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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 23 reviews
  • 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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95 comments on “Homemade Caramel Corn”

  1. crazy question…. do you have the nutritional information for this recipe??

  2. Caramel corn is my Christmas favorite as well! My mom makes it every year and throws some peanuts in as well before baking. Love love love sitting around the fire with my family, sipping wine, and eating this stuff by the handful!

  3. Homemade is always better! Your caramel corn looks so tasty!

  4. Oh man I can snack on this breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  5. Caramel popcorn used to be one of my fave snacks when I was a little kid…

  6. I can’t believe how perfect that looks! I need to make some caramel corn, perfect yet unexcpected super bowl snack :)

  7. YUM! Add some salted peanuts, and I’m in heaven.

  8. Aww. I hate this has corn syrup in it. But only because we don’t have corn syrup over here and I haven’t found a decent substitute! I am most definitely going to make this when I get my hands on some. I haven’t had caramel corn in years and miss it!

  9. I made this for a party last night and it was a major hit! It is so fresh that it kind of melts in your mouth.

  10. Hi,
    So I cook a lot, but I don’t make candy-like stuff very often. Maybe this question will sound very basic, but that’s where my candy-like-making skills are at.
    I just made this and my caramel was too hard to mix nicely on the popcorn. I followed the instructions but had to estimate on the different times as our oven clock gets replaced by the oven temperature if the oven is heating and we have no other clock in the kitchen… I know. I’ll get a watch next time. It was very thick right from the start though. Is it that my caramel did not cook enough or could it be that I heated it too fast right from the start?
    I would welcome any thoughts before I try it again.
    Thanks so much!
    Oh, and I added peanuts in with the popcorn. That was tasty business.

    • I made this last night and had the exact same problem. I followed the recipe and the caramel was very thick and, once poured onto the popcorn, it turned into a mass in the center and couldn’t be spread to the other popcorn around it. I scrapped it and started completely over, thinking I must have done something wrong. New popcorn, new sauce, went through every measurement and step exactly as written. Same problem again. The resulting caramel coating TASTED delicious, but just didn’t spread the way it should have. I think the instructions must have us cooking the butter/sugar mixture for too long. It should be much runnier in order to mix as a nice glaze, not a thick glop. I will try this again sometime, but was disappointed with this go round.

    • Evelyne,

      You may want to try heating your butter/sugar mixture more slowly over medium/low heat. Bringing the mixture to a full rolling boil tends to evaporate the sauce’s limited water content (primarily from the corn syrup, some smidgens of moisture from the molasses in the brown sugar) far to quickly; resulting in the gloppy mess you experienced. Though this will take a bit longer, the result of a simmer rather than a boil is a deep golden sauce that will have a “looser” more liquid texture making coating much easier. While boiling ensures that the sugar crystals are completely broken down you can achieve the same result with lower heat and a little patience. Hope this helps (^_^)

  11. Just made this, AMAZING…. who knew homemade would be so easy and tasty

  12. Store for up to a week – that’s funny! This will be gone in less than 48 hours in my house. I can’t wait to try this recipe. My daughter is allergic to dairy and I’ve been looking for a recipe for caramel corn that doesn’t involve milk (I’ll have to sub margarine for the butter, but that’s usually not a problem.) Thanks for helping me out!

  13. How much does your recipe make. Sounds like a great neighborhood Christmas gift

  14. Made this for the first time in my life and it turned out great. I’ve read most of the reviews and will add the peanuts the next time I make it. The only thing I changed was the salt and only did 1 tsp. I popped too much popcorn but stored In a ziplock and will use at a later date. I plan to invest in a Hot Air Popper.

  15. I just made 2 batches! I rarely make treats, but this was so easy! Instead of corn syrup I used honey, delicious!
    Tips ~ I mixed the popcorn and carmel in a very large bowl, coated with canola cooking spray. I also covered the cookie sheet with tin foil and then sprayed it with cooking spray. After baking the popcorn, I just slid the tin foil off the pan and laid it on the cool counter!
    Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  16. I just made 2 batches! I rarely make treats, but this was so easy! Instead of corn syrup I used honey, delicious!
    Tips ~ I mixed the popcorn and carmel in a very large bowl, coated with canola cooking spray. I also covered the cookie sheet with tin foil and then sprayed it with cooking spray. After baking the popcorn, I just slid the tin foil off the pan and laid it on the cool counter!
    Thank you for this amazing recipe!!!

  17. Fast, easy and delicious! I found keeping the caramel sauce on low heat and transferring the popcorn to a different bowl worked best. I also had to use drops of water to keep the sauce from turning into a glob. Other than that, great recipe.

  18. I think the caramel burnt… Sigh… :/

  19. Well.. apparently second times a charm.. I completely burnt my first batch of caramel. What a smelly gross mess. But the second batch is turning out a lot better.

  20. I tried the popcorn and I basically had the same results as some who posted before me. The caramel was to thick and it didnt spread all over the popcorn and ai was wondering would it make a diffrernce if we added a little more butter? Maybe we need to make more so the solution can spread? However the caramel was delicious and I will make it just to eat like candy.

  21. All I have to say is, yum! Made this for my wife tonight. I couldn’t keep her out of it. I had to hide it! Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Delish!! We multiplied all ingredient measurements by 1.5 and used a tad less popcorn (so it was really carmelly!) Turned out perfect! Thank you!

  23. I didnt have corn syrup so I used hungry jack original syrup instead. Fast & easy
    recipe! YUM!!! Thanks!

  24. This was so much easier than I thought it would be and even on the first attempt with several missteps it still turned out delicious!

  25. I made this just a few days ago and it was PERFECT. UNTIL I put it into the oven. It was on fire in less than three minutes. Maybe it was just my oven but next time, I know for sure that I am skipping that step.

  26. the temperature when i need to bake the caramel popcorn in the oven is?

  27. Isn’t a half cup of butter 2 sticks of butter? So what is it one or two sticks?

  28. Mine turned all granular in the oven :( Maybe I did something wrong with the caramel portion? It was perfect until I stuck it in the oven even though it was sticky ;)

  29. This is my go-to recipe for caramel corn and is a hit with my whole family!

  30. I made this tonight. We came home from the movies with a large popcorn and used that. Movie popcorn is the best and made this recipe wonderful.Thanks. oh I added peanuts to. Yummmmmmmmmy!!!!

  31. Made this today. I had to make another batch of caramel as the first batch was enough to cover about half of the popcorn. When I made the sauce a second time I used less salt as the first batch was kind of salty.

  32. Great recipe. ..I love caramel corn. I found you on Pinterest and I’m your newest follower in FB and Pinterest.  Thanks. 

  33. Wowee!  I always refrained from trying out a caramel popcorn but after looking at this recipe I went im and took the plunge to give it a try.   First try I didnt stir whille in the oven enough so it burnt the caramel and I also found the taste way way too  salty…  Having made more than enough popcorn,  I gave it a second try but this time :
     – no salt added at all
     – used the oven at 250 Fahrenheit to  prevent overcooking the caramel
     –  took more attention at stirring  the whole mixture while in the oven. 
    SUCCESS!   Great sugary taste with a slight salt note at the end. 

    The oven part is so important as this reliquefy the caramel and when you stirr,  it helps to spread over the mix over the other popcorn.   In the kettle,  it’s impossible to properly get all the popcorn spread with the caramel,  the oven is the key to get the caramel all over them.   I didnt really look at the color of the caramel in the oven,  my main concern was to get them all covered and not overcook and once that was obtain,  I removed from the oven. 

    Kids and wife loved it,  definitively a recipe that I will redo for special occasion! 

  34. Didn’t come out like the picture because I misinterpreted something but the caramel was tasty.?

  35. Dang it, this is way too easy and yummy. I sent some to work with my boyfriend two days ago. I could not get my mind off of it and just made a second batch (which I’ll most likely eat all by myself…hello, spin class tomorrow). Thanks for this! Will make great Christmas gifts. 

    • We’re so glad you guys enjoyed this Delaney, thanks for giving the recipe a try! :)

  36. I followed this recipe and it came out great. It was tough spreading the caramel over the popcorn but ultimately it worked, however I could only coat about half the popcorn. I would make double the amount of caramel next time so I don’t have a bowl of un-used popcorn next time. Also, I must remember to take the unpopped kernels out ahead of time (doh!).

    • We’re glad you enjoyed it Dave! We’re sorry it was difficult to coat though. Was the caramel a little too thick, or had it cooled down maybe? It should be hot and not too thick, so it’s easier to coat. Thanks for giving the recipe a try!

  37. This turned out well but I found it too salty.   I would cut the salt down to 1/2 – 1 tsp only especially using salted butter.   

    • We’re glad you liked this Jacquelyn, but we’re sorry it turned out too salty. Thanks for sharing, and for your suggestion!

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

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

  40. 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!

  41. It’s too sticky. How do I make it less sticky?

    • 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!

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

  43. 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!!

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

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

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

  48. 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

  49. 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!

  50. 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).