Candy Apples- A classic fall treat made from tart Granny Smith Apples with a sweet crunchy candy shell.
Nothing screams fall like a candy apple! I have been on a search for the perfect homemade candy apple recipe for a while now.
I wanted to find a coating recipe that was easy to bite through, but still had that gorgeous bright red shiny finish. After trying several recipes, I finally landed on this one and I think you are going to love it!
This recipe was originally published in July 2020. It has been updated for additional photos and content.
It's a tradition in our family to make candy apples and caramel apples at home once every fall. Even though our local cider mill has candy and caramel apples for sale at their barn, my kids love the experience of dipping their own at home.
Most people get scared about making candy at home, but it's surprisingly really easy!
For other great apple recipes, check out my apple crumble pie and my gourmet caramel apples.
In the fall, I love serving up candy apples along with other fall favorites such as Apple Cider Doughnuts and Air Fryer Mini Apple Pies for small gatherings or even a fun family night at home.
To make this simple candy apple recipe at home you will need:
- Granny Smith Apples: The best apple for it's tart flavor and contrasting green color.
- Granulated Sugar: Choose white sugar rather than a sugar that has a tint of brown which may darken the color of the red.
- Corn Syrup: For a deep red color, make sure you are using light corn syrup.
- Red Food Coloring: My favorite brand of food color to use when baking and making desserts is Wilton Gel.
You will also need a candy thermometer and sticks.
What Are The Best Apples for Making Candy Apples?
A common question many people ask is what kind of apples do I use for candy apples?
I personally love to use Granny Smith, but some other good choices include Fuji apples, Gala apples and Jazz apples. The one thing you will want to look for is a firm apple that has a crunch to it.
While you you can use any variety of apple that you like, I do recommend avoiding Red Delicious apples and Golden Delicious apples since they bruise so easily and tend to have a much softer texture that doesn't stand up as well to the crisp candy coating.
These are also my favorite apples to use to make Gourmet Caramel Apples.
How to Make Red Candy Apples
Making red candy apples is so much easier than you'd think, but there are two really important steps you need to take before even getting started on preparing the syrup and dipping your apples.
1. Preparing the Sticks
You can use regular candy sticks like these lollipop sticks by Wilton, or use real sticks found in your own backdoor or outdoors for a more rustic look like I did.
For the rustic sticks gather 6 sticks about twice the height of the apples you are using. Wash them and allow to dry overnight.
To prepare the rustic sticks, you first need to thoroughly wash them and dry them completely.
Once the sticks are clean and dry, apply some clear glue on the top half and sealed with Modge Podge. Using Modge Podge, coat the top half of each stick and apply glitter. Seal in place with a second coat.
Allow them to dry overnight.
2. Preparing the Apples
Preparing the apples is arguably the most important part of the recipe. The apples must be throughly washed and COMPLETELY dry before dipping them or the candy coating will slip off.
To prepare the apples, wash them with produce wash or vinegar. This step helps remove any wax that was applied at the grocery store.
Once they are clean, dry them off with a clean, dry cloth and allow to air dry for a few hours. I prefer to let them dry overnight so I know they're perfectly prepped. I feel more confident that making homemade candy apples will come out perfectly coated.
Dipping the Apple
Once the apples are dry, you're ready to start making your candied apples.
Start by preparing your workspace. Place a piece of wax paper on top of a a baking sheet and spray it with cooking spray.
Once you've got everything in place. Add the sugar, corn syrup and water to a small saucepan and attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan, ensuring that the thermometer tip reaches the candy mixture but isn't touching the bottom of the pan.
Heat the syrup over medium heat, until the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees.
When it's at 300 degrees, remove the pan from heat and stir in red food coloring until desired color is reached.
Dip each apple into the melted sugars, allowing access to drip off. Dip each apple 2-3 times before setting them on the sprayed wax paper to set.
How to Store Red Candy Apples
You will want to store your candy apples in the fridge once they set. Your candy apple will last up to one week in the fridge.
Other Ways to Make Candy Apples
While the red candy apple is definitely the most commonly used and seen around the fall, you can actually make them any time of the year using different colors that correspond to your party or event theme.
Around Halloween you can make the syrup orange or even black like in this recipe for Poison Candy Apples.
You can make a variety of different colors by mixing different colors of food coloring to get the shade and color you want. The less color you add makes a lighter shade and for more intense colors you can add more food coloring.
It's also fun to dip your red candy apples in coconut, chopped nuts or sprinkles. For Christmas time, consider using silver and white sprinkles and candies to create a snowflake look.
If serving them for Christmas party here's some other holiday favorites to serve with them!!
Expert Tips and FAQS
It's important the apples are 100% dry before coating them.
Making the candy coating is a slow process, be patient and stay nearby! Things move VERY quickly towards the end.
If the candy mixture sets too quick while dipping, place the mixture back onto heat to re-melt.
To easily clean your pans after this recipe, add water to the empty pan and bring to a boil. This will make it easier to clean the candy off!
If you don't have a candy thermometer, you can make a pretty close guess as to when the candy mixture is done cooking when a spoon forms a thin thread when being lifted from the mixture. If it pours off easily, it’s not done.
Nothing ruins a gorgeous candy apple like bubbles. Once the candy is set, there is no way to remove them so its better to focus on preventing them instead! Bubbles are usually caused from residual moisture on the apple, so be sure to prep your apples very carefully and make sure they are thoroughly dry.
Everyone likes a different amount of food coloring. To get the shade of red that are in these candy apples I used ½ teaspoon of red gel food coloring. Add it little by little until you get the desired shade.
I like this gel food coloring from Wilton. Wilton is my favorite brand that is easy accessible to most. It brings a vibrant red hue to the candy coating without altering the flavor.
Other Fall Recipes to Try
Did you try this recipe? Please leave a star rating in the recipe card right below! You can also write a review in the comment section further down the page I always appreciate your feedback. And don’t forget to tag me @freshcoasteats in your photos on social media, I'd love to see your results!
Homemade Red Candy Apples
- Candy Thermometer
- 6 apples granny smith
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon red food coloring
- Wash and thoroughly dry the apples. Insert a stick into the top of the apples and set aside.
- Prepare a baking sheet with wax paper, sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, corn syrup and water and attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pan, ensuring that the bottom reaches the mixture.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat, until the candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in red food coloring until desired color is reached.
- Dip each apple into the melted sugars, allowing access to drip off. Dip each apple 2-3 times before setting them on the sprayed wax paper to set.
Gorgeous candy apples! I am a heat freak, so I added a little cinnamon oil. Heading up to Apple Hill again next week for more apples. Thanks.
These remind me of my childhood, I didn't realize it only needs a few ingredients. Thanks for the recipe.