Ruby-red Homemade Candy Apples are a classic! Made with crisp, tart Granny Smith apples and a thin layer of homemade sugar candy, these old-fashioned treats are perfect for fall and winter!
Crisp and Crunchy Red Candy Apples
Candy apples are an American classic! They’re crisp, tart, and coated in homemade sugar candy, like supersized lollipops with real fruit centers! And with their shiny, ruby-red color, they’re totally on point for Christmas.
These sweet apple treats are especially loved by children, so it’s great to make them for family gifts or as a treat to serve on family night. (However, I would advise that parents avoid making them with kids because the sugar mixture is extremely hot! Be very careful when handling hot sugar candy, and heatproof gloves.)
What You’ll Need
To make your own candy apples, you’ll need a few simple ingredients, a candy thermometer, and a few popsicle sticks or lollipop sticks.
- Apples: I like to use Granny Smith apples for this recipe, but you can use any apples that you like. Firm, tart apples are best.
- Sugar: Plain granulated sugar is fine, but you could substitute some or all of the granulated sugar for brown sugar, instead.
- Honey: You’ll need half a cup or so of your favorite honey to make the candy syrup.
- Food Coloring: To make the beautiful red color, you’ll need a small amount of red food coloring.
What Kind of Apples Are Best for Candy Apples?
The most suitable apples for candying are tart, firm apples with lots of flavor. Granny Smith is a common choice, but Lady Alice, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, and Jonathan apples are great too. Any kind you love!
How to Make Candy Apples
You will need a candy thermometer to make sure that the sugar mixture reaches the right temperature, or else it won’t harden when you put it on the apples. And as always, be very careful when handling hot sugar candy! It can cause severe burns. I recommend using heatproof gloves.
- Prep the Apples and a Tray. Before you get started, set out a baking tray and line it with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Wash the apples in hot water, to remove any wax coating. Dry the apples thoroughly with paper towels or a clean tea towel, and twist off the stems. Set the apples in the refrigerator, while you prepare the candy.
- Make the Sugar Candy Syrup. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan (use one with a lid, because you’ll need to cover it), combine the sugar, honey, and water. Stir or whisk them well to combine. Cover the saucepan with the lid, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling well and very bubbly, remove the lid.
- Allow the Candy to Come to 290°F. While the candy boils, carefully attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan. Allow the candy to boil until it reaches 290°F. By that point, much of the water should have evaporated. This should take between twenty and thirty minutes. When the candy reaches 290°F, add the red food coloring. Be careful, as this will make it boil even harder for a moment!
- Allow the Candy to Come to 300°F. When the candy reaches 300°F, carefully remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir the candy gently, and allow it to cool slightly.
- Add the Sticks to the Apples, and Coat in the Candy. Take the apples out of the refrigerator. Push your popsicle or lollipop sticks into the stem ends. Put on heatproof gloves, and begin coating the apples in the candy. You will need to tilt the saucepan slightly in order to coat the apples all the way up to the sticks. Let the excess candy mixture drip off of the apples, and place them one by one on the prepared tray to cool.
- Cool and Enjoy! Allow the apples to completely cool before serving.
Tips for Success
What else should you know about making candy apples? As it happens, I do have a couple of helpful tips to share! Here are my top four pieces of advice for making these iconic treats.
- Spice It Up: Add cinnamon to the candy for a seasonal flair!
- Customize the Color: Use different food coloring for different effects. Purple, green, and even blue apples would be great! Keep in mind that the color of the apple itself will show through somewhat.
- Keep It Thin: Make sure to let most of the candy mixture drip off of the apples before setting them aside to cool. Thick candy coating on an apple is very hard to eat! A thin shell-like coating is better.
- Cut Them Up: You can also use a large, sharp knife to cut your cooled candied apples into slices. Some of the candy will shatter and crumble, but that’s okay! Slices of candied apple are still delicious, and they are easy to eat.
- Use Caution: Just one more reminder to be very careful when handling hot sugar! If it drips on skin or splashes on skin, it can cause very severe burns. I recommend using heatproof gloves, and keeping children away from the sugar mixture at all times.
How to Store Candy Apples
- Store candy apples in a tall, airtight container for up to 3 days. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, so the candy layer doesn’t become sticky or gummy. Humidity and heat will break down the candy layer and cause it to be very messy and unpleasant to eat.
Homemade Candy Apples
- Wash the apples under hot water, to remove any wax from the apple skin. Dry the apples, remove the stems, and refrigerate while you prepare the candy.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, and water. Stir well to combine.
- Cover the saucepan with a lid, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the candy is very bubbly, remove the lid.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan. Allow the candy to boil until it reaches 290°F, and much of the water has evaporated. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes.
- When the candy has reached 290°F, add the red food coloring (be careful, as this will make it boil even harder for a moment).
- When the mixture reaches 300°F, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir the candy mixture gently and allow it to cool slightly.
- Take the apples out of the refrigerator, and push the popsicle or lollipop sticks into the stem ends.
- Using heatproof gloves, tilt the saucepan up at an angle, and dip the apples one by one, rolling the apples in the candy all the way up to the sticks.
- Let the excess candy drip off of the apples to create a tin candy shell. Place the apples one by one on a tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Allow to completely cool and serve.