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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 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!
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 – and makes the perfect treat!
Caramel Popcorn is super simple to make with our easy instructions and recipe. Trust me!
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.
Prepping the Popcorn
POP. You’ll need about 8-9 cups of popped plain popcorn. Make popcorn in a popcorn maker, over your stove, or make microwave popcorn. Make sure to get rid of all of the un-popped kernels. You don’t want to bite into one of those—ouch!
- 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.
PREP. 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 Popcorn
Homemade Caramel Popcorn is a delicious snack, perfect for movie night or just for fun!
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.
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. For crunchier popcorn, heat for another minute.
ENJOY! Allow the popcorn to cool and enjoy!
Note: If you used salted popcorn, reduce or omit the added salt.
Stove top directions
CARAMEL. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. 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 a 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.
Stovetop tip: Grainy caramel is caused by sugar crystallization. This occurs when the hot caramel mixture splashes up the sides of the pot, cools, hardness, and then is mixed back into the caramel.
To help avoid this, 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 incorporate back into the caramel.
Dry popcorn. Crunchy popcorn is the desired consistency, not dry. Dry popcorn can occur for a couple of reasons:
- The popcorn was not evenly coated.
- Extra popcorn was added, and there wasn’t enough caramel sauce to cover all the pieces.
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.
Bowl. Be sure to use a LARGE bowl. The caramel sauce will bubble up quite a bit and you don’t want it to overflow.
Nonstick utensils. I recommend using a nonstick saucepan, and a silicone spatula if you have one! A nonstick pan will be easier to clean, and so will the silicone spatula which is also naturally tolerant to high heat.
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!
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.
For more popcorn recipes:
- Cookies and Cream Popcorn
- White Chocolate M&M Popcorn
- Easy Popcorn Balls
- Birthday Cake Popcorn
- Churro Popcorn
- Christmas Popcorn
Caramel Popcorn Recipe
- 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.