Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Inspired by the popularity of salted caramel as a flavor, I started wondering what it would taste like if you infused vodka with caramel candies and just a touch of salt. Sure, you can buy salted caramel flavored vodka off the shelf, but I prefer infusions because they keep the essence of the thing you’re infusing them with.

Turns out this is a really easy infusion. For each bottle you are making, you will need:

  • 20 caramel candies (approximately 150 grams)
  • 1 750 ml bottle of vodka
  • Pinch of salt

For the caramels, I used First Street, which is the brand for the huge bags of candy they sell at Smart N Final, and they had a very good flavor and texture. For the vodka, I went with Three Olives because this recipe needs a vodka that’s smooth and drinkable on its own. For the salt, anything will do but I used sea salt from Trader Joe’s.

Related: Marshmallow Vodka Infusion

I started by counting out my caramels:

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Then I unwrapped them and, looking at how narrow the neck of the vodka bottle is, I chopped each one in four. This also helps it infuse faster, because there’s more surface area for the vodka to touch.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Looking at them, I made a guess about how much of the vodka in the bottle they would displace, and poured myself a shot of vodka, which I enjoyed while I worked. It turned out this was exactly the right amount of vodka to pour out.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Then I stuffed the caramels into the bottle.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Once they’re all in, they tend to clump at the bottom of the bottle.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

And now comes the shaking. Twist the lid on securely, and give it a really good thorough shaking to get started.

Salted Caramel Vodka Infusion Recipe

This is the least pretty stage of the whole thing. Don’t worry, because it gets much better looking later. Over the next few days, you’ll want to shake it periodically a few times a day to keep the process going. After three or four days, it’ll look like this all the time, and shaking won’t make any difference:

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

You could stop here, but I wasn’t wild about the white frothy stuff at the top. I’m not sure what it is, probably an additive from the caramel candies, but I just wanted the whole thing to be perfectly uniform.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

So I strained it once through a coffee filter. Unlike the Skittles Vodka Infusion, I found it worked best if I poured a few ounces through a filter, then swap out a new filter for the next few ounces. Otherwise, the frothy stuff would clog up the filter and make it slow.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Once I strained it all, I realized how much of that gunk had gotten left behind in the bottle. I rinsed it, but it turned out I needed to use some Dawn to get it all out.

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

I poured the strained infusion back into the clean bottle. Then I added a pinch of salt – seriously, that’s part of an eighth of a teaspoon. Do not get too much! You can always add more later, or even add it to drinks individually.

Related: Rum Caviar Tutorial

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

And there you go – the finished product. (Since people always ask, you can buy that flask at Amazon [<–affiliate link]).

So how does it taste? Like caramel sunshine. It’s sweet, but not as much as I expected. You don’t taste the salt itself – it cuts the sweetness and enhances the flavor. Mainly, you get this buttery caramelized sugar flavor that’s strong but not heavy. It’s lighter than, say, Bailey’s or Kahlua. The goal had been to create something that was sweet but sophisticated, and this surpassed my expectations. Of course you can make it more or less sweet depending on the number of caramels you use.

Related: Starburst Vodka Tutorial

It’s delicious straight:

Salted Caramel Vodka Recipe

But I’ll be adding cocktail recipes for this as I develop them!

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  1. says

    This sounds great! I’m wondering if perhaps the white residue is milk or fat solids? Not sure if you used full cream or butter caramels but I would think that the alcohol would cause some separation to happen?

    • Jen says

      You’re probably right. The ingreients list is for the ones I used (First Street, Smart n Final’s brand): sugar, corn syrup, skim milk, hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean, cottonseed and/or palm kernel oil), whey powder, milk cream, salt, soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, vanilla flavor.

      So unless one of those oils or the whey could have caused it, it probably is the milk. It doesn’t taste like much of anything on its own.

  2. Jules says

    Two questions: Firstly, how many days does this overall process take? Will it be ready in time for Christmas if I start tomorrow morning? Secondly, how does this compare to the commercially available caramel vodkas like Lovoka and Smirnoff? My father had Lovoka recently and is still going on about it so i thought I’d make him a little bottle (i can’t find small bottles in stores here and the big ones are ridiculously expensive). But if it doesn’t taste similar, he’ll probably hate it because he’s fussy as hell and hates most alcohol.

    Thanks :)

    • Jen says

      It takes a couple of days at most. If you can shake it several times a day, it’ll probably done in 36 hours of less. As for comparison, the flavor here is more subtle and the texture is just a little bit more creamy compared to the flavored vodkas. I strongly prefer this recipe to the commercial bottles, but if he loves the commercial stuff, it’s hard to say.

      • Diane says

        Brilliant recipe, Jen! Thank you.
        About the time frame though, it’s easy to speed it up multifold and have the thing done in just a few hours.
        First, don’t cut the caramels but grate them – the lesser the pieces the easier they dissolve.
        Secondly, if you’re watching a movie and want something to do with your hands, just keep shaking the bottle from time to time, and by the end of the movie you have it nice, smooth and homogeneous, and basically ready to serve 😉

      • Jade says

        I knopw this is waaaay after the fact…just had to say this is a nice article with beautiful pics…and also that I’ve done this using my homemade butterscotch sauce and my homemade Carmel sauce and it’s divine!!! I just pout some of each into mason jars and shake away and keep them in the fridge…mix in apple juice for my Hubby’s favorite Carmel apple-tini! So yummy! :)

  3. Sheree Jefferson says

    We are at 48 hours…..Do you have to refrigerate this during the infusion process? Or if you have been refrigerating it during the process can you take it and let sit at room temp?

    • Jen says

      Because there is made from vodka and from candies that are shelf-stable (able to stay good without refrigeration for quite some time), it should be fine without refrigeration for probably months. BUT there is a bit of dairy in the caramels – milk solids and so on. So just to be safe, I’d advise keeping it refrigerated as much as possible. But taking it on a long car trip to someone’s house, or leaving it out during a party – I wouldn’t worry about that.

  4. adrianne hurtig says

    I’m totally hooked on anything caramel-salted these days, including my hot chocolate! Since the “pinch” of salt is so iffy, I was wondering if anyone has tried not salting the vodka mixture but salting the rim of the glass with a nice sea salt….like the salt a margarita. Anyone? Results?

    • Jen says

      You’re brilliant! 😀 I tried this, and it’s REALLY nice. I also tried just sprinkling the salt right into the drink after you’ve poured it, and that works nicely too. Not quite the same “bite” as the salt rim, but it lets you salt it to taste.

  5. William Froment says

    Carmel Appletini
    1 1/2 ounce Gin
    1 ounce Apple Jolly Rancher vodka/rum
    1/2 ounce Carmel vodka/rum (With or w/o salt)
    Put in shaker filled with ice and shake for 10 to 20 seconds……enjoy!!
    Variation….Use 1/2 ounce Cinnamon Jolly Rancher vodka/rum in place of Carmel for a Cinnamon Appletini!
    Either of these are just absolutely 1000% better using these home brews over the stuff you get in the store!

  6. Randi Lynne says

    I just started this a bit ago. I was thinking of adding in 1/2-1 vanilla bean the last 12 hours or so of infusion/solvation. What are your thoughts on whether this will be a noticeable flavor boost or not?

    • Jen says

      I think it’s worth a try! It might not make much difference, but I can imagine it adding some depth as well as a flavor boost.

  7. Lauren says

    Hi there! Love the look of this and can’t wait to give it a go. Have you ever tried it with dark rum or another spirit? Would you use the same volume of caramel?

    • Jen says

      I tried it with light rum, but one that had too much flavor and it clashed with the caramel. I think with a nice, mellow dark rum it could work very well. You might want to try a bit less caramel, say 1/4 fewer pieces just in case the rum adds to the sweetness. But I have a feeling the same amount as I used in this recipe will work. You can always add more caramels later. Or more rum, if it’s too sweet.

  8. Katie Kelley says

    Just made this last weekend, and it was ready in about 27 hours. It was great, just straight, but I made it use in hot apple cider. DELISH! It still separates but a quick shake makes it smooth again. Thanks for the recipe. Super easy!

  9. JimboManx says

    If you want to speed up the process, without effecting the drink. Please the bottle of vodka and sweets in the dishwasher with your pots on a normal wash cycle. The heat of the cycle will help to melt the sweets but not effect the alcohol.

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