Make your own Homemade Gourmet Caramel Apples for a fraction of the candy shop price. Crisp, tart granny smith apples covered in homemade caramel and gourmet toppings made right at home.
Caramel apples are a fabulous special treat that can be enjoyed year round.
These gourmet caramel apples are made with the best homemade caramel.
Add your favorite chopped nuts, chocolate, sprinkles, etc to make them your very own and totally gourmet. The “apple pie” caramel apple is my ultimate favorite!
If you like this recipe you may also like:
- Easy Instant Pot Caramel Dip
- Buttermilk Salted Caramel Sauce
- Easy Pancake Mix Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins
- Moist Walnut Applesauce Cookies
- 21+ Delicious Apple Desserts
WHAT KIND OF APPLES SHOULD I USE TO MAKE CARAMEL APPLES?
Granny Smith apples are usually the preferred apple for caramel apples. They’re tart, crisp flavor compliments the sweet soft caramel. They should have a firm texture and be bright green.
Although Granny Smith apples are the preferred and classic apple for gourmet caramel apples, you can use almost any apple of choice.
WHAT KIND OF CARAMEL SHOULD I USE TO MAKE CARAMEL APPLES?
The best caramel to use is a caramel that is thick enough to coat an apple well but still soft enough to bite into when cooled.
Homemade caramel is my favorite!!! You can find the recipe for my favorite caramel for caramel apples below.
The caramel recipe below is seriously the best caramel recipe I’ve found for dipping apples. It’s simple, less likely to crystallize and tastes amazing.
I’ve tried over a half dozen different caramel recipes and this one reigns supreme.
I DON’T HAVE TIME TO MAKE CARAMEL BUT STILL WHAT TO MAKE THESE. WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST?
If you don’t have time to make homemade caramel (RECIPE BELOW), you can always use the store-bought caramel squares. When I use caramel squares from the store, I add a little cream to them to soften the caramel.
Usually 2-3 tablespoons cream to 1 cup of caramel squares does the trick. If you like your caramel to set faster, be thicker or harder, you can just heat the caramel squares and skip the additional cream.
HOW MUCH DO CARAMEL APPLES COST TO MAKE?
You’d be surprised how cheap you can make gourmet caramel apples!
I buy ingredients in bulk and wait ads for sale prices. With that said, I was able to find (in the last couple months) the ingredients and supplies used in the recipe for these prices:
- 2 lb dark brown sugar – $1.19 at Macey’s (associate food) ($0.60 per batch)
- 1-gallon corn syrup – $9.99 at Macey’s ($0.63 per batch)
- can of sweetened condensed milk – $1.23 at WinCo ($1.23 per batch)
- 1 lb butter – $1.99 at Smith’s ($1.00 per batch)
- 12 oz white chocolate – $1.49 at Macey’s ($0.05-0.10 per apple)
- 12 oz mini chocolate chips – $1.49 at Macey’s ($0.10 per apple)
- 16 oz dry roasted peanuts – $1.99 at WinCo ($0.14 per apple)
- 1 lb almonds – $3.99 at Sprouts Farmers Market ($0.27 per apple)
- 1 lb Granny Smith apples (2-3 apples) – $0.88 at Sprouts ($0.33 to 0.44 per apple)
- apple sticks – $0.01 to 0.10 depending on if you use flat popsicle sticks or round bamboo apple sticks
Each batch of homemade caramel (recipe below) is enough to dip 12-15 apples depending on the size of apples.
I was able to find smaller sized apples that were 3 to a pound. That means I was able to make these gourmet caramel apples for $0.72 to 0.94 depending on what topping I added.
The prices I was able to find for these ingredients were exceptional, not gonna lie. BUT if you were to buy these supplies and ingredients outside of super sales, I’m confident to say you would still be able to make them for $1.50 or less.
At that price, these make fantastic, gourmet treats for gift giving or special occasions!
HOW DO I CUT AND EAT A CARAMEL APPLE (THE EASY WAY)?
It’s much easier to eat a caramel apple if you cut it into smaller pieces.
This is how I cut our caramel apples for the cleanest most enjoyable way to eat them.
If you cut it like a game of tick-tac-toe you will cut out the core and each piece of apple will have caramel on it.
If you hate the idea of cutting the apple into pieces like this, you are more than welcome to go all in and eat it straight off the stick. Messier but these gourmet caramel apples will still taste just as delicious!
WHAT KIND OF TOPPINGS SHOULD I USE TO MAKE MY CARAMEL APPLES GOURMET?
There are a lot of toppings you can add to your caramel apples to make them gourmet. Here’s a few I’ve seen and enjoyed.
- chopped nuts – peanuts, almonds, pecans
- chocolate – white, milk, dark chocolate drizzled
- candy – M&Ms, chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups, Reese’s pieces, Snickers, Butterfingers, Heath, Skor, etc.
- cookies – Crushed Oreos, graham crackers
Here are a few combinations of toppings that would take your gourmet caramel apples to the next level:
- Apple Pie caramel apple – coat with thin layer of white chocolate rolled in cinnamon sugar (it tastes like an apple pie and is by far one of our favorites)!
- Smores caramel apple – roll in crushed graham crackers, drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with mini marshmallows
- Turtle caramel apple – roll in pecans, drizzle with chocolate
- Tuxedo caramel apple – dip in thin white chocolate than in milk or dark chocolate
- Birthday cake caramel apple – dip in white chocolate, roll in sprinkles
- Hot chocolate caramel apple – dip in milk chocolate, sprinkle with mini marshmallows
- Oreo Lover caramel apple – coat with thin layer of white chocolate, roll in crushed Oreo cookies
WHAT TOPPING IS YOUR FAVORITE FOR A GOURMET CARAMEL APPLE?
I’d love to hear about your favorite. Drop a comment below!
Here’s the full printable recipe:
Gourmet Caramel Apples
Crisp, tart granny smith apples covered in homemade caramel and gourmet toppings like peanuts, chocolate, candy and more. A great year-round gift or treat!
- 12-15 granny smith apples
- gourmet toppings, chopped nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, chopped candy or cookies
- popsicle or apple sticks
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 lb dark brown sugar, about 2 1/4 cups packed
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Wash and dry apples. Carefully poke stick straight into tops of apples. Place in fridge to chill while you make the caramel.
- In a large pot add sweetened condensed milk, dark brown sugar, salted butter, and corn syrup. Cook over medium to medium-high heat stirring constantly to avoid bottom from burning.
- Mixture will begin to bubble and increase in volume. Avoid scraping sides of pan as this can make the sugar in the caramel to crystallize and go "grainy." Using a calibrated candy thermometer, cook mixture to 235 degrees F or soft ball stage.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla.
- Let caramel cool slightly (5 minutes or so) before dipping apples. This will ensure you get a nice coat of caramel on the apples. The warmer the caramel, the thinner the caramel coating will be and the more it may "pool" when placed on a cooling tray.
Gourmet Caramel Apples:
- Dip each apple into the hot caramel to coat. Let excess drip off then turn slowly to allow caramel to begin to cool. If dipping or rolling in nuts, cookies or candy, do that before caramel sets and hardens.
- If adding chocolate or chocolate drizzle place caramel-coated apple onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge to cool. Once cooled drizzle or coat with chocolate and add other toppings as desired.
- Work quickly as the caramel in the pot will begin to harden as it cools. If the caramel becomes too hard to coat apples smoothly, warm over medium heat until mixture is fluid again. Don't overheat.
- Once apples are finished and cooled completely, enjoy or wrap for gifts.
When washing apples, do not use any kind of abrasive material as this can damage or scratch the skin of the apple. Damage to the skin may cause air bubbles to form under the caramel.
If you don't have time to make homemade caramel, store-bought squares can be substituted. If using store-bought add 2-3 tablespoons cream to 1 cup caramel squares when melting to soften caramel.
Gourmet caramel apples are more easily eaten if cut up. To enjoy caramel and toppings with every bite, cut apple in a tick-tac-toe pattern which will leave the stick and core in the center and 8 pieces of apple around it.
Apples will store in the fridge for several days.
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Updated: 10.19.21 O.P. 12.6.18
Thanks for the comment. I totally agree!
The best thing of this recipe is that these ingredients are great when they mix together
Super cool idea. These would make for a beautiful table décor. The drizzle is really simple. Just put your melted white chocolate in a ziploc bag and snip a tiny hole in the corner. Test the hole size by lightly squeezing the bag. If it doesn’t flow semi-easily cut it a little larger. Lightly squeeze the bag to get a steady stream then move your hand quickly back and forth. Turn the apple to do the other side. Voila! You’ve got this!
I have a party coming up soon and I know that these would be perfect as table decor. The only thing I’m worried about is that I won’t ruin the drizzling part.
Hi Carol! I’m sorry to hear your struggles with making caramel. Here are a few of my thoughts. Make sure to calibrate your thermometer for your elevation. This can become a huge issue if it’s off even a few degrees. For caramel apples I cook the caramel mixture to soft ball temperature (235 degrees F.). Another thing you mentioned was the pot you use. Yes, this can effect the cooking process. A thicker pot will distribute the heat more evenly and prevent the mixture from burning. If using a thin pot you will want to be diligent about stirring the mixture constantly and scrapping across the bottom. If the caramel comes out too hard AND it’s not burnt you can add a small amount of water (1/4 cup) bring it back to 235 degrees (or lower if that’s what you did the first time and it came out too firm). To test if it’s too firm, dip a metal spoon into the hot caramel, place the caramel-covered spoon in a cup of ice water until cooled enough to eat it. Don’t let it get too cold or it will just be hard. You want it to be around room temperature as the apples will be at room temperature when eaten. This will allow you to see if the temperature you cooked it to was too high or too low. Too firm = too high. Too soft = too low. If it’s to firm add the water and reheat to a lower temperature. If it’s too soft heat until it reaches a higher temperature and recheck. I hope this helps.
Carol Monroe says
I have tried this 3 times now and have failed 3 times. What am I doing wrong? The Carmel is either so hard it breaks your teeth or so soft it drips right off the apple or it burns and tastes terrible. Some recipes say thermometer should be 240 some say 250 some say 235. Which is it? Sometimes it looks about right then it cools to much and gets super thick, reheating has not worked. I’ve been told that it’s all about the pot you cook it in. Any suggestions?
Absolutely! it will take longer to come up to temperature (235 degrees F) and if you are doubling the amount of apples you’ll be dipping, that will take longer too. Hope this helps. Happy dipping!
Hi! Is it possible to double the caramel recipe? Any time adjustments I need to make?
Hi Adriana! Thanks for stopping by. So cool to hear about your farmer market. If you live in a very warm climate, consider pictures while keeping the apples in a cooler. If your climate permits I would definitely display each kind and keep the rest in a cooler. Having your actual apples on display would promote sales in my opinion. Good luck!
adriana mazzola says
I’m thinking of making a few different gourmet apples for a farmers market next weekend. My question is how should I display them? Should I leave one out of each flavor and the rest in a cooler? Thanks for any tips
Oh, man! That sounds amazing! What a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing.
Gloria Estrada says
Hi. I have used a 3 pot slow cooker. I used 1 pot for caramel the other for chocolate then last for white chocolate. And my dipping went great. Just like an assembly line.
I’ve made these up to 5 days ahead. If you buy premium apples that have been waxed, they can stay good if stored in a cool dry place for a long time (like a month or two). Because these apples will be coated with caramel (wet) you should be fine to make them at least a couple of days ahead.
The bigger issue I’ve dealt with when making these ahead is the caramel being too soft and “melting” off the apple. Just make sure you use a calibrated thermometer when cooking the caramel to make sure it is thick enough AND store the finished apples in the fridge. The cold will help everything stay fresh and in place. I hope this helps! Good luck.
P.S. If you plan to wrap them, make sure your wrapper, clear back or whatever you put them in minimally touchest the caramel. If the wrapper touches the caramel there’s a chance it will stick. I use a small plastic or paper plate in the bottom that’s larger than the apple to help push the wrapper away from the apple. If you look below, there are a couple of affiliate links I’ve left in another comment a couple of weeks back.
Micha costello says
I need to make 3 dozen apples for a party plus cupcakes. How far in advance can I make the apples and how do I store them. I’m worried about the apples souring or going bad
Once the apples are done (chilled after dipping and coating with gourmet toppings) I place each one on a small plate (4-5 inch diameter) or shallow large treat cup (link below), something that’s at least an inch wider than the base of the apple. The cup or plate will allow room for the apple in your packaging without letting the wrap stick to the caramel. I use food-grade cellophane bags (about 4-5 inches wide by about 8-9 inches tall) and ribbon or twistie ties to close them. Here are some affiliate links that might be helpful.
Large treat cups – https://amzn.to/2Nuislp
Clear bags – https://amzn.to/2LJlXTg
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can use a small disposable plate and a piece of parchment paper then wrap with cellophane or by using a clear treat bag. I hope this helps! These make great edible holiday gifts!
Used to use to wrap them? It seems like they would get stuck to the paper? Thank you says
Used to use to wrap them? It seems like they would get stuck to the paper? Thank you
Thanks Sue! I’ve never tried that but in theory, a crockpot should keep it warm enough to work. If the caramel cools too much it will be hard to get a smooth, thin layer of caramel. I’d love to hear how it goes if you use a crockpot for dipping! Thanks for stopping by.
Hi, Bethany! As long as the caramel is cooled you can add the chocolate. The colder they are, the faster the chocolate will set. If you are drizzling white chocolate I would chill them for at least 30 minutes. They will set and be ready to package within a few minutes. If you are planning to spread white chocolate and roll in cinnamon sugar, I would only chill for 5-10 minutes otherwise the white chocolate may set too quickly and the cinnamon sugar won’t stick.
There are lots of ways to melt the chocolate. When I’m in a hurry I usually just melt the chips in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave. 15-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. It should only take a few times heating it to be melted.
Hope this helps. I’d love to hear how they turn out for you! Thanks for stopping by.
Sue G says
Your apples look amazing!!! Thanks for the de recipe, tips, and cost breakdown. I am wondering if once you get the caramel to the right temperature, can you transfer it to a crockpot on warm to use for a group of people to make their own apples.
How long does the caramel apples need to sit in the fridge before you can dip them in chocolate? How long does it take after that to set? Also, do you have any suggestions for melting the chocolate? Thank you so much!!
Hi Cin! Fresh is best but I’ve made them up to a week in advance. You’ll just want to keep them cold (in the fridge). I hope this helps.
How far in advance can I make these?