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What are the Best Apples for Caramel Apples?

Classic Caramel Apples
Caramel apples have always been a fall classic, combining the crisp and juicy texture of apples with sticky, sweet caramel for a wonderful treat. As a kid, I could always count on a neighbor or two to have some caramel apples available at Halloween (usually to give to the families they knew, reserving wrapped candies for other trick-or-treaters). These days, I either have to make my own or buy them if I want to get a fix.

With some caramel apples, it seems like the apple is an afterthought. I think that the apple is just as important – if not moreso – than the topping. I often use melted store-bought caramels for topping my apples, adding maybe a pinch or two of salt to curb the sweetness, simply out of convenience.

The best apples are those that help balance the sweetness of the caramel and are easy to bite into. A tart Granny Smith apple is a good choice and is the standard for many caramel apple makers. It definitely counters the sweetness of the topping, but it can be a little too sour. I find that the best apple for making caramel apples are the same ones that make great apple pie, sweet-tart and firm. Jongold apples are great, as are Pippins, Pink Ladys, Honeycrisps, Jonathans and Cameos. Avoid overly sweet apples or those that tend towards softness or mealiness. Red delicious apples, for instance,  look good but don’t always add very much to the overall flavor.

Have a favorite? There are many varieties to choose from that might only be available in your area, so leave your tips in the comments. Once you have your apples, try my Classic Caramel Apple recipe to make your own at home!

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  • Lauren
    October 14, 2008

    Ok, so your timing on this one is impeccable. I literally just got back from getting a caramel apple kit from Target and was sitting here pondering which kind of apples I should use! Then your blog popped into my Google Reader with the precise answer! Thank you for your suggestions as well as your timeliness!

  • Confectionate
    October 14, 2008

    I made mini caramel apples last week with ‘Lady Baby’ apples, and they were crisp and delicious! You check check them out at Confectionate Blog

  • Lisa magicsprinkles
    October 14, 2008

    Your photo is so unique – I love the contrast between the outer coatings and the greenish tint of the apple flesh. You’re right, the apple should be more than just a delivery system for the candy toppings part.

  • Christina
    October 14, 2008

    The apple in the picture looks so good! Does anyone have a recipe to make that type of Caramel Apple?

  • Nicole
    October 14, 2008

    Thanks! The apple in the photo is one I recently had from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co. It’s a granny smith with caramel, topped with walnuts, a milk chocolate drizzle and a white chocolate drizzle.

  • L.
    October 14, 2008

    That looks like the tastiest caramel apple ever. You could probably put in a rotten apple and that topping would make it delicious. 😛

  • Laura E.
    October 14, 2008

    Cortland for red and Mutsu (Crispin) for green are also nice because they resist browning.

  • Cool Chocolate Gifts
    October 15, 2008

    Thank you, that lookes like the most delicious caramel apple i’ve ever eaten… mm.. i just love ’em

  • Sarah
    October 15, 2008

    That looks fab.
    Would Golden Delicious apples work in something like that? Or would that make it too sweet? Those are my favorite…and I have a ton in the kitchen. =D

  • Nicole
    October 15, 2008

    Sarah – Golden Delicious will work, they just tend to be a bit softer than some other apples. It might be a bit sweet, but trying adding lightly salted nuts on top of your caramel and that will balance everything out!

  • Joe Sunka
    November 16, 2017

    Honey Crisp apples are the sweetest of all the apples I’ve ever tasted. That contradicts your advice to get a tart apple.

  • Nicole
    November 17, 2017

    Hi Joe, the Honey Crisps that I’ve had have been both sweet and tart, with a nice firm texture. If you find them to be too sweet, I would stick with another type of apple for your caramel apples. Personal preference does play a part, too, in apple selection. Good luck!

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