This easy Caramel Apple recipe will make anyone feel like a kid again. Starting with a homemade caramel sauce, these customizable, homemade Caramel Apples will make you forget all about the store-bought kind.

Decorated caramel apples on a cooling rack.
Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Caramel Apples Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for caramel apples.

Ingredient notes

  • Apples: I prefer apple varieties on the more tart side of the flavor spectrum, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, to balance the sweet caramel. But any variety you enjoy eating will work great, just as long as it’s cold when you dunk.
  • Heavy cream, brown sugar, light corn syrup, and butter: Instead of unwrapping dozens of candy caramels, follow along to learn how to make your own gooey caramel sauce from scratch using these refrigerator and pantry staples. This easy homemade caramel is from the pastry curriculum at the culinary school I attended (and have sworn by ever since).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To prepare the apples, thoroughly rinse the cold apples, and wipe well to remove the wax coating. Remove stem. Using a caramel apple stick, carefully push the stick into the apple, about ¾ of the way. Place apples on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a baking rack.
Eight apples with wooden skewers in them resting on a cooling rack.
  1. To make the caramel, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until butter is melted.
Ingredients for caramel in a small silver saucepan.
  1. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the sides of the pan and place a candy thermometer into the mixture, ensuring it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Without stirring, allow the mixture to cook until mixture reaches 235 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in vanilla. Do not over-stir. Allow mixture to cool and thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Someone temping caramel in a silver pot over a stove burner.
  1. To dip the apples, working one apple at a time, hold the apple by the stick, dip the apple into the caramel mixture, and thoroughly coat using a twirling motion.
A caramel apple being pulled out of a silver pot after being dipped.
  1. If using toppings, roll the apple into the topping. Set apple on prepared baking sheet with rack, ensuring the apples do not touch, Cool slightly and serve immediately, or allow to sit until caramel hardens, about 45 minutes. Enjoy day of for best results.
A caramel apple being dipped in toasted coconut.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 8 dunked and delicious Caramel Apples.
  • Storage: Caramel Apples are best enjoyed the day you make them. (For a fall dessert that lasts longer and can be made ahead, I recommend my Best Apple Pie or Apple Strudel.)
  • Off the stick: For small hands and mouths, remove the stick and cut the cooled caramel apple into smaller pieces that are easier to enjoy.
  • Try a toppings bar: Why limit yourself to one topping when you can choose from several? Set out shallow bowls or plates with piles of chopped nuts, rainbow-colored jimmies, toasted coconut flakes, mini chocolate chips or M&Ms, chopped candy bar pieces, graham cracker crumbs, flaky sea salt (to sprinkle, not dunk!), or your favorite sweet cereal.
Decorated caramel apples on a cooling rack surrounded by various bowls of toppings.

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Decorated caramel apples on a cooling rack.

Caramel Apples

This easy Caramel Apple recipe will make anyone feel like a kid again. Starting with a homemade caramel sauce, these customizable, homemade Caramel Apples will make you forget all about the store-bought kind.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Servings 8 apples
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 655

Ingredients 

  • 8 apples cold (see note 1)
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter (½ stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Toppings such as toasted coconut, peanuts, or sprinkles

Instructions 

  • To prepare the apples, thoroughly rinse the cold apples, and wipe well to remove the wax coating. Remove stem. Using a caramel apple stick, carefully push the stick into the apple, about ¾ of the way. Place apples on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a baking rack.
  • To make the caramel, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until butter is melted.
  • Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the sides of the pan and place a candy thermometer into the mixture, ensuring it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Without stirring, allow the mixture to cook until mixture reaches 235 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in vanilla. Do not over-stir. Allow mixture to cool and thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • To dip the apples, working one apple at a time, hold the apple by the stick, dip the apple into the caramel mixture, and thoroughly coat using a twirling motion. If using toppings, roll the apple into the topping.
  • Set apple on prepared baking sheet with rack, ensuring the apples do not touch, Cool slightly and serve immediately, or allow to sit until caramel hardens, about 45 minutes. Enjoy day of for best results.

Notes

  1. Apples: I prefer apple varieties on the more tart side of the flavor spectrum, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, to balance the sweet caramel. But any variety you enjoy eating will work great, just as long as it’s cold when you dunk.
  2. Heavy cream, brown sugar, light corn syrup, and butter: Instead of unwrapping dozens of candy caramels, follow along to learn how to make your own gooey caramel sauce from scratch using these refrigerator and pantry staples. This easy homemade caramel is from the pastry curriculum at the culinary school I attended (and have sworn by ever since).
  3. Yield: This recipe makes 8 dunked and delicious Caramel Apples.
  4. Storage: Caramel Apples are best enjoyed the day you make them. (For a fall dessert that lasts longer and can be made ahead, I recommend my Best Apple Pie or Apple Strudel.)
  5. Off the stick: For small hands and mouths, remove the stick and cut the cooled caramel apple into smaller pieces that are easier to enjoy.
  6. Try a toppings bar: Why limit yourself to one topping when you can choose from several? Set out shallow bowls or plates with piles of chopped nuts, rainbow-colored jimmies, toasted coconut flakes, mini chocolate chips or M&Ms, chopped candy bar pieces, graham cracker crumbs, flaky sea salt (to sprinkle, not dunk!), or your favorite sweet cereal.

Nutrition

Serving: 1appleCalories: 655kcalCarbohydrates: 113gProtein: 2gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 259mgPotassium: 309mgFiber: 4gSugar: 105gVitamin A: 1041IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 1mg
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