Making Candy Apples

Much as I love caramel apples, given a choice I’ll go for the candy apple every time. That’s because no one makes them much anymore. There’s a perception that they’re more difficult to make than caramel apples, but it ain’t so. If you can heat syrup in a pan and take its temperature, you can make a candy apple. Here, let me show you how easy it is.

The hardest part is figuring out what to use for sticks. I bought these at a candy making supply store. You can use popsicle stick as well, whittled down twigs or dowel rods…whatever.

Stick’em in those apples. I like smaller apples for this application…the kind that are typically sold in bags. That’s a personal preference, do what you like.

Now make your syrup. Did I mention it’s always a good idea to get kids out of the room when you’re working with syrups? It is. Combine 3 cups (21 ounces) of granulated sugar with 3/4 cup (8 ounces) of corn syrup and a cup (8 ounces) of water in a large saucepan. Set that over high heat to cook. It’ll take 15 minutes or so to come up to temperature. You’ll want to measure of course…any sort of digital or candy thermometer will work.

I add about half a teaspoon of liquid food coloring. You don’t have to use any if you’d rather not. The crazy red is part of the fun for me.

While the syrup is boiling, lightly butter a sheet of parchment…just to be safe. Candy can stick.

So then, when the temperature comes up to 290-300 degrees Fahrenheit, take it off the flame. If you get distracted and it heats beyond that, you can carefully pour a little water in. The temperature will drop instantly, as syrup temperature is measure of water content as much as it is a gauge of how hot it is. Note that if you forget your syrup completely and cook it to the point that it turns to caramel you’ll need to either start over or make caramel apples.

Let the boiling die down, then dip the apples. Tip the pan slightly to the side — careful now, this stuff is hot — and insert the apple. Rotate it gently until it’s completely covered.

Let the syrup drip off and allow the candy to cool and firm a little. Count to 15…slowly…gently rotating the apple for an even coat.

Then just put ’em down on you parchment sheet.

Let them cool down completely before you serve them. They’re best the same day but will keep for a couple of days if you like!

11 thoughts on “Making Candy Apples”

  1. Yum. If I wanted to flavor them would you suggest oils or extracts (I’m thinking cinnamon and mint), or could I add cinnamon imperials to the syrup?

    1. Hey Sandi!

      You can do any of that, though I’d suggest adding extracts since they’ll incorporate a bit better, and do it after the candy is done cooking and is starting to cool down. Adding candies like cinnamon imperials or red hots is a classic variation, so by all means do that if you like (you won’t need to adjust the recipe). A half to three-quarter cup is about right…add them at the beginning with the sugar, syrup and water.

      – Joe

  2. How gorgeous are these!! A childhood memory… I spent 4 years of my childhood in the US and LOVED those Halloween candy apples. Thanks for bringing back the memories Joe! Will try to make them as soon as I can! 🙂

  3. Hi Joe,

    Will the syrup stay liquid long? If it gets thicker while you are dipping apples, can you reheat it?


    1. Yes, you certainly can reheat it, though it’s surprising how long it will hold heat. Syrups are like that. But if you find it’s getting thick, just warm it back up again. You can also keep it over a very low burner as you coat your apples. That works too.

      – Joe

    1. They’re the post just above this one. Have a look!

      Can’t believe you’ve never eaten a caramel apple! 😉

      – Joe

  4. My grandmother used to make candied popcorn balls that were red and tasted like peppermint sometimes but other times more like sugar. Can you use this syrup for that too?

    1. Hi Peggy!

      Great question! For those you’ll want a gooey-er syrup. Cook it to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll be in good shape!


      – Joe

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