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. Mary Ann says:

    I was looking for a caramel recipe that didn’t use caramel candies. Yours looks perfect! I tried it, and mine turned out light colored, grainy, and tasting very much brown sugary. Did I not cook it long enough? I did use light brown sugar, as I don’t keep dark brown on hand. It barely was bubbly, because I was afraid of burning it. Any thoughts on what I did wrong? Thanks!

    1. Melissa says:

      Hmmmm, I’ve not had that happen before. Did you add the butter?

    2. Mary Ann says:

      4 stars
      Well regardless of the brown sugary taste/graininess we ate it all up on our apples! I think it has a great consistency, so I will be trying again! Maybe just decreasing the sugar a tad, and making sure it is all mixed into the butter really well before adding other ingredients. Thanks for posting!

  2. LuJean Schneider says:

    5 stars
    This really is the best carmel apple dip I have tasted.
    I substituted Agave Syrup for the corn syrup and it worked great!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thank you so much for letting us know that, so helpful. I can’t wait to try it with agave syrup myself!

    2. Julie says:

      5 stars
      So good and really easy! I’ve tried other recipes that haven’t turned out but this one was a hit! Thank you!

    3. Melissa says:

      Ohhh so glad that you liked it, it IS easy isn’t it?! I think that’s why I like it so much!

  3. Traci says:

    5 stars
    Oh my gosh!! Just made this and it is absolutely amazing! I bought some honey crisp apples from the farmers market this morning and this is exactly what I needed!! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and easy recipe!!

    1. Melissa says:

      Yay!!! I LOVE this recipe and I love when people get as excited about it as I do. Happy apple and caramel eating Traci!

  4. barbara L rowe says:

    I want to make dark chocolate pieces what do I do after it is cooked? Do I use a 8×8 pan then slice when I put into pan?

    1. Melissa says:

      You are going to want to find a different caramel recipe that gets firm (this is a really soft caramel for dipping things in), that being said, if you cooked this caramel to the soft ball stage in candy making I think it would work fine, BUT I haven’t tried it, so that’s not a guarantee. I would use a 9×13 pan though, it makes a big batch! If you try it will you let me know, I’m interested!

  5. Lucie Archambault says:

    5 stars
    Just made a batch it is awesome thank you.

    1. Melissa says:

      Ohhhh it sounds so good now! I’m so glad you liked it.

  6. Cheryl Parker says:

    What about using buttermilk instead of can condensed milk?

    1. Melissa says:

      I haven’t played with that, I don’t think it would work though, canned milked is really thick and sweet!

  7. Anne Branch says:

    5 stars
    This really is the actual best caramel dip. Crowd-pleaser for sure!

    1. Melissa says:

      So glad you loved it! And thanks for taking the time to leave a great review too, I appreciate that!

  8. Connie says:

    5 stars
    This is a fabulously easy, great tasting recipe. Follow the directions and it is a breeze!!

    1. Melissa says:

      Woohooo! So glad that you are on the caramel train, so perfect isn’t it!

  9. Tracey says:

    I am having an apple “bar” at a bridal shower in a couple of weeks and want to serve this caramel sauce as an option for dipping sliced apples. I was planning to keep it warm in a chafing dish during the shower. Do you think that will work to keep the sauce “dippable?” Thanks!

    1. Melissa says:

      The sauce will be dippable at room temp, but it is delicious warm. I think the chafing dish if a great idea if you want it warm, and I think it would be find to skip it too if you don’t want to go through the hassle. It would work great but not totally necessary either.

  10. Elleni says:

    Looking to make this dip for our youth group of 100-wondering about how to adjust the recipe for a crock pot if that’s possible? And would quadrupling the recipe yield enough dip do you think?

    1. Melissa says:

      I think 4 batches would be perfect for that many kids! And yes, I think a slow cooker on warm (not even low) would work great! You’d be fine to make 2 double batches of it though I wouldn’t make all 4 at once.