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. #
    Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen — October 5, 2012 @ 1:30 am

    I found this via Pinterest the other day, and given your love for sprinkles, I think this should be your next birthday party: http://kojo-designs.com/2012/09/sprinkled-with-love-birthday-party/

    I didn’t think you could improve caramel apples, but you managed to with booze and sprinkles!


  2. #
    Rosie @ Sweetapolita — October 5, 2012 @ 7:06 am

    Ahh! I am in love with these, Jessica! Apple treats have been on my mind lately, and I can’t over how awesome these are. I think sprinkles are the ideal treat decoration, of course, but also I love the texture they give–between the crisp apple, gooey caramel and delightfully crunchy sprinkles, it would be perfection! Can’t wait to try them. xo


  3. #
    Lauren — October 5, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    The sprinkles are 100% necessary! Love this idea!


  4. #
    Katie @ Oh Shine On — October 5, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    obsessed. give me give me. is that totally immature? perhaps. but so necessary.


  5. #
    Alyssa — October 5, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    I love caramel apples and also just experienced Kilwins for the first time. Sinful!!


  6. #
    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — October 6, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

    Caramel apples are a necessity of life, not just fall! Love this grown up version!


  7. #
    Audrey | That Backpacker — October 7, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Mmm, I love candy apples! Those are good at any age. ;)


  8. #
    Nikki Dinki Cooking — October 7, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    Now THAT is how you do a caramel apple!


  9. #
    Jen @ keepitsimplefoods — October 7, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

    Love the colors here! Gorgeous!


  10. #
    Colette — October 7, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    Oo, bourbon…


  11. #
    Dina — October 24, 2012 @ 2:41 am

    I have been looking for this recipe-how on earth did I miss this post?!? While the bourbon sounds fabulous, I would really like to make these for my littles and my MIL who is a recovering alcoholic. What do I replace the bourbon with? And why no butter?


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