Candy Apples

4.87 from 23 votes

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These candy apples are a yummy fall treat! Unlike caramel apples, candy apples have a delicious candy shell that crunches when you bite into it.

Tilted Candy Apple.
Featured with this Recipe
  1. What is a Candy Apple?
  2. Best Candy Apple Recipe
  3. Ingredients in Candy Apples
  4. What Supplies You’ll Need
  5. Candy Apple Making Tips
  6. What is the Best Apple to Use for Making Candy Apples?
  7. How to Store Candy Apples
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Apple Desserts
  10. How to Make Candy Apples
  11. Candy Apples Recipe

What is a Candy Apple?

Homemade Candy Apples are whole apples with a clear, thin, hardened sugar coating on each one. The deep red color comes from a drop or two of red food coloring. A stick is inserted into the center of the apple so it can easily be held and eaten. Once cooled, the coating is crispy, not chewy.

I was watching a British TV show a few years ago where the characters were eating candy apples, also referred to as “toffee apples.” They looked so good! Growing up in the United States, I had never had candy apples, only caramel apples. There was a big crunch when the main character bit into one. I immediately started testing recipes.

Cut open Candy Apple.

Best Candy Apple Recipe

My search began with looking for recipes online and watching a couple of tutorials. I picked the three that looked the best and tried them. The first try was a disaster. It called for part brown sugar, part white sugar, and light corn syrup. I was hoping this would give the “candy” more of a caramel flavor, but instead the candy coating turned out very sticky and got stuck in my teeth.

On the second try, I gave up on the brown sugar and tried another recipe using cream of tartar. That recipe burned after ten minutes even though the recipe recommended 20 minutes. It smelled horrible!

The third recipe turned out better after making several adjustments. I admittedly had more than a few failed attempts, but learned a lot with each one. With some practice, I was able to get the candy coating thin and crispy. I’ve been using this recipe for years, and the apples turn out perfectly every time.

I can now see why these candy apples are a favorite, especially with the kids. They taste great and they are fun to eat. I have a new fall tradition!

Tray of dipped Candy Apples.

Ingredients in Candy Apples

​For the perfect candy apples, you only need a few ingredients!

  • Apples- I like Jonagold because they’re sweet and crisp. Other favorites are Granny Smith apples or green apples for a more tart flavor.
  • Granulated White sugar 
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Red food coloring
Ingredients to make Candy Apples.

What Supplies You’ll Need

Once you have your ingredients gathered, there are few other tools you’ll need to make a batch of this candy apple recipe:

  1. Cookie sheet
  2. Parchment paper or a silicone mat to dry the apples
  3. Lollipop sticks or popsicle sticks
  4. A medium-sized, heavy based pot or saucepan
  5. Pastry brush
  6. Candy thermometer
Colored boiling candy mixture with apples on a side plate.

Candy Apple Making Tips

Because of trial and error, I have learned some things to do and some things NOT to do when making candy apples. Please learn from my mistakes and save yourself time and a mess.

  1. Wash the apples and then dry them thoroughly with a paper towel before dipping them in the sugar mixture or the coating won’t stick to the apple.
  2. Then, twist the apple stem off as close to the base as possible.
  3. Combine sugar, vinegar, and hot water in a saucepan and start to simmer over medium heat to medium-high heat.
  4. Once the sugar syrup starts to boil, you don’t have to keep stirring it, but keep an eye on it! Some stove tops heat faster than others, so be sure to use the candy thermometer and watch it closely. The temperature can jump quickly! Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.
  5. If there are bubbles in the sugar mixture, there will be bubbles in the coating on your apples. While this may look cool for a Halloween party (they look like warts), it may not be the look you want. To prevent this, again, be patient. Wait for the mixture to stop bubbling before dipping the apples.
  6. It takes two hands to dip the apples. One hand to hold the handle of the pan and tip it so the sugar mixture is deep enough to coat the entire apple. Use your other hand to swirl the apple into the mixture quickly and evenly. Be sure to let the excess sugar coating drain back into the pan.
  7. Do not use cooking spray on the parchment paper because it will add an oily finish on the bottom of the apples.
Plate of fresh apples with candy sticks pushed in the middle.

What is the Best Apple to Use for Making Candy Apples?

Candy apples have a delicious, crunchy candy coating. Every bite is like a little party in your mouth. For the best candy apples, use a crisp, sweet apple. I’ve used Jonagold apples and recently tried the new SweeTango apples with this recipe. Both have the perfect texture and sweetness for Candy Apples. However, a fresh, crisp Gala, Fuji, or Honey Crisp apple will also work great. If you are a fan of tart apples, a Granny Smith can be used. The tartness of the apple is a nice contrast to the sweet candy coating.

Candy Apples with Bows on the stick.

How to Store Candy Apples

While the hard candy coating on the outside of the candy apples lasts a long time, the apple itself doesn’t. Store candy apples in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or wrap each apple in cellophane or a decorative cellophane bag and keep them in the fridge until you need them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the flavor of a Candy Apple?

It has a sweet sugar crunch that adds to the natural flavor of the apple.

How do I make Cinnamon Candy Apples?

Simply add 1 tsp of cinnamon flavor to the candy mixture.

What apples are best for Candy Apples?

I like to use Jonagold Apples because they are sweet and crisp, green apples, pink ladies, Fuji, and Gala Apples work great too. Avoid red delicious, they won’t turn out as well since they are a more mushy apple.

Can I cut the apples in to slices?

Yes, definitely!

More Apple Desserts

Use apples to make the best desserts and treats all year round. Here are a few more of our favorites.

If you make these for Halloween, you might enjoy these recipes along with our delicious candy apples. Our other recipes including Halloween Candy Charcuterie Board, Harry Potter Pumpkin Pasties, and Halloween Rice Krispie make great homemade Halloween sweets.

How to Make Candy Apples

Five Candy Apples on a cake stand with one on the table.

Candy Apples

4.87 from 23 votes
These Candy Apples are a yummy fall treat! Unlike caramel apples, candy apples have a delicious candy crunch when you bite into them.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course candy
Cuisine American
Servings 8



  • 8 small apples I like Jonagold because they are sweet and crisp
  • 2 cups sugar white, granulated
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 drops red food coloring or whatever color you would like your apples to be


  • Line a cookie sheet or tray with wax paper or parchment paper. Wash and dry apples and twist off the stems. Insert a lollipop stick, popsicle stick, or thick wooden skewer into the top of each apple.
  • In a medium-sized, heavy based, saucepan combine the sugar, water, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil. To prevent burning on the sides of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to wipe the sugar granules that collect above the boiling mixture. Do not stir the mixture. After mixture is boiling well, simmer for 20 minutes or until it reaches the hard crack stage (about 150 C or 295-310 F). Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. It is best to check often with a candy thermometer.
  • Stir in the food coloring until the color is uniform. Remove the pan from the heat. The mixture will be bubbly. It is important to wait until it stops bubbling to dip the apples or they will be covered with little bubbles (which may be good if you want your apples to look like they are covered in warts for Halloween).
  • To dip the apples, carefully tip the pan to one side and insert one side of the apple into the mixture and rotate it until it is covered. Allow it to drain a little and place the apple on the wax paper to cool and harden.


Tip: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test for the hard crack stage by dropping a small spoonful of the mixture into a cup of cold water. If it becomes instantly hard (like a piece of hard candy) and cracks when you tap it, it is ready.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 159mgFiber: 4gSugar: 65gVitamin A: 80IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Echo Blickenstaff

Echo lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband, Todd, who works in advertising, and her four kids: two girls and two boys. She deploys her accounting degree as the blog’s resident problem solver. In her time outside the kitchen, Echo loves to get away from the phones and busy schedules and spend quality time with the family. Anywhere’s great – but getting out into nature in the mountains or on the beach – is the best kind of getaway.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    I halved the recipe to see if it was what I wanted. It’s PERFECT!

    Question: how much flavor oil would you use in the full recipe?

  2. 5 stars
    It needs to be combined and dissolved for about 5 min on a very low heat before bringing to the boil or the candy isn’t well mixed.

  3. Please help!! I tried this twice, and both times the mix simply turned to rock hard sugar in seconds, after I’ve taken it off the heat. I don’t have a thermometer but after just 12 minutes it reached crack stage. I use a black non-stick pan on a gas hob. What else am I doing wrong besides not having a thermometer. Can the sugar candy be re-used for anything else, it is so expensive? Many thanks and regards.

    1. For this recipe, it is extremely important to have a thermometer and follow the instructions regarding the temperature. I am guessing that is why the candy hardened. I don’t know of any other uses for the hard candy, but maybe try searching Google or Pinterest?

      1. Sugar crystallized in the last 2 minutes of cooking despite using thermometer. Will be trying again soon in case moving the thermometer in and out of the liquid agitated it too much and caused the crystallization

        1. That’s frustrating! Let us know how it goes. Maybe try lowering the temperature a little.

    2. If it hardened right away, crack them into smaller pieces and use a grinder to essentially turn it into coloured sugar. You can sprinkle them on cupcakes or dissolve again and reuse. I’ve used my chocolate moulds to make hard candies with leftover candy apple sugar.

  4. Hi! Testing out this recipe today for my nephew’s birthday tomorrow. I live in the Southern Hemisphere so it’s fall/autumn here. In the recipe, you say they can be stored in cellophane. Does it have to be real cellophane or do little plastic bags work? Thanks!

    1. Little plastic bags work. Just make sure the candy shell has completely hardened so it won’t stick to the bags. Thanks for asking!

    2. How long do I wait to wrap after I dip and when can I put candyapple in fridge after I wrap in cellophane bags. How many minutes to wrap and how many minutes to put in fridge after apples are wrapped.

  5. 5 stars
    We added abit of vanilla essence and left it to cool before we coated the apples then dipped the apples in cold water

        1. I have never tried it with toppings, so I’m not sure. Let me know how it goes if you do try it!

      1. I haven’t tried this recipe with a sugar substitute so I’m not sure. Let me know how it turns out if you do try it!

  6. 5 stars
    These were my granny’s favorite autumn treat! So glad I can make them at home now. Thanks for this easy to follow recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    I doubled the mixture and found it too long on a low simmer I had to turn it up to a temp just before boiling cane out great though lol oh and by the time I realised I should have put back to heat up it was too late the mixture had gone sugary and I was on my last apple lol but fantastic recipe thank you 😊

    1. Glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing how you made it work by doubling the mixture. Glad it still worked out!

  8. 5 stars
    How do you know where to stop inserting the stick?
    Every time I try to put them in, they either go too far, pushing the apple down with every bite, or not far enough, causing the apple to fall off. Granted, there are variables such as size and density, but, there must be a method to it!

    1. I insert the stick about 3/4 of the way down through the center of the apple. If the apples are small to medium sized, I use a lollypop stick. If the apples are larger, it is best to use a popsicle stick. I hope this helps!

    1. I haven’t tried doubling it so I’m not sure if it would work. If you do try it make sure to simmer until it reaches the hard crack stage (about 150 C or 295-310 F). Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. It is best to check often with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test for the hard crack stage by dropping a small spoonful of the mixture into a cup of cold water. If it becomes instantly hard (like a piece of hard candy) and cracks when you tap it, it is ready.

  9. May I ask what does the vinegar do? I’ve never seen vinegar added to candy apple recipe. I’m looking for a bubble free candy apple recipe because every time I dip my apples there are hideous bubbles that form afterwards

    1. Great question! The vinegar keeps the sugar from crystallizing so the candy around the apple stays clear and smooth. I don’t like the bubbles forming on the surface either. After making these candy apples many times, I found two things that work. First, make sure the candy mixture reaches the hard crack candy stage on the candy thermometer. Second, when you remove the boiling candy from the stove allow it to sit for a few minutes until the bubbles pop and disappear and the mixture is smooth and clear, then start swirling the apples smoothly through the candy until they are covered. I hope this helps!

  10. I have been looking for a thinner candy apple recipe. I sure hope that this is it. I will test it out in a few days. I have been using light corn syrup in my recipe, BUT I find that you can’t just bite into the apple without cutting first. I want the candy coating thin and crunchy with the ability to start eating immediately…without a utensil. 😁

    1. Hi Vivian, I am a big fan of the thin, crispy coating that you can easily bite through. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! It is so good! This recipe works great for me. I tried corn syrup too and found that the coating was too thick. Three suggestions for you for a thin, crunchy coating on your apples:

      1. Use a candy thermometer and make sure the candy reaches the hard crack stage. This requires careful attention to the candy mixture, but assures the candy coating will be clear and thin.

      2. After removing the candy mixture from the stove, and the bubbles pop and disappear, work quickly to dip the apples. As the candy mixture cools, it thickens. If it does start to thicken, place it back on the stove and heat it until it thins again, then continue dipping.

      3. When dipping the apples, tip the pan and only swirl the apple once through the coating. Do this quickly. The less time the apple is in the mixture, the thinner the coating will be. I don’t dip the whole apple in at once, or dip it deeply. I skim it along the surface of the candy coating until it is just covered.

  11. 5 stars
    This is the same recipe I make my cinnamin and peppermint hard cardy!! I was looking for a candied apple recipe and I already had one!

    1. Oh good! Glad you are able to use a recipe that you already knew was a hit for you and your family!

    1. Absolutely! You can add any flavor you would like to give the candy coating an extra boost. Hope this helps!

        1. @Paula…. Make sure that your flavoring is oil and NOT water base. Water base in this hot mixture will seize and stiffen your mixture.

          @Favorite Family Recipes…. This recipe sounds awesome and I can’t wait to try it.

      1. 5 stars
        Made them perfectly first try thanks to this amazing recipe! Even without a thermometer. My boyfriend loves them 🙂 so yummy!

  12. Hi.. at what point do i put the colouring in? Unless i missed it whilst reading it? Thanks Aimee p.s can’t wait to try this!!!

    1. Hi Aimee, thank you for pointing out that I missed this very important step in the instructions! I’ve updated the recipe. The food coloring is added when the candy reaches the hard crack stage. You stir in the food coloring right before you remove the pan from the stove. Thank you for asking! You will love these apples!

      1. I made this recipe twice. Both times it turned back into sugar before it reached the hard crack stage. What temperature are you supposed to simmer it at?

        1. As it simmers, the temperature should rise to 150 C or 295-310 F. I would maybe check your candy thermometer? It might be off if it is not reaching the hard crack stage.

  13. I grew up in central Pennsylvania near State College, PA, think Penn State. At the summer festivals we went to this was what was sold, you could get caramel apples too. For the candy apple, I believe they were usually made with Macintosh apples, for that sweet sour bite! So good!

    1. We haven’t.. you may have an issue with the apples browning too quickly. That would be my main concern about slicing them first. Hope this helps!

      1. 5 stars
        We did it today with slices, after reading your question! It worked so well both for slices and while apples!! We are eating several of them right away and it’s just us at home, so Wasn’t as worried about browning. We didn’t use any food colouring so I might add another comment in a few hours to see if there’s been any browning. 🙂

  14. Hello!
    I think my older son will love these. We look for candied apples when Halloween treats start showing up in stores, but last year never found them. Only caramel apples. But now I have a recipe to make them at home. One question, though: where did you find this recipe? I like to cite the original source when I add a recipe to my collection. Thanks!

  15. Please be very very careful with the hot syrup. It you get it on your skin, it will burn you severly. Plunge into cold water immediately if this happens. Soak pan and utensils, because when this hardens it is very difficult to remove. But I do love a good Candied apple