Filed under: Cookies
October 20, 2021

Caramel Apple Cookies

Caramel apples meet oatmeal cookies in these chewy bites of fall deliciousness. Packed with oats, and freeze dried apples and in the center a big puddle of chewy salted caramel.

4.83 from 28 votes
Yield: 16
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Inspired by an apple caramel cookie we had at a local orchard, these cookies are, well I might even say… better. Mine are smaller and you’ll sadly be having them at home rather than atop a gorgeous orchard mountain but this recipe gives you cookies that are much chewier, there’s more oats, more apple flavor and they have a big puddle of caramel in the center. That homemade touch, if you will. 

To make these I built off my one yolk oatmeal cookies (doubled is always necessary because they are gone in a flash) and incorporated freeze dried apples and swapped quick cooking oats for rolled oats. Once scooped, smush a chewy caramel in the center and shape the dough around it so it doesn’t seep out in the oven. These are good right out of the oven (don’t burn your tongue!), 10 minutes later or days later. They are SO CHEWY and full of flavor. 

Recipe Ingredients 

Butter: Should be at room temperature so it beats well with the sugar and absolutely don’t use salted butter here. Controlling the salt level is important! 

Brown sugar: Light brown is what I used (sometimes dark brown can throw off the spread because of it’s higher molasses content but it could work). 

Baking soda: Not to be confused with baking powder. 

Vanilla: For flavor, don’t skip it. 

Rolled Oats: Old Fashioned Rolled oats are flat disks, and are unlike quick cooking which has undergone more processing so you don’t see the whole ‘groat’ that has been flattened. 

All purpose flour: Any protein level should be fine, I used KAF’s AP in mine. 

Egg yolks: Large yolks from large eggs. If you use smaller egg yolks the texture will change. 

Freeze dried apples: These will come in pouches near the nut isle of the grocery store. It doesn’t matter what kind of apples you use but honeycrisp or cinnamon flavored apples might lend more flavor to the dough. 

Caramels: Soft, chewy caramels. Avoid the very popular brand that makes these in square shape and opt for something a bit more rectangular and tastier. 

Salt: adjust this based on whether or not your caramels are salted. Less if they are, more if they are not. Fine sea salt is my go to. 

How to make Caramel Apple Cookies

Preheat the oven and line the pans 

I grease my cookie sheets so the parchment paper sticks to them. You can use the back of the butter wrapper for this, just spread it over the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. If you have an additional thermometer check that before you put the cookies in (my oven is always off so I have, err, three internal thermometers. Sane people only need one.)

Beat butter & sugar 

The butter should be soft enough to indent easily when you press it. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat it with the brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If I remember, while I’m beating I like to add the salt, vanilla and cinnamon at this stage so it gets incorporated into the fat and improves the flavor.

Beat in the yolks

For just 30-45 seconds. Until incorporated.

Fold in the oats, flour and apple powder

This will be very gentle, stop as soon as you can spot any more dry streaks of flour/apples or uncoated oats.

Portion the cookies and shape the balls of dough around a caramel

I’ll usually portion all of the cookies first, using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop (disher). Then unwrap as many caramels as I need, but leave them on their wrapper. Your hands are about to get doughy and messy.

Press your thumbs into the bottom of the cookie dough and smush the caramel into the center. Then wrap the dough around the caramel but leave a hole at the top so that the caramel will be exposed after baking.

Bake

Until they are nicely spread, the caramel is bubbling and the edges are deep golden. When they come out of the oven and they’re still sticky, sprinkle on some flaky sea salt. 

Store

Once completely cool you can store them in an airtight container. They’ll stay chewy for days!

Questions on Caramel Apple Cookies

Where can I get freeze-dried apples? 

Almost any grocery store will have them; check near the nuts. These are the ones I used. 

What kind of caramels should I use? 

Soft, chewy caramels. You can get them salted or unsalted. If yours are salted like mine, keep the salt level low as I have. If yours are not and you’d like a saltier taste, you can double the amount of salt in the recipe and add flaked sea salt on top. These are the ones I used (TJ’s sells the exact same ones in a transparent tub like this). 

Can I use a different kind of oat? 

I’d advise against it. Different oats absorb moisture so quick cooking versus rolled oats tend to behave differently and I can’t guarantee a good spread and texture. 

How can I make the dough and store it to bake later? 

Once shaped with the caramel, flash freeze the dough balls on a plate (about 10 minutes) then transfer them to a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer (they’ll last months). When it’s time to bake them, either let the dough come to room temperature or add a couple more minutes to bake time.

 



Caramel Apple Cookies

Chewy oatmeal cookies made to taste like a caramel apple.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 16
4.83 from 28 votes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup or 113g butter unsalted and softened
  • cup or 135g light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup or 100g old fashioned rolled oats
  • 100g all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 35g freeze dried apples ground into a powder
  • Chewy sea salt caramels

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Beat together the butter and brown sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg yolks and beat for a few minutes. Add the salt, soda, cinnamon, vanilla and oats and beat to combine.
  • Fold in the flour and freeze dried apples.
  • Scoop onto a cookie sheet, about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie.
  • Press a chewy caramel candy in the center (smush it if it’s long) and cup & turn the cookie dough between your hands so that it stands tall and mostly covers the caramel (leave some peeking out the top).
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden at the edges.

Notes

I recently updated this recipe to use a full bag of freeze dried apples (35g). If you were making it before with the 22g and liked it that way, keep doing it! I was too lazy to measure out my apples one day and just used the whole bag and found that I got more apple taste and more 'chew' to the cookies. I liked it more so I changed it here. 

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Recipe Reviews




  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made these multiple times to the point where freeze dried apples and caramels are now staples in my pantry. Everyone loves them- they are simple to make but impressive!

  2. Haven’t tried making the caramel apple cookies yet but hope to soon. I see where you recommend not using the popular square caramel (that rhymes with “craft”! Have you ever used Werthers?

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s always a hit. Just wanted to say I noticed this time that if you make this 1.5 times this recipe, you use up the Target ingredients perfectly (the 1.25 oz bag of freeze-dried apples and the sea salt caramels). Makes 24 cookies. These bake from frozen dough balls really well. .

  4. 5 stars
    I made these for my family this weekend, and they were a huge hit! The oats are so lovely with the apple and caramel. I made my own caramels using the King Arthur Flour apple cider caramel recipe for an extra hit of apple. My cookies spread a lot, but I think that’s because I made my caramels too big, and they were fairly soft. Even with the spreading these we’re still so fun to eat. I’ll definitely be making them again! I’ll probably refrigerate the caramels and maybe the dough next time just to be sure.

  5. 5 stars
    These taste like warm apple crisp, but in a portable cookie form- yum!! They make a great addition to a holiday cookie box! Unlike other websites, recipes from Sam always come out looking exactly like the pictures and tasting amazing – you can tell she puts so much time and care in testing the recipes and including detailed instructions, ingredient weights, and baking tips.

    • Renee!! Thank you for the sweetest words, I’m so glad you loved the cookies and have had a good experience with other recipes on the site. It’s extremely helpful, and I am so appreciative to know that the details and everything are working for someone. Thank you so much!

  6. 5 stars
    Came out exactly like in the pictures! I used the gram measurements to make it so, and I was really pleased with how chewy and full of flavor the cookies were. I used quick oats cause that’s all I had and I was worried it would come out too thick and dry but that didn’t happen so if that’s all you have i would still make it. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    So good. So so good. I made my own salted caramels which were larger than the recommended store bought ones. The dough was stickier and harder to manipulate than the tutorial but the cookies still turned out fine. These cookies are chewy apple perfection. Already planning on making another batch!

  8. 2 stars
    I made these cookies for a teacher potluck and I can’t bring myself to take them. They’re terrible. They taste okay but they spread SO bad, even after refrigerating the dough balls overnight, that they’re just a huge ugly mess. I followed the recipe to a T, even added the cinnamon despite the instructions not including that step, and this was easily the most frustrating, sloppy batch of cookies I’ve ever made. I wish I’d tried the recipe before making a batch for a school event because now I have to go buy a box of cookies from the grocery store before I go in to school.

    • Katie, I’m really sorry they didn’t work out for you. I’d offer that cookies often spread if: the butter was over measured or too warm and melty, or if the flour was under measured. Sometimes low-protein flours will cause cookies to spread, or if they are baked right onto the cookie sheet.

  9. 3 stars
    I’m not sure what I did wrong, but these didn’t turn out right. I went by the cup measurements as opposed to the weight measurements for the ingredients, so maybe that was the problem. The cookies didn’t spread at all in the oven, they remained ball-shaped. I also couldn’t taste the apple. They tasted okay, but they didn’t seem right. Maybe I’ll give them another try– any advice?

    • Maddie, sorry to hear it. It could be the cup measurement (especially for the flour) and in this cookie case, it could be the oats: if you used instant oats, for example, they act a bit like flour and soak up some of the moisture in the dough.

  10. 5 stars
    These were incredible! My first pan of eight cookies had about three that went a little too crazy with the caramel spreading,, so on the second pan, I made it so there was just a tiny gap on the top and put them in the freezer for 10 minutes before throwing in the oven. They turned out perfectly and just like your photos! I live in AZ so we tend to keep our thermostats at 78-80 degrees since it’s so hot outside, so I think that could have been a factor in them spreading a little too crazy. These cookies are dangerously good.

    Have you noticed a difference in using parchment vs silpats for cookies? That was the one thing I did differently from your instructions.

    Also, I don’t think it mentions in the instructions to add the cinnamon.

  11. 5 stars
    This was a hit at my holiday party. We did a cookie share and these were the fave!! Sam does such an excellent job explaining step by step!! Great cookie recipe for all your upcoming fall festivities.

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe say open as a browser tab for months before I finally made them, and they instantly became my partner’s favourite cookies ever, and I’ve made them several more times. Swapped out flour for GF 1:1 and I promise you cannot tell. ??

  13. 5 stars
    I absolutely adored these cookies! They were quick to make, and turned out beautifully! The use of freeze dried apples, was a marvellous idea- and proved not too difficult to source at the supermarket. Which was a pleasant surprise! I will be making these again soon 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    Yum!!!! These are FANTASTIC. I had a lot of fun baking these. They took a bit longer in the oven, but so worth it. Great texture— slightly crisp on the outside, chewy and delicious on the inside. The freeze-dried apples lend a great flavor. Next time, I might add some cinnamon or other spices just to up the flavor. Will definitely make these again!!

  15. 5 stars
    Delicious! My cookies didn’t spread quite like the ones in the photos, but I suspect that’s because my oven was too hot. Not to worry, though — they are still fantastic. Will definitely be making again!

  16. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Goodness. These might be one of the best things I’ve ever baked, and I bake a ton. The cookies have a delicious buttery taste and a perfectly chewy texture. I love the idea of using freeze dried apples. My only disappointment is that I have to hand them over for the school bake sale tomorrow!!

    My local stores didn’t have the recommended caramels in stock, so I had to go with a store bought square caramel option. I can attest to the fact that these didn’t melt in the way I wanted them to. Not surprising given the note in the recipe! I ended up wrapping the whole caramel in the cookie so it was more like a stuffed cookie, and that worked just fine, but it wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing. No matter — still one of the best cookies ever. Run, don’t walk, to make these.

    • 5 stars
      5 stars! I added maybe 8 additional grams of apple and some apple pie spices. I also used brown sugar and took some liberties with the instructions (mixed all the dry ingredients together and incorporated with the wet ingredients at the end). And it still turned out fabulously!!! Chewy and delicious. I used Werthers Chewy and Werthers Soft and they both melted just fine. Only thing was that the apple flavor wasn’t super strong with the vanilla and spices. But still yummy!

  17. 5 stars
    These were the perfect fall treat! Came together really quickly & simply (no fussy steps or dough-chilling required to get great texture) but still feel unique/special to share with others. I added some apple pie spice blend to really go for the fall vibes of the cookie – and I bet they’d be great with pecans too if you’re the type of person who likes a nutty cookie. Plan to make again because of how simple but tasty they are (and because I get to snack on – excuse me, “taste test, – caramels while I make them…)