How To Make Caramel Apples And Get The Most Out Of Your Trip To The Orchard

It goes without saying that everyone and their mother is ready to dive head first into autumn. This beloved season seems to have a place in our hearts... and stomachs. From caramel and cinnamon to pumpkin and sweet potato, there's something so cozy about these quintessential flavors — and nothing screams fall like learning how to make caramel apples. (Pro tip: They're even better when you pick your own fall goodies at a local orchard or farm.)

This autumn is going to be my first one on the West Coast. I happen to be a born and raised New Yorker who just moved to San Francisco. While I adore the area, people, and weather, I knew I was going to get homesick around autumn. The Northeast is home to some amazing orchards, including Apple Dave's Orchards in Warwick, New York. Listed as one of the best places to go apple picking, Apple Dave's is a short drive away from the town I grew up in, and I totally vouch for its awesomeness.

While I have yet to explore the farms out West (taking suggestions, please and thank you), I haven't lost hope just yet. Thankfully, grocery stores exist. I also happen to have a kitchen. In just a few minutes, I can make a caramel apple to give me those familiar autumn feels — and so can you. Here's a simple recipe to get you started.

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • Metal cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Small stainless steel pot
  • Small microwave-safe bowl
  • Lollipop stick
  • Caramel*
  • Apple
  • 1 teaspoon canola, vegetable, or olive oil

* If you are using individually-wrapped squares, you'll need about 15 for one medium-sized apple.

1. Remove the stem from the apple.

2. Insert the stick into the apple. You'll need some elbow grease for this!

(In true autumn spirit, I hot glued a strip of brown plaid fabric around the top of the lollipop stick. It's just how I roll.)

3. Unwrap the caramel squares, and add them to the pot. Add one teaspoon of oil.

The oil plays a super important role in this recipe. It keeps the caramel smooth, and prevents it from burning along the bottom of the pot. If you don't have oil on hand, a little butter should do the trick.

4. To melt the caramel, place the pot over low heat. Stir constantly, and keep a close eye on it.

Caramel burns extremely easily. This is the absolute last thing I want for your beloved autumn apple treat. It's really important to keep the heat on low (not medium, or low-medium, or just-under-medium), because it will burn. I learned the hard way!

5. Once the caramel has a smooth consistency, carefully pour it into the small bowl. As with any hot food, it's a good idea to use an oven mitt and potholder.

6. Dip the apple into the melted caramel. Rotate the apple so that all sides get a little love. Again, if the bowl is too hot to handle, use an oven mitt to protect those digits.

The small bowl is useful, because it is easier to move around with one hand. However, if your pot is small enough, you may be able to take the plunge. and dip your apple straight into it.

7. Place the apple on a metal cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let it sit until the caramel hardens. To speed things up, pop it in the fridge.

Want to turn it up a notch? Add a sprinkling of crushed nuts, chocolate, or granola before the caramel hardens. So good.

Happy autumn!

Images: Kirsten Nunez