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:
- 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
How to make perfect Caramel Apples:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Gourmet Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Chocolate and Caramel Dipped Marshmallows
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
How to make Perfect Caramel Apples
- 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.
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.
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I originally shared this recipe October 2013. Updated October 2020.