All the best tips & tricks for making the perfect caramel apple! Quick and easy homemade caramel apple recipe included, using just a few common ingredients. It’s one of the most fun fall traditions!
I LOVE caramel, and I am always on the hunt for the perfect caramel, whether as a candy, a topping, or to dip apples in. Caramel apples are one of my favorite fall treats, and a few years ago I was determined to try and make the perfect caramel apple. I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way, and I’m excited to share them with you!
Living in upstate New York, picking apples is one of the best fall activities of the year. It really seems like the epitome of fall–sweaters, crisp air, rows and rows of apples, apple baskets, cider, and our favorite apple orchard. We look forward to it all year! After our apples are picked, caramel apples are always next on the list!
Homemade Caramel Apples Recipe
We’ve been making homemade caramel apples for years now, and it’s still a beloved fall tradition. They’re always on our fall bucket list, and we definitely look forward to making them each year. They make the perfect weekend or Sunday afternoon activity, and it’s always fun to invite friends over to join in the fun.
When it comes to the caramel, I had tried several different caramel recipes over the years, including the good old Kraft caramels. While I’ve liked several of them, I didn’t love any of them. Another problem? My caramel would always slide off the apples and leave more on the plate than on my apple. (Not that that would stop me from eating them…and scraping all that caramel off the plate, lol.)
To my delight, I eventually stumbled across another recipe and after a few changes and some tricks, it all came together and made all the difference! Making the caramel doesn’t take too much longer than melting wrapped caramels, especially because there’s nothing to unwrap. Plus, you just can’t beat the taste of homemade caramel, and the few extra minutes it takes to make a batch of caramel is TOTALLY worth it!
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How to make the perfect caramel apple…tips & tricks
- Wash your apples well, and let dry completely. This removes the wax from the outside of the apple so the caramel will stick better. I love Granny Smith apples best for caramel apples, but I’ve used lots of different kinds and loved them all! We prefer medium size apples, but it’s really a personal preference.
- Place your apples in the fridge a couple of hours before dipping. Cold apples also help the caramel to adhere.
- For the caramel apple stick, I poke a wooden stick (popsicle/craft sticks) in the center of the apple after removing the stems. I also like to use twigs/sticks from our woods for apple sticks–it gives it fun, rustic look.
- Okay, ready for the best tip ever? Lightly sand your apples! I cannot believe the difference this makes. It really works! I use a fine grit sandpaper, and gently rough up the apple–not taking off any of the skin. Doing this removes some of the waxiness, and allows the caramel to stick. After sanding, I take a damp cloth and wipe off the apples, then let dry.
- Rub the back side of a baking sheet with butter. This is where you’ll put your apples to cool after they’re dipped. I’ve found that the apples will stick even to parchment paper or wax paper, so I don’t use either one.
- Make your caramel, following the recipe exactly. You really do need to stir constantly, scraping the sides often. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, I would invest in one–I use mine all the time. I also use the cold water test–dropping some of the caramel into a cup of cold water is an easy way to see which stage your caramel is at. (Recipe below)
- Waiting just a couple of minutes after your caramel is done to dip apples really makes a big difference. When the caramel is super hot, it has more of a tendency to slide off. You don’t need to wait too long though–less than 5 minutes.
- Dip your apples at an angle, then rotate. You can dip into the pot you made the caramel in, or place a smaller amount in a bowl if that’s easier to
- Once your apples have been dipped in the caramel, place them on your prepared baking sheet. I let mine sit for about 10 minutes or so (either in the fridge or at room temperature) to harden before I add any other toppings. Leftover caramel can be poured in a buttered dish to be cut and eaten later…
- Place apples in the refrigerator to firm up–then you’re ready to eat and enjoy!
Caramel Apple Topping Ideas
- White chocolate + cinnamon & sugar
- Chocolate + peanut butter and PB cups (or peanuts)
- White chocolate and Chocolate drizzles + toffee bits
- Chocolate/White chocolate + crushed Oreos
- Chocolate/White chocolate + mini M&M
- Turtle: Chocolate + chopped pecans
- Chocolate/White chocolate + sprinkles (fall or Halloween-themed is fun)
TIP: For an easy piping bag, I melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then spoon into a sandwich bag. Push the chocolate into the corner of the bag, then snip a tiny bit off of the corner–an easy piping bag that makes the best drizzles!
Easy Homemade Caramel Apples
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8-10 apples
- Combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan. When the butter is melted, add the condensed milk. Stirring constantly, cook to 230 degrees (soft ball stage). Take off heat, and stir in vanilla. Let it cool for a few minutes before dipping—super hot caramel is more likely to slide off.