For some people, apple cider caramels are one of those essential fall things, conjuring up memories of past trips to orchards, fall festivals and such. I had actually never heard of them until a few years ago, but anything involving caramel is sure to pique my interest, and they certainly did intrigue me.  Given that I already have another classic caramel recipe that I adore, I wasn’t immediately sold on the cider caramels.  Mainly I wondered – can you actually taste the cider, or is it simply included to make it fall-appropriate? It is a pet peeve of mine when a recipe includes an ingredient simply for the sake of making it popular or seasonal.  Each ingredient should have a purpose.

The only way to find out for sure was to try them, so try them I did. You start out with a full quart of cider and that is boiled down to a mere half cup or so.  That, my friends…that is the key to the apple cider caramels.  The flavor of all that cider is concentrated and then stirred in with the caramel mixture, with a touch of cinnamon to enhance its presence. I loved the final product, and now I understand the hype.  Just one more thing for me to love about fall.


  • 4 cups (945 ml) apple cider
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 8 tbsp. (4 oz. or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (110 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream


  • 01

    Add the cider to a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Lower heat slightly but allow the cider to remain at a boil.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a thick syrup, between 1/3 and ½ cup.  Meanwhile, line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

  • 02

    When the cider is reduced to the correct volume, remove the pan from the heat and add in the butter, sugars and cream. Return the pan to the heat and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 252˚ F.  (Be sure to watch the temperature very closely.  Don’t let Facebook or your smartphone ruin a perfectly good batch of caramels!  Speaking from experience here.)  As soon as the mixture reaches the correct temperature, remove from the heat, stir in the cinnamon and salt, and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

  • 03

    Let stand until completely set, at least a few hours or overnight.  Sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt if desired.  Remove the slab of caramel from the pan, slice with a lightly greased sharp knife or pizza cutter into 1-inch squares.  Wrap in small squares of parchment paper and twist the ends to seal shut.  Store in an airtight container.

  • Sarah Townsend

    These look amazing! I don’t make candies often but I think these may change things.

  • I feel the same way about seasonal treats. I’m a huge fan of pumpkin and apples, obviously, but I have no need for anything gratuitous or superfluous in my life! Although these caramels would be neither of those things. All that concentrated apple flavor has to be a good thing!

  • Melissa Vasquez

    Glad to see you’re back, Annie! Hooray for caramels. It’s a Christmas tradition but maybe we’ll need to make it a fall one, too.

  • I am dying! Need these NOW! LOL Off to buy some apple cider.

  • jenbowers

    Do you have any recommendations on a candy thermometer? I have terrible luck with mine. These look delish!

  • blissmamaof3

    Oh these sound good! I have had mixed success with caramel and I know temperature is key. Must get a candy thermometer!

  • I love these Annie- I too have been wondering what the fuss is about apple cider caramels- now I know I have to try them!

  • Ali @ Solano’s Kitchen

    I’m with you on the “each ingredient should have a purpose” thing – and haven’t made apple cider caramels yet for exactly the same reason! They always sounded interesting, but I wasn’t sure they’d really be that different from regular caramels. Now I’m sold – I think I’ll be trying them soon!

  • Melanie G

    Well, you solved the dilemma for me. I’ve never made apple cider caramels because I was convinced they were just a trendy reason to make caramels without actually tasting like apple cider. They look amazing!

  • Diana

    I didn’t even know these were a thing!! I’ve had mixed success with caramels but really want to give these a try!

  • Kelsey

    I’ve been eying apple cider caramels this fall, but I’ve been holding off for the exact reason you said. Now I’m sold. Time to make the caramels!

  • I’ve been wanting to make these. Yours look perfect!

  • Brienne Kellenberger Martin

    What paper did you use? I love the look of this brown parchment paper!!

  • Vicki Bensinger

    Annie these sound wonderful and unique. I love caramels and this version is perfect for fall.

  • Jamie_MilkNCookies

    I’d never heard of apple cider caramels until recently, either. But I love that the cider is able to shine through by reducing the cider to really pump up the flavor. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ll definitely be trying these for myself!

  • Anna Farthing

    Hi Annie, these wrappers are gorgeous, do you mind if I ask where you purchased them? Or perhaps what the paper is called? I usually use waxed or baking paper, but can only get it in white? Thanks so much, and can’t wait to try the recipe!

  • I’ve always wanted to try homemade caramels!

  • Emmy Brown

    Quick question – when you say apple cider, do you mean alcoholic
    cider that we have in the UK or are you referring to apple juice? Sorry just want to make sure I use the correct ingredients! xx

  • Dajana

    I just love plain caramels, and this recipe looks like it could become my new favourite

  • Laura@bakinginpyjamas

    They sound absolutely delicious. I’m glad each ingredient has a purpose, what’s the point in using it if you can’t taste it within the treat itself. Pinning and saving. I can imagine this would make a great Christmas gift. Laura@baking in pyjamas

  • Colleen Baez

    Oh my gosh I think I’m in love..I’ve never heard of apple cider caramels before! This is a must try and I just love the little wrappings in parchment. What a great gift idea. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • These sound great! One of my biggest pet peeves in the fall is when I see a “pumpkin flavored” recipe on pinterest and the recipe just calls for pumpkin pie spice…that is NOT pumpkin flavored!! So many things are just for pinterest these days :(

  • Amber

    I’ve never heard of these before, but they sound amazing! I have a seemingly random question though… Did you use store-bought apple cider or the rich, expensive kind from the cider mills (I’m not sure if Indy even has cider mills near it)? I’d hate to boil down the good stuff if the store-bought kind would still be flavorful!

  • annieseats

    I recommend using the best you can find since the flavor really does come through. I’m sure either would work though.

  • annieseats

    Tell me about it. Now bloggers even write posts about how to write a post for Pinterest. Yuck.

  • annieseats

    This is regular apple cider, not hard cider (the fermented alcoholic kind). Cider is different than apple juice though – it is actually the juice pressed from apples.

  • annieseats

    It is just parchment paper, and I like to buy the non-bleached kind. I forget the brand off the top of my head but I see it at many stores.

  • Claire

    I used to love those caramel apple lollipops as a kid (you know, the
    kind with that caramel that always stuck to your teeth before you got to
    the hard candy part), but these sound like a more sophisticated
    version. Definitely going to try these for fall parties.

  • In my experience, store-bought works fine. I made these last fall with
    the store-bought refrigerated cider and they turned out great!

  • Jessica@stuckonsweet

    Love a good caramel, especially in the fall. What a great idea to spice them up with apple cider!

  • Becky Fogle Metz

    We just got done making homemade apple cider I can’t wait to try these apple cider caramels. They sound so delicious.

  • Cindy Rickes

    Do they maintain that lovely tart/acidity or do they simply have a sweet flavor of cider?

  • annieseats

    I finally used my old one until it was no longer functioning. It was Taylor brand and I really liked it. Lately I’ve just been using my Thermapen and it worked fine for these, so I’m not sure if I’ll buy an actual candy thermometer again. Maybe.

  • arisu1

    I was obsessed with these last year. So good! Thanks for reminding me I should make these again :)

  • My thermometer failed me…and I ended up with hard caramels (still delicious!) but definitely not anything you can bite into! So – I’m going to buy a thermapen. When you make the caramels, do you just periodically check the temp or do you actually keep the thermapen in the boiling caramel to monitor continuously?

  • Erin G.

    I love this idea. How wonderful to have something a little different than the reliable salted caramel during the fall season. I’m curious if this could easily be transformed into a sauce?

  • Meg

    I’m planning on making your browned butter cookies with cider caramel filling for my softball playoffs Sunday, and so I made these tonight. Oh my goodness these are amazing! I had never heard of cider caramels until you posted this recipe. Oh am I glad you’ve opened my eyes to these delightful treats.

    It took a long time for my cider to reduce and get syrupy, but I am so glad that I stuck it out and trusted your recipe. Thanks for another great, foolproof recipe, Annie! And congratulations on being done with your exam!!

  • Vanessa

    How many days do these last in the container?
    Thanks in advance

  • Louann Zundel

    These are so, so good! I happened to have a bottle of boiled cider from King Arthur Flour in the fridge, so I used 1/3 cup of that in place of reducing the cider in the recipe. The apple flavor really comes through!

  • Lidia

    Hey Annie! My roommate and I just made these and they are Amazing!! Thanks for all the great recipes!!

  • Christina Leatha

    Just made these. They’re cooling in the pan while I greedily scrape the hardening caramel from the pan with a spoon – delicious with a definite cider tang! Yum! Thanks so much! I think I’ll make again next month for Christmas give away goodies.

  • Lori Ciaralli

    As I’m in the midst of making my second batch immediately after the first wildly deliciously one, this question comes too late for me now, but I’m still curious. Did you skim the foam off the boiling cider? Mine formed a couple of thick layers so I removed them. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  • Lori Ciaralli

    Oh, and a second comment, while I’m at it. I found my overhanging parchment paper wanted to flip back into the pan after pouring in the hot caramel. This was immediately followed by a hot and messy attempt on my part to recover it. My second batch with have the overhang temporarily taped to the outer sides of the pan. :)

  • annieseats

    I didn’t skim anything off, I just kept it all in the pan. Glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  • annieseats

    I think I’ll make these for holiday baking as well. Glad you enjoyed them so much!

  • annieseats

    I’m not practiced enough in candy making yet to adapt one recipe for a candy to a sauce, but my guess is that if cooked to a lower temperature, it would probably work. Maybe I’ll experiment with that soon. I have some good ideas of what you could do with the sauce. Thanks for the suggestion, and I’ll report back after I’ve played around with the idea a bit!

  • annieseats

    Ugh, that is so frustrating! One of the only bad things about caramel is how a degree or two low ends up with a goopy mess and a degree or two too high means inedible candy. With the thermapen, I just stick it in periodically and then near the end, keep it in almost continuously. I do make sure to tilt the pan so the probe is really well submerged and I’m getting a more accurate temperature of the candy mixture and not just the heat emanating from the burner through the bottom of the pan.

  • annieseats

    It is just a sweet cider flavor.

  • annieseats

    I finally checked the brand. It’s “If You Care”. I usually buy mine at Meijer (regional grocery chain) but have also seen it at Sur La Table. I love it!

  • Marlynn @urbanblisslife

    Love apples and caramels this time of year, and love the idea of combining both flavors in one. These look fantastic for holiday gift-giving!

  • annieseats

    Homemade caramels can last for months at a time. Enjoy!

  • Vanessa

    Thank you so much. Now I really can’t wait to try them! No night before Christmas baking :)

  • Aimee Beiter

    Hi Annie, I made these last night and let them cool overnight but this morning they were still a little too soft to wrap individually. I must not have let it get quite hot enough. The taste is AMAZING though so I don’t want to let it all go to waste. My question is: Do you think that they will still work in the cookies?

  • Deanna

    Made this it was amazing! Did you keep your caramels in the refrigerator?

  • annieseats

    I store them at room temp. Glad you enjoyed them!

  • Kelsey

    These were spectacular, Annie. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    I think they’ll be fine in the cookies. I would also recommend just keeping yours in the refrigerator because it will make them more firm.

  • Elleanor Eng

    I didn’t have a candy thermometer, so mine turned out pretty hard, but the taste was excellent. My boyfriend and I don’t actually care for caramel very much, so I thought I’d give these a try and see if they had a different flavor. Definitely unique from normal caramels. I used them to make the caramel sauce for the pecan pie thumbprint cookies, and it was perfect.

  • Kathy Robinson

    I made these last night. I used a candy thermometer and left it clipped to the side of the pan the entire time. I chilled in the garage over night (live in the midwest so it was cold out there) and had some trouble cutting them with a greased knife. I ran hot water over it, swiped dry, and was able to cut neat lines that way, reheating frequently. These are wonderful!!!

  • Kyli Martin

    I attempted these last night, I had issues with boil over after I added the butter cream and sugar, so I couldn’t get it to the optimal temp. What went wrong?

  • Jenn V

    I made these today and am so excited with how well these turned out! I’ve been too intimidated by caramel recipes to try any so this was my first attempt. I will definitely be making these again and trying out the cookie recipe, too. Thanks for sharing this one :)

  • annieseats

    Way to go! It’s always so great when you are able to conquer something that previously intimidated you. Good job :)

  • Vanessa F.

    Made these once a few weeks ago, and they were indeed wonderful! But I do have a question. I took mine to 252 degrees, and they were a little harder than they should be. Ok, so maybe it’s the calibration of my thermometer … not a big deal to take it off the heat a couple degrees lower next time.
    However, then I went back and made your vanilla bean caramels, which you take only up to 248 degrees. Remembering my experience with the cider caramels, I took them off the heat at 246 and they set up perfectly.
    So, now I’m wondering why the cider caramels are cooked a few degrees higher than the vanilla bean (other than 252 is what Deb has written in her recipe) …
    It’s ok if you don’t know :) I was just curious.

  • Jessica Berger

    I made these for my son’s teachers and in some gift baskets for their preschool bake sale. I almost got tackled the next day with people wanting the recipe and I pointed them all to your website. I had a goal to learn how to make caramels this year, and I am so thankful that I tried these first. They helped me make many new friends :) Thanks for being adventurous and inspiring us to do the same!

  • annieseats

    Way to go! Glad they were such a hit :)

  • annieseats

    I didn’t create either of the caramel recipes so the differences in temperature listed were not intentional choices of my own. I would guess it is an issue with your thermometer though. For me, with both recipes, I cook to the temp indicated and the texture is just right for a caramel, but any time I deviate but a couple of degrees it is either way too hard or too soft. But I don’t know the exact reason for the differences between the two recipes.

  • annieseats

    If you cook the mixture long enough, it should eventually get to the correct temperature. It just takes some time and patience.

  • Gina Adams

    Ahhhhhmazing!! these are so fantastic. I made them yesterday and passed them out as gifts to my coworkers today and they are raving about them. Thank you for helping me be awesome :)

  • Anna

    I’ve made these now three times over the last two weeks and they are delicious!! Here is what I’ve found…concentrate cider down to 1/3 cup for a much stronger flavor. I didn’t think the difference between 1/2 and 1/3 would matter that much, but it definitely did. 1 tsp salt was to much for my taste, 1/2 tsp was better. Thanks Annie for a delicious recipe!

  • Shannon Hirstein

    I just made a second batch of these. We are stuck in the middle of this cold weather and it was a good project. Loved them! So easy to make and hard to leave alone!

  • Amber

    I’ve been in an apple kick and made these for the second autumn season in a row! Not sure what happened this time, but somehow my apple cider burned (even though I was stirring it) before it even reduced to a 1/2c. Went ahead with the recipe just in case, and the family is still eating them, but I wasn’t sure if you’ve had different results based off the ciders you used? I’m going to try it again with a different brand of cider.

  • annieseats

    Hmm, I haven’t had that happen and I don’t usually pay much attention to specific brands. I would guess it just had a period of the heat being too high that scorched it. That stinks. I would just try again with slightly lower heat.

  • Holly Drainer

    Have you ever had trouble getting the caramel to set up? I followed the directions and used my digital candy thermometer to get it to 252, but my caramel stayed pretty soft – not something I can cut. I scraped it into a jar and we’re enjoying it over ice cream and other things – it’s so delicious – but would love to have some to share with others. I make your vanilla caramels every winter and always have success.

  • annieseats

    Sorry to hear that. I haven’t had a problem with these setting up. Hopefully it was just a fluke – maybe shoot a couple degrees higher next time?

  • Holly Drainer

    I’m going to give it another try in a different pot. The flavor is so amazing – I just have to make these work :)

  • Holly Drainer

    Tried them again – same temperature but in a deeper pot and they worked perfectly! Such a great fall treat :)

  • annieseats

    Oh good, I’m so glad they worked out! Caramels can be finicky some times but worth the effort (and it helps that even the mistakes are usually still delicious).

  • sweettoothduo

    What are you wrapping them in? I usually use wax paper for my salted caramel recipe, but I like the look of this browned wax looking paper you are using.

  • annieseats

    This is just unbleached parchment paper.

  • Lorraine

    I’ve made 7 batches of these in the last few months. They are amazing! Everyone who’s tried them, loves them. I have all kinds of new friends when they hear I’ve made another batch ;)
    Thank you for another fabulous recipe!

  • monica

    How many pieces does one batch make?

  • annieseats

    The yield is listed on the recipe – about 64 caramels.

  • Molly Bennett

    That’s interesting…I wonder why the depth of the pot would make a difference? I have been using a really deep pot making these, and have consistently had to go up to 256 to get the right consistency. (254 worked as well, but noticeably softer than 256, which turned out my desired consistency–caramels that hold their shape but are still soft and chewy. They’d be perfect, I think, for dipping in chocolate if I wanted to make chocolate-coated caramels.)

    The couple of times that I removed mine from the heat at 252, they were too soft to hold their shape once cut into squares. Each time I cut a row from the pan, the remaining caramel started oozing (slowly) into the space left by the row I had just removed. I have been attributing the consiatency/temp difference to elevation, but I don’t know if that makes any sense. I live in Seattle, and I don’t think our elevation is significantly different than that of Indiana.

  • Trish Stroble

    Could these be dipped in chocolate? I enter a chocolate lovers’ contest every February, and I think these would be delish coated with chocolate!

  • Annie


  • ranasalame

    Making these right now!

  • Annie