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How to make caramel corn

How to Make Caramel Corn

I’m showing you How to Make Caramel Corn.В This is a caramel corn recipe that is both fabulous tasting and easy.В В Watch my video showing you how to make caramel corn, then scroll to the end of this post and print out the complete recipe so you can make it at home.

How to Make Caramel Corn

But first, there’s a short story behind this addictive stuff.

When I was visiting Kendall Jackson Winery a few years ago, I was involved in a series of vigorous food/wine pairings and tastings. В Eventually all of it sort of finally made sense to me. В Certain foods really bring out the flavor in the wine, and vice versa. В

When we came to dessert though, I was skeptical. В They served us this caramel corn- this very recipe I’m sharing with you today- and paired it with their Late Harvest Chardonnay. В I ate and I sipped. В And then bells rang all over the place in my head telling me that I really do like sweet wine in cases like this. В Cases where caramel corn tastes so very good with it.

This stuff is hard to put down. В I’m not kidding. В Take a bite and put the rest away.В I dare you!

How to Make Caramel Corn:

How to Make Caramel Corn

Melt the butter in a big pot.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Add brown sugar.

How to Make Caramel Corn

And then add a small amount of corn syrup.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Bring that mixture to a bubble. В Then turn it down to a simmer and leave it alone for 4 minutes without stirring. В Resist the urge to stick your head over the pan and get mesmerized by those bubbles. В They pop, and then… well, that’s bad news for you and your face now, isn’t it?

How to Make Caramel Corn

Finally you can stir it, and then you’ll continue to cook it for about 5 more minutes– stirring quite often until it has turned deep golden and pretty.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Turn off the heat and add kosher salt. В Lots of it. В This is like a salted caramel popcorn. В You’ll be afraid that it’s too much salt, BUT IT’S NOT. В The salt is kind of what makes the flavor of this caramel corn special.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Then add a smidgen of baking soda.

How to Make Caramel Corn

And a bit of vanilla.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Stir it up and it should look like this.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pour in 12 cups of popped popcorn. В I useВ popcorn that I pop on the stove.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Use a spoon (a wooden one works great) to spoon that caramel syrup up and over the popcorn.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Keep stirring and getting that syrup off the bottom of the pan until the popcorn is covered in caramel and there is none of that good stuff stuck В in a puddle on the bottom of the pan. В You don’t want to leave any of it behind!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Spread the caramel corn on a greased baking sheet.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Bake it for 15 minutes or so (stirring every so often). В The color will deepen and the caramel corn will become crispy in texture.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Move this good stuff to waxed paper to cool completely.

How to Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Caramel Corn

So now you know How to Make Caramel Corn!В It should last a week or so if it is kept in a sealed container. В Package it into gifts or snack baggies.В Make it for football-watching Sunday nibbling. В Make it for Halloween.В Or make it just to make it.

Big warning though: В You’d better have some friends around or you might just eat the whole batch. В I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that or anything, but if you have one of those form-fitting Halloween costumes that you’re trying to fit into… like Spiderman or French Maid or Sexy Devil Suit, you’d better pace yourself with the caramel corn intake.

Oh dear, have I convinced you not to make this now? В I hope not. В This is really good stuff.

If you’re looking for more fall treat recipes, you might also enjoy my Frito Snack Mix or these Cinnamon Popcorn Balls.В Chocolate Acorns and Easy Pumpkin Patties are fun fall treats too!

Posted by: Kate / Desserts, Other Desserts / Posted: 09/19/19 / Last updated: 01/02/20

How to Make Caramel Corn

Easy homemade caramel corn recipe! This simple recipe uses 7 pantry staple ingredients to make this easy and delicious popcorn. How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade popcorn is practically irresistable! By itself, popcorn doesn’t have much flavor, but it’s the perfect base for any number of sweet, salty, or sweet and salty combinations.

This caramel corn is sweet and just the tiniest bit salty. It’s sweet and crunchy and makes a delicious dessert or snack.

The pocorn is also super easy to make! It takes a little bit of time to make, but it’s mostly hands-off, and this super tasty treat is worth the time it takes to make it.

How To Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Caramel Corn

Add the popcorn to a greased baking pan. Place in the oven while you make the caramel.

To make the caramel, add the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt to a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Once at a boil, stop stirring and let boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Pour the caramel over the warm popcorn. Toss to coat the popcorn. The popcorn won’t be entirely coated.

Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool, and break apart before serving.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Why Use Baking Soda in Caramel Corn?

Baking soda may sound like a strange addition, but there’s a science to making caramel. The baking soda reacts with the acids in the caramel to form carbon dioxide bubbles.

Those carbon dioxide bubbles help to aerate and lighten up the caramel. That way you end up with a light but crisp caramel coating.

How To Store Caramel Corn

Caramel corn should be stored in a resealable container to keep it fresh.

To crisp it back up, spread the caramel corn in a single layer in a rimmed baking dish. Bake in a 225F oven for about 5 minutes.

How to Make Caramel CornTips To Make Perfect Caramel Corn

  • Either air popped or microwave popcorn will work in this recipe. If using microwave popcorn, I recommend using plain, unflavored popcorn.
  • If you want more of a salty/sweet popcorn, use salted butter. If you want a sweeter, more traditional caramel corn, use unsalted butter.
  • I use a sheet pan for this recipe. However, if you’re worried about making a mess in your oven, either remove the popcorn to stir it or use a baking pan with higher sides.
  • For easier clean up, I like to use a silicone baking mat in the bottom of my pan.

More Popcorn Recipes!

If you’ve tried this caramel corn recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!

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If you’ve been watching our shows these past couple of days, then you know we’re celebrating “State Fair Foods” all week long! Since we all love the food offered at state fairs so much, we thought you’d love learning how you can make them in your own kitchen (that way you don’t have to wait a whole year to eat some of your favorites!).

Yesterday, Howard showed you how to make tasty Root Beer Dogs, which were so good everyone in the office had their fair share. But today, I was extra-excited about something that we were going to make using this classic beauty:

How to Make Caramel Corn

Get Your popcorn! Get your fresh popcorn!

We’ve got quite a few popcorn lovers in the Test Kitchen, including my coworker Amy, who can usually be found carrying her favorite popcorn salt in her purse! So, when we found out Howard was going to be making Irresistible Caramel Corn, you know we had to get a front row seat!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Irresistible Caramel Corn

If you’ve always wanted to know how to make caramel corn at home, check out these behind-the-scenes, step-by-step photos of how Howard made it in the Test Kitchen:

Step 1: Gather all of your ingredients, including some plain popped popcorn. You can make your popcorn any way you want, or purchase it already popped. (We used our fancy popcorn machine, and the smell was incredible!) How to Make Caramel Corn

Step 2: Make your caramel sauce by cooking brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt, stirring constantly while it cooks.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Step 3: Remove your caramel mixture from the heat and stir in the baking soda. You’ll notice that the baking soda will start to make your caramel mixture foam up a little (and maybe lighten up a bit), that’s ’cause the baking soda is reacting to the other ingredients. Adding baking soda will help give your caramel mixture a softer texture when it finally sets.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Step 4: Immediately pour the caramel sauce over your popcorn (so it doesn’t harden up!) and stir the popcorn until it’s evenly coated.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Step 5: Place your caramel popcorn mixture onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stir, then continue baking for another 30 minutes. Once it’s cooled, you can go ahead and enjoy it right away, or store it in an airtight container for future snacking! (Caramel corn can be stored for 1-2 weeks.)

How to Make Caramel Corn

I don’t know about you, but now that I know how to make caramel corn I may need to look into purchasing some stocks in popcorn, because I’m going to be making this all the time. In fact, I’m already thinking ahead of time and imagining what an amazing gift this would make during the holidays!

In case caramel corn isn’t your thing, or you love popcorn so much you need new ways to eat it all the time, here are some other tasty, coated-popcorn treats, from bloggers, you could try!:

How to Make Caramel Corn

I hope that you’ll give our caramel corn recipe a try, but before you start poppin’ those kernels, I’d like to know:

What’s your favorite state fair food?

How to Make Caramel Corn

Our Easy Homemade Caramel Corn is a family favorite. It is super yummy and super easy. And you don’t need Corn Syrup for this recipe.

We’ve tried a lot of recipes looking for good, Easy Homemade Caramel Corn that doesn’t use corn syrup. We’ve finally found one that we love. This popcorn tastes amazing … buttery and caramel-y just the way it should. And no corn syrup required! And it could not be easier to make. It has quickly risen up the list of most requested family treats!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Start with approximately 10 cups of popcorn. Make sure you get out all of the un-popped kernels. You don’t want to bite down on one of those! We pop our popcorn on the stove (you can find our directions on How to Make Perfect Popcorn here) but you can use air-popped or microwave.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Melt 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Add 1 cup of light brown sugar and stir until thoroughly mixed.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar mixture up to a boil on medium heat. When it reaches a boil allow it to cook for 5 minutes without stirring on medium heat. Add the 2 tsp. of vanilla at the 4 minute mark and mix.

How to Make Caramel Corn

At the 5 minute mark, add the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. This will cause the caramel to change colors and foam up a bit. This is the chemical reaction that you want. The bubbling effect of the baking soda will aerate the caramel and make it lighter and smoother and therefore easier to coat the popcorn.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Drizzle the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use a spoon to gently fold the popcorn with the mixture until the kernels are all covered.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pour the popcorn out onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil or a silpat liner.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Allow the Easy Homemade Caramel Corn to cool prior to serving.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Our family loves this popcorn so it has never lasted longer than a day at our house. This popcorn definitely tastes best right after it is made but will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

How to Make Caramel Corn

This Easy Homemade Caramel Corn is super delicious – buttery with a distinct yummy caramel taste. And it could not be easier to make. Make up a batch for your family, you won’t be sorry!

Last updated April 20, 2020 45 Comments

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Sweet, crunchy caramel corn–you can make it easily, without using corn syrup! This tasty recipe uses ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

How to Make Caramel Corn

We are serious caramel corn fanatics around here. Hubby and I love caramel corn, but I don’t love all the weird ingredients you get when you buy it from the store. I thought I would make it at home, but every recipe I found used corn syrup…yuck.

With a little bit of experimentation, I was able to put together a delicious recipe for caramel corn without corn syrup. You can even add peanuts to it and make your own Cracker Jacks!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Hubby was gracious enough to test all of my efforts, which went something like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

I made caramel on the stove top and poured it over the popcorn. It was too gooey.

I made the caramel with honey and baked it in the oven. It was too burnt.

Then I made the caramel with brown sugar, baked it in the oven, and it was JUST RIGHT.

Enough chat…let’s do this. 😉

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn

Ingredients

10 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped)

Don’t use microwave popcorn! Use an air popper or a WhirleyPop.

1 cup packed brown sugar (extra credit if it’s homemade)

1 teaspoon vanilla (same here)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Put the popcorn in a large bowl and preheat the oven to 250F.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to medium-high and boil the mixture for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. It will change from grainy to smooth and then will begin to thicken and look like…well…caramel!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Note: Don’t leave the stove while the caramel is boiling. It takes about .05 seconds for the mixture to overcook and turn brown instead of caramel-colored. This is too dark:

How to Make Caramel Corn

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. The caramel will foam up when you add the baking soda, which is why you want to use a big saucepan.

Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn (grab a friend to help) and stir gently to combine. Add the peanuts here if you’re making Cracker Jacks.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pour the caramel corn onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and munch, munch, munch!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn

You can make caramel corn without using corn syrup! This easy recipe comes together in no time, with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 10 cups popped popcorn, about 1/2 cup unpopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Put the popcorn in a large bowl and preheat the oven to 250F.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and boil the mixture for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. It will change from grainy to smooth and then will begin to thicken and look like…well…caramel!
  4. Note: Don’t leave the stove while the caramel is boiling. It takes about .05 seconds for the mixture to overcook and turn brown instead of caramel-colored.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. The caramel will foam up when you add the baking soda, which is why you want to use a big saucepan.
  6. Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn (grab a friend to help) and stir gently to combine. Yes, you could add some peanuts at this point and make Cracker Jack, but why mess with a good thing? I like to eat the caramel corn by itself.
  7. Pour the caramel corn onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

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How to Make Caramel Corn

My kids have been after me to make homemade caramel popcorn for a while. But when my oldest son announced that he made enough popcorn for me to make caramel popcorn and left it on the counter for me, I knew that they had waited for far too long!

Caramel Popcorn is actually quite easy to make. I wasn’t putting it off because of any work associated with making it. I just didn’t want that much temptation sitting on the kitchen counter while I am trying to cut back on sweets. My kids promised that if I made caramel popcorn, they would not share it with me, because they are loving like that. 🙂

The amount of popcorn I use, depends on how sticky I want the popcorn to be. If we are just enjoying caramel popcorn, then I use 16 cups of popped corn, but if I am making popcorn balls, I cut back to 10 – 12 cups of popcorn.

My recipe doesn’t use corn syrup – I use honey instead. I like honey because it doesn’t just add sweetness, it adds flavor. We use an air popper to make our popcorn.

The only special equipment you need is a candy thermometer as the caramel is cooked to 250 degrees or the hard-ball stage. If you don’t have one, you can do the cold water candy test to determine if it is at the right stage..

Easy and delicious microwave caramel corn that can be made in less than 10 minutes! Perfect for when you need a last minute treat.

You’d be surprised at the number of tasty desserts you can make in the microwave. This caramel popcorn recipe is one of the many, along with my microwave fudge and microwave caramel candies. They taste so amazing that no one would know just how easy they are!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel corn is one of my favorite desserts to make. My mom always made this recipe growing up and it brings back such great memories of me helping her in the kitchen. She used to stir her caramel on the stove until it was ready, which is the only thing that I didn’t love about making it.

So I’ve created a new version that is made in the microwave and has more of a brown sugar flavor. It is seriously so easy to whip up and can be done in less than 10 minutes! I made this the last time we had friends over and everyone loved it.

How to Make Caramel Corn

What you’ll need:

  • Popcorn: I use a bag of already popped popcorn (like Skinny Pop), but you could pop your own and let it cool.
  • Butter: Cut the butter into pieces so that it melts faster in the microwave.
  • Brown sugar: Use fresh brown sugar for the ultimate flavor.
  • Corn syrup: Make sure to use light corn syrup instead of the dark kind.
  • Baking soda: This is mixed into the caramel and helps create a softer texture.
  • Vanilla extract: This adds to the caramel flavor and is mixed in once the butter and sugars have melted.

How to make microwave caramel corn

MICROWAVE. Make the caramel by microwaving the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a bowl for one minute. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes for a chewy texture. If you prefer a crunchier texture, cook an additional minute.

MIX. Remove from microwave and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Then pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix gently until well coated.

COOL. Dump the caramel corn onto a piece of wax paper and let cool completely. Enjoy!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Chewy vs. crunchy caramel corn

For chewy caramel corn: Only cook the caramel for 3 minutes.

For crunchy caramel corn: Add an additional minute. If you find it isn’t crunchy enough, simply place the whole bowl in the microwave once it has been stirred together and cook in 30 second increments until you reach the desired consistency. It will harden as it cools down, so don’t overcook it.

By Lauren Allen on March 1, 2019 , Updated January 1, 2020

Easy Homemade Caramel Popcorn has just the right crunch and chewiness that you want, without sticking to your teeth. It’s everything you hope for in the perfect caramel popcorn recipe!

I love everything about this easy homemade caramel popcorn recipe, especially that it only requires a few inexpensive ingredients that I usually have on hand. Have you tried Chicago Popcorn? It’s essentially cheddar popcorn mixed with caramel popcorn! I also love Peanut Butter Popcorn!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Popcorn

I have noticed that a lot of caramel popcorn recipes out there just don’t have the right caramel to popcorn ratio. They’re either too sticky, or too hard. With a little trial and error, I believe I’ve created the Best Caramel Popcorn you can find!

The caramel is made on the stove, without the need of a candy thermometer. Then we drizzle the caramel all over the popcorn and bake it over low heat, stirring a few times, to allow the soft caramel to lightly coat all of the popcorn and bake until it’s the perfect texture and crunch. Now, who’s ready for movie night?

Ingredients in Caramel Popcorn:
  • Popcorn– For a healthier version of Caramel Popcorn, pop your own popcorn without adding salt, sweeteners, or butter. For over the top amazing Caramel Popcorn, use movie theater style popcorn.
  • Brown Sugar
  • Corn Syrup
  • Butter
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Baking Soda
How to Make Caramel Corn
Did you know you can pop your own popcorn kernels without a popcorn popping machine?

Add 1/4 cup popcorn kernels to brown paper lunch bags and fold the top closed. Microwave for a minute or two, until you hear the popping begin to slow.

Add melted butter and salt and shake the bag to coat the popcorn.

Why does my caramel corn get grainy?

Grainy caramel (or crystalized caramel) occurs when the sugar crystals in the caramel seize up or cling together. You can prevent this from happening by adding baking soda which will cause the sugar molecules to break up, or by adding a different type of sugar along with the table sugar (sucrose).

This Caramel Popcorn recipe will not result in grainy caramel because we have added baking soda and corn syrup, both of which will help break up the brown sugar molecules and prevent them from crystalizing.

How to make caramel popcorn:
  • Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once melted, stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt until smooth.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As soon as the caramel starts to gently boil, boil for 2 minutes stirring.

How to Make Caramel Corn

  • Remove from the heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla
  • Immediately drizzle caramel over popcorn. Toss gently with a spatula until coated. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pro Tip: I use a large non-stick skillet to make the caramel sauce for the popcorn because it’s much less messy to clean afterwards, and it comes to a boil faster. I also use a silicon spatula to stir the caramel because it’s heat resistant and doesn’t get as messy as say, a wooden spoon would.

How to keep caramel popcorn fresh:

To keep your caramel corn fresh, be sure to store it in an air tight container or ziplock bag (making sure to press as much air out as you can). The better you seal your container, the longer it will last. You can store it at room temperature on your counter for up to 2-3 weeks. (Though at my house it’s all eaten in about 2-3 hours.)

Why add baking soda to the caramel?

You will notice that when you add the baking soda to the caramel mixture, the caramel will start to foam. This foam is basically carbon dioxide air bubbles that are the result of the chemical reaction between the brown sugar and the corn syrup. Essentially, the baking soda allows the caramel to have a softer, silky texture that sticks to the popcorn and keeps it from getting hard.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Check out my other DESSERT RECIPES! Some of my favorite snack-like desserts include:

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How to Make Caramel Corn

Popcorn is great, and so is caramel—but, boy, when you learn how to make caramel corn, you’ve mastered one of the greatest snack-desserts of all time. For starters, you don’t have to turn on your oven—the whole shebang goes down on the stovetop. Plus, when it cools, it’s crunchy, not sticky, so you can pack it for traveling or to sneak into movies—that is, if you can make it through the recipe without eating all the caramel out of the pot.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn Clusters

1. Pop popcorn

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add 3 popcorn kernels, and heat, covered, until 1 or 2 kernels pop. That’s your cue to remove the lid and quickly add 1/3 cup of kernels, then cover again and cook, shaking pan frequently, until the kernels stop popping, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and uncover.

2. Set up your ingredients and prep a pan

Set the popcorn aside for now—you’re about to make caramel. But before you start, it’s a good idea to measure out 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1 cup (5 oz) toasted peanuts and arrange them alongside the stove so that you can quickly add them to the caramel when it’s ready. Timing is everything with caramel! It’s also a good idea to line a large shallow baking pan with foil and lightly oil it—you’ll be scooping the hot caramel corn into that baking pan to set. And be sure you have a candy or deep-fry thermometer ready.

3. Make Caramel

Now that the prep work is done, melt a stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar and 1/2 cup light corn syrup, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. Once the mixture boils, set your spoon aside and continue to boil the caramel, without stirring, until it registers 300°F on a candy or deep-fry thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot of fresh caramel from the heat.

Must. resist. the urge. to eat caramel with a spoon.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks

4. Mix in salt, baking soda, peanuts, and popcorn

Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt and baking soda into the caramel. Then, working very quickly, stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat—it’s okay if you don’t get every piece of popcorn covered in caramel—in fact, the varied texture actually works well. It’ll set fast, so time is of the essence.

Yes, it’s beautiful, but don’t waste time Instagramming yet—the mixture is going to start setting fast.

Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Katherine Sacks

5. Cool it down

Quickly drop the hot caramel corn into your prepped baking pan, spreading it as thinly and evenly as possible with your spoon or spatula. Let cool completely, then break the hardened mixture into bite-size pieces and feast.

Okay, so you know how to make caramel corn (and you’re making it every day, right?). It’s time to level-up with these caramel corn blondies.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn is a family fun snack that is so easy and full of flavor, you’ll be craving it every day. Life’s too short not to enjoy caramel corn on a regular basis, this recipe makes it easy.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn is a tradition in our house of popcorn lovers. One of those snacks we forget about for a little while … until we don’t … and starting making over and over again. It’s a vicious, delicious cycle.

Homemade Caramel Corn 101

There’s something magical about this recipe. It was one of the many amazing recipes handwritten by my Grandmother, always begging to be made.

What makes caramel corn special? Baking soda is key. It allows for a reaction between the caramel, creating tiny air bubbles and a soft texture.

How to best store homemade caramel corn: Keep your popcorn in an airtight container, preferably in a pantry or dark, dry place for up to 3 months. (Spoiler alert, this recipe is so good there is slim to no chance of it still be around for 3 months.)

Can I freeze caramel corn? Yes, you can. Portion your corn and place in a airtight container or freezer bag. But your popcorn doesn’t really freeze, it just stays super fresh using this method.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Perfect your pop

The basics of homemade caramel corn depend on a deliciously popped corn. There are many ways to accomplish this, but perhaps our favorite is stove top.

Ok, so it’s stove top hands down. Just like grandma used to make.

What you’ll need: A large, heavy pot with a lid, oil and kernels. Even heat is absolutely key.

Time to get popping. At medium heat, bring your oil to temp with two kernels to test. Once they pop, your oil is ready for lift off.

Add your kernels and remove the pot from heat for about 60 seconds to keep the oil from burning. Be sure to tip the lid slightly to avoid trapping steam in the pop (which will make your popcorn sad and soggy.)

Over popped the top? Just scoop the excess popcorn out and recover to finish popping.

What type of oil to use: Canola oil is a steady go to, but we prefer extra virgin olive oil. Avocado oil will also work.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Some shortcuts for this caramel corn if you are interested.

While I really will 100% recommend you make the caramel by the recipe here there is a shortcut for caramel though and especially if you are preferring to make caramel corn without corn syrup.

Our microwave caramel sauce recipe is a fantastic solution. It truly is not a 1-1 ratio with homemade caramel sauce here… BUT in a pinch it will do the job!

And while we are on caramel topic be sure to check out our caramel syrup recipe that is just DIVINE in coffee and tea for this season.

Other toppings options:

You can feel free to get creative with your homemade caramel corn

  • Caramel and salt always go nicely together.
  • Powered cheddar popcorn is a GREAT mix in with your caramel corn for a salty sweet explosion.
  • You can always swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate, if your heart desires.
  • Butterscotch drizzle is an interesting swap as well.
  • Little nut slivers, like peanuts or almonds, add to the crunchy goodness.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Make a batch of this sweet and buttery caramel popcorn to share with friends. It only takes 5 ingredients—no corn syrup required!

This is one of our favorite treat recipes to make around the holidays, but it’s great year round. It’s a little crunchier than our caramel marshmallow popcorn, but the buttery caramel coating is undeniably delicious!

How to Make Caramel Corn

homemade caramel corn

You can find packaged caramel popcorn at lots of retail stores, but the real deal is HOMEMADE popcorn made in your own kitchen. It tastes 100x better and fresher! It’s super simple to make with our easy instructions and recipe. Trust me!

This recipe doesn’t require any corn syrup! Just butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and baking soda are used to make the delicious caramel coating.

I love making caramel popcorn and packaging it up for friends, family, or neighbors! It makes such a cute gift when it’s wrapped up in a little bag or container. It’s the perfect yummy snack to brighten someone’s day.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Prepping the Popcorn

You’ll need about 8-9 cups of popped plain popcorn. Pop it in a popcorn maker, over your stove, or in the microwave. Make sure to get rid of all of the un-popped kernels. You don’t want to bite into one of those—ouch!

TIP: A good trick is to pour your popcorn over a cooling rack. The un-popped kernels will fall through the cracks and the popcorn will stay on top.

Once all the kernels have been removed, put all the popcorn in a large bowl to get it ready for the caramel. Line a baking sheet with wax paper, then set it aside and start the caramel sauce!

How to Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

CARAMEL. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Then add in the brown sugar and mix everything together really well. Continue stirring while you bring the mixture to a boil.

Boil the mixture for 5 minutes without stirring it. Once the 5 minutes are over, add in the vanilla and baking soda. Mix to combine everything.

TOSS. Take the caramel off the heat. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the prepared popcorn in the large bowl. Toss it all together lightly to evenly coat the popcorn.

COOL. Pour out the popcorn onto the wax paper lined cookie sheet. Spread it out and let the popcorn cool completely.

Break apart and store it in airtight plastic bags or containers. Keep it at room temperature and it should stay fresh and crunchy for up to 5 days.

How to Make Caramel Corn

caramel corn variations + tips

Chewy or Crispy? This caramel corn is meant to be a little more on the crisp side, but if you want your caramel popcorn to be more chewy, boil your caramel sauce for less time.

Add-ins: You could always add chopped nuts (of any kind) when you combine the popcorn and caramel sauce. Drizzling chocolate or white chocolate over the caramel popcorn while it’s cooling on the cookie sheet is another great idea!

Nonstick utensils: I recommend using a nonstick saucepan, and a silicone spatula if you have one! A nonstick pan will be a lot easier to clean after making the caramel sauce, and so will the silicone spatula which is also naturally tolerant to high heat.

This Homemade Caramel Corn uses easy-to find ingredients and is simple to make.

You’ll wonder why you’ve never made it before! If you want the best caramel corn ever, here it is!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Do you know how easy it is to make caramel corn at home?

I’ve been making this caramel popcorn for my children for years. The recipe appeared in one of those children’s magazines that used to be popular years ago. Yes, that’s right my children are grown and left home and I’m STILL making this caramel corn. This recipe is so easy. It takes less than 15 minutes to have a batch ready to eat and no thermometer needed!

And the steps are so easy:

  • melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup
  • boil for 2 minutes
  • add bicarbonate of soda
  • stir into popped corn
  • bake for 5 minutes

That’s right boil for 2 minutes then bake for 5 minutes. How quick is that?

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade caramel corn with nuts is even better.

How can a good recipe be improved? By adding nuts, of course! You could add any nuts you like but I prefer peanuts. The flavors of corn, peanuts and caramel are a match made in heaven. For that delicious salty/sweet combination, use salted, roasted peanuts.

Top tips for perfect caramel corn

Firstly, if you follow the direction in the recipe you will find that this recipe is neither difficult nor messy. Be sure to use non stick baking paper to line the baking pans for easy clean up. Boil the caramel only after the butter has melted and the dark brown sugar is dissolved. Also, it is important to remove the pan from the heat when adding the bicarbonate of soda to avoid burning the caramel. And remember, caramel corn will harden as it cool. Finally, if you have leftovers, store in an airtight container at room temperature – not the in the refrigerator.

How to Make Caramel Corn

There is one problem that I know you will have – you won’t be able to stop eating this caramel corn. It is totally addictive!

So the next time you need snacks to go, you won’t need to look any further. You have the recipe for caramel corn with nuts. Why not included some of my famous nuts and bolts and sweet pizzelle as well. Or go all out with a popcorn party with this amazing smore’s popcorn recipe!

This Caramel Corn is exactly what you need for your next movie night at home because it is so easy and delicious.

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Welcome to Sugar, Spice & Glitter! My newsletter is the best way to stay up to date with our delicious recipes, fun kids’ activities and other gems for Rockstar Moms. Please note, this post may contain affiliate links which help support the cost of running this website. For more details, please see our Full Disclosure .

A delicious homemade popcorn recipe, this Caramel Popcorn is sweet, crunchy and totally satisfying.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Caramel Popcorn is one of those classic fall desserts that people seem so intimidated to make at home.

Making homemade caramel can be a bit intimidating, but if you have a good recipe and an attentive eye, you are guaranteed success in the form of a tasty treat. This recipe doesn’t even require a candy thermometer – that’s how easy it is!

I love making this recipe for fall parties – and if you want to make a homemade Chicago Mix, you can just make another batch of plain popcorn and season it with a cheese popcorn seasoning or sprinkle it with shredded cheese and bake for a few minutes.

Or, for homemade Cracker Jack mix, you can toss in some nuts in the last 5 minutes of baking.

This caramel popcorn recipe is great on it’s own or as a topping on cupcakes, cakes, or used in a party mix. I think it would be great to pass out small bags of these at a Halloween party or as a classroom treat. They would also be great if you have a Halloween bake sale or fundraiser (people go crazy for this stuff!)

You can also use this popcorn recipe to top our Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes (over on In the Kids’ Kitchen).

How to Make Caramel Corn

Why is my homemade caramel corn grainy? This is due to the sugar molecules seizing up while cooking. Our baking soda trick removes this issue in our caramel popcorn recipe by forming carbon dioxide (when reacting with the acidity of the brown sugar and corn syrup), which aerates the caramel and gives it a smoother, softer texture.

Why is my homemade caramel corn chewy? This is most likely due to not baking the caramel corn for long enough. Pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes and test to see if the caramel has hardened enough. (Also, if your caramel has separated due to overheating/scorching, the butter and sugar will separate, causing the popcorn to be unevenly coated and those pieces that only receive the butter will be soggy.)

How long can caramel popcorn be stored? Caramel popcorn is best enjoyed within the first 3-5 days of making it. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. If your home is especially hot or humid, you may want to keep it in the fridge and allow to come slightly to room temperature before serving.

Can you freeze homemade caramel popcorn? Yes! Fill an airtight ziptop bag and freeze your caramel popcorn for up to a year.

What if I don’t have an airpopper? You can use this paper bag microwave popcorn tutorial to make airpopped popcorn without a machine, but I highly recommend grabbing an airpopper if you enjoy popcorn! Ours was only $15 and considering a box of microwave popcorn is about $5 for a package of 6 bags, our airpopper paid for itself within 18 uses (bags of popcorn kernals are suuuuper cheap and last us for months).

What is the best popcorn to use for caramel corn? Yellow popcorn is the most common, but if you want that fluffy popcorn just like they have at gourmet popcorn stores (like Garret’s) you will want mushroom popcorn kernals.

Watch our how to make caramel popcorn video to see just how easy this recipe is to make, and then don’t forget to scroll down to grab your free printable recipe:

How to Make Caramel Corn

Ingredients for Homemade Caramel Popcorn

  • Popped popcorn
  • Butter – do not replace with margarine or coconut oil, the chemical structure of the butter is essential. You can use salted for a salted caramel popcorn or unsalted for plain caramel popcorn
  • Brown sugar – avoid using dark brown sugar or a low-quality brand. Quality brown sugar will yield a better, smoother texture
  • Corn syrup – we use very little in this recipe, I have not experimented with substituting it with agave, honey or maple syrup. I’ve had success with both dark and light corn syrup in this recipe
  • Vanilla extract – can be swapped for maple extract (etc), if desired
  • Salt – I use sea salt in this recipe, avoid using an iodinized table salt as it’s easy to overdo it (and the flavor is lacking)
  • Baking soda

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tip: remove unpopped popcorn kernals by placing the popcorn over a cooling rack and lifting. The unpopped kernals should fall through the gaps, leaving you with just freshly popped popcorn.

Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel corn that is melted or sticky hasn’t been cooked properly. When you make your homemade caramel, it is crucial to bring it to the correct temperature. This will ensure that when it cools, it dries as a shiny coating rather than a sticky sauce. The caramel itself is simple to make and the corn can be mixed in a short amount of time, so give making your own caramel corn a try.

Combine butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup in a large saucepan.

Stir the mixture well with a wooden spoon and raise the heat to high. Constantly stir as the caramel heats to avoid burning.

Stop stirring as soon as the caramel begins to boil. Allow it to continue cooking at a low boil until a candy thermometer measures 285 degrees F.

Remove the caramel from the heat as soon as it reaches the correct temperature and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Stir the caramel well as it bubbles and foams from the baking soda.

Spread the popcorn in a single layer on the baking sheet. Pour the caramel evenly over the popcorn. Toss the popcorn well with wooden spoons.

Bake the caramel corn at 250 degrees F for 60 minutes, stirring well at the 15-minute mark and again every 10 minutes thereafter.

Allow the caramel corn to cool completely before storing in plastic storage bags or airtight containers.

How to Make Caramel Corn

When Nancy and I were thinking of ideas for Halloween desserts. I said Caramel Corn is delicious. And Nancy said Candy Corn is delicious. Would they taste good together we asked? Well the answer is yes they do. We give you … Candy Corn Caramel Popcorn!

How to Make Candy Corn Caramel Popcorn

  • 10 Cups of Popped Popcorn
  • Salt
  • 1 Cup Butter (Sweet Cream Salted)
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • Candy Corn
  • Candy Corn Special M&M mix

How to Make Caramel Corn

Start with approximately 10 cups of popcorn. Make sure you get out all of the un-popped kernels. You don’t want to bite down on one of those! We pop our popcorn on the stove (you can find our directions on How to Make Perfect Popcorn here) but you can use air-popped or microwave.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Melt 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Add 1 cup of brown sugar and stir until thoroughly mixed.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar mixture up to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the 2 tsp. of vanilla at the 4 minute mark.

How to Make Caramel Corn

After boiling for 5 minutes, add the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. This will cause the caramel to change colors and foam up a bit. This is the chemical reaction that you want. The bubbling effect of the baking soda will aerate the caramel and make it lighter and smoother and therefore easier to coat the Candy Corn Caramel Popcorn.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Drizzle 3/4 of the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use a spoon to gently fold the popcorn with the mixture until the kernels are all covered. Save 1/4 of the mixture to the side.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pour the popcorn out onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil or a silpat liner.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Now you need to get your Candy Corn and M&M’s ready to add to the Caramel Corn. We used the special Halloween Candy Corn M&M mix. It has white chocolate inside of the yellow, orange and white candy shells. You could also use the orange and yellow candies from a regular bag of M&M’s if you would rather have milk chocolate.

How to Make Caramel Corn

To get the candy to stick to the popcorn, drizzle the remaining caramel mixture over the caramel corn and immediately sprinkle the candy on the areas with the drizzled caramel mixture.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Our family loves this popcorn so it has never lasted longer than a day at our house. This popcorn definitely tastes best right after it is made but will keep for a few days in an airtight container. The popcorn is a little chewier the next day because it absorbs some of the moisture from the marshmallow mixture but it still tastes good.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Our Candy Corn Caramel Popcorn is a fun and delicious Halloween treat and did we mention how easy it is to make? Happy Halloween, everyone!

Homemade caramel corn is easy to make, and is an addictively delicious treat. This caramel corn recipe has been a family favorite since I was a kid, and though I’ve tried other recipes, I always come back to this one. It’s perfect.

How to Make Caramel Corn

The Irish step dancing party (celebrating my friend passing her T.C.R.G. exam) happened to fall the week before St. Patrick’s Day this year. What perfect timing! And because it was so close to St. Patrick’s day, I couldn’t resist a little bit of kitsch–a pot full of golden caramel corn for the dessert table.

What more delicious kind of edible gold could you imagine?

How to Make Caramel Corn

A cauldron (found in our stash of Halloween decorations) and this delightful golden treat made the perfect addition to the dessert table. Little nibbles of crunchy, salty-sweet delight, easy to grab and go.

How to Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Homemade Caramel Corn

  • 4-5 quarts of popped popcorn. NO unpopped kernels!
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

How to Make Caramel Corn

1) Pop popcorn (equal to 4 to 5 quarts once popped) in an air popper, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. I don’t mean to say that microwave popcorn is an option (for one thing, that would be expensive!). I simply mean that there are some cool tools for making your own microwave popcorn. I really love my Nordicware microwave popcorn bowl.

How to Make Caramel Corn

No oil necessary–just 1/3 of a cup of popcorn, 3 minutes in the microwave, and I have popcorn! Couldn’t be easier. And it doesn’t overheat and stop working like so many air poppers do. Plus, it’s easier to store than a bulky air popper. If you don’t want to buy a gadget, you can even use your own brown paper lunch bag to make microwave popcorn with no crazy artificial ingredients.

How to Make Caramel Corn

1) Put popped popcorn in a large roasting dish.

Important Tip for Making Caramel Corn:

  • Be very, VERY sure you don’t get any unpopped popcorn kernels in the roasting pan. If you do, those unpopped kernels et all coated with the caramel and hidden in the clusters of delicious caramel corn. You could break a tooth crunching down on one of those unpopped kernels. So don’t let them into the baking pan in the first place.

2) Put brown sugar, butter, karo syrup, salt, and molasses together in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally until bubbly at the edges. Continue cooking over medium heat for five minutes.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Remove the caramel mixture from heat, and stir in the baking soda. The mixture will foam up.

3) Pour over popcorn, stirring until the corn is well coated.

How to Make Caramel Corn

4) Bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

How to Make Caramel CornTip for Cooling Caramel Corn:

  • Let cool on parchment lined sheet pans. Don’t leave it in the large baking pan you used, or you’ll end up with one solid, giant hunk of caramel corn. Delicious, but really very difficult to break apart without pulverizing the popcorn kernels. Letting it cool in a single layer is MUCH easier. Learned that one the hard way.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn Add-Ins:

  • Add pieces of freeze dried apples to make amazing Caramel Apple Caramel Corn
  • Add peanuts to the caramel corn for a bit of ballpark crunch
  • Add pretzels to the caramel corn for a sweet and salty treat
  • Add chocolate chips when the popcorn is still hot and stir well to coat for a caramel and chocolate treat (a perfect flavor pair).

Printable, One Page Caramel Corn Recipe:

Click on the image below to get a one page PDF version of the caramel corn recipe.

How to make Caramel

A homemade healthy sweetener

You will never believe how good this caramel is when it actually only has one ingredient. It is a vegan honey just made from apples. Now you don’t have to go without your caramel any longer. You can use it as a honey substitute, as a syrup that you control the thickness of, instead of unhealthy corn syrup. It is also much cheaper than buying expensive healthy sweeteners such as maple syrup or agave nectar.

As this recipe only contains apples, it is perfect for a number of diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo, unprocessed and most healthy diets. Best of all this recipe is refined sugar free so you know that all this sticky goodness comes straight from the healthy apple.

This recipe couldn’t be easier but it’s not quick. However it’s worth it for the thick sticky syrup that you get at the end of it.

How to make Caramel

How to Make Caramel CornTo make the caramel, you just take 1 liter or about 4 cups of apple juice. You can use whatever type of apple juice you like. To make things easier for yourself you can use a carton of store bought apple juice but if you want to be ultra healthy, you can juice your own apple juice if you have a juicer. Some people don’t see what the point of juicing your own apple juice is, if you are just going to cook it anyway, but it’s still healthier and fresher to use freshly squeezed apple juice rather than store bought apple juice as you have complete control over the ingredients. You can use organic apples and you know it’s not been heavily processed or been sitting in a warehouse for a very long time before it gets to you. I however don’t have a juicer so I just used a carton of apple juice and it worked very well. I’m sure the flavour would also be better with freshly squeezed apple juice.

All you do is bring the apple juice to the boil in a large pan and then simmer it until it turns a dark colour and reduces in quantity. This will take anywhere from between 30-60 minutes depending on the size of your pan and how hot the pan heats. Just be sure to watch it when it’s been on for a while as it can very easily burn. If you stir it you’ll see how thick it is. The longer you leave it, the thicker the syrup will become.

If you want to test this to see whether it’s ready, take a small spoonful out and place it in a bowl until it cools down. You can now check whether it’s syrupy enough for you.

Be careful with it when you are pouring it as it’s very hot. Make sure there are no young children around.

Pour this into a glass jar or a bowl, cover and store in the fridge. When you want to use it, you may find it has hardened so you can either leave it at room temperature for a while or you can place the glass jar inside a bowl of boiling water to melt it quickly.

How to use caramel

Now you can use your new syrup in any number of gorgeous ways. For example you could:

November 21, 2017 By Megan 6 Comments

Caramel Puff Corn takes an ordinary snack food and turns into a sweet treat that you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating! Seriously, this treat is addicting. And, it’s cheap to make!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn Puff Recipe:

Buttery caramel combines with the salty goodness of puff corn in this recipe which is sure to be loved by all who try it.

You know what puff corn is, right? That childhood memory of the yellow puffed corn that made an awesome salty snack. Who knew that it could be morphed into the most delicious crack, I mean snack of all time.

This Caramel Puff Corn is a perfect addition to any get together – especially at the holidays. Or even better, what a great gift. It’s also budget-friendly compared to other holiday goodies such as nuts.

Notes About Best Ever Caramel Puff Corn:

  • For the perfect caramel sauce, cook until soft ball stage. What is soft ball stage? If you drop a little caramel into cool water, it will form a ball as opposed to being stringy. Try it!
  • Use a sheet pan with sides for the baking stage; this keeps them from falling off.
  • Stir every 15 minutes during the baking stage to prevent the caramel puffed corn from sticking together.
  • Let cool completely before packaging.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Puff Corn

It is the same story but with a different recipe as we’ve told on here before. This recipe once again comes from a co-worker of Barbara’s. At every pitch-in, everyone demands that she brings this because they all love it so much.

Barbara asked her to share her best ever caramel puffed corn recipe, and she was delighted to pass it on for us to share on here.

The best part of her sharing was when she was walking Barbara through the steps, and she explained how to know when the sugar was exactly right. Her mom taught her, and she passed it on to Barbara. The look on her face as she talked about her mom was priceless.

So what’s the secret?

The caramel sauce is ready when it’s at a “soft ball” stage. This means that if you drop a little drop of the sauce into cool water, it will form a ball as opposed to being stringy.

How to Make Caramel Corn

HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL PUFF CORN

Instructions:

For the full recipe for caramel corn puffs, scroll to the bottom of this post.

  1. In a saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt until it comes to a rolling boil. Boil rapidly for 1 minute or until it comes to the soft ball stage.
  2. Remove from heat, and pour over puff corn.
  3. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. A pan with sides is the best option.
  4. Bake in a 200 degree F oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  5. Let cool. Package it up in pretty containers to make the perfect gift.

Originally published November 12, 2019 . Last updated on May 6, 2020 8 Comments

How to Make Caramel Corn

Easy Homemade Caramel Corn recipe comes together in less than 10 minutes in the microwave. No bake caramel corn makes an addictive buttery, sweet, salty, and crispy snack!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Best Caramel Corn Recipe

Microwave Caramel Corn is ridiculously simple to prepare and the best caramel corn recipe ever! My family has been making this easy recipe for over 40 years and it never disappoints.

I’ve passed on the tradition with my own kids. Placing a paper bag filled with crunchy popcorn and buttery sweet syrup has that certain wow factor kids take notice of.

I remember watching my mom vigorously shaking the bag, with buttery imprints soaking through, taunting us for what waited inside. She laid it out on a baking sheet and, as soon it was cool enough to touch, we all scooped up handfuls.

Not only does microwave caramel corn recipe make the perfect indulgent snack, but a great homemade gift or vacation snack. All the ingredients are very affordable, the caramel popcorn keeps for a long time, and who can possibly resist it?!

Is Caramel Corn Gluten Free?

Caramel Corn has a simple list of ingredients – popcorn, corn syrup, brown sugar, butter, salt, and baking soda. All of these items are naturally gluten free, so eat up!

How to Store Caramel Corn

Caramel corn generally stays good a lot longer than last. (It’s just too hard to resist!)

If you have super human restraint caramel corn will last up to 3 months stored in airtight container. Generally we keep our caramel corn in a tin because it never lasts more than a day or two.

Large glass lidded jars or storage containers also work great for storing homemade caramel corn.

Ziplock bags with all the air squeeze out also works, although opening and closing continually will shorten the freshness.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Why is my Homemade Caramel Corn sticky or chewy?

If your caramel corn turns out chewy and sticky the caramel syrup most likely wasn’t cooked long enough. Different microwaves have different wattages, so perhaps it needed a longer cooking time.

Sticky caramel corn may be saved, though! Spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 250ºF and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. After the popcorn cools, it will become crispy.

Type of corn syrup to use

Mom’s old fashioned caramel corn recipe uses Karo Dark Corn Syrup. She prefers dark corn syrup for the deeper color it gives the caramel sauce. Light corn syrup may be substituted as well, but will give a slightly lighter flavor and hue.

According to Karo, dark corn syrup is made with a type of molasses so it gives a more robust flavor with the added color. Light corn syrup is a lighter flavor with a slightly vanilla flavor.

Since light corn syrup is more readily available, I use this paired with dark brown sugar for color and taste.

Why Add Baking Soda to Caramel Corn?

Baking soda is added to caramel to aerate the texture. When the baking soda reacts with the caramel ingredients foaming and bubbling occur. This forms tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles.

The air bubbles create caramel corn’s essential crunchy texture. It also saves it from being a hard, sticky mess once the popcorn has cooled.

Adding Peanuts to Microwave Caramel Corn

Want to make microwave caramel corn with nuts? It’s easy! Simply add 1-2 cups of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, or almonds to the popped popcorn in the paper bag. Proceed with the recipe as written.

What Kind of Popcorn to Use Caramel Corn Recipe

For our family’s easy caramel corn recipe we always used air popped popcorn. The popcorn is free of butter or salt, so the recipe starts with popcorn in its natural state.

Hot air poppers are affordable to buy. Plus, popcorn kernels are ridiculously cheap and stay good for years.

If you don’t own an air popper, though, you can still make homemade caramel corn! The recipe calls for 1/2 cup unpopped kernels, which yields about 13-15 cups.

  • Bagged popcorn – Use store bought popped corn as close to its natural state as you can get. SmartFood Lightly Salted is a great option. Reduce amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon if using salted popcorn.
  • Microwave popcorn bags – Again use the plainest popcorn you can find. Orville Redenbacher makes a Naturals Simply Salted version I’ve used before. You will need 2-3 bags to yield at least 13 cups of popcorn. Reduce amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon if using salted popcorn.
  • Air Popped popcorn – My favorite option because it’s affordable and no adjustments are needed to the recipe.

NOTE: Using buttered, oiled, or salted popcorn may change the texture or flavor of the recipe.

How to Make the Best Caramel Corn Recipe

How to Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Caramel Corn

  1. Pop popcorn in air popper or microwave bags, removing any unpopped kernels. Place popcorn in a large, paper grocery bag. Set aside.
  2. In a large microwavable safe measuring cup or bowl, place butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt (do not add baking soda yet). Microwave for 1 minute on high. Remove to stir.
  3. Microwave and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda. Immediately pour caramel sauce over popcorn in paper bag. Roll down the top of the bag and shake well.
  4. Place closed bag in microwave and cook for 90 more seconds. Remove and shake well, using oven mitts to protect hands. Flip bag over and cook again for 90 seconds. Remove and shake well. Finally, flip bag over and cook for 45 seconds.
  5. Shake one last time and pour on ungreased cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight container.

This slightly spicy, savory-sweet treat is almost impossible to stop eating. If you can bear to part with it, it makes a really great holiday gift.

How to Make Caramel Corn

How to Make Caramel Corn

Bacon-Peanut Caramel Corn

Makes 16 cups, enough to fill 4 34-oz clip jars (pictured here

INGREDIENTS
½ cup popping corn kernels (or use 16 cups pre-popped popcorn)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 lb sliced bacon

1 ¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Special equipment
Large (at least 4 quart) sauce pot with lid (if using pre-popped corn, you won’t need this)

Large (at least 4 quart) heatproof mixing bowl

2 large baking sheets

Parchment paper or wax paper

1. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 300°F.

2. To make popcorn:

In a large sauce pot, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium-low heat, then add popping corn kernels. Cover the pot, and shake to coat the kernals with oil. In about a minute, kernels will start to pop. Shake the pot, still over medium-low heat, occasionally. When the popping sound has slowed to less than 1 pop every 10 seconds, turn the heat off and uncover the pot. Pour popped corn out into the large, heatproof mixing bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels.

3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook half the bacon until the fat has rendered out and the meat is crispy. Remove cooked bacon from skillet and allow to cool on a plate or cutting board, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the rest of the bacon to the skillet, and repeat. Set aside the cooked bacon, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet.

4. With the skillet still over medium heat, add the maple syrup, peanuts, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and kosher salt, stirring to combine. Heat the mixture for about a minute, until it starts to bubble, then remove from heat and set aside.

5. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, cut it into large strips (about 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide). Add bacon to the popcorn in the large mixing bowl, then pour the maple syrup mixture on top. Mix with a heatproof spoon or spatula, until all the popcorn is evenly coated with the maple syrup mixture.

6. Spread the popcorn out over the two baking sheets, and bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Popcorn may feel slightly soggy but will crisp as it cools.

Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets (if you put it in the airtight containers to early, it’ll be soggy). Once it’s cool, divide into gift jars and cover. Popcorn will keep for five to seven days in an airtight container at room temperature.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zora Hughes

As tasty as caramel popcorn is, most traditional methods of preparing it require both the stovetop and the oven, taking quite a bit of time and stirring. Sometimes, you just want fresh caramel corn without all the fuss. With the help of the microwave and a simple brown paper bag, you can easily prepare a shortcut version of caramel popcorn that is ready in minutes.

How to Make Caramel Corn

The Popcorn

You can prepare the popcorn for your paper bag caramel corn one of two ways. You can go the easy route and pop plain microwave popcorn that will be ready in less than two minutes. However, if you’re not a fan of microwave popcorn, you can make your own in a pot on the stove with corn kernels and oil. Cover the bottom of a pot with canola oil, then add enough popcorn to cover the oil in a single layer. Set over high heat and cover the pot. Shake it occasionally as the corn starts to pop. When the popping slows, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.

The Caramel

To make the caramel, combine corn syrup, butter and brown sugar in a microwave-safe container. For every cup of popcorn that you popped, use 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/2 cup of butter. Heat the mixture in the microwave for roughly two to three minutes. Stir the mixture and add in about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and a splash of vanilla extract. Microwave for another minute. Stir to make sure the heat is evenly distributed in the caramel.

The Bag

Nestle one brown paper bag into another for sturdiness. Pour the popcorn inside of the bag, but leave enough room so that you can easily shake it. Pour a portion of the warm caramel over the popcorn in the bag, then fold the top and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Add a little more and shake again. Repeat with the last of the caramel and give the bag a final good shake. Open the bag and roll down the top. Place the bag in the microwave and heat in two or three 45-second intervals, shaking in between. Spread the hot caramel popcorn on a baking sheet to cool slightly.

Additional Options

You can get creative with the caramel popcorn by adding additional ingredients. Chop up peanuts, pecans, macadamias or other nuts you like and add to the bag of popcorn as you are adding the caramel. You can also add coarse sea salt to the caramel for a salted caramel treat. For a kicked-up caramel popcorn, stir in a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for a sweet and spicy flavor. Another idea is to chop up cooked crispy bacon to add to the popcorn after adding in the caramel.

Inspiring simple food, classic style, and honest talk on parenting, anxiety, and the joys of everyday life

Caramel popcorn is my favorite way to eat popcorn and, thank goodness, it’s very easy to make at home! As you know, I have a very sweet tooth, and this popcorn makes it to the top of the list for many reasons.

Caramel corn takes me right back to my childhood when one of my friend’s moms used to make it and sell it out of their house. I would treat myself to it after school on many occasions. Of course, caramel corn also has a nostalgic place in my heart because it reminds me of street fairs and festivals.

To make this caramel corn, I have to admit that I cheat a little bit with the recipe: I use micro-waved popcorn. It’s just easier and you get to the end result quicker. Of course, it’s healthier and more economical to make it with fresh popcorn that you make in a pot or in a popcorn maker or air popper. But, microwaved popcorn works just as well.

The secret to making this recipe is the baking soda. It makes the caramel sauce foam up and that’s how it becomes easier to spread over more of the popcorn. It ‘grows’ in volume with the soda.

I’m kind of a plain Jane person with my caramel corn, adding sprinkles to it occasionally. You can add many other toppings like candy, pretzels, peanuts, chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle, etc. You decide!

How to Make Caramel CornCaramel Corn With Sprinkles

Here’s how I made the Caramel Corn in these photos:

Caramel Corn

  • 8 cups of popped popcorn (or one 85g or 3 oz package of micro-wave popcorn)
  • 1/4 c butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 T white corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T sprinkles

Method:

  • Prepare popcorn and place it in a large mixing bowl, leaving plenty of room to toss the popcorn with the caramel sauce. Make sure you remove any kernels.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir until everything is melted together and combined well. It will start to bubble slightly on the sides.
  • Add the soda and vanilla and keep stirring until the mixture foams up. Stir and let it cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Quickly spread the caramel over the popcorn and toss with a spoon until all the popcorn is coated.
  • Add the sprinkles after the popcorn is fully coated and toss again.

Making homemade caramel can seem daunting. But it’s not at all when you follow these tips (and make sure to look through the step-by-step photos below).

What is caramel?

Making caramel is like making candy, which is why it can seem intimidating—but it’s really not! You begin by combining sugar, salt, and water in a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil to let the sugar dissolve. This is the hands-on part: You want to whisk it occasionally until you’re confident the sugar is fully dissolved. Then, keep a close eye on the sugar-water mixture as it cooks into a pretty golden color.

How do I know when the caramel is ready to turn off the heat?

Here’s the easiest way to always remember when it’s done: You want the mixture to be a deeply golden color that resembles a copper penny. Once you see that, turn off the heat!

How does it become creamy?

After the sugar-water mixture is cooked to the right color, remove it from the heat and stir in butter and heavy cream—this is what transforms it into the caramel you know and love. Be careful! The sugar mixture will be VERY hot and this mixture always bubbles up, so use caution.

Do I need a candy thermometer?

OK, so here’s the cold hard truth: No—I’ve eyeballed caramel many times—but it will reduce your stress. Caramel goes from a nice and silky texture to. well. toffee (!) in a matter of a minute or two, so it’s super important to monitor the temperature. If you don’t monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer, your other option is to do the color test.

How long does homemade caramel last?

You can store it in a jar for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator.

What should I use caramel sauce on?

Um, everything. Apple Crisp, Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake, Apple Pie. Or, TBH, we like to eat it straight from the jar with a spoon.

If you’ve made this recipe, we’d love to know how you liked it—be sure to leave us a comment and rating down below!

Caramel corn that is made in the microwave, but tastes like something you could buy from a state fair. This stuff if gold. Made with only 5 ingredients and in less than 10 minutes!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Like I said, this stuff is gold. Well, if gold could be made into food anyway.

Have you guys ever tried that Caramel & Cheddar Chicago Mix Popcorn before? If you haven’t – then that is a good and bad thing. Bad because what are you waiting for?? But also good because once you try it you will never be able to stop. Seriously. I should know. I got a huge tin for my birthday last year and my roommates and I finished it in less than a week.

How to Make Caramel Corn

So where am I going with this story? This caramel popcorn tastes like the caramel popcorn that comes in the blue and white bags!! Seriously I would have thought a popcorn that good would take hours to make. Nope. Only ten minutes in the microwave without any candy thermometer or anything.

This is perfect for tailgates or parties or cookouts and an after school snack if you want to be the best mom ever.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Be careful if you leave this stuff out at a tailgate though because if left out too long the popcorn will get stale, and this is not the kind of popcorn that should go to waste. But let’s be honest, it will be gone before you can blink.

Easy 10-Minute Microwave Caramel Corn (BEST EVER)

Yield: 10 cups

Prep Time: 6 mins

Cook Time: 4 mins

Total Time: 10 mins

Caramel corn that is made in the microwave, but tastes like something you could buy from a state fair. This stuff if gold. Made with only 5 ingredients and in less than 10 minutes!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Ingredients:

10 cups air-popped popcorn (I normally use a store-bought bag of popcorn like lightly salted SmartFood)

For the caramel:

1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Add popcorn to a large microwave-safe bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add butter and whisk constantly until fully combined and boiling. Remove from heat, whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, and baking soda until completely combined.
Pour over popcorn and fold with a rubber spatula to even coat.
Transfer bowl to microwave and microwave for 1 minute, remove from microwave and stir. Repeat 3 more times.
Spread snack mix into a single layer onto a large baking sheet lined with foil. Allow to cool on the pan and break apart large clusters if desired. Cover the snack mix tightly once cooled; it will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.

I have a sister whose husband works for the U. S. Department of State. They have lived several places overseas including Turkey, Jerusalem, and Finland. During one family reunion, they brought Swiss chocolate with them. They gave some to the kids and then once the kids were out of the room, they pulled out other chocolate declaring it TGFK or “too good for kids.” I have adopted the TGFK epithet ever since. (Sorry kids!) There are so many applications for it!

So what kinds of things are TGFK? When it comes to food, anything that kids will eat too quickly without taking time to savor the flavor. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about.

Like the fantastic white pizza I had at Finicci’s of Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania with garlic, exotic mushrooms, provolone, mozzarella, brie, truffle oil, and spinach. Complex and so good! Give the kids a Little Caesar’s cheese pizza. They’d probably reject the mushrooms and spinach anyway.

Or The Cheesecake Factory’s white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. Divine! Seriously, most kids would be just as happy with a simple chocolate cupcake.

Or this cinnamon caramel corn. The cinnamon takes basic caramel popcorn from good to addictive. Whenever I make this, I have to give most of it away or I will eat it all.

This recipe is super simple, but kids will need supervision. The caramel and the dishes get really hot.

Preparing the Caramel

Before you begin, you need to understand that the power of your microwave makes a difference. My microwave puts out 1000 Watts. If the wattage of your microwave is higher or lower than that, you may have to adjust the cooking time.

Pop your corn kernels into a large bowl and set aside.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-100 61 mm

Cut the butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl or casserole dish. I use a 4-liter Corning Ware casserole dish because I know the caramel won’t overflow it as it starts cooking and getting bubbly, but you could go a little smaller.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-200 50 mm

Add the packed brown sugar, the corn syrup, and the salt. You can use anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt depending on if your tastes run to “salted caramel” or not. I don’t like my caramel corn to be overly salty, so I use between 1/2 and 3/4 teaspoon.

Microwave the caramel 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. I just leave a wooden spoon in the caramel while it cooks.

This is what it looks like after 4 minutes.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-320 50 mm

The casserole dish I cook my caramel in is too large to spin in my microwave. Just turn off the turntable if you find your dish is hitting the sides of your microwave as it tries to turn.

Kids will enjoy this next part. The baking soda and the alcohol in the vanilla extract react chemically. They’ll sizzle and foam as you stir them with the cinnamon into the caramel.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-320 53 mm

Baking the Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn

Now that the caramel is ready, pour it over the popped corn kernels. Stir it while hot until all the popcorn is well-coated. Don’t let the caramel cool before stirring it into the corn or it will thicken and not coat the corn evenly.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-100 57 mm

Doesn’t that look amazing! You should try smelling it! Butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, oh my!

Divide the coated popcorn onto two ungreased baking sheets.

Bake the coated popcorn in a 250° oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Since the popcorn is on two trays, you’ll need two racks in your oven. Every time you take the popcorn out of the oven to stir it, swap the trays onto the opposite racks. This allows the popcorn to cook evenly.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-250 28 mm

After the popcorn has cooked for an hour, remove it from the oven to cool. I line my counter-top with a couple of sheets of parchment paper and dump the cooked popcorn immediately onto it. Don’t let the popcorn cool on the trays as the caramel will be much more difficult to remove as it hardens.

Et voilá! That’s it. Super easy and super good. Definitely TGFK!

What are your favorite “too good for kids” indulgences?

How to Make Caramel Corn

  • Total: 12 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 7 mins
  • Yield: 4 Quarts (16 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
152 Calories
3g Fat
32g Carbs
0g Protein

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 Quarts (16 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 152
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 95mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 13mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

This microwave caramel corn is a snap to make — you’ll have delicious candied corn in less than 10 minutes!

The caramel mixture is cooked in the microwave and then the popped popcorn and caramel are combined and microwaved together. This microwave caramel corn is excellent for game day or movie night snacking.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup white corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Stick (4 oz.) margarine or butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 quarts of popped corn

Steps to Make It

Combine all ingredients except soda and popped corn in a 1 1/2 to 2-quart microwave safe bowl. Put in the microwave (100% power) and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in soda.

Put the popped corn in a brown paper grocery bag and pour the syrup over the corn. Close the bag by rolling it down a couple of times and shake hard. Cook in the bag in the microwave (100% power) for 1 1/2 minutes.

Remove and shake vigorously and cook in the microwave another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and shake again. microwave another 1 1/2 minutes.

Shake when you remove it from the microwave and pour it on a large foil-lined baking sheet to cool.

Store the caramel popcorn in an airtight container when cool.

NOTE: Don’t leave a brown grocery bag in the microwave unattended. Sometimes they have small metallic particles in them and can catch on fire. Watch it throughout the cooking time.

This keeps well if in an airtight container but won’t last if you open it and take a nibble.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Tips for Christmas

Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25?

What Does the Name ‘Christmas’ Mean and What Is the Meaning of Christmas?

How Can We Celebrate Christmas?

Ingredients (7)

  • 15 cups popped plain popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 6 pieces, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Calories 288
  • Fat 14.35g
  • Saturated fat 7.8g
  • Trans fat 0.47g
  • Carbs 41.11g
  • Fiber 1.0g
  • Sugar 35.06g
  • Protein 1.05g
  • Cholesterol 30.53mg
  • Sodium 146.53mg
  • Nutritional Analysis per serving (12 servings)Powered by

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How to Make Caramel Corn

This easy treat—popcorn slathered with buttery caramel—had the CHOW staffers lurking around the test kitchen awaiting the next batch. The caramel corn will last up to a week, making it the perfect gift to package and mail during the holidays.

Game plan: If you’re popping your popcorn on the stovetop, place 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large pot with a tightfitting lid over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, cover, and shake to evenly distribute. Once the kernels start popping, gently shake the pot until the popping dies down, about 2 to 3 minutes.

This recipe was featured as part of our DIY Holiday Gifts Advent Calendar.

By Lynette on November 3, 2017 · 13 Comments

How to Make Caramel Corn

The BEST homemade caramel corn recipe! I’ll show you how to make caramel corn that’s perfect as a snack or made for gifts. Yummy!

How to Make Caramel Corn

My husband and I have been on the hunt for the best caramel corn recipe for awhile. We’ve been making caramel corn for years but always found it that was a bit chewy at the end, which is not exactly what we were looking for. We finally found the this caramel corn recipe that’s easy and leaves a crunch!

If you’re looking for a great appetizer for the big game, this is a perfect fit! If you’re looking for the perfect homemade gift to take to neighbors during the holidays, this is an awesome one! It was a huge hit at our house and so much fun to make. It does take a bit of time, but the results are delicious! This is one of those appetizers that’s great for kids and adults alike. My niece liked it so much I think she ate half of it!

The Best Caramel Corn Recipe

To make the homemade caramel corn recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • 4 quarts popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped)
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and pop the popcorn. About 1/2 of a cup of un-popped popcorn makes 4 quarts of popped popcorn. (Say that 10 times fast.) Place the popped popcorn into two 13×9 pans and put them into the preheated oven. I use the disposable pans for easy clean up.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Mix the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly. Bring it to a boil. Allow it to boil for 5 minutes without stirring.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. The baking soda makes it foam. Just stir quickly and be ready to ladle onto your popped popcorn.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Pour the caramel syrup over warm popcorn. I did it one ladle at a time. Once I added one scoopful, my husband would then stir the popcorn to evenly coat it. We added another scoopful, tossed the popcorn, another scoopful, tossed the popcorn. This really is easiest with two people, a scooper and a tosser. 🙂

Bake the caramel covered corn for 45 minutes in the 250 degree Fahrenheit oven. Toss the popcorn every 10 minutes.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Remove the caramel corn from the oven and spread onto a layer of foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Let cool and enjoy! What I love about this recipe is the fact that it’s not chewy. The caramel corn gives a nice light sweet texture that’s crunchy. You can add nuts if you want to add another dimension of flavor! Enjoy!

I have a sister whose husband works for the U. S. Department of State. They have lived several places overseas including Turkey, Jerusalem, and Finland. During one family reunion, they brought Swiss chocolate with them. They gave some to the kids and then once the kids were out of the room, they pulled out other chocolate declaring it TGFK or “too good for kids.” I have adopted the TGFK epithet ever since. (Sorry kids!) There are so many applications for it!

So what kinds of things are TGFK? When it comes to food, anything that kids will eat too quickly without taking time to savor the flavor. You know the kinds of things I’m talking about.

Like the fantastic white pizza I had at Finicci’s of Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania with garlic, exotic mushrooms, provolone, mozzarella, brie, truffle oil, and spinach. Complex and so good! Give the kids a Little Caesar’s cheese pizza. They’d probably reject the mushrooms and spinach anyway.

Or The Cheesecake Factory’s white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. Divine! Seriously, most kids would be just as happy with a simple chocolate cupcake.

Or this cinnamon caramel corn. The cinnamon takes basic caramel popcorn from good to addictive. Whenever I make this, I have to give most of it away or I will eat it all.

This recipe is super simple, but kids will need supervision. The caramel and the dishes get really hot.

Preparing the Caramel

Before you begin, you need to understand that the power of your microwave makes a difference. My microwave puts out 1000 Watts. If the wattage of your microwave is higher or lower than that, you may have to adjust the cooking time.

Pop your corn kernels into a large bowl and set aside.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-100 61 mm

Cut the butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl or casserole dish. I use a 4-liter Corning Ware casserole dish because I know the caramel won’t overflow it as it starts cooking and getting bubbly, but you could go a little smaller.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-200 50 mm

Add the packed brown sugar, the corn syrup, and the salt. You can use anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt depending on if your tastes run to “salted caramel” or not. I don’t like my caramel corn to be overly salty, so I use between 1/2 and 3/4 teaspoon.

Microwave the caramel 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. I just leave a wooden spoon in the caramel while it cooks.

This is what it looks like after 4 minutes.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-320 50 mm

The casserole dish I cook my caramel in is too large to spin in my microwave. Just turn off the turntable if you find your dish is hitting the sides of your microwave as it tries to turn.

Kids will enjoy this next part. The baking soda and the alcohol in the vanilla extract react chemically. They’ll sizzle and foam as you stir them with the cinnamon into the caramel.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-320 53 mm

Baking the Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn

Now that the caramel is ready, pour it over the popped corn kernels. Stir it while hot until all the popcorn is well-coated. Don’t let the caramel cool before stirring it into the corn or it will thicken and not coat the corn evenly.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-100 57 mm

Doesn’t that look amazing! You should try smelling it! Butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, oh my!

Divide the coated popcorn onto two ungreased baking sheets.

Bake the coated popcorn in a 250° oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Since the popcorn is on two trays, you’ll need two racks in your oven. Every time you take the popcorn out of the oven to stir it, swap the trays onto the opposite racks. This allows the popcorn to cook evenly.

f/2.8 1/100 sec ISO-250 28 mm

After the popcorn has cooked for an hour, remove it from the oven to cool. I line my counter-top with a couple of sheets of parchment paper and dump the cooked popcorn immediately onto it. Don’t let the popcorn cool on the trays as the caramel will be much more difficult to remove as it hardens.

Et voilá! That’s it. Super easy and super good. Definitely TGFK!

What are your favorite “too good for kids” indulgences?

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

Caramel Corn – Easy, Chewy, Homemade Recipe: After the caramel is cooked on the stovetop, just toss it with the popcorn and let dry! No oven or baking needed!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn Recipe

Each year when the temps lower to…oh… say 40 degrees or so, I start craving all the winter goodies. Lattes, peppermint sweets, sugar cookies, and well… just about anything not good for me. Caramel corn is one of those winter staples that I begin craving like crazy.

You may also love:

I remember making caramel corn as a kiddo with my parents, and I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. Now, I can make caramel corn with my kids and make our own memories!

How to Make Caramel Corn

Easy Caramel Corn Recipe

With only using a few ingredients, you can make this super easy caramel corn at home too. Here are the every day ingredients you’ll be using…

  • Popped Popcorn
  • Butter
  • Light Brown Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt

Full printable recipe card and instructions below!

CHEWY Caramel Corn, Not “Crunchy”

Now, this caramel corn recipe is SO much different than what you buy at the store.

It’s a chewy (not soggy) caramel corn, rather than hard crunchy caramel corn that you may be used to/expecting.

But the BEAUTIFUL thing about this caramel corn is that it lets you encapsulate (yeah, that’s the only word I could think of at the moment for some reason) the butter and vanilla. Really, it’s amazing.

How to Make Caramel CornThat heavenliness above makes this caramel corn the absolute best.

How to Make Caramel Corn

Homemade Popcorn in the Microwave

To make your own popcorn (instead of using microwaveable bags, or going to the trouble of popping in oil, etc.) you should check out my homemade popcorn recipe to see how we make it with brown paper bags! So easy.

However, instead of buttering/seasoning like I did over there with that recipe, only pop the corn and head back over here to finish it off with the caramel sauce.