Gourmet Caramel Apples: A quick and simple guide to making your own caramel apples from scratch at home. It's easier than you think!
Making homemade gourmet caramel apples and candy apples is an annual tradition at our house and over the years I have tried several different recipes. I finally found the perfect recipe that uses ingredients you probably have on hand.
This recipe was originally published in July 2020. It has been updated for additional photos and content.
Many people are intimidated by making homemade candy or caramel, but it's so simple! The sweetened condensed milk in this recipe really helps protect the temperature of the caramel and makes it nearly fool proof!
- large apples
- light brown sugar
- light corn syrup
- sweetened condensed milk
- vanilla extract
Best Apples for Caramel Apples
My favorite is Granny Smith. There is something about the tartness of the apple with the sweetness of the toppings that makes it the perfect combination in my opinion. However, if you tend to think that Granny Smith are a bit too tart, you can try these options:
- Jonathon: Usually a mix of yellow-green and red, these apples have just a touch of tartness to them with a firm texture and smooth skin.
- Jonagold: These apples are a cross between the Golden Delicious apples and Jonathon. Large in size with crisp texture and sweet and sour taste with a mix of pale yellow-green and red colors.
- Honeycrisp: A mostly red apple with some yellow and green speckling. The texture is ultra crisp with a well balanced sweet and tart flavor.
- Gala: Orange-red apple with a speckled appearance, sweet flavor and fine texture.
- Pink Lady: A combination of Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apples with a firm texture and sweet flavor.
How to Make Caramel Apples
Prepping the Apples
This is arguably the most important part of the recipe! It's important to clean your apples and thoroughly to remove any wax on the apples. Any residual produce wax will keep the caramel coating from sticking to the apples.
I recommend using a produce cleaner or vinegar. After washing, dry with a clean cloth and let it sit out for a few hours before dipping. Be sure they are dry as any excess water will cause issues with the caramel staying on the apples.
Once the apples are clean, you will want to insert the sticks into the apples. Start by removing the stem. To insert the sticks, carefully place the apple on a cutting board or solid surface area and gently press the stick straight in stopping when you get about halfway into the apple.
Avoid turning the stick or wiggling too much, this can cause the stick to slip and juices to escape which will make it impossible for the caramel to stick to the apple.
Making the Caramel Coating
The caramel will take a while to get to boiling point, but once it does...things move quickly. It's helpful have everything laid out and prepped ahead of time so that you can move quick. This includes having a baking sheet with wax paper ready and any toppings you plan to use.
Add the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a large saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasional.
Bring the caramel coating to a boil stirring constantly. The caramel is ready when your candy thermometer reads 245 degrees.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Dip each apple into the hot caramel and immediately into toppings if desired.
Place on prepared baking sheet and allow the apples to cool completely before serving.
Gourmet Apple Toppings
When it comes to toppings for gourmet apples, the possibilities are endless.
For these apples, I wanted an elegant and timeless appeal. I also really wanted to stick to a color scheme so I used mini chocolate chips, white sugar crystals, white sprinkles and chopped nuts.
Other ideas for caramel apple toppings might include: crushed cookie crumbs, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, even crushed toffee pieces.
You can even choose holiday themed sprinkles or colored sugar to coordinate your caramel apples even more!
For more fun ideas including fruity pebble caramel apples, check out this fun article by Delish showing some unique and different toppings to add. So fun!
Caramel apples are best stored in the fridge and should be enjoyed within a week of making them. The apples may last longer if you do not insert the stick before dipping.
Have you made gourmet caramel apples at home before? Try this recipe and let me know what you think!
Serving Ideas for Caramel Apples
Serve up caramel apples for a delicious, fun snack during the fall months or any time of the year!! You can also serve them up for a fall themed party along with some of my other fall favorite recipes.
Expert Tips and FAQS
The caramel will take about 25 minutes to reach desired temperature. It's important to stir it constantly in order to prevent it from burning.
Once the caramel reaches 245 degrees things will move very quickly. It's best to make you have all the materials in place and organized prior to starting to make the caramel.
Move quickly when dipping the apples. If the caramel becomes to thick you can place it back on the heat for it to soften up again
You may want to dip your apples multiples times to get the desired level of thickness.
Have fun with your toppings! Try sprinkles, nuts, decorative sugar, chocolate drizzle and cookie crumbs.
Make sure the apples are free of wax or polish and thoroughly dry or the caramel will slip off.
The two biggest culprits when it comes to issues with the caramel sticking to the apples is the wax applied to most apples in grocery stores and water.
It's important to wash the apples thoroughly using fresh water and vinegar or a produce wash before you proceed with dipping.
After washing the apples, be sure they are thoroughly dried and then allowed to sit for a few hours before dipping them in the caramel.
More Fun 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!
Gourmet Caramel Apples
- Candy Thermometer
- 6 large apples
- 1 cup butter
- 1 ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper and set aside.
- Wash and thoroughly dry the apples.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat stir the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk until combined.
- Bring to a boil stirring constantly and cook until a candy-thermometer read 245 degrees.
- Remove from heat and stir-in vanilla extract.
- Dip each apple into the hot caramel and immediately add toppings if desired.
- Place on prepared baking sheet and allow to cool before serving.