A homemade caramel apple rests on a square of parchment paper atop a small stack of plates.

Are you ready to sink your teeth into a mouthwatering treat that screams autumn? Look no further than classic caramel apples! This delightful confection is a staple of fall festivals and a nostalgic favorite that never fails to satisfy a sweet tooth. So why not fulfill that nostalgia by making your own at home? We’ll even show you how to get the kids involved!

What is the difference between a candy apple and a caramel apple?

First things first, let’s clear up the confusion between caramel and candy apples. While they both involve coating apples in something delicious, they differ in their outer layers. Candy apples boast a glossy, hard candy shell often tinted in vibrant hues, while caramel apples are coated in a luscious layer of smooth, buttery caramel. It’s all about personal preference – the choice depends on whether you’re in the mood for a satisfying crunch or a melt-in-your-mouth experience.

A hand grabs an apple stick to lift a classic Halloween treat.

What do I need for this homemade caramel apple recipe?

To make these homemade caramel apples, you’ll need:

  • Granny Smith apples
  • Heavy cream
  • Light corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract

If you want to mix things up, you can also use chopped nuts, sprinkles, or other fun toppings! 

How do you get caramel to stick to apples?

One of the trickiest parts of making caramel apples is ensuring that the caramel clings to the apples and doesn’t slip off. To ensure you get that perfect caramel-to-apple bond, soak your apples in a vinegar rinse to remove any wax coating. 

Insert the wooden sticks into the apple’s stem end, ensuring they’re secure. The sticks provide a handy handle for swirling and dipping your apples into the caramel.

How do you make caramel apples?

Collage of four simple steps to make homemade caramel apples. A text overlay reads, "How to Make Caramel Apples."
  1. Get prepared. Soak the apples in diluted vinegar to remove any wax coating. Rinse with cold water, pat dry, and insert the caramel apple sticks. Set out a silicone baking mat or greased baking sheet. Pour any toppings into shallow bowls so they are ready to go before the caramel sets.
  2. Make the caramel. Heat the cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt over medium, stirring continuously until the butter melts.
  3. Get the caramel up to its setting point. Heat the caramel to 240°F without stirring. Remove from heat, and add the vanilla. Now you can stir the caramel.
  4. Dip the apples. Allow the caramel to cool for 10 minutes, then spin each apple through the caramel so that the whole fruit gets coated. Let the excess caramel drip off, then dip in a topping if you’d like, and set on the baking mat or greased pan to set.

Protip: Chill, cool, then dip!

To get the best results, use cold or room temperature apples and allow the caramel to cool for the full 10 minutes before dipping the apples, and be sure to let the excess caramel drip off before adding the toppings. These will help both the caramel and the toppings stick to the apples.

Is this a kid-friendly activity?

Making caramel apples can be a fun family activity. Kids can help prep the apples and be in charge of dipping them in toppings. We recommend a grown-up be in charge of making the caramel itself, though!

A caramel apple is served on a parchment paper lined plate.

What toppings are good for caramel apples?

While the caramel is still warm, this is your chance to get creative. Roll your caramel-coated apple in any toppings you’d like. Some of our favorites include:

  • Chopped peanuts, pecans, or other nuts
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles
  • Shredded coconut
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Crushed Oreo cookies
  • Crushed Butterfingers

You can also drizzle the apples with melted chocolate or white chocolate.

A caramel apple rolled in sprinkles rests on a plate.

How long do caramel apples last?

These apples will be good at room temperature for up to three days. They don’t need to be refrigerated—in fact, it’s best to store them at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature changes. Storing them in the refrigerator can cause the caramel to sweat and become sticky.

A caramel apple is served on a parchment paper lined plate.

Homemade Caramel Apples Recipe

Yield: 8 caramel apples
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Learn how to make easy caramel apples, a fun and tasty Halloween treat. Let the kids dip them in toppings for an extra yummy treat!


  • Water
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 8 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Toppings:

  • Chopped salted peanuts
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles


  1. Fill a large bowl halfway with water, then stir in 2 cups of white vinegar. Add the apples and soak for 10-15 minutes, tossing them around halfway through to make sure all sides get soaked. Rinse them with cold water, dry, and remove their stems. Insert chopsticks or caramel apple sticks into where the stem was, and set aside.
  2. Gather all toppings in shallow bowls and get a silicone baking mat out. Set aside.
  3. Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and stir continuously until the butter melts.
  4. Use a candy thermometer and heat the mixture 240°F (don’t stir during this step). This will take likely 15-20 minutes.
  5. Once the caramel gets to temperature, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before dipping apples.
  6. Once cooled slightly, dip each apple in the caramel, coating evenly on all sides. Allow excess caramel to drip off the apple, then dip in a topping if desired, and set it on the greased baking sheet. 
  7. Allow the caramel apples to set for at least an hour before eating.


  • Other topping ideas: crushed Oreos, graham cracker crumbs, mini marshmallows, Reese’s pieces, shredded coconut, chocolate drizzle, peanut butter drizzle, or toffee bits.
  • The vinegar soak is absolutely necessary—the caramel slips right off the apples if their wax is not removed. Rinsing with cold water/scrubbing is not enough.
  • Caramel apples keep well on parchment paper and silicone mats for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 636Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 97gFiber: 4gSugar: 90gProtein: 3g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Want more fun fall recipes like this one?

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