Create homemade vegan caramel apples with this recipe and step-by-step guide. Enjoy a decadent caramel sauce that complements crisp apples, embodying the essence of cozy autumn tastes.
What are the Best Apples to Use?
The most popular choice for caramel apples is the Granny Smith green apples. These apples are known for their tartness and crisp texture, which contrasts well with the sweet caramel coating. The firmness of Granny Smith apples also makes them easy to work and keep for several days.
Other great tart apple options include the Honeycrisp or Pink Lady. Both apples maintain their crunch after being coated in caramel.
When selecting an apple, look for ones that are small to medium in size, even, and similarly shaped; they should also be firm and without bruising or nicks.
Heavy bottom saucepan
Candy thermometer - optional but recommended
Parchment or wax paper
See the recipe card for measurements.
Apples: Select your favorite apple variety for caramel apples. Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady are easy to find and excellent options.
Coconut Milk: Use full-fat canned coconut milk
Brown Sugar: Brown sugar is the base sweetener for the caramel. It adds richness and depth of flavor. Vegan caramel is much lighter than traditional caramel. For this reason, I recommend using dark brown sugar for a darker color.
Vegan Butter: Use a plant-based butter substitute like vegan margarine or coconut oil. This provides the necessary fat and richness for the caramel.
Corn Syrup: Corn syrup helps prevent crystallization in caramel and is necessary for the caramel to stick to the apple
Vanilla Extract: A touch of vanilla extract enhances the flavor of the caramel.
Salt: A pinch of salt balances the sweetness and adds depth to the caramel's flavor.
Optional Toppings: I like to add additional toppings to caramel apples. Jump to What Kinds Of Toppings Can I Roll My Apples in? for ideas.
Traditional Caramel: If you prefer to use traditional caramel, use my sea salt caramel recipe and cook the caramel to the soft ball stage 235°F - 240°F.
Step by Step Instructions
Step One: Prepare the Apples:
- Wash and dry the apples thoroughly.
- Remove the stems.
- Insert wooden sticks into the stem ends of the apples. Set them aside.
- Tip: Flip the apple upside down and tap the stick using the counter.
Step Two: Combine the Ingredients:
- Combine the brown sugar, coconut milk, vegan butter, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir gently until the mixture starts to boil. Once the butter is melted, do not stir.
Step Three: Cook the Caramel:
- Let the caramel bubble undisturbed until the temperature reaches between 235°F - 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let the caramel thicken for 10 -15 minutes before moving to the next step.
Step Four: Dip the Apples
- Tile the saucepan to create a well of caramel. Dip the apple into the caramel and swirl the apple around. Lift and let the excess caramel drip off.
- Place the apple on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other apples.
Step Three: Add Toppings (Optional)
- While the caramel is still sticky, roll the apple in your desired toppings.
- If the toppings are falling off, press them into the apple.
Step Four: Set and Enjoy
- Let the caramel-coated apples sit for about 30 minutes until they cool and harden.
- Once they are set, you can enjoy them!
Helpful Hint: If you do not own a candy thermometer, have a small bowl of cold water close. Drop a small spoonful into the cold water once the caramel has been gently boiling for a few minutes (normally 5-7). The caramel is ready when it is soft and pliable. It should hold its shape but remain soft.
What Kinds Of Toppings Can I Roll My Apples in?
I always have fun with Toppings. There are so many great flavors, and creativity brings an element of surprise. If you are making the apples for someone else, keep in mind what their favorite flavors are. It will personalize the gift and show just how much you care.
|Chopped Nuts||Walnuts, almonds, pecans, or peanuts.|
|Crushed Cereal||All the Captain Crunch cereals are vegan and pair perfectly! Check out Veg News for more cereal suggestions.|
|Dark Chocolate||Melt vegan dark chocolate and dip for a chocolate layer or drizzle for a dramatic look.|
|Vegan Candy||Gummy bears, licorice, or other favorites.|
|Crushed Pretzels||Sweet and salty combo for a unique taste.|
|Crushed Vegan Cookies||Oreos or graham crackers.|
|Potato Chips||Salty chips crunched up pairs perfectly with sweet caramel.|
|Sea Salt||A pinch of sea salt adds richness to the caramel, bringing out the flavor.|
|Shredded Coconut||This is an extra flavor coconut lovers will love!|
|Vegan Candy||Gummy bears, licorice, or other favorites.|
|Vegan Mini Chocolate Chips||Dark or semi-sweet for a chocolatey twist.|
|Vegan Mini Marshmallows||Creates a fluffy, gooey texture. Dandy Marshmallows is my go-to.|
|Vegan Sprinkles||It adds color and is fun for a festive look. Use fall or Halloween sprinkles.|
Candy Thermometer - While you do not need a candy thermometer, I strongly recommend using one.
Cleaning - Fill the saucepan you used halfway with hot water. Place all the utensils in the water and bring the water to a soft boil. After that, pour the water out and wipe everything clean. So easy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can omit the corn syrup. However, the corn syrup helps the caramel stick to the apple, and I strongly recommend using it.
Store caramel apples by individually wrapping them in wax paper or plastic wrap. Place in an airtight container or resealable bags. Store in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Homemade Vegan Caramel Apples
- 1 medium sized saucepan
- 1 wooden sticks
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Baking sheet
- 1 Parchment paper or silicone mat
- 6-8 medium Firm apples granny smith or honey crisp work great.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prepare the Apples:1. Wash and dry the apples thoroughly.2. Insert wooden sticks into the stem ends of the apples. Set them aside.3. If using toppings, prepare them in a small bowl. You will want them ready when the time comes.
- Combine the Ingredients:1. Combine the brown sugar, coconut milk, vegan butter, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.2. Stir gently until the mixture starts to boil. Once the butter is melted, do not stir.1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup full-fat canned coconut milk, 2 tablespoons vegan butter, ¼ cup corn syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon salt
- Cook the Caramel:1. Let the caramel bubble undisturbed until the temperature reaches between 235°F - 240°F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 2. Let the caramel thicken for 10 -15 minutes before moving to the next step. Note: If you do not have a candy thermometer, have a small bowl of cold water close. Once the caramel has been gently boiling for a few minutes (normally 5-7), drop a small spoonful into the cold water. The caramel is ready when it is soft and pliable. It should hold its shape but remain soft.
- Dip the Apples:1. Tile the saucepan to create a well of caramel. Dip the apple into the caramel and swirl the apple around. Lift and let the excess caramel drip off. 2. Place the apple on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other apples
- Add Toppings (Optional):1. While the caramel is still tacky, roll the apple in any desired toppings.
- Set and Enjoy:1. Let the caramel-coated apples sit for about 30 minutes until they cool and harden.2. Once they are set, you can enjoy them!