This insanely easy candy apples recipe without corn syrup will have you making this iconic fall favourite with just 3 ingredients! Nothing really screams autumn quite like bright red candy coating gorgeous green apples, however, most recipes for homemade candy apples call for corn syrup in the ingredients.
While corn syrup is certainly a foolproof way to make candy apples and is definitely a bit easier than making them without, it is definitely possible if you are precise and vigilant.
Making homemade candy apples without corn syrup is technically simple, but you do need to be aware of a few potential pitfalls that don’t necessarily exist if you’re using a liquid sugar like corn syrup.
So if you want to try your hand at this method, then read on as this recipe is for you!
How to Make Candy Apples Without Corn Syrup
The first step to making candy apples is to ensure you have everything prepped and ready to go ahead of time. You will need to move quickly once the syrup has reached the right temperature and it’s unwise to walk away while it’s boiling, so you need to ensure all is set up before you begin.
First, prep your apples. I recommend using Granny Smith apples because A) they are very tart so stand up well to the sweet candy coating and B) I find the bright green skin contrasting with red candy to be quite visually appealing.
All you really need to do is twist the stems off of the apples and really thoroughly wash them. If your apples are wax-coated, you should also dip them briefly in boiling water to remove the wax coating – otherwise, the candy coating will not stick to the apple.
Then, spear the apples through the stem end with some kitchen skewers, popsicle sticks or even a single chopstick. You want to ensure the apple is speared about halfway down – you really don’t want the apple to fall off the stick while you’re dipping it in molten sugar!
Finally, line a baking tray or large plate with some parchment paper and set a small dish of water and a pastry brush next to the stove.
Now it’s time to make the sugar syrup. The steps to this are virtually identical to most of my candy recipes – from hard candy to caramel apples to chewy caramel to peanut brittle – as everything has the same base, you just cook it to different temperatures and levels. This is also exactly the same as in my candied strawberry recipe, just with the addition of food colouring.
Add some sugar and a bit of water to a saucepan. I recommend using caster sugar (also known as superfine sugar) as it’s finer than regular, granulated sugar. However, if all you have is granulated sugar – that is fine. It will just take a bit longer to dissolve.
Set the pan over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a silicone spatula in order to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup reaches a liquidy state but the sugar isn’t completely dissolved, it’s time to add some red food colouring (can be bought online here).
Keep stirring the sugar syrup until the sugar is completely dissolved and avoid letting the mixture boil until you’re sure the syrup is dissolved.
If there are any un-dissolved crystals left in the mixture once the mixture boils, it will cause the entire syrup to turn grainy and crystallise. If you were using corn syrup, this prevents this from happening, however, you must be aware of this potential pitfall when making candy apples without any corn syrup.
As soon as the syrup begins to simmer, stop stirring. Dip a pastry brush in some water and wash down the sides of the pan to quickly dissolve any sugar crystals that have developed there.
Then, allow the syrup to bubble away, unagitated. This is the time to add in a candy thermometer if you have one. I personally just check the temperature periodically with an instant-read thermometer.
Initially, you will see a lot of steam and the bubbles will form and pop rapidly. As the syrup increases in temperature, the water will begin to evaporate and the bubbles will be slower to form and pop less easily – it will take roughly 10 minutes to reach this stage.
Once you’re here, begin checking the temperature of your syrup – you are aiming for 300°F (150°C). If you don’t have a thermometer at all, you can also add a small drop of your sugar syrup to a dish of ice water.
Once the syrup immediately turns brittle upon contact with the water, you’re ready to dip your apples.
Remove the pan from the heat and let it settle for a few moments, just so the bubbles dissipate, then – working quickly – dip your apples, ensuring they’re evenly coated in the syrup. Be careful when doing this as the sugar is very hot and can cause quite severe burns.
Once you’ve dipped your apples, allow them to set and cool on your prepared parchment paper – it should only take a few minutes until they’re ready to eat!
- 6 Granny Smith apples, thoroughly washed and stems removed
- 2 cups (400g) sugar (see note 1)
- 1/2 teaspoon red food colouring
- With short kitchen skewers, popsicle sticks or single chopsticks, spear each apple through the stem end until the skewer is about halfway down each apple. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set a pastry brush and a small dish of water next to the stovetop.
- In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the sugar and 1/2 cup (120ml) of water. Set over medium-low heat and, stirring constantly with a heatproof silicone spatula, gently heat to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup is liquidy but before the sugar is dissolved, add the food colouring and stir to combine.
- Make sure to avoid letting the syrup come to a boil before it is completely dissolved. If you fear the syrup is heating too quickly, remove it from the heat periodically, if necessary, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Stop stirring immediately as soon as the syrup begins to simmer. Using the pastry brush, dip it in the water and wash down the sides of the pan to get rid of any sugar crystals or set sugar.
- Allow the sugar to boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer (or a candy thermometer) registers at 300°F (150°C) - also known as the hard crack stage (see note 2).
- Take the pan off the heat and wait for a few seconds for the bubbles to subside. Then, working quickly, dip each apple in the syrup to coat them thoroughly and set them on the prepared parchment paper to set. If the sugar syrup begins to set up before you are finished dipping the apples, simply set the pan over low heat to melt the syrup again.
- Allow the apples to set for a few minutes before eating.
1. I find caster sugar (also known as superfine sugar) to be the most effective when making any kind of candy without corn syrup as it dissolves a bit quicker and more efficiently. However, this can easily be made with regular granulated sugar if that is all you have.
2. If you don't have a thermometer, keep a small dish of ice water next to your stovetop. Once the steam has subsided on your sugar syrup (roughly 10 minutes in), put a small drop of the syrup in the water. Once it sets to a brittle, hard candy texture, you know that you've hit the right temperature.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 321Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 3gSugar: 77gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
And that is all there is to making candy apples without any corn syrup! This recipe is easy to execute if you know where there could be potential pitfalls and they make for the perfect favour for a Halloween party!
Are you looking for a recipe for candied apples without corn syrup? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!