Homemade Caramel Corn

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

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


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil, and grease with cooking spray.

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.

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.

Recipe slightly adapted from Karo http://allrecipes.com/recipe/classic-caramel-corn/ and Recipe Girl http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/10/17/caramel-corn-2/.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

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

    Rating: 5
  14. 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.

    Rating: 4
  15. 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!

    Rating: 5