Skip the Store-Bought Caramel Apples: It’s Easy to Make Them at Home

woman dipping an apply in a bowl of melted caramel
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Biting into a crisp, caramel-dipped apple is one of fall’s greatest pleasures. Learn how to make caramel apples following these easy steps.

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Caramel Apples and Candy Apples?

There are many ways to make caramel apples right at home. To be clear, we’re talking about apples covered in buttery rich caramel that will cover your teeth with each bite—not the bright red and hard candy-coated apples that might send you to the dentist. For a rundown on the difference, check out this quick look at caramel and candy apples.

How to Make Caramel Apples

Making caramel apples is a fun fall tradition in many homes, but if you have yet to try it, we’ll walk you through the steps. From preparing your apples to choosing tasty Halloween toppings, we’ve got something yummy for you to try.

Making caramel apples isn’t a supply heavy task, but you do need a few things:

  • A candy thermometer: Depending on which recipe you choose, you may need a candy thermometer to ensure your caramel sauce is at the right temperature.
  • Lollipop or Popsicle sticks: You’ll need to pierce your apples after removing the stem to create a handle for this sweet treat. Sturdy skewers, chopsticks, or sticks from outside also do the trick. If you want your apples to look as professional as possible, you can always buy stout bamboo skewers made specifically for the task.

Supplies in hand, you’re ready to prep!

Prepare the Apples

Placing a skewer in an apple
Emilee Unterkoefler

Wash your apples thoroughly to remove all the wax from the skin and then dry your apples completely before dipping. Cortland, Empire, and Granny Smith apples are all popular for this yummy snack.

Remove the stems and use a Popsicle stick, lollipop stick, or skewer to pierce through the apple as a way to hold your delicious treat. You’ll want to pierce through the section of the apple where you just removed the stem.

Get the Cooling Station Ready

Generously buttering the parchment paper (apples in the background)
Emilee Unterkoefler

Place a piece of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Using room temperature butter, generously grease your parchment paper. The butter will help keep the caramel apples from sticking after being placed on the parchment paper.

Set Up the Yummy Decoration Station

Separate bowls of decorative ingredients including sprinkles, candy corn, chocolate chips, and M&M's
Emilee Unterkoefler

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What’s the Difference Between Caramel Apples and Candy Apples?

delicious caramel apples covered in crushed nuts
Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock

Just in case you’ve ever wondered if there was a difference between a candy apple and a caramel apple, we’ll break things down and cover the basics.

Many people use the words “candy apple” to describe any apple immersed in a sweet and delicious coating, but we’re here to clear things up. While both sweet treats take washed apples and pierce sticks into them before dipping, each has its own flavors and textures. Whichever is best is for you to decide.

What Is a Caramel Apple?

Although caramel is a type of candy, a caramel apple is not the same as a candy apple. Caramel apples—shown in the photo above—have a soft and chewy texture, and each bite brings you buttery sweet flavors. The perfectly tart apples combined with the sweet and creamy caramel flavor make for a tasty fall snack.

Caramel apples can be made in a variety of ways, depending on the homemade caramel recipe. A basic recipe uses sugar, corn syrup, water, butter, and cream, but others use ingredients like brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk.

Many opt to unwrap and melt caramel candies for a quick and easy-to-make coating. Whichever you choose is up to you.

Caramel apples are also known for being decorated and further flavored with ingredients like chopped nuts, chocolate drizzle, and various candies.

What Is a Candy Apple?

shiny red candy apples with black and white striped sticks resting on a silver platter
Arina P. Habich/Shutterstock

A candy apple is covered with a shiny red hard shell of homemade candy coating and should always be eaten with caution. The candy breaks or shatters with each bite, making it a deliciously dangerous treat to eat.

The candy apple was said to be invented by a candy-maker named William W. Kolb. While experimenting, he dipped apples in a red cinnamon mixture. Although they were intended to draw customers in around Christmas, they’re now commonly consumed around Halloween.

The candy coating is made from ingredients like water, sugar, light corn syrup, and red food coloring. Authentic candy apples have a cinnamon flavor. Nowadays, most people opt to use red food coloring instead.

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5 Fun Halloween Treats Your Kids Can Make

a woman helps young kids make fun Halloween treats
Dragon Images/Shutterstock

If you’ve got little aspiring chefs in your home, we’ve got five fun Halloween treats for them to try. From festive Chex mix to Oreo lollipops, your kids will have a blast.

Halloween is an exciting holiday for many children and families all around. There are so many outdoor activities involved with this time of year, but sometimes the frigid, rainy weather keeps you indoors. If you find yourself in that dilemma, and you require an activity for your children, check out these neat recipe ideas.

Harvest Hash Chex Mix

Halloween Harvest Chex Mix, made with pretzels, chex, candy corn and Reese's.
One Little Project

If your family loves snacking on handfuls of Chex mix, then this recipe might be for you. It’s full of exciting ingredients and tastes super yummy. With pretzels, bugles, candy corn, and Reese’s pieces, each bite gives you a nice balance of sweet and salty.

If you have young kids, what’s awesome is this recipe has many steps they can do. You can have them pour in the separate ingredients or have them mix everything for the sauce. If you have older kids, they can melt the butter, do the measuring, and mix the entire combination of the Chex mix.

This recipe does involve an oven, so an adult will have to be present for that step. Once the Chex mixture has cooled, you’ll have a delicious snack for the kids to chow down on.

Get the Recipe: One Little Project

Ghostly Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers made with cut out ghost cheese slices.
Peas and Crayons

If you need a no-oven snack that kids can make entirely on their own, this one is perfect. Festive Halloween cutters, sliced cheese, and crackers of your choice are all you’ll need. The author also gives an excellent recommendation to cut out apple slices, too.

Your kids will have to use the mini cookie cutters to cut out cheese and add them to the crackers. This is a great way to have your kids start “cooking” in the kitchen. The method is simple, but they can also learn about the cleanup aspect after their snack is complete.

Take this recipe to the next level by offering cold cut slices and other thinly sliced fruit to add to the arrangement of ghostly treats.

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7 Recipes That Turn Basic Snacks into Halloween Creepy-Crawlies

a pot pie with the bread shaped like an octopus
Anastasia_Panait/Shutterstock

Halloween is fun for so many reasons, but preparing goodies that look like creepy critters is what it’s all about for us. Learn to create treats that might make you think twice before taking a bite.

Whether you want spider-covered cookies, or something a bit more yucky—like bloody rat cupcakes—we’ve got you covered. Check out these seven bizarre yet delicious creepy-crawly food recipes.

Jell-O Worms with Oreo Dirt

A cup of crushed Oreo with jello edible worms
Cakes Cottage

These worms might not have legs to crawl, but they look super realistic, which is why they made it to our list of creepy-crawly desserts. You might find it disturbing to take a bite, but don’t worry, once you take in a mouthful, you’ll see they taste oh so good. You might even go for a second helping.

The author will take you through steps and teach you how to make realistic-looking worms using gelatin in straw molds. You’ll then put them in a cup of crushed Oreo, which resembles dirt.

For a little extra deliciousness, place chocolate pudding in individual cups, and then add the Oreo crumbs and, finally, the worms. Right before your eyes will be a bowl of worm-infested mud. Yummy.

Get the Recipe: Cakes Cottage

Peanut Butter Spider Cookies

Five peanut butter spider cookies
Crafty Morning

These spider cookies are a great combination of adorable and yummy. If you aren’t a fan of spiders, you might still get away with making these. The silly eyeballs help make this one a little less creepy and a bit goofier.

You’ll learn to make peanut butter cookies from scratch, and then decorate them using Whoppers candy and melted chocolate. Enjoy these with the kids—but watch out for peanut allergies.

Get the Recipe: Crafty Morning

Creepy-Crawly Bugs

Hot dogs rolled with dough, with potato sticks inserted to look like little edible bugs.
Taste of Home

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From Cornbread to Candy Corn: The History of Your Favorite Fall Treats

A bowl of candy corn on a turquoise wooden table.
5 Second Studio/Shutterstock

There are so many things to love about fall, but for a lot of people, the seasonal dishes top the list. Ever wonder how some of these foods became famously linked to this time of year?

Whether you’re curious who discovered cornbread, or why green bean casserole ever became a classic Thanksgiving dish, the past has the story for you.

Apple Pie

We’ll start things off with the classic fall dish, apple pie. But before we delve too deep, we’ve got a disclaimer for you. Neither apples nor pie crust is native to the U.S. So, how did this sweet treat become a symbol of American pride?

The only apple native to the U.S. is the crabapple, which isn’t the best in pie due to its incredibly sour taste. Hundreds of years ago, a fellow by the name of John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) planted crabapple seeds across thousands of miles. People then harvested the crabapples and made hard cider, but more on that later.

It wasn’t until the early 1600s that the apple seeds that grow into the apples we eat today were shipped overseas.

Wondering where pie dough came from? In Medieval England, crusts were called “coffyns” or “coffins” due to their thick durability and use for cooking savory foods for long periods. That’s not very appealing.

According to Emily Upton from Today I Found Out, the first recorded apple pie recipe dates back to 1300s England. That recipe, however, doesn’t resemble the apple pie we all love today. A version of the dessert we eat didn’t become available until hundreds of years after all the ingredients, like wheat, lard, sugar, and spices, made their way to the U.S.

In the early 1900s, the phrase “As American as apple pie” appeared in print, and by World War II, soldiers often told journalists they were fighting “for mom and apple pie.”

So, there you have it: a quick history lesson on the components of the sweet dessert that eventually became an American favorite.

Corn Bread

A mortar and pestle containing ground corn meal on a counter.Jules1601/Shutterstock

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