How to Make Candy Apples

Melissa Bahen

Candy apples are a delicious and unique fall treat, perfect for apple season. Read on to find out how to make candy apples at home.

Wondering how to make candy apples? Candy apples are a fun fall treat, and exactly what they sound like - tart apples dipped in a sugar coating that sets up hard and glossy.

They’re like apples hidden inside lollipops! First created over a century ago, candy apples are an old-fashioned delicacy.

They look festive and special, but are surprisingly easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.

Candy Apples Photo

What is the History of Candy Apples?

Candy apples were invented in the early 1900s by New Jersey candy maker, William W. Kolb.

Kolb wanted a way to display the cinnamon candies he sold in his shop at Christmastime, and decided to fill his windows with apples dipped in cinnamon-flavored candy glaze.

The candy-dipped apples in the window were a hit! They became so popular that Kolb started making and selling them.

Candy apples then started popping up at circuses, boardwalks, and fairs all over the United States, and they are still a beloved apple season treat.

Candy Apples Picture

Are Candy Apples the Same as Caramel Apples?

Nope! Candy apples and caramel apples are both delicious, but they are two different things.

Instead of being dipped in a boiling hot melted sugar mixture, a caramel apple is dipped in hot caramel.

Both types of apples use lots of sugar and oftentimes corn syrup in their coatings, but the caramel sauce used in caramel apples contains dairy products like butter and milk or heavy cream as well.

Caramel apples are sometimes dipped in chocolate and chopped candies, cookies, or nuts too.

What is a Toffee Apple?

Have you ever heard of a toffee apple? A toffee apple is a British treat popular on Halloween or Bonfire Night at the beginning of November.

Toffee apples are very similar to candy apples. They don’t usually have any cinnamon flavoring, only sometimes contain food coloring, and are often sprinkled with chopped nuts or small candy sprinkles.

Candy Apples Pic

Are There Different Varieites of Candy Apples?

Originally, homemade candy apples were made with red hot candies and had a cinnamon flavor.

Alternately, you can make candy apples with red food coloring for that signature bright red color, and no extra flavoring, so the apples just have a sugary, candy coating.

You can actually give your candy coating any flavor or color you like using candy flavoring oils and food coloring.

I’ve even seen candy apples made with black food coloring for a spooky Halloween treat!

What Kinds of Apples Are Good for Making Candy Apples?

Because the candy coating on these fall treats contains so much sugar, a tart apple will give you the best overall flavor. Granny Smith are my go-to apples here.

The contrast between the sharp, tart flavor of the apple and the super sweet candy coating is absolutely delicious.

And the pop of bright green peeking out from the red candy coating looks beautiful!

If you can’t find Granny Smith apples (or if you went apple picking and have a bushel of apples you need to use up) another tart apple like Fuji, Pink Lady, Jazz, or even Honeycrisp will work.

What Do You Need to Make Candy Apples?

To make candy apples, you will need the following ingredients and kitchen tools:

  • Apples (Remember, Granny Smith are best!)
  • Lollipop or popsicle sticks A large, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • The ingredients for the candy coating, including food coloring (if using)
  • A candy thermometer
  • A baking sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper and then greased
Candy Apples Image

How to Make Candy Apples

Our favorite easy candy apple recipe is my go-to when making candy apples. If you use this or another recipe, the basics for how to make candy apples are the same:

  1. Insert a lollipop or popsicle stick firmly into the center of each apple on the stem side. Set the apples aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the candy coating ingredients and bring them to a boil.
  3. Insert your candy thermometer and allow the sugar mixture to come to the hard crack stage, which is between 300 and 310°F. Remove the mixture from heat.
  4. Holding an apple by the stick, carefully and quickly dip it into the boiling sugar mixture and twirl it around until the apple is coated all the way around. You can leave about an inch of apple uncovered between the stick and the candy coating.
  5. Place the apple stick-side-up on the prepared baking sheet to set up.
  6. Repeat with remaining apples. Allow the apples to cool completely before serving.

More Easy Dessert Recipes

If you love a candy or caramel apple, you have to make our salted caramel milshake recipe - it's so good!

Love easy apple desserts? Try these caramel apple oatmeal cookies, caramel apple blondies, or caramel apple cupcakes

This caramel apple martini and our apple bourbon bellini also double as a festive, boozy dessert!

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Melissa Bahen

About Melissa

Melissa is an author and blogger living with her husband and four kids on a darling hobby farm in western Oregon. Her cookbooks, Farmhouse Weekends and Scandinavian Gatherings, and her blog, Lulu the Baker, celebrate her love for food and modern country life.