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Caramel Apples are homemade with an easy, from scratch caramel. Dip the apples and drizzle with chocolate to create a gourmet caramel apple easily at home! This is the perfect fall time treat!

Caramel Apple Recipe

Caramel Apples- Fall time Dessert

Caramel Apples have been a fall time tradition for as long as I can remember!

I remember making them in Activity Days when I was a young girl, then making and decorating them in my youth church group when I was a teen.

I’m fairly certain they have happened at least once per year ever since.

Over the past few years, I have started taking caramel apples to my neighbors around thanksgiving time. I usually take over the apple with a cute ‘I’m so thankful for you!’ tag.

I will always and forever keep this tradition! A lot of people take treats & gifts around to neighbors close to Christmas, which I love. I, just so happen to usually be running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off around Christmas time!

Between work parties, school concerts, and community get togethers I don’t know if I could add another item to the to do list! So year after year, I have been taking a thanksgiving treat around instead and it just makes my packed to the brim to do list happy. ?

I have been making this caramel recipe for literally years. It is the best I’ve ever had, honestly! The caramel doesn’t slide off of the apples, it’s perfectly chewy and sweet. But more on those details below!!

apple pie caramel apple

How to Make Caramel Apples

Prepping the Apples

The first thing to do to prep the apples is to stick the wooden sticks into the apple. I get my wooden sticks from Walmart or Hobby Lobby. You can find them here on Amazon, though!

Remove the stem and then you’ll want to push the sticks in so that when the apple is sitting, the stick is poking straight up. So, not all apples are perfect and stand straight up, so set the apple onto the counter and then push the stick in straight up.

Sticks into the apples for the caramel apple

The next step, remove the wax! Those super shiny apples from the grocery store are only shiny because they have been waxed.

The wax will make the caramel fall off the apple so it is important to remove the wax.

My favorite way to do this is by dipping the apples into boiling water. The boiling water will melt the wax off of the apple and help the caramel to stay put.

apples being dipped in boiling water

Set the apples on a towel and let them dry completely before dipping them into the caramel.

When the apples dry, they will be dull and probably splotchy. They may discolor a little bit but that is fine. If they have white patches on them, like pictured below, use a towel and rub them off. That is just the excess wax.

Apples after being boiled

Making the Homemade Caramel

There is nothing good (but everything good at the same time) in this caramel. All sugary and not healthy but I feel like when I make caramel apples I am not looking for a healthy treat.

Besides that, the caramel is spread out between a lot of apples!

Combine butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup in a medium non-stick saucepan.

Stirring constantly, Heat until it has almost reached Fireball stage (235°-240°).

boiling homemade caramel

Don’t have a candy thermometer?? Neither do I. 

If you do have a candy thermometer, that is definitely the easiest route. No sweat if you don’t, though!

If you don’t, the best way to test the stage of the caramel is by spooning a small amount of the caramel into a cup of ice water.

This will bring the caramel’s temperature down immediately and then you will be able to test the stage of the caramel by taste testing. 

You’ll know the caramel is ready when it is still soft, but firm and sticky. Think taffy or marshmallows.

When it has reached this stage, remove from heat. Speaking of marshmallows, let’s add some to the caramel. 

marshmallows being added to the caramel.

Let the caramel sit for a few minutes after the marshmallows have been completely melted into the caramel. Gently fold the caramel to remove the air bubbles build into the caramel from whisking in the marshmallows.

Dipping the Apples in the Caramel

It is easiest to dip the apples right in the pan. Tilt the pan if needed, and dip the apple into the caramel. Swirl the apple around in circles to make sure the caramel reaches all of the apple.

dipping apples in caramel.

Once the apple is covered caramel, hold the caramel apple upside down by the stick and gently twist the apple in between your fingers.

This will force the excess caramel up to the top of the apple.

holding the apple upside down.

After the excess caramel has made it’s way to the top of the apple, scrape the bottom of the apple on the side of the pan to remove the caramel on the very bottom of the apple.

You’ll want to do this because when the apple is sat right back up, all of that excess caramel we brought to the top will travel down the apple again to the bottom.

By scraping off the caramel on the bottom, it makes room for the caramel that will end up down at the bottom.

scraping the caramel off of the bottom of the apple

Place the apples onto either a silicone liner or onto parchment paper. (wax paper will not work! The hot apples will melt the wax)

Let cool completely and then garnish as you’d like!

caramel apple

One of my favorites is the Apple Pie Caramel apple. Drizzle with white chocolate and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

caramel apples

Caramel Apples with Toppings

After many test runs I have found out the best way for adding toppings to your Caramel Apples! 

For something like sprinkles or Cinnamon and sugar, those are best added after the caramel apple has cooled and then is drizzled with chocolate. Those smaller toppings will stick to the melted chocolate really well.

For larger toppings, such as pretzels, peanuts, crushed cookies etc. I have found that rolling the caramel apple into the toppings when the caramel is still warm and gooey works great! The toppings stick really well and it helps the caramel stay in place.

Below is a photo example of a Pretzel and Chocolate Caramel apple.

caramel apple with pretzels and chocolate

Caramel Apples are homemade with an easy, from scratch caramel. Dip the apples and drizzle with chocolate to create a gourmet caramel apple easily at home! This is the perfect fall time treat! |Cooking with Karli| #caramel #apple #fromscratch #homemade #easy #nocandythermometer #fall #autumn

Other Fall recipe you will LOVE!

Apple Pie Filling
Double Trouble Chocolate Chip Cookies
copy cat zupas Wisconsin cauliflower soup.Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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5 from 5 votes

Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples are homemade with an easy, from scratch caramel. Dip the apples and drizzle with chocolate to create a gourmet caramel apple easily at home! This is the perfect fall time treat!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 apples


  • 12 Granny Smith apples, prepped (see post)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 13 large marshmallows


  • Prep the Granny Smith Apples by inserting the sticks and removing the wax. (see post for more details) Set aside to dry completely.
  • In a medium non-stick sauce pan, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup.
  • Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil until the caramel has reached the almost hardball stage. (235°-240°). If you don't have a candy thermometer, see post for details on how to check the stage of the caramel.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the marshmallows.
  • Gently fold the caramel to remove any built in air bubbles. 
  • Dip the apples into the caramel. See post for tips on how to best execute this.
  • Pour any excess caramel onto parchment paper and then cut into caramels when cool.
  • Once the caramel apples have cooled completely, add toppings like chocolate drizzle, nuts, sprinkles or anything else you'd like!
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Karli Bitner

This blog is a little glimpse into my kitchen, family & life. I hope you’ll giggle the days away with me and enjoy the craziness that goes on at my house. If you are Cookie obsessed like I am, check out my Sister Site, Cookies for Days.

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  1. Hi. How long should you wait to add toppings like pecans and butterfingers after dipping the apples into the caramel? Also, does adding marshmallows to caramel make it more of a sticky texture?

  2. The marshmallows make it more of a creamy texture. And I actually like to immediately roll my apples into toppings like nuts or pretzels. The butterfingers I’d put on top of chocolate to avoid them melting because of the hot caramel.