The Best Caramel Dip

4.74 from 41 votes

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This is the best caramel dip recipe ever. Made on the stove with butter, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk, it’s the perfect consistency for dipping pretzels and apples.

apples and pretzels dipped in homemade caramel dip.
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I have a few favorite fall recipes that I always make for fun fall parties and events: apple cider, my favorite apple cheese board, and this Caramel Dip.

This caramel dip recipe is something you need in your life. It’s actually the very first recipe that I published as a blogger way back in 2009. I didn’t even have a picture of the end product, but I wanted to share the goodness. And goodness it is! I’ve made this recipe every fall since I first discovered it. I hope you try it and love it as much as I do!

apples and pretzels on a blue and white tray with homemade caramel dip.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This is the perfect homemade caramel for dipping. It’s thick and smooth while still being scoopable.
  • I think of this caramel as party food and repeatedly take it to fall parties. It makes about 3 cups of caramel dip, so there’s plenty for a crowd.
  • It’s really simple to make, too—just cook a few simple ingredients on the stove.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Butter – I use salted but if using unsalted butter, add a tiny bit of salt
  • Brown sugar – either light or dark will work
  • Corn syrup
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Vanilla extract

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.

apples and pretzels dipped in homemade caramel dip.

How to Make the Best Caramel Dip

  1. Melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine.
  3. Stir constantly until it comes to a light, bubbly boil.
  4. Remove from heat right away and add the vanilla.

Recipe FAQs

How do you get the perfect caramel consistency?

The goal for this dip is to be dippable, so you’ll want to bring the sugar mixture to a nice bubble but not a full boil. If you boil it too long or hard, you’ll end up with a thicker caramel that is great for dipping whole apples but less great for dipping little apple slices and pretzels.

Can you use something other than corn syrup?

I often get asked about switching out the corn syrup in this recipe, and I haven’t played with that much, so I don’t recommend doing it. I only use corn syrup in this recipe, my white cloud frosting recipe, and caramel corn. That being said, it is a different product than high fructose corn syrup. Here’s an article from The Kitchn about it.

What should I do if I notice my caramel is burning?

If you see that the bottom is starting to scorch (you’ll see little flecks of really dark sugar when you stir), remove the pan immediately. If the caramel hasn’t finished cooking, you can return it to the heat, being careful to stir only the top of the caramel and avoiding scraping up the burnt sugar on the bottom of the pan.

apples and pretzels laid around a bowl of homemade caramel dip.

Expert Tips

  • Don’t wander away from this recipe while it is cooking! You need to do a lot of stirring, or the bottom of the dip will scorch and burn.
  • If the caramel does start to burn, remove the pan from the heat. If the scorch isn’t too bad, you won’t be able to taste it, but you still might have little flecks of dark sugar in your caramel. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than feeling like you ruined the whole batch.
  • I serve it with apples and pretzels for dipping, and it’s also fabulous on churro waffles and an easy apple cake.
apples and pretzels dipped in homemade caramel dip.

More Fun Fall Recipes & Projects to Consider

apples and pretzels dipped in homemade caramel dip
4.74 from 41 votes

The Best Caramel Dip

This is the best caramel dip recipe ever. Made on the stove with butter, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk, it's the perfect consistency for dipping pretzels and apples.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 24 (Make 3 cups)

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, light or dark
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, (14 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
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Instructions 

  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine.
  • Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light bubbly boil, with just a few bubbles popping through the surface of the caramel (see notes for more details).
  • Remove from heat right away and add the vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with apple slices and pretzels, or drizzle over ice cream.

Video

Notes

  • The goal for this dip is to be dip-able, so you’ll want to bring the sugar mixture to a nice bubble but not a full boil. If you boil it too long or hard, you’ll end up with a thicker caramel that is great for dipping whole apples but not for dipping little apple slices and pretzels.
  • The corn syrup is a necessary ingredient so please don’t try any substitutes! (See my note above for more details, as well as this article from Serious Eats.)
  • Don’t wander away from this recipe while it is cooking. A lot of stirring needs to be done so the bottom of the dip doesn’t scorch and burn.
  • If you do see that the bottom is starting to scorch (you’ll see little flecks of really dark sugar when you stir), remove the pan from the heat right away. If the caramel hasn’t finished cooking, you can return it to the heat while carefully stirring the top of the caramel and avoiding scraping up the burnt sugar on the bottom of the pan. If the scorch isn’t too bad, you won’t be able to taste it, but you still might have little flecks of dark sugar in your caramel. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than feeling like you ruined the whole batch.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 of 24 servings, Calories: 170kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Sodium: 62mg, Potassium: 81mg, Sugar: 31g, Vitamin A: 162IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 61mg, Iron: 0.1mg
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171 Comments

  1. Jenny says:

    4 stars
    Just wondering if I cooked a little longer could this be made into chewy carmel candy? Also, I am thinking about making this and a hot fudge sauce for Christmas gifts do you have a hot fudge recipe too?

  2. Anne says:

    How long will the carmel sauce keep for? Does it Have to be put in fridge?

    1. Melissa says:

      It’ll keep a good long while in the fridge though I did notice that it starts to get grainy as it ages. I’m not sure if that’s something you could heat back out of it (by warming it up slowly) or not. I’ll have to try!

    2. Susan says:

      5 stars
      Turned out perfect!! I wanted it thick, so I continually slowly stirred and used a candy thermometer. Once at 220 degrees I took off heat and stirred in vanilla. Smooth and thick enough to hold up while dipping cut up apples, but not quite firm enough for individual carmels. Love the flavor!!

    3. Melissa says:

      Yay! Sounds like a huge success, thank you for leaving a review.

  3. Stephanie says:

    5 stars
    Made this for our Halloween party and it was perfect. I did get some brown flecks near the end of stirring but it wasn’t too bad so I just kept going and hoped for the best. Once it cooled you couldn’t see them or taste them. I cooled it down, refrigerated it and then reheated it for about 3 minutes at 50% power in the microwave. Perfection!!

    1. Melissa says:

      Great idea with sticking it in the microwave! I’m going to try that one. Thank you for the review, that means a lot to me.

  4. andrea says:

    5 stars
    This was exactly what I was looking for so my kids (one with braces and one missing two front teeth) could enjoy caramel apples this fall! This was easy and quick and tasted great, thanks! We may never go back to whole caramel apples.

    1. Melissa says:

      Yay! Such a great idea for a braces-clad kid! We LOVE this recipe too.

  5. Amy says:

    Can you freeze this dip? Or can you freeze sweetened condensed milk? I don’t need an entire batch of this (single girl here) but it sounds divine!

    1. Melissa says:

      You can freeze the sweetened condensed milk for up to three months! That would be your better option opposed to freezing the caramel! ENJOY!

  6. bonnie christensen says:

    How much does this recipe yield. I plan on using sm jelly jars. Also how long does this stay good. Giving as christmas gifts with apples. Thank you

    1. Melissa says:

      About 4 cups! I have given them for Christmas gifts in the past and people LOVE it!

  7. Teri says:

    I would love to try this and hand out at Christmas time, how long will it keep ?
    TIA

    1. Melissa says:

      It’ll last a few days out of the fridge and a few weeks in the fridge.

  8. Rachel Gordner says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I thought at first the sugar wouldn’t dissolve down but it’s the smoothest recipe I’ve tried! Perfectly thick for dipping. Thank you a million times over!

  9. sherry varga says:

    can you refrigerate leftovers

    1. Melissa says:

      Yes! Just let it come to room temperature or warm it up before serving again because it gets really stiff in the fridge.

  10. Kristin says:

    Fantastic recipe! I have made it twice now, and both of the times the different groups have gobbled it up.