All of my tips and tricks for making perfect Caramel Apples with homemade or store-bought caramel, and tons of topping ideas for Gourmet Caramel Apples! 
I love dipping things into caramel and chocolate and I’ve shared my passion for it in several recipes, including dipped pretzel rods, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and my kids’ favorite Chocolate Caramel Dipped Marshmallows!

Four homemade caramel apples with a stick in them, on parchment paper on a white board.

Growing up in Park City, Utah I always loved strolling the fun shops and restaurants on main street, including a stop at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a delicious gourmet caramel apple! I love making caramel apples at home with my family and my toppings ideas are inspired by the caramel apples of my youth!

Caramel apples are really simple to make using homemade caramel for dipping apples, or store-bought (I give directions for both!).

Ingredients for Caramel Apples:

  • Caramel:
    • Homemade: For real homemade caramel, make a batch of my homemade caramels. One batch of caramel will cover about 20 medium size apples. If you don’t want to dip that many, you could dip as many as you want and pour the remaining caramel into a small baking dish to cut into caramel candy, later.
    • Store-bought: For quicker caramel apples you can melt store-bought caramels. A 14 oz. bag of pre-wrapped caramels will make about 5 caramel apples. Unwrap the caramels and melt them in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of milk.
  • Apples: any type of apple will work, BUT because the caramel is so sweet it’s nice to choose a tart or mild (not overly sweet) apple to contrast the flavor. Good choices include Granny smith, Fuji, Gala, and McIntosh.
    • Chill the apples in the refrigerator for at least one day, if possible, before dipping. The cold apples will help the warm caramel stick more immediately onto the apples as you’re dipping.
  • Toppings, if desired: See my topping ideas below.
  • Craft sticks or twigs: You’ll want to choose sturdy craft sticks for dipping your apples, like these caramel apple sticks or popsicle sticks.
  • Parchment paper

Melted caramel in a bowl with apples and dipping sticks on the side to make caramel apples.

How to make perfect Caramel Apples:

  1. Clean the apples: Rinse them under very hot water for a few seconds, then scrub dry with a paper towel to help remove the wax around the apple. Place the apples in the fridge at least a day in advance, or while you make the caramel. Chilled apples work best for caramel apples.
  2. Prepare your work station: Insert the craft sticks vertically into the apples. Line a pan with parchment paper and place the apples on it. Make space in your fridge to fit the pan. Add all of your toppings to plates or shallow bowls so they are ready to go.
  3. Melt the caramel.  Prepare a half batch of homemade caramel or melt a 14 oz. bag of pre-wrapped caramels with 2 tablespoons milk. Allow the caramel to cool for  3-5 minutes before dipping.
  4. Dip the apples in caramel: Remove apples from the fridge. Work carefully and quickly to dip the apples, placing them on the parchment lined pan.
  5. Add toppings: If you’re adding candy toppings directly to the caramel, it’s great to recruit a helper to gently place the candy toppings around the warm caramel after it’s dipped. Return the pan of apples to the fridge when you’re finished.

*If you’d like to add melted chocolate (and toppings on top of the chocolate), allow the caramel apples to set in the fridge before dipping them in melted chocolate.

A hand holding a stick with a green apple on it and dipping it into a bowl full of melted caramel.

Topping Ideas:

  • Melted chocolate: You can make you caramel apples truly gourmet by drizzling them with melted chocolate or adding other toppings. Be careful not to load them with too many toppings or the coating around the apple will become too heavy and may slide off.
  • Apple Pie: once the caramel apple has cooled in the refrigerator, dip it in melted white chocolate and sprinkled with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Oreo: place crushed Oreos on the warm caramel, or coat the cooled caramel apples in melted milk chocolate or white chocolate and then add the crushed Oreos.
  • Nutty: add your favorite kind of crushed nuts!
  • Candy Bar: Add crushed candy bars to the caramel apples, like Reese’s peanut butter cups, butterfingers, m&m’s, heath bars, mini chocolate chips or snickers.

Four caramel apples with different toppings included crushed toffee bits, crushed Oreos and mini m&m candies.

Storing Caramel Apples:

These beautiful dipped caramel apples will last for about 2 weeks, stored in the refrigerator. They make great gifts for teachers, friends and neighbors! I like to wrap them in a piece of cellophane with a cute ribbon.

Consider trying these specialty treats:

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Recipe

Four homemade caramel apples with a stick in them, on parchment paper on a white board.
Prep 2 hrs
Cook 5 mins
Total 2 hrs 5 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
 
 

  • 20 medium apples (feel free to half the caramel recipe to make fewer caramel apples)
  • 1 batch homemade caramel , or store-bought caramels, see note*
  • 20 craft sticks , popsicle sticks or sturdy twigs
  • parchment paper
  • Toppings, if desired , see notes

Instructions
 

  • Remove apple stems, rinse the apples under very hot water for a few seconds, then scrub dry with a paper towel to help remove the wax around the apple. If possible, place the apples in the refrigerator for several hours or days in advance so they are well chilled before dipping.
  • Insert the craft sticks vertically into the apples. Line a pan with parchment paper and place the apples on it. Make space in your fridge to fit the pan. Add all of your toppings to plates or shallow bowls so they are ready to go. (If adding melted chocolate and then toppings, wait for the caramel to set on the apples before dipping them in melted chocolate).
  • Make homemade caramel (this will take approximately 70 minutes), or melt store-bought pre-wrapped caramels (wrapper removed) in a large saucepan with 2 tablespoons of milk. Melt over medium heat until smooth. (See notes.)
  • Allow the caramel to cool for 3-5 minutes before dipping the apples. If it's too hot it will slide off the apples more easily.
  • Holding an apple by the stick, dip it into the caramel, gently swirling it around to coat all sides. Lift up and continue to swirl it as you allow any excess caramel to drip off. Place on parchment paper lined pan. Work carefully and quickly to dip all of the apples, and immediately add toppings, if desired.
  • Repeat with remaining apples. Store dipped apples immediately in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Notes

Store-bought caramels: A 14 oz. bag of pre-wrapped caramels will make about 5 caramel apples.  Unwrap the caramels and melt them in a saucepan with 2 Tbs. milk.
Toppings ideas:
Be careful not to load them with too many toppings or the coating around the apple will become too heavy and may slide off.
Apple Pie Caramel Apple: melted white chocolate sprinkled with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.
Oreo Caramel Apple: crushed Oreos on the warm caramel, or on melted milk chocolate or white chocolate smoothed over the caramel apples and then topped with crushed Oreos.
Candy Bar Caramel Apples: Add crushed candy bars to the caramel apples, like Reese's peanut butter cups, butterfingers, m&m's, heath bars, mini chocolate chips or snickers.

Nutrition

Calories: 464kcalCarbohydrates: 95gProtein: 5gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 210mgPotassium: 383mgFiber: 5gSugar: 79gVitamin A: 143IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 138mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe October 2013. Updated October 2020.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. My caramel was too thick and hard to bite through. Not sure what I should do differently next time as the flavor was so delicious!

  2. I had problems with my apples oozing juice from where the stick is inserted. What do you suggest for that. My caramel was good, my chocolate was good, my candy dip was good, but all oozed juice near the stick and ruined the caramel, the choc and the candy.

  3. 5 stars
    I love these from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory but we recently moved so I decided to try to make my own! Great, easy recipe!