Caramel apples are the perfect treat for fall. Try one of these creative caramel apple toppings to take this dessert to the next level!
These treats are a special symbol of fall festivities, and I’ve made a list of creative ways to make your caramel apples wow your guests. There’s a variety of options in this list to delight every palate!
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We pick apples, eat apple snacks, drink apple cider and enjoy them coated in candy. But what is the difference between a candy apple and a caramel apple?
Candy Apple vs Caramel Apple – What’s the Difference?
I’m sure you’ve probably heard both terms before, candy apples and caramel apples. While some people use the terms interchangeably, they are actually two very different holiday treats.
Candy apples are coated in red, cinnamon flavored candy and traditionally don’t have toppings. Alternatively, caramel apples are dipped in a layer of caramel, and are often rolled in a topping.
While those are the main differences, there are much more detailed differences between the two, including their history, why they were created, and when they’re normally consumed.
Head over to my candy apple vs caramel apple guide that goes more in depth about their special characteristics. It is definitely worth checking out!
When to Eat Caramel Apples
If you’re like me, you don’t need an excuse to eat caramel apples, but I’ll give you one anyway! There are certain holidays that prominently feature the caramel apple, and offer the perfect opportunity to indulge.
Caramel apples were invented right after Halloween, when a Kraft company employee named Dan Walker was experimenting with some of the surplus caramel candies! Fittingly, caramel apples have become a staple treat for the entire Halloween season.
Believe it or not, there’s actually a national day that celebrates caramel apples, called (you guessed it!) National Caramel Apple Day. This day is just begging you to enjoy a caramel apple.
Since apple harvesting is done in the fall, most of the holidays involving caramel apples are also in the fall, and Thanksgiving is no exception. If you bring caramel apples to your next Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll be the talk of the table!From candy to chocolate and Graham crackers to marshmallows, the sky is the limit when making candy apples. Head on over to Always the Holidays to see my complete list of caramel apple toppings. They will take this sweet treat to… Click To Tweet
Caramel Apple Toppings
The thing that I love about caramel apples most is the variety of toppings they have! There really is an option for everyone!
Caramel apples are so much fun to make that you could host an entire party dedicated to decorating caramel apples. You could even set up a station with tons of different toppings and let your guests make their own treats.
I encourage you to try as many candy apple varieties as you like! Let us know in the comments section below which is your favorite caramel apple topping!
Caramel Apples with Nuts
If you ask my mother, the peanut butter queen, everything is better with peanuts on it! I’m inclined to agree with her.
Nuts are a really popular caramel apple topping. I’ve probably seen more peanut covered caramel apples in my life than any other variety!!
However, if you decide to make your caramel apple toppings with nuts, you’re not limited to only peanuts. Some other nuts that would be delicious on caramel apples are macadamia nuts, pistachios, walnuts, and pecans.
Salted Caramel Apples
There are very few things that go better together than sea salt and caramel. That’s why these salted caramel apples are sure to make the list!
This is a great caramel apple topping for someone who enjoys plain caramel apples, but wants to branch out a little bit.
They’re not too wild or extravagant. Instead they’ve taken the original classic caramel apple and elevated it. If you are weary of trying a caramel apple with all sorts of wild toppings, this sea salted caramel apple might be just the one for you!
Breakfast Inspired Caramel Apples
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I say, let’s have caramel apples for breakfast! Well, maybe that’s not such a great idea, but we could at least have breakfast inspired caramel apples.
Coating caramel apples in your favorite cereal is a great way to enjoy breakfast and dessert at the same time. The photo above has them coated in cornflakes, but let your imagination be your guide.
If you like fruity pebbles or cocoa puffs, don’t let that stop you from using them to make your very own version of this cereal coated caramel apple!
Caramel Apples with a Graham Cracker Topping
I love caramel apples because they are a perfect symbol of fall. Another food that always makes me think fall is the campfire classic, s’mores!
S’mores wouldn’t be s’mores without graham crackers. This finely crushed graham cracker dust is perfect to dip caramel apples into.
If you want to go a step beyond, feel free to add marshmallows and a chocolate drizzle to these camping friendly desserts!
Caramel Apples with Candy
Take a page out of Dan Walker’s book and use your own leftover candy from Halloween to spruce up your caramel apples!
Anything goes with these treats, and I think the more fun you have making them, the more fun you’ll have eating them. This is an activity for all ages. You’re never too old to be a kid again!
Caramel Apples with Marshmallows
Do you remember the game chubby bunny from childhood? It’s the game where you’d stick a marshmallow in your mouth and then say chubby bunny. The person who could say chubby bunny with the most marshmallows in their mouth wins!
I like to employ a similar approach to these caramel apples with marshmallows. The more marshmallows, the better!
Ah, to be like a child, everything is filled with so much joy! Making these marshmallow caramel apples is a great way to relive that feeling.
Caramel Apples with M&Ms Candy
If you’re a chocolate fan, these M&M candy caramel apples are calling your name! Each bite of this caramel apple includes the delicious taste of chocolate M&Ms!
There are two ways to make these caramel apples with M&Ms candy. You can go wild and throw every color of the rainbow on them, or you can make one caramel apple of each color of M&Ms!
It would be so neat to see a plate caramel apples covered in different colors of M&Ms! Do you have a favorite color of M&Ms? Let us know in the comments how you would make your candy caramel apples!
Caramel Apples with Crushed Oreos
Oh, oh, OH, it’s magic, Oreo-oo-oo-oo! Ok, so that was a little bit of a stretch rhythmically, but it’s all I can think of when I see these gorgeous caramel apples with crushed Oreos!
Just as a tip, it’s definitely easier to get crushed Oreos to cover the entire caramel apple than it is to get larger chunks of Oreos to cover it.
Caramel Apples with Gummy Bears
Oh gummy bears, the underrated sugary treat. I feel like gummy bears are the least popular out of the gummy snacks, but I don’t know why!
They taste just the same as gummy worms, or gummy rings! Come on, let’s give the bears a chance. There’s no better way to give them a fair chance than to try using them to cover a caramel apple.
You’ve got to admit, they look so cute lined up all the way around those caramel apples. They look almost too good to eat…the key word there being almost.
Chocolate Caramel Apples
Are you a chocolate lover? If you are, this next section of chocolate caramel apple toppings is just for you. I think putting chocolate on anything makes it tastier, and these caramel apples with chocolate are no exception.
Maybe you like the sweet taste of white chocolate, or maybe you’re more a purist and prefer dark chocolate. Maybe you are right in the middle and love milk chocolate.
The good news is, you can put any variety of chocolate on caramel apples and they will taste lovely! When it comes to chocolate, there’s no wrong answer!
White Chocolate Caramel Apples
White chocolate caramel apples are sweet, delicious, and have a pop of color! You can use only white chocolate, or you can pair the white chocolate with dark chocolate for an even more decadent treat.
The most common way to make white chocolate caramel apples is to take melted white chocolate and drizzle if over the caramel apple, as pictured above.
If you’re a white chocolate fan, it might interest you to know that there’s actually a National White Chocolate Day – that’s right an entire day dedicated to white chocolate! Sounds like a good holiday to me!
Dark Chocolate Caramel Apples
Chocolate and caramel go together so perfectly. This version of dark chocolate caramel apples is a little less sweet than white chocolate caramel apples, but just as tasty.
As with the white chocolate, when adding your dark chocolate to the caramel apples, I’d suggest drizzling melted chocolate over the caramel apple, as shown above.
When serving chocolate caramel apples, I enjoy having both white chocolate and dark chocolate drizzled caramel apples because their contrasting colors look magnificent together!
Drizzled Chocolate Caramel Apples
The chocolate caramel apples pictured above are relatively easy to make. You just melt white or dark chocolate and drizzle it over the caramel apples. While those are simple to make, the sky is the limit with drizzled chocolate caramel apples.
You can make any design you like! Use the chocolate drizzle like a paint brush, and create your own, unique, masterpiece.
Do you remember making sand castle art from when you were a kid? The chocolate drizzled caramel apple pictured above uses a similar technique to make its design.
After you drizzle the chocolate on your caramel apple, run toothpicks perpendicularly through the lines of chocolate drizzle to create the cool waves shown above.
Caramel Apples with Chocolate Chips
Chocolate chips are perfect in virtually every dessert – cookies, fudge, sundaes, brownies, and of course, the caramel apple.
I suggest using mini chocolate chips to create your chocolate chip caramel apples. Since they’re smaller than regular chocolate chips, they’re easier to work with.
Additionally, if you use another topping, like the crushed peanuts pictured above, the mini chocolate chips are a more similar size, so it gives the entire dessert a uniform appearance.
Caramel Apples for Halloween
Ok so you’ve decided you want to make some caramel apples for Halloween, but you’re stuck on a way to make them really festive. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
I have some easy tips and tricks to make some Halloween themed apples that will amaze anyone who is lucky enough to try one!
And trust me, if you make one of these varieties of caramel apples, everyone will want to try them. You’ll be the talk of all your friends.
Caramel Apples with Sprinkles
Do you love colorful treats? Then sprinkles are the way to go! They are the brightest, most fun topping of the list.
You can find sprinkles in many different color combinations. There’s red, white and blue sprinkle sets for the 4th of July, red and green sprinkles for Christmas, and of course orange and black sprinkles for Halloween!
I like to go all out with the sprinkles, and cover the entire apple. However if you want a little less candy, you can do a light dusting of sprinkles. It’s completely up to you!
Spooky Caramel Apples with Bows
For a truly spooky caramel apple, there has to be a little bit of mystery and wonder. Throughout history, no apple has been scarier than the poison apple the evil witch gave Snow White!
To create your own spooky caramel apple, you can add black food coloring to the caramel, and turn these treats from cute to terrifying!
If you want to dress them up a little bit, feel free tie a little bit of ribbon into a bow on the stick. I love the use of a simple black ribbon as pictured above.
Candy Corn Caramel Apples
One of my absolute favorite Halloween candy choices is candy corn. I also love the little candy pumpkins you can find at this time of the year!
These caramel apples with candy corn are a great way to make use of all the candy corn available at this time of year. Can you say yum?!
I’m sure I wouldn’t get one minute into decorating these caramel apples before deciding I had to sample the toppings!!
Unique Caramel Apples
Are you looking for a caramel apple idea that’s a little different than the ones you normally see? I’ve got some on this list that have a unique wow-factor.
These next variations on the traditional caramel apple are unforgettable. I would definitely enjoy each and every one of them.
Don’t forget to let us know in the comments which is your favorite! I’d love to know which variety is an Always The Holidays reader favorite!
Caramel Apple Slices
Have you ever gone to take a bite out of a caramel apple and run into trouble? Either the apple was too hard to bite into, or it was a big sticky mess?
If this has ever happened to you, let me introduce you to the more user friendly way to eat caramel apples: caramel apple slices!
You can still have fun and put any topping you like on them, but this is an easier way to eat them. It’s also a great way to make the dessert kid-friendly. Tiny treats, for tiny humans!
Rustic Caramel Apples
One thing that 99% of caramel apples have in common, is that they lack a creative stick. Most are made from popsicle sticks, or bamboo skewers. There’s a much more creative ways to display these treats!
The great thing about using real twigs for your caramel apple stick, is that they’re free. You probably have them in your back yard, and they reduce extra waste!
I always love working with items I have on hand around the house, so these rustic caramel apples with branches for stems are right up my alley.
Best Caramel Apple Toppings
My favorite thing about caramel apples, it that they are customizable. If you’re looking for the “best” caramel apple topping… I have to burst your bubble, there’s no right answer. However, the good news is, there’s also no wrong answer!
Decorating caramel apples is a way to let your creativity shine. Pick the topping that inspires you the most, and give it a try!
Don’t forget to let us know in the comments which caramel apple toppings are your favorites!
Pin these Creative Caramel Apple Toppings for Later
Would you like a reminder of these ways to decorate caramel apple? Save this caramel apple toppings guide for later by pinning this image to one of your sweet treat boards on Pinterest!
Need something to drink with your caramel apples? Try a glass of warm apple cider. It’s perfect for fall, too!
About the author
Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess Speake has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.