Homemade Caramel Dip for Apples – Updated


One of the most popular fall recipes here at An Oregon Cottage is Homemade Caramel Apple Dip – and it always sees a lot of traffic at this time of year.

So even though we are smack in the middle of 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations, I’m posting this updated caramel dip recipe for all those who, like me, are attempting to cut down on sugar in our diets.

Though fooling with this once-a-year-recipe (and a memory-maker, as our family still comes together each fall for our annual apple tasting) came with a couple of rules:

  1. Since it is a special treat, it had to taste just as good with less sugar
  2. If it didn’t, we weren’t going to suffer through yuckiness just to have less sugar – ’cause, sheesh, it’s only a once-a-year thing.

So I cut the sugar and honey in half and served it to my family. And guess what?

caramel dip for apples

No one noticed a difference. I had to tell them and they still couldn’t tell (though I thought the dip wasn’t quite as creamy, which didn’t bother me).

You know what I’m learning more and more through these experiments to lessen the sugar in some of our favorite recipes?

It’s easy, and most of the time we can’t. tell. a. difference.

Here’s the updated, lower sugar Caramel Dip for Apples recipe (go here to see the original recipe and how our family does our annual apple tasting):


Homemade Caramel Dip for Apples

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar (or sucanat)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
  1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (will take 5-10 minutes).
  3. Lower heat to medium or med-low (you want to keep a very low boil) and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly (really- this is not the thing to walk away from! It will burn…I know from experience!).**
  4. Remove from heat, let cool a bit and then pour into a serving bowl and serve warm.
  5. Refrigerate any leftovers. Microwave a few seconds to soften before using again.

Makes about 2 cups

**If it does burn, don’t despair: remove the pan from the burner and quickly pour the dip into a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl, but DO NOT scrape the bottom. Just leave all that crusty burnt stuff. Push dip through strainer, leaving any browned bits in strainer. There may be a few small brown flecks in the dip, but we really can’t tell when we’re eating it. It’s just another one of our imperfect things! 

Have you made this dip? Did you try it with less sugar? Leave a comment here.



  1. I have a less sugar version that is rather simple also. Take the can of sweetened condensed milk and do not open it. Place the can in your crock pot. Cover with water 1: above the top of the can. Cook for 4 hours on high. Let cool in the water. Remove and open the can. Instant dulce de leche (caramelized milk). The one warning is to make sure the water stays above the edge of the can. If you don’t want to use the crock pot, there are directions online for doing the boiling in a pot on the stove. You can also open the can and put it in a water bath. Anyway, there is no added sugar at all.

    • how amazing, i had to read this twice to get the gist of ‘do not open can’ had to laugh!
      how did you find this one? good work, first thing on my list to do….thank you!

    • Yes, Kate, that is a good one – I’ve had it before. Without the butter, though, it’s just not quite the same. :)

  2. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I am always looking for ways to make delicious treats healthier. This was awesome with less sugar. I also used fat free cond milk. Worked great. was thick and creamy and caramely. Thank you

  3. This sounds wonderful. Can you make this the night before and send it to school?

    • That’s no problem, Jen – it keeps for more than a week (if you can keep from eating it!). It hardens (not solid, but not easy to dip) in the fridge, so it will need to be microwaved for a few seconds before using.

  4. I just finished making this for my son’s 1st grade Harvest Party tomorrow. I got volunteered to bring Caramel Dipping Sauce and couldn’t bring myself to buy store bought at the price or all the unpronouncable ingredients that they included. I knew I could find a super easy recipe and voila’ here it was. I do have to say, it was a nice arm workout with all the stirring…needed it since the gym and I haven’t been friends in a few weeks! Thanks so much!!!

  5. OMG!!! Soooo Good!!! and very simple and easy to make! Thank you!!

  6. Nothing said about the caramel or how much to put in.

    • The ingredients listed are what’s needed to make the caramel – no need to buy any caramel, you’re making your own! (hint: that’s why it’s so much better tasting!) :)

  7. Would you mind reposting the original recipe? I made it last year and LOVED it, and would love to make it the same way again but I misplaced the recipe. Low sugar is good, but that was such a treat. :) Thank you!

  8. This is probably a dumb question…but does it have to be butter or will margarine work? Thanks in advance!

    • Never mind–I figured it out by error. :) I tried margarine. The texture (and taste) were wrong–grainy and runny, not carmely. I looked back at your original photos and it looks like you use salted butter. Guess I’ll have to head to the store this weekend–I only have unsalted! *sigh* I can’t wait to try the real thing again later!

      • I do only use butter in our house, Jennifer. :) You can use unsalted butter – just add a bit of salt to taste (or even more and call it ‘salted caramel!). Hope second time’s the charm!

  9. Karen Brown says:

    How long can this stay in the fridge without spoiling? (Not that it is going to stay around long!)

    • We’ve successfully kept it for a week before it was gone, Karen – I have no idea how long it would last without it being eaten first, though, ha!

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