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?


Homemade Caramel Corn

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


A simple recipe for delicious homemade caramel corn.



  • 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)


  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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99 comments on “Homemade Caramel Corn”

  1. I always shake my carmel corn in a paper bag to mix it then put it in a pain to roast

  2. Dumb question… When you say to stir in the popcorn into the caramel… Should it be popped or unpopped??

  3. I have made  this recipe 4 times now and it has turned out delicious  every single time. I always add pecans….so yummy! Thanks you so much for a great recipe. This one for a keeper!

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  5. It’s too sticky. How do I make it less sticky?
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    • Hi Amie! The stickiness is honestly just a natural part of caramel, so this should be sticky. It shouldn’t be so sticky that it’s hard/impossible to work with though. It sounds like your caramel might have cooked a little too long? The longer it cooks, the stickier and harder it will get. In the future, if you run into this problem, you could try putting the caramel on low and whisking in just a touch of liquid – 1/2 and 1/2, cream or water. We hope this helps!

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  7. Absolutely the best Caramel Corn recipe (gives °Kernels a run for their money)-and saves a ton of money in your pocket!

  8. This is a great recipe, and thank you for sharing!! I made 2 batches Thursday night so I could share with my co workers, and when I woke up Friday morning, I figured I should make another batch to make sure we had enough.

    I made two slight changes, but I’m sure the original recipe was just as great. I mistakenly dumped a small clump of salt while trying to wisk it in, so the first batch I made last week had some patches to taste salty. I wasn’t sure if it didn’t spread evenly while whisking the clump. I chose to use butter lover’s microwave popcorn instead of popping it from loose kernals. Since I wasn’t sure whether the salty taste came from the popcorn I chose or the mishap I had with the salt, I chose to eliminate the salt altogether.

    Not one person had any complaints or suggestions when they ate it; I received raved reviews. Thank you again for sharing this delicious treat!!

  9. How come the popcorn will be shiny one time and the next it’s not? It looks much nicer when it has a sheen to it.

  10. I was excited to try this recipe, the picture was amazing. My carmel corn turned out horrible , clumpy, as if too much popcorn. I have wasting ingredients and time in the kitchen, maybe the squirrels at my feeder will eat it.

  11. Guess what I am making today! Can’t wait until it’s done.

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  13. 5 stars
    I have always been intimidated by the thoughts of making carmel corn. This was easy. Thank you

  14. 4 stars
    What is the best way to mix the popcorn and caramel. I always Dump the corn in my caramel pan and the caramel is never evenly distributed and my popcorn ends up breaking.

    • I put my popcorn in a clean total with a lid and plenty room to shake. Once my caramel is ready, I pour it over the popcorn and shake it up, down, every which way. It coats it really nicely. Hope this helps

  15. 5 stars
    It’s really really good, but I don’t think it’s easy. Stirring that sticky stuff is hard!! And it spills all out of the pot, etc etc. beware!

  16. 4 stars
    Have not made it yet but will give it a go over the weekend. Been on a quest to recreate a caramel corn recipe from my youth. 60 now but when I was 16, I worked for KaramelKorn for several years. The recipe looks close to what I remember. Just a comment on a poster that said that the caramel corn was sticky. I remember when I used to make it, we gave the caramel a squirt of soy lecithin. It absolutely made a difference (I probably made 1000 batches over the years and forgot the lecithin a few times. when that happened, the caramel corn was harder to separate and was slightly more sticky even after hardening).

  17. 5 stars
    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!

  18. 5 stars
    VERY tasty! a bit labor intensive, but well worth it!!! YUM!!!!

  19. 4 stars
    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!

  20. 5 stars
    Fun and EASY to make and taste AMAZING!

  21. 5 stars
    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!!!

  22. 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! :)

  23. 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. :)


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

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

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

  27. 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:(

  28. 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!!!!!!

  29. Just finished making this Carmel popcorn its fabulous!! Yummy 😋.