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Skip the Store-Bought Caramel Apples: It’s Easy to Make Them at Home

woman dipping an apply in a bowl of melted caramel
Aquarius Studio/Shutterstock

Biting into a crisp, caramel-dipped apple is one of fall’s greatest pleasures. Learn how to make caramel apples following these easy steps.

There are many ways to make caramel apples right at home. To be clear, we’re talking about apples covered in buttery rich caramel that will cover your teeth with each bite—not the bright red and hard candy-coated apples that might send you to the dentist. For a rundown on the difference, check out this quick look at caramel and candy apples.

How to Make Caramel Apples

Making caramel apples is a fun fall tradition in many homes, but if you have yet to try it, we’ll walk you through the steps. From preparing your apples to choosing tasty Halloween toppings, we’ve got something yummy for you to try.

Making caramel apples isn’t a supply heavy task, but you do need a few things:

  • A candy thermometer: Depending on which recipe you choose, you may need a candy thermometer to ensure your caramel sauce is at the right temperature.
  • Lollipop or Popsicle sticks: You’ll need to pierce your apples after removing the stem to create a handle for this sweet treat. Sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or sticks from outside also do the trick. If you want your apples to look as professional as possible, you can always buy stout bamboo skewers made specifically for the task.

Supplies in hand, you’re ready to prep!

Prepare the Apples

Placing a skewer in an apple
Emilee Unterkoefler

Wash your apples thoroughly to remove all the wax from the skin and then dry your apples completely before dipping. Cortland, Empire, and Granny Smith apples are all popular for this yummy snack.

Remove the stems and use a Popsicle stick, lollipop stick, or skewer to pierce through the apple as a way to hold your delicious treat. You’ll want to pierce through the section of the apple where you just removed the stem.

Get the Cooling Station Ready

Generously buttering the parchment paper (apples in the background)
Emilee Unterkoefler

Place a piece of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Using room temperature butter, generously grease your parchment paper. The butter will help keep the caramel apples from sticking after being placed on the parchment paper.

Set Up the Yummy Decoration Station

Separate bowls of decorative ingredients including sprinkles, candy corn, chocolate chips, and M&M's
Emilee Unterkoefler

You can dazzle your apples in so many ways shortly after you coat them with caramel. You’ll want to choose which toppings you want to use beforehand, so they’re ready to go after your apples have been dipped and slightly cooled.

Once you’ve chosen your favorite tasty embellishments, prepare them by setting each aside in its own bowl. After you coat your apples, you’ll sprinkle or dip them with these yummy decorations.

Heat the Caramel Dipping Sauce

You can prepare caramel sauce in multiple ways, depending on which ingredients you have available or how much time you want to spend. We’ve included three recipes to show you the varieties of caramel sauces you can make.

Caramel Sauce Using Melted Caramel Candies: For a quick and easy caramel sauce using melted caramel candies, check out this recipe. Involve the kids by having them unwrap each individual piece. All you’ll need to do is add a couple of tablespoons of milk, warm it up in the microwave, and your dipping sauce will be ready to go.

Get the Recipe: All Recipes

Homemade Caramel Sauce: If you want to cook up your caramel sauce, you’ll love the flavor this popular recipe brings out in each bite. By combining butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and a few other ingredients, this sauce makes the perfect rich and delightful coating.

We used this recipe to create the images for this tutorial.

Get the Recipe: Food.com

Another Homemade Caramel Sauce: This caramel sauce uses a few different ingredients like heavy cream, sugar, and molasses, but the result tastes great, too.

Get the Recipe: Simply Recipes

While all three recipes are delicious, each is special in its own way.

Dip the Apples

Dipping apples in caramel sauce
Emilee Unterkoefler

After you’ve made your caramel sauce, transfer it to a room-temperature bowl. Placing the hot caramel into a separate bowl will help cool and thicken your sauce. This is also a cautionary step so that when you dip your apples, you don’t burn your hand.

Carefully dip one apple at a time in the caramel sauce. Swirl and turn your apple so that it becomes fully coated, but leave a little bit of apple near the stick showing.

Pull the apple up and allow the excess caramel to drip back into the bowl.

Cool the Apples, Then Decorate

After you dip an apple, transfer it to the cookie sheet with the generously greased parchment paper. Once all apples are coated and transferred, place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for about ten minutes.

This will help cool the caramel just enough so the embellishments and tasty decorations still stick well.

You can either roll your apple in a bowl filled with your choice of decoration or sprinkle them on. Grab your favorite candy bar and crush it up or choose chopped nuts as your coating. The possibilities are endless.

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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