Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn

This caramel popcorn is the perfect salty, sweet snack. Put a bowl out at your holiday party, game day festivities or movie night and watch it disappear.

Caramel popcorn spilled on a white table from a small, red and white striped container.

 

This snack is super easy to make and uses simple ingredients you probably have on hand already. This caramel corn is made without corn syrup, and without baking soda. It’s made with butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and popcorn of course, plus a little salt and oil, that’s it.

 

Popcorn treats are great, they’re generally loved and popcorn is an easy-to-find, affordable ingredient. You also get a large batch so it’s perfect for entertaining, or for sharing with friends and family. If you like this caramel popcorn, try this delicious white chocolate peppermint popcorn.

 

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Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup Popcorn Kernels (which will yield approximately 20 cups popped)
  • 1 tablespoon Oil, use a neutral oil with a high smoke point – we used canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon Salt – we used kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, not packed down
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¼ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

You will also need:

  • 2 Large Baking Sheets (half sheet pans)
  • Parchment Paper – to prevent sticking and for easy clean-up
  • Extra Large Bowl or, if you don’t have one, a large soup pot or wok will work well too
  • Rubber Spatula – to prevent breaking the popcorn while stirring

 

Prep work

There’s not much needed in the way of prep to make this treat. Just one important point, we can’t multitask with this recipe. We have to make the popcorn and the caramel at different times because they each require our undivided attention. Pop the corn first, and then make the caramel sauce. The good news is they both cook up really quick.

  • Position the racks in the upper and middle thirds of the oven and preheat to 275°F.
  • Gather and measure out the ingredients.
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

 

Make the popcorn

Place the oil, kernels and salt in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Cover the pot. Give it a quick shake frequently. The kernels will take about 5 minutes to start popping. When they begin to pop, shake the pot quickly and frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.

 

Once there is constant and vigorous popping turn the burner off but keep the pot on it. When the popping slows to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove the pot from the burner and move it to a cold one. Uncover immediately to prevent condensation from making the popcorn soggy.

 

Make the caramel

Add the butter to a medium saucepan. Gently melt the butter over medium heat. When it melts, add in the brown sugar, water and vanilla, stir to combine. Cook the brown sugar mixture, stirring frequently with a fork or whisk for 5 minutes.

A close-up of the caramel sauce in a saucepan.

 

When it begins to simmer stir it constantly. Do not leave the caramel unattended it can boil over. Remove saucepan from the heat.

A close-up of the caramel sauce simmering in a saucepan.

 

Coat with the caramel

Add the popcorn to a large, heat-proof bowl. Use a bowl that’s large enough to fit all of it and stir without spilling. A large pot or wok work well too.

Popcorn in a large, glass bowl with a blue silicone spatula in the bowl to the right.

 

Be very careful, the caramel sauce will be very hot! Slowly add the caramel sauce to the popcorn while folding, tossing and stirring gently with a rubber spatula.

An image of pouring caramel sauce from the saucepan into the large, glass bowl with the popcorn in it.

 

Stir gently to break as little of the pieces as possible. Continue to fold/toss/stir until the popcorn is coated with the caramel.

The popcorn coated with the caramel in a large, glass bowl with a blue silicone spatula on the right.

 

Divide the caramel corn between the two baking sheets.

Two baking sheets the one in the back has the popcorn spread on it and has a blue spatula on it, the one in the front is not spread yet.

 

Spread it as best as possible into one layer, again, be gentle to not break the pieces.

An image of the caramel corn spread on a large baking sheet with a blue rubber spatula.

 

Bake the caramel corn

Bake for 1 hour total, stirring every 15 minutes and rotating the pans (top to bottom, bottom to pot) halfway through the cooking time. Like this:

  • Stir after 15 minutes.
  • Stir after 30 minutes and rotate the pans, top to bottom and bottom to top.
  • Stir after 45 minutes.
  • After 1 hour, turn off the oven and crack the door open a little bit. Let it sit in the oven for 5-10 minutes. The popcorn should be completely dry and have a crunchy exterior, if not, leave it in the warm oven to continue drying.
  • Remove the pans from the oven, stir and allow it to cool completely.

 

Serve and enjoy! Store any leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for a couple of days.

Three red and white striped containers filled with the caramel corn displayed on a red linen on a white table.

 

You may also like these party favorites:

 

Three red and white striped containers filled with the caramel corn displayed on a red linen on a white table.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Caramel Popcorn

This caramel popcorn is the perfect salty, sweet snack. Put a bowl out at your holiday party, game day festivities or movie night and watch it disappear.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: popcorn
Servings: 10
Calories: 218kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • cup Popcorn Kernels which will yield approximately 20 cups popped
  • 1 tablespoon Oil use a neutral oil with a high smoke point – we used canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon Salt – we used kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar not packed down
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¼ teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  • You will also need: 2 Large Baking Sheets, Parchment Paper, Extra Large Bowl, Rubber Spatula
  • Position the racks in the upper and middle thirds of the oven and preheat to 275°F.
  • Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the popcorn

  • Place the oil, kernels and salt in a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. Cover the pot. Give it a quick shake frequently. When they begin to pop, shake the pot quickly and frequently to prevent burning on the bottom.
  • Once there is constant and vigorous popping turn the burner off but keep the pot on it. When the popping slows to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove the pot from the burner and move it to a cold one. Uncover immediately.

Make the caramel

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar, water and vanilla, stir to combine.
  • Cook the brown sugar mixture, stirring frequently with a fork or whisk for 5 minutes. When it begins to simmer stir it constantly. Do not leave the caramel unattended it can boil over. Remove saucepan from the heat.

Coat with the caramel

  • Add the popcorn to a large, heat-proof bowl. Use a bowl that’s large enough to fit all of it and stir without spilling.
  • Slowly and carefully add the caramel sauce to the popcorn while folding, tossing and stirring gently with a rubber spatula.
  • Stir gently to break as little of the pieces as possible. Continue to fold/toss/stir until the popcorn is coated with the caramel.
  • Divide the caramel corn between the two baking sheets.
  • Spread it as best as possible into one layer; be gentle to not break the pieces.

Bake the caramel corn

  • Bake for 1 hour total, stirring every 15 minutes and rotating the pans (top to bottom, bottom to pot) halfway through the cooking time.
  • After 1 hour, turn off the oven and crack the door open a little bit. Let it sit in the oven for 5-10 minutes. The popcorn should be completely dry and have a crunchy exterior, if not, leave it in the warm oven to continue drying.
  • Remove the pans from the oven, stir and allow it to cool completely. Serve and enjoy.

Video

Notes

Make the popcorn and the caramel at different times because they each require our undivided attention. Pop the corn first, and then make the caramel sauce.
Be very careful, the caramel sauce will be very hot!
Store any leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for a couple of days.

Nutrition

Calories: 218kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.


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