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Make a batch of this sweet and buttery caramel popcorn to share with friends. It only takes 5 ingredients and is made in the microwave!

Caramel popcorn is a great treat for parties and movie nights! It’s crunchier than our Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn, but the buttery caramel coating is undeniably delicious!

A white bowl filled with caramel popcorn.

We Love homemade caramel corn

You can find packaged caramel popcorn at lots of retail stores, but the real deal is HOMEMADE popcorn made in your kitchen. It tastes 100x better and fresher – and makes the perfect treat!

I love making caramel popcorn and packaging it up to give as gifts for friends, family, or neighbors especially for birthdays and holidays, like Christmas.

Why we love it:

  • Simple. Caramel popcorn is the perfect easy dessert with it’s simple ingredients and easy instructions.
  • Great all year long. This treat is perfect anytime and comes together quick, which is great for parties and gatherings.
  • Yum! Homemade caramel popcorn is better than store bought and is the perfect addition to any get together or movie night.
Popped kernels in a glass bowl.

Simple Ingredients

  • plain popcorn you can use microwave bags of popcorn or a popcorn maker.
  • unsalted butter
  • white Karo Syrup (corn syrup)
  • light brown sugar
  • salt – If you used salted popcorn, then reduce or omit the added salt.
  • baking soda

Popping the Popcorn

You’ll need about 8-9 cups of popped plain popcorn. Remove the un-popped popcorn kernels.

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.

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

  1. PREP. Make popcorn and place it in a large bowl. Be sure to get rid of all the unpopped kernels.
  2. CARAMEL. Using a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl add the butter, brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
    • Add the baking soda to the melted ingredients. The mixture will foam up. Stir well.
  3. COAT. Pour over popcorn and toss together evenly coating all of the pieces.
    • Place the coated popcorn in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir. Place it back into the microwave and heat for another minute. If you want crunchier popcorn, heat it for another minute.
  4. ENJOY! Allow the popcorn to cool and enjoy!

Stove top directions

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar and mix everything 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 and remove from the heat.
    • To avoid crystallization, be cautious about scraping the sides of the pot and accidentally stirring in the crystalized caramel.
    • If you do need to scrape the sides of the pot, use a wet pastry brush. This moisture will help dissolve the crystals so the sugar can be incorporated back into the caramel.
  • Drizzle the caramel sauce over the prepared popcorn in a large bowl. Toss it all together lightly to evenly coat the popcorn. Pour out the popcorn onto the wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread it out and let the popcorn cool completely.
A bowl filled with caramel popcorn sauce.

Recipe Tips

  • Soggy popcorn occurs if there aren’t enough pieces of popcorn, or the caramel mixture was not cooked long enough. 
  • Crispy caramel. The longer the caramel cooks, the crunchier it will be. This caramel corn recipe is meant to have more of a crunch. For a more sticky and chewy texture, microwave the caramel popcorn for less time.
  • Flavor variations. Use the crunchy caramel popcorn as a base for a variety of snack mixes. Combine the caramel flavor with ingredients like pretzels, nuts, chocolate candies, candy corn, or marshmallows.
    • Drizzling chocolate or white chocolate over the caramel popcorn while it’s cooling on the cookie sheet is another great idea!
A tray with caramel popcorn cooling on top.

Storing Info

  • STORE. Break apart and store easy caramel popcorn in airtight plastic bags or containers. Keep it at room temperature for up to 5 days.
    • The caramel may soften after a few days of being stored. To crisp it up again, place it in the oven set to 250°F for 5-10 minutes.    
Close up of a white bowl filled with caramel popcorn.

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4.95 from 34 votes

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Make a batch of this sweet and buttery caramel popcorn to share with friends. It only takes 5 ingredients and is made in the microwave!
Servings: 5
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 (3.29-ounce) bags plain popcorn
  • ¾ cup butter
  • cup white Karo Syrup
  • cup brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
Save This Recipe!
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!

Instructions 

  • Make popcorn and place it in a large bowl. Be sure to get rid of all the unpopped kernels.
  • Using a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl add the butter, brown sugar, syrup, and salt. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Add the baking soda to the melted ingredients. The mixture will foam up. Stir well.
  • Pour over popcorn and toss together evenly coating all of the pieces.
  • Place the coated popcorn in the microwave for 1 minute and then stir. Place it back into the microwave and heat for another minute. If you want crunchier popcorn, heat it for another minute.
  • Allow the popcorn to cool and enjoy!
  • Note: If you used salted popcorn, then reduce or omit the added salt.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 499kcal, Carbohydrates: 66g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 799mg, Potassium: 96mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 64g, Vitamin A: 851IU, Calcium: 63mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Making this recipe? Tag us!
Share it with us on Instagram using the hashtag #lilluna, so we can see what you’re creating in the kitchen!

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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4.95 from 34 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




55 Comments

  1. Felicia says:

    5 stars
    Omg! This stuff is great! Thanks for The recipe. I already had everything on hand and it was so fast and easy to follow. I only did half batch to test it out. I Will definitely make another full batch soon!

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      Love when I have everything on hand! Thank you so much!

  2. cicko says:

    5 stars
    so good! I’m gonna make a third batch, but my first two didn’t come out perfect. The first one was grainy; the sugar hadnt dissolved enough in the butter. The second time was SO good, crunchy and even… but the butter seemed to seperate… I had to drained the coolinng popcorn on paper towels because the mixture had a load of grease that wouldnt re-join the sauce. Maybe I didn’t mix it enough?

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      I wish I knew for sure. I would try mixing real well & see if that helps.

    2. KIMBERLY says:

      I have had the same PROBLEM with The catamel sauce SEPARATING.

  3. Chris van der schyff says:

    Followed the instructions but the caramel dors mot become hard on the popcorn

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      I am sorry it didn’t. It should have, so not sure what went wrong. Even after letting it cool, it didn’t harden?

  4. Juliana from namibia says:

    5 stars
    I FOLLOwed the RECIPE and it came out perfect just the best 1st time ever i TRIEd making HomeMAID popcorn. Thank you my kids love it taste like from THe SUPERMARKET. I DIDN’T even put it in the oven just perfect. Juliana from namibia

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      That makes me so happy! Isn’t so easy & tastes way better! Glad your kids like it! Thank you so much for letting me know that!

  5. Lana says:

    4 stars
    this is a pretty good recipe…
    I just found that my sugar and butter were not combining so I ADDed a but of milk after everything worked just didn’t HARDEN, but atleast it didn’t go to waste

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      Well, I am glad it didn’t go to waste. Not sure why they weren’t combining. Glad you still liked it!

  6. Nichole says:

    Followed the DIRECTIONS perfectly with no deviation. Boiled on medium for 5 minutes on my gas rangetop without stirring per directions. The caramel burnt and made my house smell terrible. Not sure what happened. The only thing i can think is maybe Medium oN a gas range is too high. Pretty disappointed as i don’t have enough ingredients for a second attempt.

    1. Kristyn Merkley says:

      I’m so sorry. That’s the only thing I can think of, as well. I know is super hot, so I need to turn it down. I really am sorry it burnt.

  7. kristina says:

    5 stars
    What a delicious POPCORN! I like that I can eat it as is, or add treats like M&Ms or marshmallows.

  8. Olivia says:

    5 stars
    Such an easy treat to make. If you like popcorn you will love this caramel corN!

  9. Amy L Huntley says:

    5 stars
    This stuff is so addicting. Next time I make it, I better double the recipe. It did not last long at our house!

  10. Joy says:

    5 stars
    Homemade caramel popcorn is one of my favorites! It’s chewy & so easy to make. We love making it for movie night!