Learn all the tips and tricks you need to make gorgeous, homemade caramel apples! These gourmet caramel-dipped apples are perfect for fall gift giving and entertaining.
Is there any treat more “fall” than caramel apples? After a trip to the orchard, I love to dip apples at home for my family and friends. The mere sight of them transports me right back to my childhood.
My favorite caramel recipe to use for dipping is my Apple Cider Caramel. With fresh apple cider and a hint of cinnamon, it’s the perfect sweet, rich, ever-so-slightly tart coating for crisp, juicy apples.
These homemade caramel apples are a gift that everyone loves to receive, and a perfect treat for a Halloween party or autumn gathering.
What are the Best Apples for Caramel Apples?
You can make homemade caramel apples from just about any apples you like best. I stay away from apples that have a very mild flavor or mealy texture, like Red Delicious.
The apples photographed here are Honeycrisp, and they’re one of my favorite apples for dipping. As their name suggests, they’re very crisp and I find that their sweet flavor complements the hint of tartness in the apple cider caramel well. I also like Fuji, Cameo, Jonathan, Pink Lady, and Jonagold.
If you prefer a more tart flavor with the sweet caramel, Granny Smith apples are a good choice. Personally, they’re a little too sour for me, but many of my friends love them paired with caramel.
How to Dip Caramel Apples
Dipping caramel apples is a cinch! I like to buy wooden apple dipping sticks at the grocery store. My market stocks them in the produce section throughout the fall, as does the local orchard. You can also find candy apple dipping sticks at craft stores, or you can use craft/popsicle sticks.
I recently saw this post on Leite’s Culinaria (one of my favorite blogs), and love the idea to use cleaned twigs instead of the traditional wooden skewers. It gives the caramel apples great character for an autumn display.
When dipping my apples, I like to have a baking sheet or tray at the ready, lined with wax paper. This makes it easy to peel the paper away from the caramel bottoms once they’ve set up. You can also use butter-brushed parchment.
To dip the apples, place the caramel in a small to medium sized pot or bowl. If necessary, you can tilt the pot to deepen the caramel depth on one side when you dip.
Hold the apple by the stick, dip it into the caramel, lower it onto its side, and roll the apple (using the stick), until the apple is evenly coated. You can either fully cover the apple, or go 3/4 of the way up the sides. Your preference!
When finished rolling, let the excess caramel drip off of the bottom before placing the apple on the prepared tray.
Making Sure the Caramel Stays on the Apple
You’re always going to get a bit of caramel pooled at the bottom of the apple as it cools. Personally, that extra caramel “foot” is one of my favorite treats!
You can minimize the foot by scraping excess caramel from the bottom of the apple before placing it on the baking sheet. I typically skip the scrape.
To make sure that the caramel doesn’t fully slide down the apple, a trick is to make sure that the apples are very well chilled before dipping. When the cold apple meets the warm caramel, it will help it start to instantly set up and adhere more effectively.
The tradeoff is that the chilled apples will cool down the caramel in the pot as you dip. If the caramel becomes too thick to create a smooth coating, just rewarm it over medium-low heat on the stove (it’ll only need about 20 seconds to thin) and continue dipping.
Toppings for Homemade Caramel Apples
My favorite way to enjoy these homemade caramel apples is with a few flakes of sea salt sprinkled over top as they set up. I love the pop of saltiness against the sweet, rich, slightly-tart caramel.
Caramel apples are also delicious rolled in chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or peanuts. When using nuts as a topping, you’ll want to chop them on the finer side so that they’ll adhere evenly and be manageable as you slice or bite into the apple.
For a festive topping, chocolate is always an option! Just make sure that you’ve refrigerated your caramel dipped apple for 15 minutes and that the caramel apple is firmly set before drizzling with or dipping into melted chocolate.
And then, invite me over, especially if you’re using dark chocolate and/or flaked sea salt. A match made in heaven!
More Apple Recipes for Your Trip to the Orchard
- Miniature Apple Raspberry Pies (Striped Spatula)
- Apple Pizza with Gorgonzola Cheese (Champagne Tastes)
- Our Favorite Apple Pie (Striped Spatula)
- Apple Pie French Toast (Fox & Briar)
- Hard Cider Braised Chicken with Bacon and Apples (Striped Spatula)
Homemade Caramel Apples
- 6 large apples (or 8-12 smaller)
- 1 recipe apple cider caramel , cooked to 245-250 degrees F.*
- wooden skewers or popsicle sticks
- toppings, such as chopped walnuts, peanuts, or flaked sea salt , if desired
- Wash and de-stem apples and dry thoroughly. Insert a wooden skewer or popsicle stick into the center of each apple, where the stems were, pushing down until firmly secured. Refrigerate apples until well-chilled, at least 30 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper. Dip chilled apples into the caramel, rolling to coat up the sides. Let excess caramel drip back into the pot. If you don't want a "foot" on your caramel apples, use a rubber spatula to gently scrape any excess caramel from the bottom.
- If the caramel starts to get too thick to smoothly dip the apples, gently rewarm it on the stove. As you get toward the end of your caramel supply, use a spoon to pour the caramel over the apples.
- If desired, roll the dipped apples in chopped nuts or lightly sprinkle with flaked sea salt and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Chill apples until caramel is firm before enjoying, about 15 minutes.