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 a link back to the post and pictures.