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Four homemade caramel apples on a white plate.
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5 from 10 votes

Homemade Caramel Apples

I love these homemade caramel apples with caramel made from scratch. They are absolutely amazing. And there is usually leftover caramel that can be turned into soft caramel candies!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Cooling Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Candy, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Halloween, kids, soft, sweet
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 462kcal
Author: Matt Taylor

Equipment

  • Heavy bottom 3-quart pot or larger
  • Caramel apple sticks, bamboo skewers, wooden flat popsicle sticks, etc.
  • sheet pan
  • Parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
  • Wooden spoon or Silicone Spoon
  • Knife
  • Basting brush
  • Cake knife, optional
  • Candy Thermometer

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 apples any kind that you want, I use Granny Smith
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar either light or dark (400g)
  • 1/4 cup butter unsalted or salted (56g)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2g
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 360ml
  • 1 cup of corn syrup 340g
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5ml
  • Nuts optional

Instructions

  • Soak the apples in really hot water, boiling if possible, for 20 to 30 seconds. Then dry them really well with a towel. This will remove the wax.
    Remove the stems and stick the apples with the stick about halfway down. Place on a sheet pan.
  • In a deep heavy bottom 3 quart or larger pot, add the sugar, salt, butter, heavy whipping cream, and corn syrup.
    Set the pot on the burner and set the heat to medium, 350 F/176 C. Stir continuously with a wooden or a silicone spoon until the butter melts and it barely starts to bubble, this will take 10 minutes or so to get to this point, maybe a bit longer.
  • Then brush down any sugar crystals that are clinging to the sides of the pot with a damp basting brush. If you leave them there, they may burn, and disrupt the caramel.
  • You don't stir the caramel anymore. Just let it sit and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the temp reaches 235 to 245 F. (112-118C). This is the softball stage. I usually let it go closer to 245 F. I find the caramel turns out a bit better and clings to the apple a little better.
  • Once at that temperature, turn the heat off and remove the pot to the adjacent burner. Let it cool for a minute or two and then pour in the vanilla extract and gently stir it in, don't stir it vigorously, that will add unwanted bubbles.
  • Now allow the caramel too cool, I usually pour it into a pyrex bowl, because it is easier to dip, but you can certainly leave it in the pot as well, and then just tilt the pot when dipping.
    The best dipping temperature is right around 190 F/88 C.
  • Dip the apple in the caramel, then allow the excess to drain off. Use a butter knife or cake spatula and scrape some away from the bottom of the apple and scrape up a bit from the bottom. The caramel on the upper part will drain down a bit with gravity.
    At this point, you can also dip the caramel apple in a bowl of chopped nuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.
  • Place the dipped caramel apple on a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper. Do not use wax paper.
    Once done with all of them. Put the pan in the fridge and allow the caramel to set for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the caramel apples from the fridge and allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Just cut down the sides with a knife and then slice them into bite-sized pieces. Or feel free to take a bit out of one. Enjoy!
  • Now if you have leftover caramel, you can make yummy soft caramel candies. Just pour the leftovers onto a pan lined with parchment paper. Then place it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes.
    Once cooled remove it from the pan and place it on a cutting board, but still on the parchment paper. Cut it up into little squares. If the caramel is too hard to cut, allow it to warm up a bit at room temp.
    You can wrap them with caramel candy wrappers, little pieces of parchment paper, or just leave as is. Just don't stack them, they will stick to each other.

Video

Notes

list of nutritional facts for caramel apples
NOTE: The nutritional facts including using all the caramel. Chances are you will have some leftover, so the calories will be lower. 
NOTE: Some recipes call to put the apples in the fridge or the freezer to get really cold, and others say to leave them at room temp. I have tried both ways and either works fine.
TIP: If you can use a pot with a heavy bottom, this promotes more even cooking.
NOTE: You really need to use a candy thermometer. It is just too hard to tell when it is at the correct temp.
Tip: If you store the caramel apples in an airtight container in the fridge they will last about a week.
Tip: You can also dip the set caramel apples in chocolate, or drizzle chocolate on them, add sprinkles, etc. Have fun with it, or just leave them plain or with nuts only.
Troubleshooting:
If you run into the issue of the caramel not sticking to the apple and just pooling at the bottom a few things could have happened.
1. The wax wasn't washed off of the apples. You really need to use hot water and then dry them well to get that wax off.
2. The caramel was too hot while dipping. The temp needs to be right around 190 F/88 C. for dipping.
3. The caramel wasn't cooked long enough, it needs to be between 235 F and 245 F. (112-118C)
Those three factors are usually the culprits, for failed caramel apples. :)