These are quite literally THE BEST homemade caramel apples because they are made with HOMEMADE caramel. They are screamin' your name. Crispy tart apples, buttery gooey caramel and crunchy chocolate candy bits. What is not to like? Don't worry, these are also easy caramel apples and I'm going to show you step-by-step how to make them.
What are the best apples to use for caramel apples?
Lets first start with the foundation- the apples! You want to use firm crispy apples. Green Granny Smith apples are very popular because their tart crispiness pair perfectly with the gooey sweetness of homemade caramel. However, you can also use firm red apples too that you love- like Gala, fuji or another variety you love.
What sticks do I use for caramel apples?
I love to pick up these easy bamboo lollipop sticks. I get them at Walmart, Michael's, sometimes target or grocery stories. If these are not accessible to you use small popsicle sticks!!
PRO-TIP when sticking the apples:
- Set apples on their base on their own, so they are not tipping over. It's ok it they are naturally a little lopsided- as long as they are sitting flat and not tipping over!!
- Push the stick down the center of the apple so the stick is straight- again, its ok if the apple looks uneven (its nature!) the important thing is that the apple can sit flat without tipping over.
How to prepare apples for caramel apples
Many apples have a waxy film over them that make it hard for the caramel to adhere to their skin. Wash them throughly! OR you can also QUICKLY dip them in boiling water. Immediately polish the apples when you remove them from the water. Don't let them dry on their own.
How To Make Easy Homemade Caramel for Caramel Apples
Now that your apples are ready lets prep for the homemade caramel. I love this homemade caramel recipe not only because of its flavor but also because it is EASY!
- Place all your ingredients in a heavy bottom pan. You do NOT want to use a cast iron pan, or a really thin pan. You will need a good heavy pan for homemade caramel.
- On medium heat continually stir caramel until it boils and reaches 245-248 degrees. If you are in need of a thermometer invest in this Thermoworks one. It does everything! including candy, meat, baking etc. If you don't have one then you MUST use a CANDY THERMOMETER. Once you insert the thermometer you cannot take it out, unless you clean it. Don't let it touch the bottom of the pan or you will get an inaccurate reading.
- If your caramel is getting to hot you may start to see small dark brown flecks, remove from heat, still stirring and let the caramel cool for about 30 seconds. Return to stovetop and lower the temp.
- Use a wood or silicone spatula- one that can withstand high heat without heating up. Never take this spatula out of the caramel if you do clean it off before inserting back in.
How to Dip Caramel Apples
Now that you have your apples washed, sticked and piping hot caramel you are ready to dip your apple.
- Prepare a cookie sheet with linked parchment paper.
- Take one apple and swirl it around in the caramel so it comes up close to the stick.
- Lift apple out of caramel and continue to spin apple until it stops dripping.
- Place on parchment lined cookie sheets. and allow to cool unless....you are dipping in candy.
How to make a caramel apple bar
Every year my neighbor would host a caramel apple bar! It was so fun and delicious I love to do it too!! You'll want to have fresh cleaned apples, warm caramel in a crockpot and loads of candy!
Set up a station for friends to:
- pick their apples
- dip their apple
3. and roll their apple in their favorite candy. You can do this by having separate bowls of a variety of crushed candies.
For Halloween apples use a little black food coloring + candy corn for festive treats. Or try using this black licorice recipe for caramels- its amazing!
- Candy Thermometer
- Wax or Parchment paper
- 14 ounces Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Butter
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 1 ½ cup White Karo Syrup
- washed and dried crispy apples (12 small or 8 large)
- favorite candy crushed- optional
- cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and in fridge ready for apples
- Prepare apples (wash, dry and sticks pushed in). Crush candy before hand. Get a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and placed in the fridge.
- Combine sugar, milk, butter, salt syrup in heavy pan.
- Cook on medium heat and stir constantly. (CONSTANTLY) until it reaches 245-248 degrees.
- Remove from stove-top.
- Take apples and slowly dip apples in caramel in circular motion. Allow extra caramel to drip off. Dip into candies and place in fridge for a quick cool down.
- Make sure you stir caramel with either a wooden spoon or a spatula that can stand high temps (silicone).
- Try not to splash on the sides because when you are stirring. DON'T SCRAPE the sides back into the caramel. Scrape only the bottom of the pan. If you bring the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan back into your candy it will 'sugar' and become crunchy and hardened in areas instead of smooth when it is all done.
- Put your candy thermometer into the candy after it has boiled for a bit and started to change colors don't drag it around because scraping the metal to metal together can also sugar your candy. ALSO once you put the thermometer in you have to keep it in until it is done, don't take it out and put it back in unless you clean it.
- - As an added measure double check your caramels by using the ice water method. Drop a bit of caramel in ice water, dump water out and test the texture of your caramel. If it doesn't form a soft ball the caramel needs to cook longer. If it is firm remove immediately from heat. If it is rock hard it is overcooked for the soft caramel method.
- Keep the heat on a medium heat and if you start seeing little brown specks in your candy take it off the heat immediately and turn it down. That is the candy scorching. Otherwise cook until the candy has reached desired temperature or texture.