Perfect Gourmet Caramel Apples

This one time (last Saturday), I did a cooking demonstration on how to easily make beautiful, gourmet caramel apples for a group of women holding their annual Super Saturday (a learning/crafting event at church). It was great fun – both the making of caramel apples and the insane amount of laughing and chatting that occurred (no surprise I wanted to stay forever and plop myself down in a metal folding chair and talk about life and kids and caramel apples and new jeans forever and ever). In preparation for this event, I made about a bazillion caramel apples in order to perfect my already mostly foolproof method I’ve used for several years.

I know technically the season for caramel apples is probably waning, but in the event that any of you want to tackle perfect, gourmet caramel apples, I’ll share the same handout and tips I shared with the ladies last weekend since I probably won’t do an official recipe post about these lovely apples this year.

Perfect Gourmet Caramel Apples

Most of the tips are right here in this nifty little handout (click the image to download the PDF).
Perfect Gourmet Caramel Apples

A few additional tippy tips:

1) Granny Smith apples are my very favorite for dipping in caramel. The sweet-tart combo is delightful. Honey Crisp come in a close second. A lot of other varieties are a bit too sweet for my liking after being loaded with caramel and chocolate and who knows what else but you really could use whatever your first preference is.
2) The reason for soaking the apple is twofold: it helps get rid of some of the pesky wax (and wax is no good for helping caramel stick) but it also helps release some of the gases in the apple so the caramel doesn’t get annoying little air bubbles. If you’ve dipped a lot of caramel apples in your day, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Dipping the apple slowly into the caramel also helps with the air bubble issue, too.
3) All those cute little drizzles? I used this magical tip that doesn’t require loading the chocolate into bags and using any special tips.
4) One batch of caramel (recipe is in the handout) will dip about 12 average-sized apples. If you’re working with this behemoth apples that weigh about 5 pounds apiece, plan on more caramel or less apples.

So pretend like it’s still October and go make yourself look like a rock star with some crazy yummy gourmet caramel apples.

Perfect Gourmet Caramel Apples

And since I kind of hijacked a typical Snapshot Saturday with cooking-related stuff, here’s the obligatory trick-or-treating pictures. The boys all turned in their candy for money (probably to buy  more candy but whatever)…
Boys HalloweenFinal

…and Cam was a complete dragon the entire night (even though she was dressed like a fairy tutu-clad toddler).
Cam HalloweenFinal

49 Responses to Gourmet Caramel Apples + Free Printable Handout

  1. Brittany says:

    Hi Mel! Thanks for all the great recipes!! I’m excited to try this soon!
    In the past, I have struggled with my almond bark chocolate setting up too fast and being thick. I’ve never tried melting chocolate in the crock pot, like you describe…What chocolate do you use? Thanks so much 🙂

  2. Katherine says:

    Making this for the second time right now and this time doing a double batch of caramel to have some families over for FHE tomorrow! And have an extra pile of apples on the counter to make with my parents when they come to town this weekend. Thanks so much! Your blog has taught me so much.

  3. Katy says:

    I’m making these with our YW this week. Some of them have braces, so caramel presents a problem for them. So you think if they just dipped in chocolate the chocolate would stay on? I’m worried it will just crack and fall off

    • Mel says:

      I think it might crack, like you suggested, but I’ve never tried it that way so it might be worth a try! Maybe if the apples aren’t right out of the refrigerator it would work best so the cold apples don’t crack the chocolate.

  4. Karen says:

    I was wondering how far in advance you could make these or is there a good way you recommend to keep them fresh.

  5. Katie says:

    These are beautiful! What a great gift idea!! I know you’ve posted it before but can’t remember where. What candy thermometer do you recommend? I keep buying ones that stop working :/. Thank you so much!

  6. Karen Oliver says:

    Fantastic post. What program did you use for the hand out? Publisher? Soooo cute.
    Just also wanted to say how I love the last year, 2 years ago, 3 years ago links. I use them frequently, or they spur my mind to a recipe of yours I’ve used long ago.
    Thanks so much for your dedication to this blog! I love it and love the Saturday snapshots. Makes me feel like we’re neighbors and kindred spirits!

  7. Trisha says:

    Hi there! I am hosting a Caramel Apple Party and I have a question. I am sorry if this is obvious from the instructions and I am just missing something but if you are not dipping the apples in chocolate do you refrigerate the apples before adding toppings?

    • Mel says:

      Do you mean refrigerate the apples after dipping in chocolate? If so, no, dip the apples in chocolate and then add the toppings immediately before the chocolate hardens. I do like to refrigerate the apples after they’ve been caramel-covered if I have time so the chocolate sets up more quickly once dipped.

  8. Christina says:

    Ok, so I cooked till 238 and caramel was too soft. Poured it back into pot and cooked till 242, and transfer to a bowl so it wouldn’t keep cooking. The first couple of apples came out great after dipping, then while atempting to dip the rest of the apples the caramel seemed oily and got to a different consistency. What do you think happened here?

    • Mel says:

      It’s possible that if the caramel cooled too much when you took it off at 238 and then you re-boiled it again that it separated. Sometimes if caramel undergoes fast or drastic changes in temperature it can get that buttery layer where the butter kind of separates out from the caramel. It’s also possible your candy thermometer might be cooking a few degrees too low – have you ever calibrated it in boiling water?

  9. I have a whole GNO planned for tomorrow using your recipe and tips! We can’t wait! Just a quick question–do you have any advice for making the caramel if I don’t have a candy thermometer? I just don’t want to mess it up! Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Good luck with your girls’ night, Nikki! Unfortunately, I’ve never made this caramel without a cooking thermometer and I’m not really familiar with the different tests you can do on homemade candy without a thermometer (although you could probably google something like “ice water test for caramel”). Any chance a neighbor or a friend has a cooking thermometer you could borrow?

      • Thanks, Mel! Our GNO turned out to be a blast! I failed miserably at your recipe (note to self: ask hubby for a candy thermometer for Christmas), but we had the Kraft squares as a backup and used those instead. I’m determined to master the way you do your apples this holiday season! Thank you again for an amazing blog.

  10. What a fun and helpful class you taught, and it was SO great to finally get to meet you! I’ve shared your blog with my sisters and friends forever, I’m always telling them about a recipe “from Mel”. I have made chocolate covered, decorated carmel apples for years but always have the problems we discussed in the class, ie: bubbles in the carmel, carmel pooling at the bottom, etc. So awesome to have remedies for them! I had a hard time sharing the apple I brought home with my kids! (Honey crisp with Oreo coating.) You probably thought I was a total nerd for wanting a picture with you, but thanks for humoring me! You’re the best!

  11. Ashleigh M says:

    My friend and I got together this evening to make these beauties. We got the kids involved and they LOVED it! Like many others, I’ve always been intimidated by homemade caramel. This recipe was SO SIMPLE and quick to prepare. I seriously planned an entire evening to make the caramel, but it only took me 45 minutes tops (because I read and reread the handout like 20 times). I made the caramel last night and reheated it in the slow cooker today. It was easy to dip and yummy to eat. We had enough caramel for 12 fairly large Granny Smith apples. Also, I recommend watching Mel’s Aunt’s vid on drizzling chocolate first. We used a spoon and it wasn’t so pretty. Whatevs! It tastes just as good! Thanks Mel for curing yet another one of my cooking fears and making me (and the kiddos) feel like rock stars in the kitchen.

  12. Karen says:

    I tried to make carmel apples in the spur of the moment, a couple weeks back. Epic fail. I ended up taking the apples off of the stick and slicing. The boys then just dipped the apple slices into a bowl of carmel. Not the same. Thank you for sharing this great post and handout! I will have to follow your instructions next time 🙂

  13. Kim in MD says:

    Oh my gosh, Mel- I don’t know what made me smile more…the PDF for the apples or the adorable photos of your children! 🙂

  14. Tarryn says:

    Go Red Sox! ( :

    The apples look delicious and I am printing out the very cute graphic.

  15. Ashlee T says:

    Mel your kids are adorable! I love seeing pix of then! Being crazy and funny and everything in between. Reminds me of my kiddos! I made your divine breadsticks tonight with soup and they were SOOO good! They were like dessert! Yum

  16. Holly says:

    A friend of mine gives us a large carmel apple drizzled with white and dark chocolate, sprinkled with pecans for for Christmas every year. She always wraps it in cellophane with a pretty bow. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. Lucky7jen says:

    Mel, what can I say?! I have been professionally making gourmet caramel apples for years and I still learned something new from you! You never cease to amaze me. 🙂

  18. Meghan says:

    could have fooled me about that cute little fairy’s mood. Looks like your boys had a blast

  19. Nancy says:

    The kids look great. Being in Massachusetts I must say I appreciate the Red Sox hat greatly!!

  20. Hilary says:

    I made these!!!! Caramel apples have been one of the things I have been wanting to conquer (have NEVER had good luck- my caramel has always slid right off the apple) and I DID IT!!! Thank you SO MUCH for your wonderfully detailed instructions- I followed them step by step and ended up with big, beautiful apples! The children loved them and I meant to take a picture to send you, but they didn’t last long enough! I had extra caramel so I just poured the rest into a parchment-lined pan and now have caramel candies which i may dip in dark chocolate (thank you to the other poster who did this and gave me the idea!) and bring them to the ladies in my bible study. THANK YOU MEL!! And thank you Aunt Marilyn!! (and ps- your children are darling! I just love catching glimpses of them here and there!) The bread recipe you just posted and your Tuscan bean soup are the menu for tonight- and caramel candies for dessert 🙂 thanks again for all of your hard work!

    • Mel says:

      I’m so, so thrilled to hear these caramel apples worked out so well for you, Hilary! Seriously makes you feel like a rock star, huh? I love the feeling of churning out these gorgeous decorated caramel apples. Thank you so much for checking in to let me know!

  21. Justine says:

    It’s always caramel apple time 🙂 Question – for the caramel recipe you list 1 cup of cream in the ingredients, and say “add all ingredients”…and then later say when it reaches a certain temp to add a cup of cream – just want to make sure there’s only 1 cup of cream total? I’ve made caramels before and only added the cream after it reached a certain temp, but wasn’t sure since this is for a different use of the caramel. Thanks 🙂

  22. Nancy says:

    My mom was at your class last weekend and really enjoyed it! I’m hoping to make some with her during the holidays! Thanks for sharing with us- they look divine.

  23. Anna says:


    I’ve seen other people put the sticks in the blossom end of the apple.
    Does putting it in at the stem end have some advantage?

    • Mel says:

      I think you can do either. I always go from the top because I like to leave a little circle of apple showing (instead of dipping it entirely in caramel) and it looks prettier to have the top showing than the blossom end.

      • Anna says:

        Thanks for the input. It’s been a long time since I’ve dipped apples, and your advice has taught me a lot.

        (I mostly like to peel and slice an apple, then just dip the pieces in cajeta, but that seems kinda lazy compared to these beautiful creations.)

  24. Teresa R. says:

    I always love the pictures of the boys and Cam. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Theresa Diulus says:

    Oh, my goodness! That handout!!!! Your talent in the kitchen has impressed me for years, but that graphic design is outstanding! These are great gifts at the holiday time – thank you for posting this 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Ah, thanks, Theresa! I wish it didn’t take me about 143 hours to put something like that together. I need to become a little more efficient. 🙂

  26. Lindsay says:

    I might have missed this somewhere along the line, but how many apples will the caramel recipe cover?

    • Mel says:

      Oh, thanks, Lindsay! That was one of the main things I meant to include (I’ll try to update the handout but I’m on my way out for an epic day of yard work with the family so it might be later tonight) – for average sized apples (not terribly small and not ginormous), one batch of caramel will dip about 12 apples.

  27. April says:

    You pay your kids for Halloween Candy? How does that work??

    • Mel says:

      Basically, they just turn their bag of Halloween candy in for a little cash (we’re talking $5). They don’t have to – it’s their choice whether they want to or not but usually after they eat a few pieces on Halloween night, they’re ready to give it up.

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