My daughter and I take our first bite of caramel apple – a combination of rich sweetness, with just a tiny bite of salt hardened onto a crisp new crop apple. Divine. This recipe was definitely the one to kick start our “Back to School” theme this month.
There are two things that I really like about this recipe. First, there is the gooey, sweet, buttery caramel over crisp apples. That’s enough to like right there. Secondly, I get this gooey, sweet, buttery, caramel after only two minutes of simmering time. Score!
I was really excited that this caramel apple recipe was so easy. It is almost as easy as the caramel dip my grandmother used to make for us girls growing up. She’d unwrap soft caramel candies and melt it with extra butter (and maybe cream?). We’d happily dip apple slices into it and eat so much we’d be sick. True story.
However, since there are a variety of reasons caramel candies aren’t in our weekly diet, I haven’t made that same delightful experience happen for my almost-six-year-old. So, this summer, when she got a caramel apple on vacation, she was quite excited. I have never been too enthusiastic about making these at home, as many recipes require long minutes simmering and getting to a certain temperature, which is always kind of a hassle. I’d do it sometime…I think, but it just never happened.
All to say, this easy recipe was a boon and Elena and I already have plans on making it again for her upcoming birthday party.
Of course, you can sprinkle on a variety of yummy toppings onto the caramel too, which is what my daughter likes to do (I don’t let her drizzle the caramel because hot sweet syrups create the worst burns). Think chopped roasted peanuts, sprinkles (we use naturally dyed ones), chocolate chips, or whatever else catches your fancy.
Easy, All-Natural Caramel Apples
For dipping whole apples, you will need Popsicle or craft sticks. I doubled this recipe and got 5 whole dipped apples, and 5 drizzled apples. I do recommend doubling the recipe, as it is easier to get out of the pot when drizzling. How many apples you are able to cover depends on how cooled the mixture was when you started drizzling, and how big your apples are. Adapted from an Eating Well recipe.
1/3 cup coconut sugar, whole cane sugar (such as rapadura or sucanat)
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter (I am sure coconut oil would work well too)
Dash of unrefined salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (use gluten-free for a gluten-free version).
3 small apples (if you wish to completely cover), 6 small apples, if you wish to only cover half by drizzling it.
Any desired toppings (see above for suggestions)
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you want to completely cover apples with caramel, stick a popsicle/craft stick into the top of each.
2. In a small pot, combine the sugar of choice, honey, butter (or coconut oil), salt, and vanilla. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture starts bubbling on the edges, set timer for 2 minutes. Stir constantly. Take off heat and add vanilla. Be very careful with this mixture, as it can burn badly.
3. To coat whole apples: Working quickly, with one hand hold the end of the popsicle stick, holding the apple over the pot. Careful spoon over caramel, turning the apple to coat all sides. Place back on the parchment paper and top with desired toppings, if using. Repeat.
4. To Drizzle: Let mixture sit for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (to cool a bit – it won’t run off the apples as quickly). All apples should be on the parchment paper. Using a large spoon, carefully drizzle about 1 to 2 tablespoons over each apple. It will drizzle over the sides of the apple on its own. The longer the caramel cools, the thicker it will become. After doing this over all of the apples, you can go back and scoop up any caramel on the parchment paper and re-drizzle over the top. Decorate as desired.
5. Cool for at least 30 minutes. I find that it hardens better when placed in the refrigerator.
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Thank you Kimi! I almost cried when I saw this. I have had to go egg and dairy free, and was sorely bemoaning giving up my favorite homemade salted caramel sauce. I am going to try to adapt this to my “salted” version. Again, thanks.
I think that this could easily be adapted to a dip! Tell me how it goes for you!
Hmmm, we have a tree full of pears. I wonder if it would work with them.
Apples are especially nice since they can be a bit tart, which offers contrast – but I think it could be interesting to try with pears! Have you tried making apple-pear sauce? That’s yummy too. 🙂
This sounds great! I can’t wait to try these with my grandson. Thanks!
Lauren @ Empowered Sustenance
This looks amazing! What a great way to re-do a favorite treat!
Kimmy, my apple was amazing!! I was going to ask you for the recipe 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!
So glad! It was so fun to share with you. 🙂
oh. my. that was incredible.
Did you try it Samara? I have to admit that I am a sucker for caramel apples. I think it was a good thing that we shared so many…otherwise I would have made myself sick like I used to as a little kid on them.
Yep. I tried it. I hate to tell you that it was only me here at home at the time. I refuse to say how much was left! I got on this page again because I am alone again tonight (after the kids are asleep 🙂 and I want to see if these would make good candies (I intend to put a spoonful of caramel into some parchment paper, wrap it up, and then refrigerate)…we’ll see…
I am a sucker for caramel with or without apples
To make this GAPS friendly, I am wondering if you could use date sugar? Just a thought for my GAPS readers.
I tried this recipe today. Delicious! I used Sucanat and local honey and it was perfect. Thank you for sharing it!
I’ve been looking for a good caramel sauce that was quick and easy. Actually, I thought maybe “caramel sauce” and “quick and easy” were an oxymoron. Thank you so much! This recipe is now on my short-list of to-do’s.
Thank you Thank you thank you!!!!
We just picked a bushel of lovely organic apples and my (majorly food intolerant) kids were wistfully remembering that I made caramel apples for them last year, pre-discovery.
You have resurrected a family tradition that I thought was gone for sure. They are going to be so thrilled when they come home from school tomorrow. you have made two little ones ( and me!) so very happy!
How would you adapt this into a dip? Would it harden too much if I made this recipe and used it as a dip? Thanks!
Wow! I just made this using sucanat and am totally blown away. Not only does it taste wonderful but was incredibly easy. Thanks from me and my kids!
So happy to find this; in the past we had made a caramel sauce with honey as the only sweetener, and you had to stir it for FOREVER to get it to the correct temperature. That of course makes it less practical for us! Have made this three times, so good. One thought I’ll share- it seems if you drizzle the caramel on the apples slices and it sits a bit, the caramel “melts”, and gets runny. This doesn’t happen on whole apples though. I brought them to community group and the caramel was all melted, and it was like the apples were marinated in a yummy runny sauce. 🙂 I think next time I have to make it ahead of time and don’t want to do whole apples, I’ll just have a bowl of the sauce for dipping. Maybe I’m wrong though, and am doing something wrong when I make it?
And Samara, I was wondering the same thing about candies!! Not sure if it hardens up enough, though?
I have made the caramel apples and they were delicious, absolutely wonderful! My husband and 5 children all had a ball eating them. I doubled the recipe so we could have them twice. Then, being almost 8 months pregnant and needing lots of chocolate, I was inspired to make a candy similar to Turtles or Millionaires. Caramel and chopped pecans covered in chocolate, yum! Well, my youngest was very impatient while I made the caramel (even though it only takes a few minutes). I ended up dumping about 1 cup of chopped pecans into the caramel, stirring around, and dumping in the chocolate I had just made. I poured it into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper & stuck it in the fridge. It was lots quicker than trying to make individual candies and tasted just as good. My husband thought they tasted a lot like Turtles and I was so glad to know there wasn’t anything nasty in them. The only problem is that they disappeared too quickly. I’ll definitely have to double it next time!! Kimi, thanks for the wonderful caramel recipe!
I just made this for my dairy free, white sugar free daughter and it’s so yummm! Thank you Kimi!
After watching Max&Ruby episode of candy apple, she had to have one! And I had never made or eaten candy apples before and all recipes that I found online used corn syrup or white sugar or margarine and colors all of which she can’t have!
So, I really appreciate you sharing this recipe! My daughter and I are thrilled with it! 🙂
Thank you, thank you! My 6 year old has been asking for caramel apples, but I’ve been putting it off since I didn’t know a real food way to make them. He will be so excited!