apple cookies with caramel center on white round platter with caramel squares and cinnamon sticks

Soft and Chewy Caramel Apple Cookies combine the best fall flavors. These apple cookies are thick, chewy and easy to freeze. Learn our tip for getting them to taste like caramel apple cider! 

Our lemon cookies were so popular this spring and summer! You guys loved them, and for good reason. The recipe is easy and makes thick and chewy cookies!

I decided to use that recipe has a starting point for creating these caramel apple cookies. I omitted the lemon zest and added in instant apple cider drink mix. The tart apple flavor really shines through with the powdered drink mix compared to using apple pie spice or applesauce. 

caramel apple cookies in grid pattern on metal baking sheet

The last step was to add caramel. But hear me out, I found out that I really like these cookies without the caramel too. So if you don’t have caramel or don’t like caramel, skip it. The cookies will still be amazing. 

What Kind of Caramel to Use in Cookies

Not all caramel is created equal. Be sure to use soft caramel squares like Kraft or Werther’s. The Werther’s caramel is softer, creating a caramel center that is still soft once the cookies cool. The Kraft caramel becomes a bit thick and chewy once it hardens, but you can always reheat the cookies in the microwave to softer the caramel. 

Ingredients

  • all purpose flour: flour is necessary to build structure in cookies
  • apple cider drink mix: adds a great tart apple flavor
  • baking soda: helps to leaven and lift the dough, affects browning and flavor
  • cinnamon and nutmeg: adds warmth and spice
  • salt: enhances the other flavors in the cookies
  • unsalted butter: adds flavor and and tender texture
  • granulated sugar: adds sweetness, flavor and encourages browning
  • brown sugar: adds sweetness, flavor and moisture
  • egg: binds the cookies together by providing structure
cookie dough balls with caramel pieces in the center collage

How to Make Caramel Apple Cookies

  1. In a mixing small bowl combine the dry ingredients. Set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add in the egg, beat again.
  3. Gradually add in the dry ingredients. The dough will be thick. 
  4. Use a cookie scoop to form balls. Place a caramel in the center of each dough ball, rolling between your hands to cover the caramel and form a round ball. Place the dough balls on a silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1/4 cup sugar and 1 packet of apple cider mix in a bowl for rolling the cookies.
  6. Roll each ball in the sugar. Bake for 16-17 minutes or until the edges have a faint golden color.

Total Time Required

  • 15 minutes to make the cookie dough
  • 30 minutes to chill the dough in the fridge
  • 16-17 minutes to bake the cookies
  • 15 minutes to cool the cookies
cookies arranged randomly on metal baking rack on wood background

Why Refrigerate Cookie Dough?

The King Arthur website explains, “Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies. As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread.”

Refrigerating the cookie dough will help produce cookies that are chewier and softer because they won’t spread as much.

But I get it. Sometimes I really dislike chilling dough. So here’s my suggestion – if you can fit it in, refrigerate the dough, even for 15 minutes. If not, at least refrigerate the dough between baking batches. For example, if you can fit 8 cookies on one baking sheet, bake those and put the dough in the fridge while you’re waiting.

cookies on white plate with cinnamon sticks and caramel square in background

How to Store Cookies

Store caramel apple cider cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days.

How to Freeze Apple Cookie Dough

  • Form the dough balls, adding caramel to each. Place them on a baking sheet lined with silicone mat. You can place the dough balls close together since you won’t be baking them.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies are frozen solid, about 1 hour.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a ziplock freezer bag. Label the bag with baking directions.
  • Freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months.
  • To bake: remove the dough from the freezer. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Roll the balls in sugar and bake for 16-17 minutes. Frozen cookies may need to bake for 1-2 minutes longer than non frozen cookies.
apple cookies with caramel center on white round platter with caramel squares and cinnamon sticks

How to Make Gluten Free Apple Cookies

I have made these cookies multiple times with King Arthur’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour with great success.

Tips

  • Properly measure the all purpose flour using the spoon and sweep method.
  • Use room temperature butter for easier creaming of the butter and sugar.
  • Refrigerate the cookie dough for 30 minutes. I’m telling you, this helps to make the best thick & chewy cookies!
  • Use a cookie scoop to form cookie dough balls.
  • Bake cookies on a silicone baking mat.

More Apple Desserts

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Caramel Apple Cookies

Caramel Apple Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 2 minutes

Soft and Chewy Caramel Apple Cookies combine the best fall flavors. These apple cookies are thick, chewy and easy to freeze. Learn our tip for getting them to taste like caramel apple cider!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 packets instant apple cider drink mix (0.74 oz each, not sugar free)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Soft caramel squares like Kraft or Werther’s

For Rolling the cookies

  • 1 packet instant apple cider drink mix
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. In a mixing small bowl combine the flour, apple cider drink mix, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add in the egg, beat again to combine.
  4. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing on low or by hand with a spatula until combined. The dough will be thick. 
  5. Use a cookie scoop to form balls. My dough balls were about 3 tbsp, which is large. Place a caramel in the center of each dough ball, rolling between your hands to cover the caramel and form a round ball. Repeat until all dough is rolled. Place the dough balls on a silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1/4 cup sugar and 1 packet of apple cider mix in a bowl for rolling the cookies.
  7. Roll each ball in the sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on a silicone lined baking sheet - I fit about 8 cookies per sheet. Bake for 16-17 minutes or until the edges have a faint golden color. Keep the remaining dough balls in the fridge while baking in batches. 
  8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Reheat for 10-15 seconds for a gooey caramel center as needed.

Notes

Refrigerating the cookie dough will help produce cookies that are chewier and thicker because they won’t spread as much.  If you can fit it in, refrigerate the dough, even for 15 minutes. If not, at least refrigerate the dough between baking batches. For example, if you can fit 8 cookies on one baking sheet, bake those and put the dough in the fridge while you’re waiting.

This recipe turned out great using gluten free flour too! We love King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour.

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