Dairy Free Caramel Apples (Gluten Free)

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Enjoy fall apple harvest with these delicious and easy to make Dairy Free Caramel Apples! Our dairy free caramel apples are easy to make and decorate, and they are perfect for Halloween treats.

photo collage of dairy free caramel apples with chocolate drizzle

We’ve got the perfect treat for your Halloween weekend!

My kids are just about too old to trick or treat these days (we really didn’t do too much of that anyway), but they still love having all the candy and treats for Halloween, including our homemade treats. My sweet tooth definitely got passed on to my kids 😉

I haven’t really been a big caramel apple person, but when I made my dairy free caramel sauce, our kids begged me to make some thicker caramel that we could dip apples in to make caramel apples.

I thought since Halloween was this weekend, it would be the perfect time to create some dairy free caramel apples!

non dairy caramel apples with chocolate

These turned out delicious and fun to make. When the caramel is warm, it doesn’t take a ton of caramel to coat an apple, so even though it doesn’t look like it makes much caramel, you can coat about 6-7 small apples (about 3-inch apples).

How to make dairy free caramel apples

Caramel apples can be really sweet, so I recommend using a nice tart green apple for these to help balance out the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate.

In the photos we used a sweeter red apple, but I found those to be overly sweet with the caramel and chocolate on top. If you don’t want these too sweet, use tart green apples.

steps to make caramel apples

This caramel is based on our easy dairy free caramel sauce, but it’s slightly different to make it thicker without being too oily from the butter.

I made the recipe for our other caramel sauce and just used less Silk half and half in it, but it ended up being pretty oily, so I had to make more adjustments to the recipe to make a thicker caramel for apples that’s not oily.

Here are the steps for making these dairy free caramel apples. Don’t forget: the full recipe card is at the bottom of the post!

  • Wash the apples and dry them thoroughly.
  • Push popsicle sticks into the tops of the apples and set them aside.
  • Melt the dairy free butter in the in a small heavy-bottom saucepan.
  • Once the butter is melted (which only takes a few minutes), whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, Silk dairy free half and half, and a dash of salt.
  • Bring to a boil over medium/low heat, then boil for 7 minutes.
  • Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Allow the sauce to cool for about 10 minutes to cool and thicken slightly then dip or pour over your apples (don’t allow the caramel to cool before dipping).
  • Place the dipped apples on the parchment lined cookie sheet. While the caramel is still sticky, you can sprinkle chopped nuts or chocolate on it. Or wait for the chocolate to cool and drizzle chocolate on the dipped apples.
steps to make dairy free caramel
Steps for making the dairy free caramel for dipping apples

As you dip the apples and the caramel cools, it will thicken. If it gets too thick and makes too thick of a coat of caramel on the apples, you can reheat the caramel a bit to thin it out again for easier dipping.

Canned coconut milk will work in this recipe instead of Silk dairy free half and half, but the color of the caramel will be even lighter when using canned coconut milk.

Please note that the Country Crock plant butter sticks don’t have soybean oil in them (it has a “may contain soy” warning on the label however). But the Country Crock plant butter tubs do contain soybean oil.

If you have a soy allergy, make sure to check labels before buying the Country Crock plant butter!

We also haven’t tried this recipe with different brands of dairy free butter besides the Country Crock plant butter sticks. If I do more testing with other brands of dairy free butter, I’ll add updates to this post and the recipe card.

dairy free caramel with a slice removed

How to make the dairy free caramel darker in color

Our caramel is fairly light in color, so if you’d like the caramel slightly darker in color, replace some of the white sugar with brown sugar (like 1/4). If you use 2-4 Tablespoons of brown sugar, reduce the corn syrup by 1 Tablespoon since brown sugar has more moisture than white sugar.

Another way to get the caramel a little darker in color is to let the melted dairy free butter brown slightly in the pan before adding any of the other ingredients to it (for only a couple of minutes so it doesn’t evaporate too much water or scorch). It will give it that browned butter taste as well!

Can I make the caramel apples without the corn syrup?

Update: I’m going to be testing this recipe with maple syrup in place of corn syrup. Maple syrup works good instead of corn syrup in my caramel sauce recipe, so we’ll try it here and report back.

You can make this recipe without corn syrup and using only sugar, but with my testing, I found that the caramel still ends up becoming grainy as you dip your apples.

The corn syrup helps to keep the sugars in the caramel from recrystallization, and cream of tartar is supposed to do this too, but when I made my caramel with cream of tartar it really didn’t help prevent the caramel from becoming grainy in texture.

You can see the difference in the caramel below (note that the caramel is fairly light colored on the left, this batch was made with coconut milk):

comparing caramel with and without corn syrup
Caramel with corn syrup on the left, caramel without corn syrup on the right, which has recrystallized

With the corn syrup-free version, the undipped caramel granulated a some. But the dipped apples and leftover caramel from dipping granulated a ton (it didn’t look like caramel anymore). I suspect the repeated dipping and stirring the caramel around sped up the recrystallization process of the sugars.

So you can make this recipe without corn syrup, just use 1 cup of white sugar and add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar to to the melted butter along with the sugar and Silk half and half. But your caramel will likely get grainy and it won’t look quite like caramel anymore once it cools on the apples.

If you want these caramel apples to be shiny and smooth, I recommend making the caramel with corn syrup!

dairy free caramel apple with chocolate and sprinkles on top

Dairy Free Caramel Apples (Gluten Free)

Enjoy fall apple harvest with these delicious and easy to make Dairy Free Caramel Apples! Our dairy free caramel apples are easy to make and decorate, and they are perfect for Halloween treats.
Caramel covers about 6-7 small (3 inch) apples
Gluten free, dairy free, peanut free, vegan. Soy free if using the Country Crock plant butter STICKS (the tubs contain soybean oil)
4.75 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free caramel apples
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 apples
Calories: 109kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Wash your apples and dry them thoroughly. Push popsicle sticks into the tops of the apples.
  • Set the apples aside on a parchment lined cookie sheet while you prepare the caramel.
  • Melt the dairy free butter in the in a small heavy-bottom saucepan over medium/low heat. I used Country Crock Plant Butter avocado oil sticks for this recipe.
  • Once the butter is melted (which only takes a minute or 2), whisk in the white sugar, Silk dairy free half and half (or canned coconut milk), and a dash of salt.
  • Whisk together until mixed and bring mixture to a boil over medium/low heat, then boil for 7 minutes.
  • Remove the caramel sauce from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Allow the sauce to cool for about 10-15 minutes to cool and thicken slightly but don't allow it to cool completely. You need to dip your apples while the caramel is still pretty warm, otherwise it will thicken too much to dip or pour over your apples.
  • Dip the apples in the caramel and use a spoon to scoop the warm caramel onto the apples.
  • Place the dipped apples on the parchment lined cookie sheet. While the caramel is still sticky, you can sprinkle chopped nuts or chocolate on it. Or wait for the chocolate to cool and drizzle chocolate on the dipped apples.
  • Store the dipped apples in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes

* So far I haven’t used other kinds of dairy free butter in this recipe so I’m not sure how other brands of dairy free butter will work in this recipe.
** If you’d like the caramel slightly darker in color, replace some of the white sugar with brown sugar. Just reduce the corn syrup slightly if you add more brown sugar since it has more moisture.
*** Canned coconut milk will work in this recipe instead of Silk dairy free half and half, but the color of the caramel will be even lighter when using canned coconut milk.
Nutrition information is just an estimate and does not include toppings like chocolate

Nutrition

Calories: 109kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
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