Homemade Caramel Apples

These delicious Homemade Caramel Apples with a made from scratch caramel sauce are fun to make for the whole family. The caramel sauce is kept warm in a slow cooker so the kids can join in on the apple dipping! This Homemade Caramel Apple Recipe is a fall must-make!

close up on a green apple coated in caramel sitting on parchment paper with nuts scattered around it


 

I have so many more caramel desserts that you should try!

  • Caramel Apple Dump Cake is a quick and easy dessert using yellow cake mix, apple pie filling, and caramels with a few additional ingredients mixed it.
  • Caramel Chex Mix is a mix of popcorn, chex cereal, candies, pretzels, and chocolate chips coated in caramel and baked to perfection.
  • Caramel Apple Crisp - This apple crisp is special. It filled with all of the warm, fall spices and topped with an easy homemade caramel sauce!

There is nothing more symbolic of fall than a caramel apple. Making your own homemade caramel apples is a fun and delicious fall activity that the whole family can be a part of especially when you're able to pop the caramel sauce into a slow cooker so there's no rushing. I know everyone in my family can’t wait for caramel apple season- we love to make and eat them at the first signs of fall. 

Rather than buy that store-made, processed caramel apple topping, try making your own caramel this year. I assure you that it will taste better than any caramel apple you have ever tried before. And, I’ll tell you exactly how to make it perfectly! Let’s get started. 

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Tips to Make Caramel Stick to Apples

The first time I made caramel apples, the caramel slid right off the apple. It was a sticky, impossible mess. After that first failed attempt at homemade caramel apples, I learned a few tricks to make the caramel stick to the apple. Here is what will help you create apple masterpieces:

  • Wash the apples well, and I mean scrub them. Many grocery store apples are covered in a wax coating that caramel will not stick to. Getting off as much of that wax as possible will help.
  • Chill the apples in the fridge for at least a day before you make the caramel apples. Cold apples will make the caramel harden quickly and seal to the apple.
  • Make sure the caramel is warm, not super hot. The hotter the caramel, the thinner it will be. Thin caramel will slide off quickly. 
  • After you dip the apples, place them right on a parchment lined tray and put them immediately in the fridge to harden the caramel. Less caramel will slide off the faster the caramel cools.

Try all of these tips as they are all important to making your caramel apples have a nice thick layer of caramel.

How to make Caramel Apples From Scratch

Let’s dive into the details of making caramel apples from scratch. Here is how I make my caramel apple recipe.

brown sugar, corn syrup, and water boiling in a small saucepan on a white surface with a candy thermometer in the saucepan
brown sugar, corn syrup, and water boiling in a saucepan
  1. Wash the apples well and put them in the fridge the night before. 
  2. Remove the apples from the fridge and put a stick in the end of each apple. Return them to the fridge while you make the caramel.
  3. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup and water to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the sugar to 235 degrees F which will take about 10 minutes. The sugar will be a light, golden brown. The perfect caramel color!
  4. Slowly add the butter and heavy cream. The mix will bubble and splatter a lot so go slow and be careful! Swirl the pan to help the bubbles go down. 
  5. Bring the caramel back to 235 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and salt. 
  6. Pour the caramel into a slow cooker to keep the mix warm. You want it to cold slightly and thicken before dipping the apples. Wait about 10 minutes before you start dipping your apples. 
  7. Remove the apples from the fridge and dip in the warm caramel. You can submerge the apple completely so the whole fruit is covered in caramel or ¾ of the apple like I did.
  8. Place the dipped apples on the parchment lined tray and then place the tray in the fridge to cool. 
  9. Once the caramel is cooled on the apples you can enjoy them right away. 
apple being dipped in a small slow cooker

I actually used a Dash rice steamer with the warm setting on in this photo, but a small slow cooker's warm setting works great as well.

How Long do Caramel Apples Last?

Homemade caramel apples will actually last quite a few days. Keep the apples at room temperature and they will stay fresh for about 1 week. Wrap the apples and store them in the fridge for up to three weeks. Homemade caramel apples are a great make ahead treat. Make them in advance and you will have them ready for any fall party you might be hosting!

close up of the top and side of a caramel apple on parchment paper

Frequently Asked Questions

Homemade caramel apples can be intimidating. Hot, sticky caramel sounds hard! It really is something that everyone can make and hopefully these questions and answers will help you master the caramel apple. 

Can I use milk instead of heavy cream?

Milk will make the caramel too thin. The caramel will definitely drip off the apples if you use milk. Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream are important to the recipe. 

Can I substitute light brown sugar for dark brown sugar?

Yes, you can use light brown or dark brown sugar interchangeably. Dark brown sugar will have a stronger, richer taste. 

Can I dip these homemade caramel apples in chocolate?

Once the caramel has hardened, you can dip them in chocolate. Place the caramel apples in the fridge to make the caramel really cold and firm before dipping them in the chocolate. Make sure the chocolate isn’t too hot or it may melt the caramel. You can also try a chocolate drizzle over the caramel apples for a pretty look. 

What apples can I use for caramel apples?

You can use any kind of apples you’d like! However, I like to use more sour, crunchy apples. Tart apples taste great with the very sweet caramel. Granny smith, Honeycrisp, and Liberty apples are my favorites. 

More Caramel Apple Recipes to try

close up on a green apple coated in caramel sitting on parchment paper with nuts scattered around it

Homemade Caramel Apples

These delicious Homemade Caramel Apples with a made from scratch caramel sauce are fun to make for the whole family.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 apples
Calories 631 kcal

Ingredients
  

Caramel

  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Toppings

  • 4 small granny smith apples (or 2 large apples)
  • Mini chocolate chips optional
  • Pecans optional
  • Mini m&ms optional
  • Crushed Oreos optional

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan, add in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir to combine.
  • Place over medium high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer and it turns golden brown, about 10 minutes. Don’t stir, but you can swirl the ingredients in the pan by lifting up one side of the pan and then the other to avoid burning.
  • Once the caramel comes up to temperature, slowly add in the butter and heavy cream. It may bubble up and splatter. Don’t stir, but you can again swirl the ingredients together.
  • Bring the caramel back up to 235 degrees F over medium high heat, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Once the mixture reaches 235 degrees, remove it from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla and salt. Gently stirring avoids adding bubbles to the caramel.
  • Scrape the caramel into a small slow cooker and set the temperature to low/keep warm. Stir the caramel occasionally to ensure it is warm all the way through. This caramel can be kept warm for up to two hours.
  • Place a popsicle stick or candy apple stick through the center of the apple.
  • Dip the apple in the caramel and swirl it around to coat on all sides. Before the caramel sets, add your desired toppings.
  • Place the apples on a parchment lined sheet pan and allow them to set before enjoying.
  • Store uneaten caramel apples in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 631kcalCarbohydrates: 113gProtein: 2gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 402mgPotassium: 305mgFiber: 4gSugar: 105gVitamin A: 929IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 1mg

(Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.)

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