Immediately pour the hot sugar and butter mixture onto the prepared sheet pan and quickly spread into a thin layer. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes or until hardened.
- Once cool, break up into small pieces with your hands or by gently banging with a rolling pin or mallet. Be gentle, as the pieces break easily and will fly all over your kitchen if hit too hard.
- Place pieces in a jar, bowl, or ziplock bag until ready to use.