Posted: October 14, 2018 · Modified: August 16, 2023 by Cindy Gibbs

These Classic Homemade Caramel Apples take me back to my childhood.  Crisp, tart Granny Smith apples get dipped in homemade caramel and rolled in crushed nuts.  These are a perfect Fall and Halloween treat!

Caramel apples.

There are several ways to make caramel for dipping apples.  The easiest method is to melt store-bought candy caramels. The second easiest method is to cook a can of sweetened condensed milk in boiling water until it becomes very thick and caramel-colored.  I often use the second method for dipping apples.

However, today I decided to go old school.  I wanted to make homemade caramel apples like the ones I remember from my childhood.  Caramel made from sugar, real butter, pure vanilla, and either cream or sweetened condensed milk.  I went with the sweetened condensed milk version.  Don’t worry, this homemade caramel takes just minutes to cook and it is super delicious!

Tips for making perfect caramel apples…

  • Use organic apples if possible.  Organic apples do not have a wax coating on them like regular store-bought apples do.
  • Remove stems from apples.  Clean apples and also remove any wax if not using organic apples.  To clean and remove wax, dip each apple for 2-3 seconds in very hot, but not boiling, water.  Wipe and dry apples with a clean towel.  Note:  Do not dip apples more than 2-3 seconds in hot water, or the water will begin to soften and cook the outside of the apple.  Never use boiling water.
  • Once apples are dipped in hot water, place them in the refrigerator for a few minutes until they are slightly chilled.
  • Have all your crushed garnishes prepared and ready before cooking the caramel.  If using melted chocolate to drizzle over apples, melt and drizzle the chocolate over the dipped apples, after the caramel has set.
  • Allow cooked caramel to cool for at least 5 minutes before dipping apples.
  • Use parchment paper to place the apples on, after dipping them.  Don’t use waxed paper.
Caramel Apples.

More recipes you might like…

Vanilla Caramel Corn

Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls

If you make this recipe please rate it, and leave a comment below on how you liked it. I love getting your feedback! 🙂

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Classic Homemade Caramel Apples

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  • Author: Cindy Gibbs @ My Country Table
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Apples 1x
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: American


Granny Smith apples are dipped in a creamy and delicious homemade caramel coating and garnished with crushed nuts.  Just like mom made them!


Units Scale
  • 7 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 stick butter
  • Dash of salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Crushed pecans for garnish, optional
  • Crushed candies, melted chocolate for garnish, optional


  1. Prepare any garnishes and have them ready to use when caramel is ready for dipping.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Wash and dry apples.  Dip apples in very hot, but not boiling, water for 2-3 seconds, (no longer).  Wipe down and dry apples with a clean kitchen towel.  Remove stems.  Transfer the apples to the cookie sheet and place in a refrigerator while you’re making the caramel.
  4. Add the sugars, butter, salt, and milk to a 2-quart heavy pot and place over medium-low heat.  Bring mixture to a boil while constantly stirring and keep stirring steadily but not vigorously until caramel reaches a soft ball stage on a candy thermometer, 242 degrees, or forms a firm ball when tested in cold water.  See my post on how to test candy in cold water for tips on this.
  5. Allow the caramel to cool for at least 5 minutes, stirring it at least 2 to 3 times while it’s cooling.  Meantime, remove the apples from the refrigerator.  Insert a wooden skewer or popsicle stick about two-thirds of the way through the center of each apple,
  6. Dip each apple in the caramel and roll in crushed nuts or other garnishes, if desired, and transfer to the parchment lined cookie sheet.


  • Caramel apples will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 2 days.