If you love caramel apples but you don't love all the sugar, you are going to love these Gourmet Healthy Sugar free Vegan Caramel Apples. And they're not just sugar free, they're easy and allergy-friendly and made with whole food ingredients you likely have in your pantry, with a low-carb option. What's not to love?
These Healthy Caramel Apples are coated in a sugar free caramel sauce, followed by a chocolate coating and a "peanutty" topping to make a truly gourmet treat, but you can have loads of fun with other toppings as well.
I love finding ways to make healthy treats for my family to enjoy. It's so nice to have healthier options available for occasional (or sometimes everyday) indulgences or for special occasions and well, for gifting too!
When you can make a healthy treat like this for your kids, they won't feel left out when others are enjoying their sugar (and allergen) filled treats.
Are Caramel Apples Unhealthy?
Caramel apples were always a favorite of mine, but not one that I got to have often. Even if I didn't get to eat them, I would drool over those gourmet apples with all of the delectable toppings.
But alas--so much sugar! (and so much other stuff too)
Sugar isn't the best thing for your body and add into it the other things in traditional caramel apples (not to mention the toppings that are on those gourmet versions) and you're well, let's just say that there are healthier ways to do it.
Apples are loaded with all kinds of good nutrition including flavanoids, fiber, and more, typical caramel apples are dipped in store bought caramels which are loaded with sugar, corn syrup, and artificial flavor, not to mention soy lecithin. Not my idea of healthy.
While they are delicious, now you can have a whole food option that's equally delicious that you can feel good serving to my family and friends (and eating yourself of course!)
Caramel Apples Year Round
These delectable apples are of course associated with fall, but they are great to have all year round. They're a great addition to your Halloween celebration, but you could even have them for Easter...and why not gift them at Christmas too?
I mean really--these are so healthy, you can have them every day. And so special, they're great for any special occasion!
Great for Kids and Adults
So caramel and chocolate are simply the best combination, but food on a stick is fun for both kids and adults. And when it's vegan caramel without refined sugar, it doesn't get much better than that.
Vegan and Sugar-free Caramel
Many vegan caramels out there are made with coconut milk. That's great if you are allergic to dairy, but the flavor does have some coconut taste to it, which this one does not have.
I love this sweet, sticky, creamy sauce, and think you will too.
How to Make These Gourmet Caramel Apples
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. (Photos 1 & 2)
Line cutting board or cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Push a stick through the top stem of the apples (Photo 3)
Dip the apples into the caramel sauce, then place them on the paper. Place in fridge to set (Photo 4)
In a double boiler, over low heat, combine chocolate chips and oil (Photo 6)
Melt over low heat. Dip apples in chocolate coating (Photo 7 & 8)
Place apples back in fridge to set while you make the "peanut topping."
Roughly chop sunflower seeds and place in a skillet. Add sweetener and oil and saute until sweetener is caramelized. (Photo 10)
Remove from heat and stir in coconut flour (Photo 11)
Remove apples from fridge. Coat apples with "peanut topping." (Photo 12)
Place apples on tray and let set before wrapping or serving (Photos 13 & 14)
There are so many options for things to top or sprinkle on the caramel apples.
- plain chopped nuts or seeds
- crumbled up cookies (these Pumpkin Snickerdoodles)
- chocolate chips (these Homemade Chocolate Chips would work great in regular or mini size)
- mini chocolate candies (healthy ones of course!)
- healthy sprinkles (I hope to have a recipe for these soon!)
- toasted coconut
More Healthy Treats
If you love healthy treats as much as we do, here are some other great options to try:
Recipe Notes and Substitutions
- For Smooth Caramel: Though you likely won't have a problem with this, you can add a pinch of cream of tartar to the caramel to help keep it smooth.
- Sweetener Options: Instead of the maple syrup, you could try 1/2 cup of a low-carb sweetener like an erythritol / monk blend plus 1/8 teaspoon stevia extract works for a low-carb option, adding in 1/4 cup water. You could also try xylitol instead of coconut sugar. I haven't tried all of these but they should work. Honey can be used as well.
- Seed Butter Alternatives: Instead of the sunflower seed butter, you could use really any kind of nut or seed butter. Almond and cashew butter would be truly delicious. If you aren't avoiding peanuts, peanut butter would be great as well.
- Chocolate Chip Alternatives: Instead of buying chocolate chips, you can make these Homemade Chocolate Chips instead. They are so good! Carob Chips would work well too.
- Caramel Pears: Pears would be a great alternative to the apples, provided they aren't too ripe since the sticks won't stay in very ripe pears.
Special Diet Information
- This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free
- To make the recipe lower carb, use low carb sweeteners and low-carb chocolate chips.
- To make the recipe AIP, you would have to try using coconut butter instead of the sunflower seed butter. I don't think this would work well, but it's worth trying. You would also need to use carob chips instead of chocolate.
- If you are on the Trim Healthy Mama plan, this is a crossover snack / treat
These caramel apples should last in the fridge for at least up to 3 days. Alternatively, you can keep them on the counter (provided it's pretty cool and dry in your home) for about 24 hours.
Sugar free Vegan Caramel Apples with Nut free "Peanut" Topping
- 6 apples
- 6 popsicle sticks
- In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk, and watching carefully to avoid burning.
- Remove from heat (pour into a bowl for dipping if desired).
- Allow the sauce to cool slightly. If the sauce is too hot and thin, it will run right off the apples; if it is to cool and thick it wont have a nice smooth appearance. I recommend letting it cool for about 2 minutes (you can easily warm it back up, or add a splash of water to get the sauce to the right thickness).
- While the apples are cooling, line a cutting board or cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
- Push a stick straight through the top stem of the apples
- Dip the apple into the caramel sauce and place them on the paper. Place them in the fridge to set while you make the chocolate coating.
- In a double boiler, over low heat, combine chocolate chips and oil and melt to a smooth and shiny consistency, regularly stirring with a spoon or whisk.
- Remove the caramel apples from the fridge and dip them into the chocolate mixture.
- Place them back into the fridge to set briefly while you make the *peanut topping*.
- Roughly chop the sunflower seeds and place them on a skillet.
- Add the coconut sugar and oil and saute over medium heat for a few minutes until the sugar gets a bit melty and caramelized.
- Remove from heat and stir in the coconut flour.
- Remove the apples from the fridge. Press the warm *peanut* topping (or other desired toppings) around the bottom and side of your chocolate apples using your fingers, or put the toppings in your hand and cup your hands around the apples to press the toppings on.
- Let set or chill to set before wrapping or serving.
- If wrapping, store wrapped in a plastic treat bag, wax or parchment paper.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.
Wouldn't these apples make a great easy snack or gift? Think of all of the great topping possibilities!
Note: This post was originally published April 5, 2012. It was since republished with completely new content and new photos. Following is an original photo for reference. The recipe was created by Danielle of Fresh for Five, an allergy-friendly site that is sadly no longer online.