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Homemade Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples

Super easy caramel apples dipped in chocolate with decorations. Can be modified for any holiday or event!

I get a TON of catalogs.  Don’t get me wrong – I love catalogs. But I get a ton. There are a couple of fancy pants food catalogs that offer me the opportunity to order tiny cookies or popcorn or chocolate-dipped things for a lot of money (but use this special code to get 10% off your purchase and free shipping on orders over $100…small print, exclusions apply, expiration dates, credit application, etc.)  

Anyway, one of the items I often consider are the big, gorgeous caramel apples with different kinds of decorations and embellishments. I rationalize the $6.95 per apple price by telling myself that it’s so much trouble and so many ingredients, rendering them a huge pain to make. (Buy all the fancy apples now!)

Stop it!  These cuties are easy, adorable and cost maybe a buck each when all is said and done. We can do this and it’s a blast for kids to help with. So put down that catalog and let’s make our own.

I made this first batch for Halloween.

Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Apples

What will you need?

  • Well, grab your favorite apples.  Tart, firm Granny Smith apples are my favorite, but Gala are very good, too. Red Delicious tend to be a little mealy and too sweet – not the best choice for caramel apples.
  • Pick your caramel. Want to make your own? More power to ya! I usually opt to spend a little time in front of the TV unwrapping the traditional caramel candy squares. I wish someone else in my house could be trusted to do this, but I’d have no caramels left if I turned this job over. You could also use one of those cups of caramel that gets heated in the microwave and it’s ready to go.
  • Melted chocolate. I used chocolate chips, but use your favorite here.  White chocolate, butterscotch and peanut butter chips are pretty yummy, too. Maybe you want to use a bag of candy melts like these in your favorite color?

  • Toppings! Don’t immediately run out and buy a bunch of new stuff. Inventory your pantry, cupboards, kitchen drawers and cabinets to see what kinds of goodies you already have on hand. Don’t forget that secret hiding spot and always look at things with a creative eye.  Yes, I know cereal isn’t typically associated with caramel apples, but how cute would Fruity or Cocoa Pebbles be on an apple? Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch would taste amazing with the chocolate coating, and duh…Apple Jacks?  Try granola or crumbled cookies. What about potato chips? Crumbled bacon? Pop Rocks? Cracker Jacks? You could also make your own colored sugars.
  • To skewer or not to skewer? I have done these both ways. A skewer in each apple makes them more fun and easier for kids to eat.  Grown-ups usually find themselves trying to be proper and take out the stick so they can cut the apple into slices.  So, when I’m giving these to my friends, I take the stick out before packaging.

Directions and tips:

  1. Wash your apples in very warm water or soak them in a vinegar and water solution to remove the wax coating (unless you buy right off the tree, direct from a farmer or organic). This will help the caramel to stick better. Dry the apples completely.

Granny Smith apples to dip in caramel

2. Add the sticks. I found these at my grocery store. Popsicle sticks work well, too.

Skewered apples ready to dip in caramel

3. Prepare the caramel according to the instructions of your preferred product or make your own caramel. I simply melted mine per the directions on the bag of candies.

Melting caramels

4.  Let the caramel cool just slightly, then carefully dip each apple in the caramel and allow the excess to drip off.  Place each apple on a nonstick surface (this is very important) to cool.  Note:  If you aren’t dipping in chocolate later, be sure coat the entire apple, including a little bit of the stick, to seal the hole and help it stay fresh longer.

Dipping apples in caramel

The caramel on some of my apples pooled a little more this time. This comes from not letting the caramel cool enough. You can also refrigerate the apples to help the caramel cool quicker.

Apples dipped in caramel cooling on a nonstick surface

5. Prepare your toppings! Get your toppings set up while the caramel is cooling and before you melt the chocolate. Mine include traditional sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, candy coated sunflower seeds, crushed pretzels, peanut butter chips, Reese’s pieces, chopped peanuts and colored sugars.

Toppings are ready to add to the chocolate-dipped caramel apples

6. Melt the chocolate according to the instructions on the package – whether it’s chocolate/butterscotch/peanut butter chips, candy melts, etc. I melted chocolate chips in a double boiler (a bowl over a pot of simmering water) with a little bit of shortening.

7. Dip each apple into the chocolate (up to the stick if these won’t be eaten in the next couple of days), allowing the excess to drip off.  Let the chocolate set up a minute, then coat the apple with the toppings before it gets too hard. Set aside to fully harden. This will keep the toppings from sliding down as much.

8. Package your beautiful chocolate-dipped caramel apples and share!

Caramel Apples

What are your favorite toppings? Find any treasures in your pantry that you put on your apples?  We used gummy bears one time that became the star of the party!