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How to Make Caramel Apples

I was just in New York where I did my all time favorite fall activity. It gives me pangs of nostalgia. And all of those childhood memories of frolicking through the orchards come rushing back.

(Photo credit: Gordon Pellegrini)

I went apple picking! My brother and I have plans for cider making and we were on a mission to get just the right apples.

(Photo credit: Gordon Pellegrini)

I ate a lot of apples. I had to taste them to make sure they were right for cider making. It was research, people.

And I got a stomach ache. I think I turned into an apple.

But we ended up with loads of them.

Mmm, apples.

It was a rainy fall day and so we went home with our apples and dried off in front of the fire and pondered how we were going to proceed with our cider making plans.

Cider apples have to spend some time sweating in a cool dark place so that the sugars in the apples concentrate. So we lined them up in a storage cellar and had to wait. But since I’m an instant gratification/impatient/gimme now kinda gal, I decided to do something else with a few of the apples.

So I made some silky apple butter. And homemade caramel apples!

Now there are several ways to make caramel apples so I will outline them here as I show you what I did. You can take your own special journey and do what works for you but these are the general steps.

You will need: apples, popsicle sticks, milk (or almond milk in my case), sugar

You can also use:

  • 2 cups of individually wrapped caramels combined with a few tablespoons of milk and microwaved together
  • sugar, butter, and cream
  • butter, brown sugar, and milk
  • cream, white sugar
  • sugar, molasses, maple syrup

The point is that the combinations are endless. You just have to make your caramel which requires sugar and a bit of liquid and a temperature of 242 degrees F.

There are also packets that you can buy that will give your milk a caramel flavor and a bit of a head start. But you don’t need them. Even though I tried one out here when I warmed the milk.

Then I added the sugar. A little nontraditional but that’s what I’m here for… pushing the boundaries of caramel making!

You are going to let it cook gently, stirring every so often. It will need to get to a temperature of 242 degrees F, which is called the “soft ball” stage of sugar. If you don’t have a candy thermometer there is another way to tell if it is at the soft ball stage.


Get an ice bath ready.

Drop some of the caramel in, then gather it with your fingers.

See if it comes together in a ball. This did not, too syrupy, so keep cooking it.

A few minutes later, try again! Still too malleable here.

And then at last, when you can form a ball that is still malleable, you are there.  This step is crucial because if the caramel doesn’t get to the soft ball stage, your caramel will melt off the apples onto the sheet tray.

Turn off the heat and let the caramel cool for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet.

Line your apples up on the tray and get your popsicle sticks out.

Push them gently through the stem side of each apple, about halfway in.

Now, if you’re feeling fancy and want to add some accoutrement to your apples lay them out. I used slivered almonds but chopped peanuts, sprinkles, cocoa nibs and so many other options would be delicious.

  Dip your apple in and swirl it around to get a nice thick coating.

Bring it over to your tray, making sure it settles nicely onto the apple before putting it down.

And if you’re in the mood, roll it around in your topping.


Once you have them coated, immediately place them in the refrigerator so they stay firm until you’re ready to serve!

“How to Make Caramel Apples”

Tip: to clean your pot after you've made the caramel, fill the pot with water ad boil until the caramel is dissolved.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes


  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 apples
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Chopped nuts sprinkles, etc (optional)


  • Bring the milk to a simmer and stir in the sugar over medium heat.
  • Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar reaches 242 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or the caramel forms a soft ball when dropped into an ice water bath.
  • While the syrup is cooking, grease a baking sheet and place the apples stem-side up on the tray. Insert the popsicle sticks halfway into each apple.
  • Turn off the heat to the caramel when it has reached the soft ball stage and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  • Roll the apples one at a time into the caramel until it is fully coated. Roll it into any toppings you choose and set it on the sheet tray.
  • Once all of the apples are dipped refrigerate them until ready to serve.


  • Kim Y
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Oh the memories…Growing up in S GA my Mom and I used to make Caramel Apples & Caramel Pecan Logs for the holidays….thanks for taking me back to those great days!!!

    • Post Author
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Ooh, caramel pecan logs, tell me more!

  • Joanne @ Inspired Taste
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 7:39 am

    These looks so good! Wishing I had a caramel apple right about now!

  • Adam B
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 7:35 am

    How much does the type of apple used in making caramel apples matter? For example, does a firmer apple work any better than a softer apple?

    • Post Author
      Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

      Any apple will work just fine. I think the firmer ones taste better and have a better texture in this context.

  • Mary C. Powers
    Posted June 3, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    It sounds so easy and if I can make my own caramel that’s a bonus. My daughter after school works for Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop and they are having a”Camp Day” where by the all the coffee sold helps to send under PRIVILEGED children to summer camp. And, the staff agreed to make desserts to sell. The bottom element on my stove burned out the other day. We haven’t fixed it yet. So she thought of making caramel apples . She spent a lot for the bags of caramels she used. But, they turned out very well. But, she has lots of apples left and me and her dad wanted to have!!!! So, I thought of making the caramel myself and finishing the apples off in caramel!! Thanks, I’ll let ou know how they turn out!
    Mary from Canada

  • melissa fox
    Posted October 25, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Just almonds milk and sugar wow

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