When I think fall, I think of candied apples and caramel apples. The two are commonly talked about interchangeably, but are actually very different.
What is a Candied Apple?
A candied apple is coated in a sugar candy layer similar to Red Hots candy, but without the cinnamon. The iconic candy apple is bright red; reminiscent of Snow White’s poisoned apple.
Candied apples and caramel apples are NOT the same thing.
Sugar Coating for Candied Apples
Getting sugar to the perfect consistency can be tricky. It burns very easily. I was alerted to my first batch burning by the smoke detector. We’ve all been there, don’t judge.
The mixture needs to get to the hottest stage of candy making- the hard crack stage. The sugar concentration is very high, about 99% sugar and 1% water, which reaches between 300°F-310°F on a candy thermometer.
Do not worry if you don’t have a candy thermometer. The mixture can easily be checked by dropping a glob of sugar into a bowl of cold water, but this is not as accurate. At the hard crack stage the sugar will immediately solidify into hard threads. When bent it will snap and be as hard as a lollipop.
|Thread (syrup)||230 to 234 °F||80%|
|Soft Ball (fudge)||234 to 241 °F||85%|
|Firm Ball (caramel candy)||244 to 248 °F||87%|
|Hard Ball (nougat)||250 to 266 °F||90%|
|Soft Crack (salt water taffy)||270 to 289 °F||95%|
|Hard Crack (toffee)||295 to 309 °F||99%|
Can I Make Candied Apples When It Rains?
Beware of making these on a humid day or storing them in a humid area. The candy coating will not harden or will literally melt off. It will sticky and chewy AND really hurt your jaw.
The same is true of making sure the apples are clean, but very dry. Wipe them off and let them dry even longer in the fridge.
Why You’ll Love These Candied Apples
A crisp apple dipped in a crunchy candy coating- what’s not to love!
- Perfect for Halloween – This simple recipe is perfect all fall season, but especially for a fun Halloween party!
- Simple ingredients – Besides hot water, you only need five basic ingredients to make these apples.
- Fun topping options – The toppings you can add to these apples are endless! In fact, I have over 20 ideas listed below.
- So Pretty! – Candied Apples are visually stunning and can be eaten or merely displayed. A cinnamon stick handle adds to the appeal. Try a new, dramatic spin by using black food coloring.
You can make your own candy apples with just a handful of ingredients that you can easily find at your local grocery store.
- Apples – You can really use any kind of apples that you like. I prefer to use tart granny smith apples because of the different colors or red and green.
- Sticks – For your candy apple sticks, you can use something simple like popsicle sticks, a plain wooden stick or lollipop sticks, but they also sell Candied Apple Sticks on Amazon.
- Sugar – Plain white sugar is all you need to make the sugar mixture that coats he green apples.
- Light corn syrup – When combined with sugar and water and then heated, this is what makes that hard candy texture.
- Red food coloring – This is optional, but in order to get that shiny red candy apples look that you’re used to, the coloring is a must.
- Cinnamon – I like my sweet candy coating to have a slight cinnamon flavor! So ground cinnamon will work perfectly. It also helps cover up the flavor of the red food coloring.
How to Make the Best Candied Apples
You are going to love how easy it is to make the perfect candy apple.
- Wash and dry apples. Any moisture left on the skin will prevent the caramel from sticking. Insert Popsicle or cinnamon into the stem of the apple to use as a handle. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, set it aside.
- Make candy coating. In a heavy medium saucepan combine all ingredients. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. When the mixture comes to a boil do not stir or whisk, only swirl the entire saucepan every few minutes
- Bring to right temperature. Allow to boil over medium-high heat for approximately 10-15 minutes or until mixture reaches the hard crack stage. Use the cold water test described above to check the stage of your sugar or use a candy thermometer (recommended).
- Dip apples in candy mixture. Remove from heat and quickly dredge apples in mixture. Set on baking sheet and allow to set.
Toppings and Variations
There are plenty of ways you can make the best candy apples your own.
- Candy apple slices – Instead of using whole apples, try using apple slices to make them easier to serve at a party. Just be sure to serve them soon after setting.
- Sticks – Try stepping things up a notch by using a cinnamon stick instead of wooden skewers.
- Toppings – There are plenty of ways you can dress up these candy apples with toppings. Here are some suggestions:
- Reeses Pieces
- M & M’s
- Dark Chocolate Drizzle
- White Chocolate Drizzle
- Freshly Popped Popcorn
- Sliced mini marshmallows
- Toffee Pieces
- Graham Cracker Crumbs
- Butterfinger Bar
- Snickers Bar
- Crushed Peanut Pieces
- Sea Salt
- Chopped Pecans
- Chopped Walnuts
- Chopped Macadamia Nuts
- Decorate with Frosting (Jack-o-lantern Faces)
- Crushed Oreos
- Crushed Vanilla Wafers
- Mini Chocolate Chips
- Cinnamon Candies (Red Hots)
- Crushed Pretzels
- White Chocolate Chips
- Mini Chocolate Chips
- Butterscotch Chips
- Cinnamon and Sugar
- Flaked Coconut
Storage and Freezing
Storage: These homemade candy apples are best enjoyed the same day. Humidity can impact the candy coating, preventing it from setting. For best results, make on a cool, dry fall day. You can store in an airtight container if you have leftovers.
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing this candy apples recipe. They will not thaw correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Candied Apples
You can really use any kind of apple that you’d like, but we prefer granny smith. The tartness pairs nicely with the sweet candy.
Caramel apples are coated in a sticky caramel coating, while candy apples are coated in a hard candy.
It is best to consume candied apples the same day they are made.
More Easy Halloween Desserts
- Halloween Rice Krispie Treat Cake
- Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Pumpkins
- Easy Halloween Poke Cake
- Cake Cone Witch Hats
- Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
- Caramel Apple Cookies
- Halloween Bark
How to Make Candied Apples
- Wash and dry the apples. Any moisture left on the skin will prevent the caramel from sticking. Insert your stick of choice into the stem of the apple to use as a handle. Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, set aside.
- In a heavy saucepan combine the sugar, water, corn syrup, food coloring and cinnamon (if using). Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. When the mixture comes to a boil do not stir or whisk, only swirl the entire saucepan every few minutes
- Allow to boil over medium-high heat for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (310°F-320°F).
- Remove from the heat and quickly dredge apples in mixture. Set on the prepared baking sheet and allow to set.
- Enjoy the same day as making. Humidity can impact the candy coating, preventing it from setting. For best results, make on a cool, dry fall day. Enjoy!
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it went in the comments or star ratings.