This Homemade Caramel Fruit Dip is a delicious dessert dip recipe that can be served hot or cold as a decadent treat with your favorite cut fruit – but I won’t tell if you decide to use marshmallows for dipping.
Caramel Fruit Dip Recipe
When I was young, my mom used to always buy those caramel apple dips from the grocery store to entice my pickier siblings to eat their fruit, and I’m not going to lie – whenever I see them, I am super tempted to add a tub to my cart!
Caramel Fruit Dip is an easy way to transform a plate full of fruit into a decadent dessert; it’s like the caramel equivalent to setting out a chocolate fondue… only better because it’s caramel. Top it with some toffee bits and mini chocolate chips and you’re in business.
This caramel dip recipe results in a buttery, well-rounded caramel flavor that is incredibly rich and satisfying. Adding a sprinkle of good quality salt is one of my favorite ways to really bring out and enhance the caramel flavor. However, be warned that salted caramel has been scientifically found to be super addictive (here’s a nerdy read for you!) so don’t expect to be able to stop until you run out of fruit.
This homemade soft caramel also doubles as a great ice cream topping, or a spread for other baked goods and treats. I like to keep half of the batch in a mason jar in the fridge and grab spoonfuls as desired.
(PS – to keep your apples looking fresh and not browned, soak them in some 7UP or carbonated lemonade, like San Pellegrino, immediately after cutting. You can leave them in the 7UP until ready to serve and I find it keeps the apples looking fresh for 2-3 hours – I use this trick for packed lunches as well!)
The cooking time, order of ingredients and stirring/heating directions in this recipe are really important. Overcooking can lead to the sugar burning or the mixture thickening to the point of hard caramel. If you follow the recipe and don’t get distracted, you’ll find it is super simple, but you might need to plan for a test batch if you are new to candy-making or homemade caramel.
While I am under no illusions that this apple dip is healthy (other than the fact that you are going to increase your and your kids’ fruit intake by 300% by setting this dip out for dessert), I do feel more comfortable knowing that my version avoids the palm oil, high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, and artificial flavorings that are in the grocery store version. (My recipe does use regular corn syrup which is less sweet than HFCS. Corn syrup is an inverse sugar and it’s easier for most people to use at home for making caramel-based recipes – but I also provide an alternative method below using sugar, water and a dash of cream of tartar. However that recipe is slightly trickier and requires the use of a candy thermometer so if you are new to making candies or caramels, I suggest using the corn syrup version first until you get a sense of what the recipe should look like at the different stages.)
Please note that you cannot just swap out another sweetener substitute for the corn syrup (like honey or maple syrup) as it is acting as an inverse sugar in this recipe, not just a sweetening agent. Using an alternative will either result in a hardened, crystallized caramel or a pile of burnt ingredients stuck to the bottom of your pot.
Ingredients for Caramel Apple Dip
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup corn syrup
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sea salt, as desired
Homemade Corn Syrup:
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
Tip: this recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for a crowd. Just be sure to use a wide pot rather than a deep pot to ensure even heating.
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Serving bowl
- Mason jar, for storing
How to Make Caramel Apple Dip
Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted, then add the brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
Heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a slight boil – then remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. When stirring, ensure that you are reaching the bottom of the pot and scraping it well with each stir.
You can enjoy this caramel apple dip warm or cold. To reheat, place in the microwave and heat in 25 second bursts, stirring well in between each reheating, until you achieve your desired temperature.
Lasts one month in the fridge.
*Note: if you don’t want to use corn syrup, you can “make your own” substitute using sugar, cream of tartar and water, but I highly recommend using a clip-on candy thermometer if using this method.
Simply add all ingredients to a saucepan over low heat and whisk continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken and form a syrup, about 5-8 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium, and slowly darken the homemade syrup, whisking until bubbles begin to form. This process will take about 10 minutes for the syrup to reach 300F. Add the butter, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.
Heat thoroughly until the mixture comes to a slight boil – hen remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
Grab your free printable for our caramel apple dip recipe here:
This buttery, decadent homemade caramel dip recipe is the ultimate fruit dip and also doubles as a great homemade caramel ice cream topping. Make a batch and keep a jar full of this thick, homemade caramel sauce in the fridge for whenever you need a caramel pick-me-up!