Homemade Caramel Apple Recipe

Rich, buttery, and soft caramel apples are so easy to make! All you need are a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and 30 minutes! Caramel apples are great for serving as individual treats or during the holidays.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves: 8 servings
closeup of shiny caramel apples

Making caramel apples from scratch is way easier than you think! You only need green apples, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, butter, vanilla, salt, and 30 minutes! With my tips, tricks, and step-by-step video, you’ll never have to worry about your caramel sliding or separating.

closeup of shiny caramel apples

After I posted my candy apple recipe, I got so many requests for caramel apples. Not only are they a fun family project, but making them from scratch tastes so much better! The caramel is so rich, buttery, and smooth! You won’t believe how tasty they are!

This sauce is similar to my salted caramel sauce recipe but much thicker which makes it perfect for dipping apples. You can even make it into candies by pouring it into a candy mold, letting it fully harden, and then wrap them in wax paper for some delicious homemade caramel candies!

close up of caramel apple with a bite taken out of it

Equipment you will need

caramel apple tools

These are all the tools and equipment you will need to make your homemade candy apples. Do you ABSOLUTELY have to have them? In my opinion, the only one you really need is the candy thermometer but the rest is just nice to have and will make life easier if you do have them on hand.

Candy thermometer – This handy dandy tool takes all the guesswork out of candy-making. Less stress, less mess, and more time for eating candy 😀

Heavy bottom saucepan – I prefer a saucepan with curved sides, makes dipping so much easier! The heavy bottom will help distribute heat more evenly and keep your caramel warmer for longer.

Wooden spoon – Wood is the perfect material for stirring hot ingredients because it does not conduct heat and will not shock your caramel which can sometimes cause crystalization.

Silicone mat – The best thing to place your apples onto after dipping. The apples will easily lift off. If you don’t have a silicone mat you can use foil or parchment paper that has been lightly oiled to prevent sticking.

Caramel apple ingredients

You probably have everything you need in your pantry right now to make homemade caramel apples. All you need is butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla.

What’s the best apple to use? In my opinion, a nice tart granny smith apple is the best apple to use because the tartness of the apple balances out the sweetness of the caramel so nicely! But honestly, use whatever apple you like!

The corn syrup is especially important because it not only keeps your caramel from crystalizing, it also makes the caramel stick to the apples. If you can’t get your hands on corn syrup, glucose will also work.

I’m using vanilla to flavor my caramel but you can really use anything! Try adding in some pumpkin spice, cinnamon, almond extract or you can even steep the heavy cream in some chai before adding it to the caramel. The possibilities are endless! You can even use browned butter in place of regular butter to add a rich depth and

How to prep your apples

closeup of green apples in a clear bowl

I divide my work into two days. I prep my apples on day 1 and then dip on day 2. This gives my apples time to dry fully after washing. Excess water can also cause bubbles in your caramel.

Day 1 – Wash your apples! The #1 problem people have is the caramel sliding off the apple after dipping. This is caused by the caramel melting the wax that apples are coated in when they are dipped and then the caramel has nothing to stick to.

  1. Bring a large pot of water to almost boiling and then remove it from the heat.
  2. Submerge your apples in the hot water for 1 minute, use a wooden spoon them to push them down or rotate them as needed. granny smith apples in Pot of hot water
  3. Don’t worry if your apples get discolored from the heat of the water. You won’t be able to tell after you dip and they get discolored anyway from the hot caramel.
  4. Remove the apples from the hot water and rub the surface with a clean towel to remove any wax residue. Pay special attention to the top and bottom stem area to remove water as well. wiping apple with towel
  5. Twist off the stems from the apples.
  6. Insert your candy apple sticks. I place my apple onto the work surface and then push the stick into the apple rather than holding the apple and pushing in the stick. This way you can make sure the sticks are all straight up and down. Make sure you are using apple sticks which are thicker and sturdier than wooden skewers which can break under the weight of the apple after dipping. green and red apples on a sheetpan with a pink silicone mat
  7. Place your apples onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat and then put them into the fridge to chill overnight.

How to make caramel apples step-by-step

  1. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt and butter. Mix to combine.caramel apple ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan
  2. Over medium-high heat, stir the mixture until the butter has melted and then continue to cook the mixture without any further stirring.
  3. Use a clean pastry brush with water to wash down the sides of the saucepan to prevent crystalization. If you don’t have a pastry brush, skip to the next step.
  4. Place the lid on top of themixture and continue letting your mixture cook for 5 minutes. The condensation also helps wash down the sides of the pot to prevent crystalization. caramel apple ingredients cooking in a saucepan with the lid on
  5. Attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook the caramel until it reached 240-245ºF without stirring. Stirring can cause crystalization. womans hand placing a candy thermometer into a saucepan of caramel cooking
  6. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla, taking care not to burn yourself as the caramel will bubble up when you add it. finished caramel in a saucepan
  7. Let the caramel cool down for 5-10 minutes. It will be ready to dip around 190-200º. If your caramel is too runny, allow it to cool for 5 more minutes, it will continue to firm up as it cools down. closeup of finished homemade caramel dripping from a spoon
  8. Use an oven mitt to hold your pot of caramel at an angle and gently roll your apple in the caramel until evenly coated. Make sure you go up to the stick or very close to the stick.closeup of apple being dipped into caramel
  9. Let the excess caramel drip off the bottom and gently scrap the excess on the edge of the pan before placing the apple on the silicone mat to cool.closeup of caramel apple being dippedcaramel apples on a silicone mat
  10. Let the apples cool completely. Placing the apples in the fridge will speed up the cooling, however you need to wrap them after coming out of the fridge or they will condensate. Apples will last in the fridge for a few days.
  11. If you want to add toppings, immediate dip the apple into chopped nuts, candies or whatever you like before placing it onto the silicone mat to cool down.

FAQ

What apples are best for caramel apples?


The most popular apples are Granny Smith. People prefer Granny Smith apples over other varieties because they are tart. The tartness of the apple complements the sweetness and buttery smooth flavor of the caramel sauce.

The other apple varieties you should use are Fuji and Honeycrisp.

When selecting your apples, try to grab the firmest, roundest ones that are small to medium-sized.

Should apples be cold before dipping?

Yes, the apples should be rinsed, dried, and cold before you begin dipping. Cold apples help the caramel set quickly which prevents the caramel from sliding down the apple.

How do you keep the caramel from sliding off apples?

You can prevent the caramel from sliding off of apples by ensuring the apples are washed in hot water before dipping, cleaned thoroughly, and cold before you begin dipping. Make sure your caramel is cooked to 240ºF which is the firm ball stage on your candy thermometer.

What is the difference between candy apples and caramel apples?


Although they are quite similar, the biggest difference between candy apples and caramel apples is that candy apples have a hard candy coating made from sugar and corn syrup while caramel apples have a caramel coating made from brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, and corn syrup.

It all comes down to the texture! Candy apples have a super-shiny, hard shell around the apple that shatters when you cut or bite into them. Unlike candy apples, caramel apples have a softer, chewier coating around the apple that is similar to taffy.

Both of these apple treats are delicious, and it all depends on what kind of treat you want! If you want to make candy apples at home, I have the best recipe for candy apples for you to try!

How long do caramel apples last?


Caramel apples will expire after 14 days in the refrigerator. The best way to extend this homemade treat is by storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container to keep the apple crisp and to help the caramel hold its rich and buttery flavor for as long as possible.

Do NOT store caramel apples in the freezer. If you make the mistake of storing them in the freezer. The freezer will ruin the texture of both the apples and caramel coating.

What’s the best way to eat a caramel apple?

You can definitely bite into a caramel apple, the caramel is soft enough that it won’t harm your teeth but the easiest way and best way, in my opinion, is to place the apple onto a plate and cut it into wedges first. It just makes it a little easier to handle.

The best caramel apple garnishes

If you want to add a garnish to your caramel apple that also adds a new flavor, you can drizzle your caramel apples with tempered chocolate or even dip them! Believe it or not, you can easily temper chocolate at home in the microwave! Tempered chocolate will stay shiny and stable at room temperature and tastes MUCH better than almond bark or candy coating.

In addition to adding chocolate, one of the best and easiest garnishes to add to your caramel apples is nuts. Peanuts, pecans, and even toasted coconut flakes are all excellent add-ons to elevate your homemade caramel apples.

You can also add crushed-up pieces of your favorite candy to your caramel apple, like Oreo, Butterfinger, or even M&M’s. Sprinkles are also an easy and low-maintenance garnish to add to your candy apples.

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Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
closeup of shiny caramel apples

Homemade Caramel Apple Recipe

Rich, buttery, and soft caramel apples are so easy to make! All you need are a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and 30 minutes! Caramel apples are great for serving as individual treats or during the holidays.
5 from 2 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves: 8 servings
Calories: 567kcal

Ingredients

  • 8-10 medium granny smith apples
  • 15 ounces (425 g) brown sugar
  • 8 ounces (227 g) corn syrup
  • 2.5 ounces (71 g) unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces (284 g) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Equipment

  • Candy Thermometer
  • heavy bottom sauce pan
  • Apple sticks
  • silicone mat
  • clean pastry brush
  • wooden spoon

Instructions

Day 1 – Apple Preparation

  • Bring a large pot of water to almost a boil then remove it from the heat
  • Submerge your apples in the water for 1 minute to remove the wax from the apples.
  • Dry the apples well, rubbing with pressure to make sure all the wax is removed.
  • Remove the stems from the apples by twisting them off.
  • Place your stick into apples, making sure the apple stands up straight up. Give your apple a little shake to make sure the stick is secure.
  • Place all your apples onto a sheet pan lined with a silicone mat and put them into the fridge to chill overnight or until you are ready to dip your apples.

Day 2 – Making Caramel Apples

  • In a heavy bottom sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt, and butter.
  • Over medium-high heat stir the mixture until butter has melted and then continue to cook the mixture without any further stirring.
  • Use a clean pastry brush with water to wash down the sides of the pot to prevent crystalization.
  • Place the lid on the saucepan and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes. The condensation will also wash down the sides of the pot to prevent crystalization.
  • Attach your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook the caramel until it reached 240-245ºF
  • Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla, taking care not to burn yourself as the caramel will bubble up when you add it.
  • Let the caramel cool down for 5-10 minutes. It will be ready to dip around 190-200ºF. If your caramel is too runny, allow it to cool for 5 more minutes, it will continue to set up.
  • Using an oven mitt to hold your pot of caramel at an angle, gently roll your apple in the caramel until evenly coated.
  • Let the excess caramel drip off the bottom and gently scrap the excess on the edge of the pan before placing the apple on the silicone mat to cool.
  • Let the apples cool completely. Placing the apples in the fridge will speed up the cooling, however you need to wrap them after coming out of the fridge or they will condensate. Apples will last in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.

Notes

Caramel cooked 240-245ºF will result in a nice firm caramel that will not slide down the apple but will also be soft enough to bite into. 
It is recommended that you slice your apples before eating them
You can pour excess caramel into candy molds and wrap them in wax paper to make soft caramel candies. 
If your caramel starts to get too thick while you are dipping it, return it to medium heat until it’s softened again and begin dipping again. 
To clean your saucepan, fill your pot with hot water and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes. Set the pot aside and let it cool down then wash it as usual. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1apple | Calories: 567kcal (28%) | Carbohydrates: 100g (33%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 21g (32%) | Saturated Fat: 13g (65%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg (23%) | Sodium: 194mg (8%) | Potassium: 297mg (8%) | Fiber: 4g (16%) | Sugar: 92g (102%) | Vitamin A: 841IU (17%) | Vitamin C: 9mg (11%) | Calcium: 84mg (8%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)
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