Hello. Can we be kids for a quick sec?

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

Okay good.

But we sorta need to be grown ups too so we can dip our apples in bourbon. I don’t know how it’s gonna work… but.

It makes sense, right?

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

Seriously. Sprinkles. I mean, are you really surprised?

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

The sprinkles weren’t totally my idea… shockingly. After Amy put sprinkles on her chocolate caramel apples (which, um… omg) I knew that I would be doing it for the rest of my life. What is going to happen when I am 65 years old and covering my world in sprinkles? Are people going to take me seriously?

I sure hope not.

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

Oooooh bubbly sugar.

This picture below was taken around the time of day when I freak out and think OMGmykitchenissuchadisaster and howonEarthwillIevercleanthisup and thereisjustnowayIcanhandlethis and my wise solution is to sit down on the couch and look at celebrity gossip sites or catch an episode of Friends or attempt to watch something on E! that is not the Kardashians (impossible these days) or paint my nails and do glitter gradients that look like a 3-year old did them or… do anything in the world to avoid clean up time.

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

But so, back to being kids. As I kid, I loved caramel apples sososo much. They were such a treat.

And that was way back when, before the time where we could have whatever we wanted in an instant with the click of a mouse, and caramel apples only appeared in October with a sprinkling of corn mazes and pumpkins and hot apple cider that burnt your tongue in the best way ever. The exception was a few years into my teens when we would head to Michigan in the summer and had a fantastically dipped apple from Kilwin’s. I always chose to forego ice cream at least once because it had been like eight whole months seen I’d seen such a thing. And every bite was heavenly.

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

I’ve wanted to make my own for years, but was hoping it actually worked with some homemade caramel for dipping. That way… I could pour some booze or whatever crazy flavor I am currently loving into it before dunking.

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

I mean, an apple a day right? That’s what I thought too. So glad we are on the same page.

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com


Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples

Yield: 8 apples

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes, for the caramel

Total Time: 1 hour (includes time to let caramel set)


8 medium apples (I used honeycrisp and granny smith)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon salt

8 wooden craft or popsicle sticks


Remove stems from apples and place the stick inside each. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and lightly spritz it with olive oil or non-stick spray.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cream, bourbon, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, vanilla bean paste and salt. Heat over medium high heat, stirring until combined and bring to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and cook without stirring until temperature reaches 245 degrees F. If the mixture starts bubbling up at first (it may because of the cream, do NOT take your eyes off of it), stir a bit with a pastry brush and reduce heat until it's a bit more caramely. The entire caramel process took me about 20-25 minutes, but may be a bit longer or shorter depending on your heat level and pan, so watch carefully.

Once it reaches 245 degrees, immediately dip apples (and then dip them in sprinkles or chocolate or whatever) and place on wax paper. Let sit in the fridge until firm, about 30 minutes.

[caramel lightly adapted from martha]

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples I howsweeteats.com

Yeah. These are totally health food.

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79 Responses to “Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Apples.”

  1. #
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets — October 4, 2012 @ 6:55 am

    I love these grown up caramel apples. Totally gives me an excuse not to share with kids!


  2. #
    the 3volution of j3nn — October 4, 2012 @ 6:59 am

    I would be a kid as long as it takes to devour one of these sweet beauties! Which would be about 5 seconds.


  3. #
    Liz — October 4, 2012 @ 7:00 am

    The photos are absolutely mind-blowingly tantalizing – as usual. I MUST MAKE THESE.


  4. #
    Simply Life — October 4, 2012 @ 7:05 am

    oh wow! these look incredible! And I LOVE Kilwins!


  5. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — October 4, 2012 @ 7:08 am

    I don’t think a recipe could make me happier. sprinkles are pretty much my soulmate and caramel with bourbon involved is music to my ears. And omgmykitchenisalwaysadisaster ;)


  6. #
    Blog is the New Black — October 4, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    The sprinkles! Love em!


  7. #
    Betsy @JavaCupcake — October 4, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    These totally got added to the “to-do” list for the weekend!


  8. #
    Kim in MD — October 4, 2012 @ 7:16 am

    Oh my gosh…you have out done yourself with this recipe, Jessica, and your photos are STUNNING! This is a “must make” recipe for sure!


  9. #
    Sophie @ The Cake Hunter — October 4, 2012 @ 7:17 am

    I really don’t think think it would be unreasonable to say that sprinkles make the world a better place. I love sprinkles…and caramel…and bourbon.

    I’ll be making these come halloween x


  10. #
    Jeannette — October 4, 2012 @ 7:37 am

    That’s it. I’m making my own caramel apples. And I will dip them in chocolate. And nuts. And sprinkles. And chopped up peanut butter cups. And crushed Oreos. And…


  11. #
    Alicia Greenrabbit — October 4, 2012 @ 7:38 am

    How am I going to keep these away from my kids? I’ll just have to make them and eat all of them! Why do sprinkles make everything taste so good……


  12. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — October 4, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    You can never have too many sprinkles!! These are so cute and I hope they BLOW UP Pinterest! I loved caramel apples as a kid too, but haven’t had one in so long. Pinning this now!!


  13. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — October 4, 2012 @ 7:47 am

    Oh man, now this is a caramel apple!!! I need this in my life!! Awesome recipe!!


  14. #
    Becca — October 4, 2012 @ 7:48 am

    These sound amazing! We’re going to the cider mill Sunday so I think it’s about time for a caramel apple.

    However, where is the apple cider sangria you teased us with on ig??? I’m totally intrigued and having a party on Saturday and want to make it.


    • Jessica — October 4th, 2012 @ 7:51 am

      It’s coming tomorrow!


  15. #
    Alison — October 4, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    So…it’s not bourbon, it’s just plain whiskey, but there’s a distillery out by us in Virginia Called Wasmund’s that uses smoked apple wood chips instead of peat for flavoring. So clearly that’s what should be used here. Just sayin.


  16. #
    stacy t — October 4, 2012 @ 8:12 am

    yup. kid at heart. looooooove this.


  17. #
    Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles — October 4, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    I’m *totally* going to be 65 and coloring my world with sprinkles too!!!! :)


  18. #
    Jenn — October 4, 2012 @ 8:28 am

    Anything with bourbon in it is right up my alley. Now off to google “vanilla bean paste” and where to find it… ha.


  19. #
    Erin — October 4, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    I’m totally making these for my party next weekend.


  20. #
    Katie — October 4, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    I’m so on the caramel apple train today. Why oh why didn’t I think of sprinkles?


  21. #
    Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit — October 4, 2012 @ 8:47 am

    Oh my word… amazing! Sprinkles pretty much rule, it’s been ages since I’ve had them. But with bourbon? Awesome!


  22. #
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty — October 4, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    That’s a whole lotta bourbon! I *knew* I liked you!


  23. #
    Rachel — October 4, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    Gah! I LOVE the addition of the booze. I love making childhood treats in the adult version. These look delicious! My hubby would love these, he loves booze, and he loves sprinkles. Haha. I can’t go get custard in public with him without being slightly embarrassed. My bearded, gun-wielding, white t-shirt and steel-toed boot wearing man loves rainbow sprinkles on his ice cream. *sigh* :)


  24. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — October 4, 2012 @ 9:09 am

    I need to get on this. Fun!


  25. #
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape — October 4, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    I love caramel apples. My parents usually get a few during the season and they’ll slice it all up and we eat it around the kitchen table. Next time I’m home, I am so making this for them :D


  26. #
    Ashley — October 4, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    I MUST give caramel a try again. I did it once and the pan got 99% of the caramel after setting the apples down. Actually, I HAVE to give it a try because it’s going on a doughnut. Can you just come over and make it for me?


  27. #
    Anita — October 4, 2012 @ 9:23 am

    yes yes YES! An, an an… you know what? That crazy apple-corer-slicer thing that Spoiled Chef sells? That little round hole in the middle fits right smack dab over a stick in the middle of a caramel apple. And it CUTS it up! Into bitey-pieces!

    Only thing I’d change, is I’d swap out the sprinkles for bacon. Heh.


  28. #
    Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel — October 4, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    Why hasn’t someone invented some kind of magic device to come in and clean up our creative disasters in the kitchen? Because I don’t know about you, but after being a genius and coming up with something ridiculously amazeballs in the kitchen, the last thing I wanna do is dishes. It’s so anticlimactic and depressing. However, at least you have these caramel apples to munch on afterwards. Bourbon caramel sauce? I meeeeeaaannn..


  29. #
    Kiki — October 4, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    I have never ever had a caramel/candy apple.


  30. #
    Karly — October 4, 2012 @ 9:51 am

    Eeek, that drippy caramel shot makes me feel all panicky. I hate cleaning up those kinds of messes. Caramel is the worst!

    I hope you ate an extra apple or three to reward yourself for the cleaning.


  31. #
    Christine — October 4, 2012 @ 10:38 am

    Oh Jessica, what a gorgeous idea. Your photos are amazing. And I’m glad that I’m not the only person who makes such a mess at the kitchen. Love that howonEarthwillIevercleanthisup pic!


  32. #
    Meg @ Peaches and Cake — October 4, 2012 @ 10:41 am

    I saw this photo on Pinterest of someone who threw SPRINKLES at their wedding instead of rice! How funny is that? I immediately thought of you.


  33. #
    Abby@ Totes Delish Blog — October 4, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    I’m just going to face plant into that bowl of caramel, ok?? Can’t wait to go apple picking to make these babies!


  34. #
    Jenna — October 4, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    What a fun recipe!


  35. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — October 4, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    Last year around this time I made rum-spiked caramel sauce and dipped apple slices into it. I love that you made yours with bourbon! And that there’s sprinkles! Very little can top homemade booze-infused caramel and a perfect fall apple. I love these!


  36. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — October 4, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

    Wow – I need a bowl of the caramel right about now!


  37. #
    Annalise N. — October 4, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    These look so good! Anything with caramel gets 2 thumbs up by me!


  38. #
    Erin — October 4, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    PS I think you mean vanilla bean paste – not vanilla bean pasta. :)


    • Jessica — October 4th, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

      hahaha oops – how delicious would that be though?!


      • Erin — October 4th, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

        No kidding. I kind of can’t stop thinking about it. haha

  39. #
    Erin — October 4, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

    Now this is the perfect blend of my inner (ok mostly outer) kid–yay sprinkles and can I put my face in that caramel?–with my would-be-grown-up self. OK, my “grown up” bourbon loving self. This is such a great idea to add. Do you have any other bourbon recipe faves? (I snuck a quarter cup into a batch of butterscotch blondies the other day, but I think I need to go your route and bump it to a 3/4 cup!)


  40. #
    Cher @ Weddicted — October 4, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

    Sounds delicious! I feel like that sauce would be good on ice cream and pancakes…


  41. #
    The Sweet Cupcaker — October 4, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    STUNNING pictures and perfect way to spice up a classic treat!


  42. #
    Shannon — October 4, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

    Bourbon? Caramel? Sprinkles? I’m going to pass out from the excitement. They look amazing!


  43. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — October 4, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

    It’s been ages since I had a caramel apple, and now you’ve got me craving one something fierce! I suppose the plain apple in my lunch will have to do for now.


  44. #
    Katie @ Blonde Ambition — October 4, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    This sounds like the best caramel everrrr. I want to make this sauce and dip everything in it.


  45. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — October 4, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    I NEED this and extra sprinkles. Sprinkles should always be mandatory.


  46. #
    Jessica — October 4, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    YES they are a health food! They are just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving! Thank you!

    I was just at a wedding who had these and chocolate covered apples for dessert…best wedding ever.


  47. #
    Kari@Loaves and Dishes — October 4, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    This is my kind of health food. I’m wishing I had one, (or two) of those apples right now. Love the pics!


  48. #
    Amy — October 4, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

    These are fabulous! And I can only imagine the bourbon and what kinda goodness it adds. Perfect!


  49. #
    dervla @ The Curator — October 4, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

    come on! This is insane! We went apple picking last weekend and this would be a perfect use for the bags and bags of apples we have. Gorgeous!


  50. #
    KelseyLynn — October 5, 2012 @ 12:15 am

    OMG! these look amazing! I actually worked at a Kilwin’s for a summer so I totally get you on that one…favorite ice cream flavor from them? They have a Toasted Coconut that is to die for! Can’t wait to try this version.



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