caramel dip apples

Caramel dip for apples

30 October 2015

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, we’re good for the next month with the dozens of apples we’ve been eating this week dunked in caramel dip. Set out a dish of gooey caramel, with flaky sea salt or chopped salted peanuts on top, and the apple cores pile up quickly.

I’m not a candy maker, so this is caramel dip for dummies – without the corn syrup and mystery ingredients of the commercial stuff. If you’re a pro, making caramel the real way – by melting sugar and adding butter and cream – is fast and easy. But a distracted and imprecise home cook like me is more likely to get a grainy crystalized fail. I don’t want that for you.

This recipe may not be purist perfection, but it’s easy to make and hard to mess up. A gooey guilty pleasure, this is caramel apples with less work. Caramel snobs can turn up their noses while the rest of us chow down.

All we need is a can of sweetened condensed milk (the good ones are just milk and sugar), butter, sugar, milk and vanilla.

caramel dip ingredients

Melt butter.

melting butter

Add sugar and condensed milk.

butter sugar condensed milk

The key here is to keep stirring so the caramel doesn’t burn. The flavor and color will deepen the longer it cooks.

mixing caramel

Add milk, a little at a time, to keep it nice and liquid while the caramel cooks.

adding milk

Pour it out, but let it cool a bit before you dig in – caramel gets extremely hot.

caramel dip

The kids like it plain, but I love some flaky salt or some salted peanuts on top.

caramel dip for apples

It’s hard to stop dipping once you start. But there are worse things to binge eat than the crisp juicy apples of fall.

dipping apple caramel

Caramel Dip for Apples
I’m not a candy maker, so this is caramel dip for dummies – without the corn syrup and mystery ingredients of the commercial stuff. Purists can turn up their noses while the rest of us chow down on this gooey guilty pleasure with fall’s crisp apples. I love the added bonus of flaky sea salt or chopped salted peanuts sprinkled on top.


  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (more or less)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional toppings: flaky sea salt or chopped salted peanuts


  1. Assemble all ingredients near the stove – the caramel will need constant attention for 12-15 minutes. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add sugar and sweetened condensed milk and cook over medium heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat down heat to maintain a lively simmer (bubbles without burning) and keep stirring. The mixture will turn brown as the sugar caramelizes and continue to darken as it cooks.
  3. Add milk a couple tablespoons at a time, stirring well to incorporate, to keep the caramel cooking for about 10 minutes – the caramel flavor and color both deepen the longer it cooks. So let your eyes and taste be your guide (but cool a sample before tasting – caramel gets VERY hot). In the end, the sauce should be a pourable liquid but thick enough to coat the spatula when lifted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt.
  4. Pour into a heatproof dish and serve (topped with salt or peanuts, if you like) with crisp, tart apple slices. Caramel sauce will thicken as it cools, and it is fine at room temperature for a day. Refrigerate leftovers and soften in microwave before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.


  • Good brands of sweetened condensed milk have only milk and sugar as ingredients.
  • Don’t worry if you zone out and your caramel develops a few hard candied lumps – they will melt away with more heating and stirring. Just keep adding a little more milk if you need to buy more time.

Here’s the link to a printable version.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brooke 31 October 2015 at 9:58 am

I am going to have to squeeze in making this recipe today. Looks amazing. Happy Halloween CG!


cg 6 November 2015 at 1:21 pm

you are the best, brooke! hope you all had a fantastic halloween.


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