Homemade Toffee Apples (Candy Apples)

How to Make Caramel or Candy Apple Bites

First, you’ll need a couple of large firm apples. We used Granny Smith. Granny Smith has a tendency to be a bit let juicy than other types, which also helps the caramel to stick.

Using a melon-baller, scoop out as many full-size apple balls as you can. We generally get 16-20 per apple.

You can use the rest of your “Holey apple” in muffins, saute the pieces in a pan with a little bit of butter or brown sugar, use it in fruit salad, share it with your pets (bunnies/horses!), cut it in half and fill the holes with peanut butter mixed with rice cereal and put it out for the squirrels, etc.

The point is, we don’t just throw it away, we use it for something tasty as well!

Press down gently on the apple to slightly flatten

Press down gently on the apple to slightly flatten the bottom. This will prevent them from rolling when you dip them. Then, using a sharp object, poke a hold in the top so you can insert a pretzel stick. Here I am using a (clean) meat thermometer.

Carefully insert a pretzel stick into the apple bi

Carefully insert a pretzel stick into the apple bites.

I chose to use pretzels so that the entire item wa

I chose to use pretzels so that the entire item was edible. (Thus preventing sticky toothpicks or popsicle sticks from being left around the house kids.)

Roll the cut area of the apple in powdered sugar,

Roll the cut area of the apple in powdered sugar, set aside. Do not omit this step as your caramel will NOT stick if you do.

How to Store Caramel Apples:

If not eaten within 4 hours, store the caramel apples in the fridge for up to 4 days for best results. Let apple come to room temperature before eating so that caramel isn’t so hard.


Who invented the caramel apple?

While the candy apple was invented in 1908, the caramel apple wasn’t invented until 1950. Better late than never, I say!

An employee of the Kraft foods company named Dan W

An employee of the Kraft foods company named Dan Walker invented the caramel apple when he was experimenting with holiday candy.

However instead of experimenting with Christmas candy (as was the case with the candy apple), Walker was experimenting with leftover caramels from Halloween, and came up with the idea for the caramel apple.

He melted down some of the surplus of caramel candy from Halloween that the Kraft foods company had on hand, and dipped an apple in it. Thus, the caramel apple was born!

Caramel and apples are always a popular combination in the fall. You can combine them in lots of other ways. Check out my caramel apple bars, also made with left over Halloween candy!

In Chicago, Illinois in the 1960s, Vito Raimondi (with the help of his Uncle William Raimondi) invented and patented the first automatic caramel apple making machine. 

How Long Do Homemade Toffee Apples Keep For?

The toffee on toffee apples, will soften over time. This is because the natural moisture in the apples, will ever so slowly melt the toffee. They’ll stay perfectly hard for a day or two but then slowly start to soften.

Still delicious both ways but for that perfect toffee crack, make them as close to serving as possible.

Candy Apple Making Tips

Because of trial and error, I have learned some things to do and some things NOT to do when making candy apples. Please learn from my mistakes and save yourself time and a mess.

  • Wash the apples, and then dry them thoroughly before dipping them in the sugar mixture. The coating won’t stick if the apple is wet.
  • Then, twist the apple stem off as close to the base as possible.
  • Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, you don’t have to keep stirring it. It is a temptation to run out of the room and switch a load of laundry or check Facebook, but don’t do it! You will have a mess on your hands. Keep a close eye on the boiling sugar. Some stove tops heat faster than others. Be sure to use the candy thermometer and watch it closely. The temperature can jump quickly! Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
  • If there are bubbles in the sugar mixture, there will be bubbles in the coating on your apples. While this may look cool for a Halloween party (they look like warts), it may not be the look you want. To prevent this, again, be patient. Wait for the mixture to stop bubbling before dipping the apples.
  • It takes two hands to dip the apples. One to hold the handle of the pan and tip it so the sugar mixture is deep enough to coat the entire apple. Use your other hand to swirl the apple into the mixture quickly and evenly. Be sure to let the excess sugar coating drain back into the pan.
  • Do not use cooking spray on the parchment paper because it will add an oily finish on the bottom of the apples.

Fun facts about candy apples

William Kolb sold his first batch of candy apples for only 5 cents, which is the same as $1.41 today. That’s amazing, since you’d be hard pressed nowadays to find a single candy apple that only costs $1.41!

Traditional candy apples are cinnamon flavored, to resemble the apples created in 1908, though not all candy apples sold today have the flavor of cinnamon.

Candy apples were never intended to be eaten! Kolb

Candy apples were never intended to be eaten! Kolb only wanted them to be display pieces in his candy shop window, not the tasty treats we know them as today.

This culinary treat coined the term “Candy Apple Red”. It can be used to describe anything from fast cars to painted nails!

Candy apples are best when made in the fall. Apple crops yield their loveliest apples during this time, and a fresh apple is the key to the tastiness of this treat.

Apples are also used in other fall treats. Be sure to check out my monster mouth apple snacks for another tasty idea.

Candy apples are also called toffee apples, and are traditionally served on the British holiday Guy Fawkes Day, also known as bonfire night.

While you can use any apple for candy apples, it is thought that Granny Smith apples work best. They provide a nice color contrast with the red candy coating.

This apple yields a greater depth of flavors than other apple types, because their tart and fresh bite contrasts nicely with the sweet and spiced coating.

Make Ahead and Store

You can easily make the caramel apples ahead of time. Caramel apples should not be stored at room temperature. Refrigerate them and store them chilled for up to two weeks. Let them come to room temperature to serve; the caramel will be more pliable at room temp and the apples easier to eat.

What Does the Caramel Taste Like?

My salted caramel is perfect for garnishing desserts, filling cakes, and as a dip for apple slices. However, it’s not suitable for coating apples because it’s too thin and won’t set properly– it’s missing corn syrup and the proper sugar to fat ratio.

The homemade caramel we’ll use for caramel apples is soft, chewy, buttery, a little taffy-like, and adheres to the apple easily. If applied lightly, the caramel won’t pool down at the bottom of the apple. Let’s break down the ingredients you need for homemade caramel coating and why each are imperative to the taste and texture. Cooking candy is actual chemistry, so there’s no room for substitutions.

Best Candy Apple Recipe

My search began with looking for recipes online and watching a couple of tutorials. I picked the three that looked the best and tried them. The first try was a disaster. It called for part brown sugar, part white sugar, and corn syrup. I was hoping this would give the “candy” more of a caramel flavor, but instead the candy coating turned out very sticky.

On the second try I gave up on the brown sugar and tried another recipe using cream of tartar. For some reason, that recipe burned after cooking for 10 minutes when 20 minutes was recommended – and it smelled horrible!

The third recipe turned out better after making several adjustments. I admittedly had more than a few failed attempts, but learned a lot with each one. With some practice I was able to get the candy coating thin and crispy. I’ve been using this recipe for years and the apples turn out perfectly every time.

I can now see why these candy apples are a favorite. They taste great and they are fun to eat. I have a new fall tradition!

Making the Caramel From Scratch

Many recipes for caramel apples just take caramel candies and melt them to make the caramel coating. I prefer to make the caramel sauce from scratch. The taste is phenomenal (no worries about what to do with the leftover sauce, it will get eaten up quickly) and it really isn't hard to make.

It's just sugar, butter, cream, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, and salt. It comes together right on the stovetop.

In addition to the base ingredients, the one thing you do need is an accurate candy thermometer or instant read thermometer (though at least one reader—see comments—has winged it without one).

Best Apples for Caramel Apples

You can use any variety of apple you enjoy such as Granny Smith, Fuji, or Honeycrisp. Granny Smith are a popular choice for caramel apples because they’re tart, which pairs perfectly with sweet buttery caramel. Whichever variety you use, look for:

  • small to medium size
  • as perfectly round as you can find
  • firm with no soft spots

Let’s talk tools. We need the same items use

Let’s talk tools. We need the same items used for pumpkin spice toffee. In fact, most candy recipes require the same exact tools. And did you know that most homemade candy is gluten free? You don’t need flour to make caramel, toffee, truffles, or fudge.


Can I make toffee apples without a candy thermometer?

Yes, you can make toffee apples without a thermometer but it is much easier with one. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, consider picking one up. They’re cheap and invaluable when making candy.To make the toffee without one, have a small dish of cold water nearby. Once the toffee turns a pale gold colour, you’re just about there, so drop a little bit into the water and it should immediately set hard and become crunchy.

The toffee isn’t sticking!

If your apples have a waxy coating, the toffee may not stick. Wash waxed apples in warm water or sit them in boiling water for a few seconds to remove the coating first.

Can I decorate toffee apples? You absolutely can decorate toffee apples, just like you can caramel apples but make sure to have everything ready before you start coating them. Dip them in the toffee, let the excess drip off, then immediately dip them in your decorations. Great decoration ideas are mini chocolate chips, m&ms, cookie crumbs or other small candies. You could also drizzle melted chocolate over them once they’ve set. If you’re making them for Halloween, why not add some edible eyes.

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If you try this homemade toffee apples recipe, ple

If you try this homemade toffee apples recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you and it helps other readers too! You can also take a photo and tag @sugarsaltmagic on Instagram.


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