Knudsen’s Caramels

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

I typically pride myself on avoiding the impulse-buy items near the register at a grocery store, but during a recent trip to Surdyk’s, I became intrigued with the glass jar of wrapped caramels sitting on the countertop. Did I really need to buy sweets when I was already purchasing $20 worth of rich, fattening cheese? No, but once I saw the candies were made in Minnesota, I convinced myself I was boosting the local economy and grabbed two from the jar.

Good move on my part. It turns out the caramels are Knudsen’s Caramels, a Red Wing-based business of more than 20 years run by Peggy Knudsen and her family. Initially an add-on to the line of cheesecakes the Knudsens sold to area restaurants and stores, the caramels now routinely outsell the cakes, with 600-700 lbs. produced daily. One bite of a two-bite-sized caramel demonstrates why: The confection has a luxuriously buttery taste; nutty, toasted aroma; and smooth-but-not-too-sticky texture that puts commercial caramels to shame.

When asked if there’s a secret ingredient that makes her caramels so good, Peggy laughs: “A lot of butter,” which she sources from Minnesota dairies. “I hear from so many people that the caramels remind them of their mother’s or grandmother’s recipe. I’ve tried to keep that flavor.”

The Knudsens are working on a website that is due to go live in a few months, so for now, you’ll have to call to find a retailer or place an order. “We just really enjoy talking to our customers, so that’s why we’ve dragged our feet a bit on a website,” Peggy adds.

Are the caramels worth the phone call? You bet. Just hope you get your hands on them before I do.

Knudsen’s Caramels can be found locally at Surdyk’s, 303 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, for 50 cents / piece or by calling 651.385.0800.


  1. Erik Moe

    Back when I was a barista at Dunn Bros (late 90s), I was quite addicted to Knutsen’s caramels. No idea if they still carry them. Sometimes we’d melt them into a latte, but they are best alongside drip coffee.

  2. Dani

    I’ve found them at Haskell’s as well – but need to find somewhere that isn’t a liquor store in case I need a fix on Sunday!

  3. Barbara

    We find these in Ohio from time to time and they are absolutely the best in the world.

    I thought Kraft Caramels were good until I tried these.

    No comparison.

  4. Peter Raffa

    We have been ordering Knudsen Carmels for 21 years. We even had them for our wedding reception. They are by far the best caramels anywhere. We have talked to Ron several times when we call in our order, get the 5 pound box, they never last long. Enjoy!

  5. Mandy

    As a Red Wing native, I just had to have Knutsen’s Caramels at our wedding. We had them on every table. :)

  6. Carrie

    We carry Knudsens every fall and our customers are anxiously awaiting my first order of caramels to arrive! They are THE best! We love to offer treats from other local family businesses to our customers at our market and this a favorite. We tell our customers to cut the core out of one of our apples and stick a caramel or two inside and bake it for a quick dessert. UNBELIEVABLE!!

  7. Michael Vos

    I had Knutsen’s Caramels at Kowalski’s about a week ago and to be honest I have had better. I guess people have forgotten what caramel is supposed to taste like.

  8. Jill

    Victoria, I found a Rochester Magazine article about Knudsen’s that lists the ingredients as brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt, but I would call the company to confirm if you’re sensitive to gluten.

  9. Patti

    Help! I’m addicted to Knudsen’s caramels and I’m on Weight Watchers! I need to figure the points plus value per caramel. Does anyone know the grams of carbs, protein, fat and fiber in each caramel?

    Staring at the box until I can get an answer…

  10. Cindy Kennedy

    The Knudsen caramels are to die for!!!! I bought some at the gift shop at Nemours AI DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE. I keep going back in and buying more. Thank you for a great tasting caramel.

  11. donna

    yes i am on wt watchers and was wondering the carbs, fat value and calories per caramel… they are addicting

  12. Vicki Kragenbring

    I was gift of your carmels recently and am wondering if you sell them
    anywhere here in Eau Claire, WI. I would be interested in purchasing more of them as they are absolutely delicious.

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