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How to Make Perfect Candy Apples for the Fall (Or Anytime)

I am an author, publisher, business coach, cosmetologist, and writing coach. I'm also passionate about crafting, DIY, and tasty treats.

Making candy apples is really not that hard, but there are some tips you need to know.

Making candy apples is really not that hard, but there are some tips you need to know.

Favorite Fall Season Treat

Every year in the fall, I can't wait to make my candy apples. My kids and I get excited just thinking about them—that incredible blend of crunchy and sweet.

My candy apples have to be perfect, though, or I won't enjoy them. I've actually had the experience of buying candy apples and being disappointed. If they don't taste right, I'm not happy.

Prepackaged Kits vs. Homemade

Some people like to use the prepackaged candy apple kits from the grocery store, and that's fine—but I prefer to make my own at home. I enjoy the satisfaction of making it myself from scratch, and it's an activity that I can share with my girls. Also, when you use the kits, you are limited in terms of how many apples you can make. Of course, you could always purchase more than one box, but I prefer to have full control of the process.

Making candy apples is really not that hard to do, but there are some special tips that you should know if you want to get it right.

I am happy to share with you my recipe and tips for making the perfect candy apples!


  • Cooking spray
  • 6 medium or 12 small apples, rinsed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

Note: Be sure to measure your ingredients carefully so that the candy will turn out just right!

Supplies Needed

  • Scissors
  • Saran wrap
  • Wax paper
  • Cookie sheet
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Large cooking spoon
  • Medium-sized saucepan

Step 1: Prep Your Area

Before you get into the actual cooking, there are a few things you should do to prep your kitchen. These steps will make everything go much more smoothly.

  • Sink: Make sure you have a fresh sink full of water so that when you are finished, you can soak the dishes that you used. This makes the cleanup much easier.
  • Cookie sheet: Take out your cookie sheet, cover it with wax paper, and spray the wax paper with cooking spray. Place the prepared cookie sheet very close to the stove where you will be making the candy.
  • Apples: Pick out the prettiest, most symmetrical apples you can find. Rinse your apples off and pat them dry. (Note: It's important that the apples are completely dry, so take your time with this step.) Next, you can insert a popsicle stick into each apple. Place the apples on top of the prepped cookie sheet, near the stove.

Step 2: Cook the Candy

  1. In your saucepan, combine the sugar, water, food coloring, and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high but keep the mixture at a low boil.
  2. If you have a candy thermometer, insert it and continue to boil until the candy reaches 300°F to 310°F. This is the hard crack stage, which should take about 20 minutes. If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can still tell when the candy has reached this temperature by sticking a spoon in the candy and allowing the candy to drip back down into the pot. If the candy is ready, it will turn into candy strings as it drips into the pot. If it does not turn into hard strings, let it cook for 1 more minute and then retest. Continue to test every minute until it has reached the hard crack stage.
  3. As soon as your candy reaches the hard crack stage, grab an apple from the cookie sheet. Tilt your pot to allow the candy mixture to move to one side of the pot. Quickly dip and swirl the apple in the mixture. Allow all excess candy to drip back into the pot, and then place the coated apple onto the cookie sheet.
  4. Proceed with the next apple, and continue until all of the apples are covered. Make sure you do not put the apples too close to each other or they will stick together.
  5. If you have any leftover candy after all of the apples have been covered, you can pour the remainder on a piece of wax paper. Once it has cooled, you can let the children have fun with it!
  6. Allow the apples to cool completely before wrapping.

Important Notes

  • If you don't cook the candy long enough (i.e., if it hasn't yet reached the hard crack stage), your candy apples will be gooey.
  • If you cook the candy too long, you'll start smelling burnt candy. Candy apples made with burnt candy won't taste good.
  • You must be vigilant when cooking the candy to make sure you catch it at the right stage/temperature.
  • Be very careful because the candy will be very hot. You can easily get burned if you're not careful. If there are children around at this point, they should not be near the hot candy.

Hard Crack Candy Stage

TemperatureSpoon TestCold Water Test

300°F – 310°F (If you have a candy thermometer, check for this temperature range.)

Stick a spoon into the pot and allow the candy to drip back down. The candy will turn into strings as it drips into the pot.

Drop a spoonful of candy into a cup of cold water. It should form hard, brittle strings that break when bent.

Use pretty decorative bows if you're giving the candy apples away as gifts.

Use pretty decorative bows if you're giving the candy apples away as gifts.

Step 3: Wrap and Store

  1. Cut six-inch square pieces of wax or cellophane paper. The cellophane paper can be clear or colored. Alternatively, you can purchase specialized candy baggies from a candy supply store.
  2. Place the cooled apple in the center of each six-inch square, wrap the paper upward around the apple, and twist the paper closed around the popsicle stick.
  3. Secure the paper with twisties ties or decorative bows.

Storage Tips:

  • Do not keep your candy apples in a warm place because they will start melting and get sticky.
  • Store the apples in the refrigerator.
Mix it up by coating your candy apples with sprinkles, nuts, or other additions!

Mix it up by coating your candy apples with sprinkles, nuts, or other additions!

Variations and Additions

Making candy apples can be a fun activity for you and your family. You can get creative by cooking up different variations:

  • Caramel
  • Different colors (I've done blue and green, which both turned out beautifully)
  • Cinnamon or another spice
  • Chocolate chips, sprinkles, dried coconut
  • Nuts (walnuts are a favorite choice)

The possibilities are endless, so be creative and enjoy the results!

Look at these gorgeous jewel tones!

Look at these gorgeous jewel tones!

Candy Apples Are Great for Fundraisers

I have made these apples just for my own family to enjoy, but I have also made them for fundraisers of all kinds—including at school carnivals and bake sales, community fairs, church functions, and so much more. In my experience, you could charge anywhere from $1.50 to $2 per apple.

Candy Apples Too Sticky for You?

If you're worried about the hard candy negatively affecting your dental work, consider this candy apple pie! It captures the flavor of candy apples, without the anxiety.