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What’s the Difference Between Caramel Apples and Candy Apples?

delicious caramel apples covered in crushed nuts
Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Just in case you’ve ever wondered if there was a difference between a candy apple and a caramel apple, we’ll break things down and cover the basics.

Many people use the words “candy apple” to describe any apple immersed in a sweet and delicious coating, but we’re here to clear things up. While both sweet treats take washed apples and pierce sticks into them before dipping, each has its own flavors and textures. Whichever is best is for you to decide.

What Is a Caramel Apple?

Although caramel is a type of candy, a caramel apple is not the same as a candy apple. Caramel apples—shown in the photo above—have a soft and chewy texture, and each bite brings you buttery sweet flavors. The perfectly tart apples combined with the sweet and creamy caramel flavor make for a tasty fall snack.

Caramel apples can be made in a variety of ways, depending on the homemade caramel recipe. A basic recipe uses sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, and cream, but others use ingredients like brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk.

Many opt to unwrap and melt caramel candies for a quick and easy-to-make coating. Whichever you choose is up to you.

Caramel apples are also known for being decorated and further flavored with ingredients like chopped nuts, chocolate drizzle, and various candies.

What Is a Candy Apple?

shiny red candy apples with black and white striped sticks resting on a silver platter
Arina P. Habich/Shutterstock

A candy apple is covered with a shiny red hard shell of homemade candy coating and should always be eaten with caution. The candy breaks or shatters with each bite, making it a deliciously dangerous treat to eat.

The candy apple was said to be invented by a candy-maker named William W. Kolb. While experimenting, he dipped apples in a red cinnamon mixture. Although they were intended to draw customers in around Christmas, they’re now commonly consumed around Halloween.

The candy coating is made from ingredients like water, sugar, light corn syrup, and red food coloring. Authentic candy apples have a cinnamon flavor. Nowadays, most people opt to use red food coloring instead.

Much like caramel apples, once your mixture is heated to the right degree, you evenly coat your apples, let harden, and then eat away.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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