When did you last have toffee apples? For me, it was many years ago. Perfect for fetes, weekend treats, Halloween or Bonfire night, these ones, made from scratch are even better than you remember. Pinky promise!

If you’re partial to candy, like me, then try these orange marshmallows or the reader favourite, salted caramel fudge too.

Close up of red toffee apples sitting on a marble platter.

Why you’ll love it?

While I didn’t know it growing up, toffee apples are a classic Halloween and Bonfire Night treat. I ate them anytime because they always seemed to be at the shops or school fetes.

  • crunchy toffee
  • sweet, crisp apple
  • 6 simple ingredients (one of them water)

Making toffee apples from scratch means you can decide how thick you want the toffee, your favourite apple (my favourite is the granny smith) and even use whatever colour you want.

Toffee apples vs caramel apples vs candy apples

Toffee apples and candy apples are the same thing. An apple coated in a crunchy toffee coating (most often red).

While caramel is a type of candy, caramel apples are something different. The candy coating is chewy and it contains butter and cream, for a buttery caramel flavour. Caramel apples are often decorated as well with things like cookie crumbs, nuts or various chocolate.

Toffee apple ingredients

With very simple ingredients, you likely keep on hand, it’s just up to you choosing your favourite apple.

Ingredients for toffee apples on a marble bench top.

Detailed quantities and directions in the recipe card below.

  • Apples: All the toffee apples I’ve seen are made using Granny Smiths. Their slightly tart edge goes beautifully with the super sweet coating and they’re a good crisp apple. That said, use your favourite apple.
  • Sugar: You’ll want to use white sugar, preferable caster sugar (superfine). It dissolves quicker than granulated making the process quicker.
  • Liquid glucose (or light corn syrup): Glucose or light corn syrup are both invert syrups and will assist in preventing crystallisation.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar has a similar role to the glucose, lowering the risk of crystallisation by adding a little acid to the mix.
  • Colouring: Use a good quality red food colouring and you may need to add quite a bit to get a deep red colour. I also used black here to create some spooky Halloween candy apples. You could use any colour you like though and even theme them for a party!

Tools you’ll need

  • Heavy based saucepan – stainless steel best and definitely not a non-stick pan.
  • Popsicle sticks or thick wooden skewers
  • A candy thermometer – I’ll give tips below on how you can make it without one but It’s definitely easier with.
  • Spoon or spatula
  • Pastry brush

How to make toffee apples

With just 4 steps, toffee apples are pretty simple to make but, you will need to take some precautions to make sure the toffee turns out perfectly smooth and crunchy. Also please be careful, as boiling sugar gets very hot.

A collage of 4 images showing how to make toffee apples.

See the recipe card below for the full recipe details.

  1. Prep the apples: Wash and dry the apples well. Remove the stalks, then press a skewer straight down the centre. You can use a hammer if you need to, to bash it all the way down. Place them on a baking tray lined with paper (photo 1).
  2. Make the toffee: Combine the sugar, water, glucose and vinegar in a large heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring it to a boil until it hits a temperature of 150C – it’ll be golden in colour (photo 2).
  3. Colour the toffee: Take the saucepan off the heat and add a few drops of food colouring (photo 3). Give it a quick stir around. Add more if you want a deeper colour.
  4. Dip the apples: Holding the apples by the skewer, hold the saucepan on an angle, then dip and roll the apples in the toffee (photo 4). Hold the apple above the toffee to let excess drip off for 15-20 seconds, then place it back on your lined tray.

The toffee will set very quickly from here. Not even 20 minutes after dipping the toffee will already be cool and hard.

If you want to do a batch with some red and some black like I did with my black Halloween toffee apples, dip the red ones first, then add some black food colouring and dip the remainder.

To do the 2 colours, you will need to move a little more quickly so the toffee doesn’t cool too much as you can’t reheat it – the colouring will cause it to seize over heat.

What is crystallisation in toffee making?

Cooking sugar into a toffee or caramel is definitely a science. Any miniscule bit of grease or a grain of sugar, can cause your whole batch to crystallise which is when the sugar starts reverting from a syrup, back into it’s crystal state.

You’ll see it in the form of crusty bits on top of the bubbles in the syrup as it’s boiling. If your sugar crystallises, it will be impossible to use like toffee and have a grainy texture instead of a clear, smooth, crunchy texture.

But all is not lost. If you do notice it beginning to crystallise you can still save it. I’ve found, as long as the mixture is not yet beginning to colour, you can add a little water (maybe a tablespoon) and give it a quick stir, then let it come back to a boil again.

Red and black toffee apples on a white marble platter.

Though the classic toffee apple is coloured red, I decided to take a couple of these in a spooky direction, turning them black – the perfect sinful Halloween treat.

Tips and tricks

  • Clean your equipment:  Of course, we all start cooking with clean equipment but even the most miniscule bit of grease can cause your toffee to crystallise – not fun. Rub vinegar over everything you’re about to use, then rinse it off. No need to dry.
  • Brush the sides with water: The other thing that can cause toffee to crystallise is any sugar grains that may be sticking to the sides of the pan. Use a wet pastry brush, to gently brush those grains to dissolve them.  
  • Don’t rush dissolving the sugar: For smooth, clear toffee, you need to start by dissolving the sugar before it comes to a boil. Be patient, stir constantly and keep the heat low, so that by the time it comes to a boil, all the sugar is dissolved.
  • To clean the pan: Once your finished, you’ll have a saucepan lined with a coating of toffee, but don’t worry, it’s very easy to remove. Just fill the pan with water and let it sit for half an hour. The toffee will just dissolve away. Now just wash as normal.
  • Be careful! Toffee is like molten lava, so don’t let it splash on to you or dip your fingers into it.

If you’re anything like me, the hardest part of making these is being patient while dissolving the sugar. This will take 10-15 minutes but if you don’t, the sugar won’t dissolve and you won’t get gorgeous crackling toffee.

How Long Do Homemade Toffee Apples Keep For?

The toffee on toffee apples, will soften over time. This is because the natural moisture in the apples, will ever so slowly melt the toffee. They’ll stay perfectly hard for a day or two but then slowly start to soften.

Still delicious both ways but for that perfect toffee crack, make them as close to serving as possible.

How to store toffee apples

To keep them as crunchy as possible, store them wrapped tightly in cellophane in the pantry – never the fridge. They’ll keep for 3-5 days.

6 red toffee apples on a white marble platter.

FAQs

Can I make toffee apples without a candy thermometer?

Yes, you can make toffee apples without a thermometer but it is much easier with one. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, consider picking one up. They’re cheap and invaluable when making candy.

To make the toffee without one, have a small dish of cold water nearby. Once the toffee turns a pale gold colour, you’re just about there, so drop a little bit into the water and it should immediately set hard and become crunchy.

The toffee isn’t sticking!

If your apples have a waxy coating, the toffee may not stick. Wash waxed apples in warm water or sit them in boiling water for a few seconds to remove the coating first.

Can I decorate toffee apples?

You absolutely can decorate toffee apples, just like you can caramel apples but make sure to have everything ready before you start coating them. Dip them in the toffee, let the excess drip off, then immediately dip them in your decorations.

Great decoration ideas are mini chocolate chips, m&ms, cookie crumbs or other small candies. You could also drizzle melted chocolate over them once they’ve set. If you’re making them for Halloween, why not add some edible eyes.

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Red toffee apples, with one cut in half on a marble platter.

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6 red toffee apples on a white marble platter.

Homemade Toffee Apples (Candy Apples)

5 from 1 vote
Want to know how to make toffee apples? Whether you know them as candy apples or toffee apples, it seems we all grew up with these. Crunchy toffee coated apples are sweet, delicious and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 8 large Granny Smith apples
  • 3 cups caster superfine sugar (600g / 1.3 pounds) (notes)
  • 1/3 cup water 80ml
  • 1/4 cup liquid glucose or light corn syrup (60ml)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • red food colouring notes

Equipment

  • Heavy based saucepan – stainless steel best and definitely not a non-stick pan.
  • Popsicle sticks or thick wooden skewers
  • A candy thermometer – I’ll give tips below on how you can make it without one but It’s definitely easier with.
  • Spoon or spatula
  • Pastry brush

Instructions
 

  • Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and set aside.
  • Give the apples a wash, making sure if they’re waxed to remove all the wax. Remove the stems and dry well. Push in a thick skewer or popsicle stick.
  • Add the sugar, water, glucose and vinegar to a large heavy-based saucepan (stainless steel best),over very low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar completely dissolves.
  • Bring the syrup to a boil and sit a candy thermometer on the side of the pan (see note 4 below if you don't have one). Boil until the mixture hard crack stage – 150C / 302F. Use a pastry brush wet with a little water, to brush down any sugar crystals that form on the sides.
  • Take the pan off the heat and mix the food colouring through, then let the bubbles subside.
  • Carefully, tip the saucepan on an angle and dip the apples, turning them a few times to coat well all over.

Notes

  1. Make sure all your equipment is perfectly clean before you start so as not to risk crystallisation. Rub vinegar over each, then rinse off. No need to dry.
  2. You can use white granulated sugar, but keep in mind it will take longer to dissolve due to the larger size of the sugar crystals.
  3. You can also use black food colouring for some spooky halloween toffee apples.
  4. You can make it without a candy thermometer, though a little less precise. When you drop a little of the toffee into cold water, it will create brittle pieces that you can snap.
  5. I find that, if the mixture looks to be crystallising before it’s changed colour, it can be saved. Just add a tablespoon of water into the syrup, give it good stir, then let it come back to the boil again.
  6. Don’t add the food colouring in while the toffee is on the heat – it may cause it to seize. Likewise, reheating toffee that has already had colouring added may cause it to seize.
  7. The recipe can be halved.
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