Gimme Some Oven

Homemade Caramel Corn

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I loved being in Europe for this holidays this year. But one of the traditions I missed back in the States was my annual dose of holiday caramel corn. It seems like everywhere you go around the holidays, there are those big tubs with butter, cheddar and caramel corn a’plenty. And ever since I was a kid, the caramel corn definitely gets the most love from this foodie. ;)

So when I arrived home in January, I decided it was high time in my 29th year of life to learn how to make my own homemade caramel corn. Granted, I make stovetop popcorn all the time, so the idea of learning how to add in the extra sweetness didn’t sound like too many extra steps. But little did I know — homemade caramel corn is so easy!!! I was thinking it would be a complex process with candy thermometers, and 500 steps, and sticky caramel everywhere. But it turns out that this sauce is totally easy and pretty foolproof (as caramel sauces go), and the oven pretty much does all of the work. And within an hour, a huge batch of caramel corn is ready to go!

My biggest surprise, though, was realizing how much better homemade popcorn tastes than store-bought! I don’t if it’s the freshness, or the flavor, or the double-bonus of having your entire house smell like sweet caramel. But my friends agreed that this version is a definite winner, and they have been happily helping me eat the (um, three?) batches I’ve already made this month.

What do you love most about caramel corn?

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Homemade Caramel Corn

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x

Description

A simple recipe for delicious homemade caramel corn.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick salted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (about 1 cup kernels before popped, preferably warm from being freshly popped)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil, and grease with cooking spray.
  2. Melt butter in a large stockpot pot over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup, stir to combine. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer undisturbed for 5 minutes. Stir, then continue to cook for an additional 4 to 6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until the mixture is a deep golden color. Turn off the heat and slowly whisk in salt, baking soda and vanilla, being very careful as the mixture will bubble. Stir in the popcorn and toss until it is evenly coated with the caramel, being sure to scrape the caramel off the bottom of the pot.
  3. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet or pan in an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring to toss every 5 minutes, until the caramel corn has turned a deep amber color. Remove the caramel corn from the oven and transfer to a surface covered with parchment or wax paper to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, use your hands or a spoon to break up the caramel corn, then store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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Recipe rating

109 comments on “Homemade Caramel Corn”

  1. My husband (who is popcorn obsessed) said this is the best caramel corn he’s ever had! He said I must never wanted him to be svelte again. :D This popcorn was a huge hit with everyone! Will definitely be making again and again and again!

  2. VERY tasty! a bit labor intensive, but well worth it!!! YUM!!!!

  3. I just learned how to make stovetop popcorn last week so of course I had to try caramel popcorn! 1/2 cup of uncooked kernels ended up being about right. As some mentioned, I found this to be way too salty. I will probably try again soon though and just use less salt. BUT the most memorable part of my experience was…as per the recipe I was using to cook the popcorn, I had 2 kernels of popcorn in oil, heating on high in a covered pan on the stove (once the two kernels pop you take them out and add the rest of the kernels). Meanwhile, I was busy getting out all the ingredients for the caramel sauce (and hoping not to wake up the littles from their nap). I had accidentally put too much oil in the pan (1/4 cup instead of 1/8 cup) and I guess I was also so busy that I didn’t hear the two kernels pop, and it started smoking. Not entirely sure what was going on, I opened the lid, smoke poured out, and the hot oil burst into flames!!! My first thought was to take it off the heat, so I did that, but it was hot and it was FLAMING…I got scared and dropped it. Then I was freaking out because I had a flaming frying pan on my wood (laminate) kitchen floor, and in a panic I kicked it! Haha panicking can make me a bit irrational I guess. I eventually got it into the sink and it stopped burning (melted 2 plastic bowls that were in the sink though) and I then went to check on my previously sleeping children and opened the windows in their rooms, and then went to work on trying to shut off the smoke detectors (I got one turned off and the others eventually stopped on their own, which was good because I couldn’t reach them). Somehow in all this mess I ended up with a small burn on my arm, a burn on the top of my foot (probably from kicking the flaming frying pan), and a super gnarly burn on my leg that looks like the top layer of skin just melted. I also melted part of the rug in front of the kitchen sink so now it feels all crusty. It was seriously one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. But it’s ok…now I have a cool story to tell and I managed to succeed when I tried again later that night (tonight). I also have a wonderful hubby who actually managed to get the pan clean after this fiasco. Anyway…story time is over, but I will definitely try again with less salt! I love caramel popcorn! thanks for the recipe!

    • Katie, you can pop the popcorn kernels right in the microwave oven without any oil. Just put 2-4 TBSP of popcorn kernels in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a lid and turn the microwave on high. When popping slows down and there is a one second delay between pops, STOP the microwave.

  4. Fun and EASY to make and taste AMAZING!

  5. This turned out perfect! Delicious and crispy! I had tried a recipe that had water in it and it was awful. This is wonderful and easy!!!

  6. The instructions for this recipe appears to be a repeat of the ingredient list. I’m not sure when that changed, I had this recipe pinned and have made it before.

    • Oops, sorry about that. We are converting our recipes over to a new format and had a little glitch with that one. The instructions should be fixed now! :)

  7. I love how the recipe says to add 12 popped cups of popcorn, but in the intro it says this recipe only yields 8 cups of finished product. I think I may know where the other 4 missing cups went. That happens when I make caramel corn too. :)

    • THE POPPED POPCORN KERNNELS, SEEMS TO COMPRESS OR
      SHRINK WHEN THE WARM CARNEL IS PORED ON IT❗️

  8. I’ve tried so many and it just weren’t coming out right. This recipe is WONDERFUL! Thank you!

  9. I’ve tried so many and it just wasn’t coming out right. This recipe is WONDERFUL! Thank you!

  10. Perfect! Over the holidays I think we made at least 8 batches of this!

  11. Too salty! Dial that back. All I could taste was a blast of salt, then sweet. It was difficult to taste caramel at all. So sad! So disappointing:(

  12. Our state of Michigan is under lockdown. Home ALL the time. Bored out of my mind. Found this recipe when I was craving popcorn. Threw in a cup of salted peanuts and baked in the oven. Wow. Great treat!!!!!!

  13. This is a good and easy recipe! I’d cut the salt though. It was too salty and I like salt

  14. I made this and like the recipe , it’s easy and pretty quick. I will not use as much salt when I make it again. I did reduce it to 1 tsp but will but will only use 1/2 tsp or maybe none and just sprinkle a little salt on top. But awesome recipe.?

  15. Just finished making this Carmel popcorn its fabulous!! Yummy ?.

  16. This worked great! Earlier comment suggested 1/2 kernels.
    Perfect amount, used my insta pot and used a coconut oil butter blend on sauté more setting.
    Thanks, your recipes always work well! Believe it or not, this 68 yr old never popped popcorn other than air popper or jiffy pop !
    .

  17. This is delicious and not difficult at all! I used my Instapot to pop the popcorn and then transferred the corn to a disposable roasting pan from the dollar store. Placed it into a prewarmed oven, lowest setting while I made the carmel sauce. Keeping the popcorn warm makes it easier to stir in the carmel. While stirring to combine increase the oven temperature and finish as directed. Looking forward to making for gifts!

  18. I believe that the corn syrup helps to avoid graininess and may also help keep it shiny!

  19. My best friend and I make a holiday gift in mass every year recently. Last year, it was bacon salt (wow, did the house smell like bacon for weeks!). This year, it was caramel corn, but we were faced with three recipes; one without corn syrup, one with not as much salt and one that didn’t call for putting in the oven. This was THE BEST recipe. It’s not too sweet (because of the salt), not too crunchy and not too chewy. We adjusted the oven temp (oven runs about 5 degrees under set temp) down to 250 degreed and left in for about 12 minutes. We poured the caramel over the popcorn and you really have to fold the caramel in carefully until it fully coats and then fold, fold, fold to make sure it’s well coated. Also, when it comes out of the oven, break into pieces that you want (some like bigger chunks and some like smaller pieces) as when it cools, you don’t want to mess with breaking it up. Great recipe!

  20. Delicious recipe! My daughter & I enjoyed it tremendously! I haven’t made this at home in over 30 years.

  21. Ummm. I’m trying to figure out what I did wrong. This mixture didn’t bubble for me at all and now the texture is weird