This homemade caramel popcorn is lightly salted popcorn tossed in a homemade caramel sauce, then baked to perfection. The best caramel corn you’ll ever eat, and it’s perfect for parties and gift giving!
In my opinion, it’s impossible to resist caramel popcorn, especially when it’s homemade! This caramel corn is sweet, salty, crunchy and buttery all in one, and it’s the ultimate snack or dessert option. This popcorn is also great for gift giving around the holidays or to feed a crowd at a picnic or potluck. Best of all, it’s easy to make!
How do you make caramel popcorn?
This recipe starts with popped salted popcorn. I typically buy a large bag of popcorn to make life easier, but you can pop your own corn if you prefer. A caramel mixture of brown sugar, butter and corn syrup gets poured over the popcorn, then the corn goes into the oven to bake. Let the popcorn cool, break it up into small pieces, then serve and enjoy!
Tips for caramel popcorn
- It’s important to keep a close eye on your sugar mixture while it’s cooking. It can easily burn if you take your eyes off the stove!
- You can use either dark or light brown sugar for this recipe. I typically use light brown sugar because I always have it on hand, but dark brown sugar will work just as well.
- I typically make this recipe with salted popcorn because the salt cuts the sweetness from the caramel. If you prefer, you can use unsalted popcorn.
- You’ll want to work quickly as you mix your caramel corn with the caramel, as the caramel will harden within minutes of being at room temperature.
Caramel Corn Variations
This is a basic recipe for caramel corn, but you can add other flavorings or toppings to make your own creations.
- Nuts: Reduce the amount of popcorn to 14 cups and add 1 cup of peanuts, almonds, cashews or pecans before you drizzle the caramel over the top.
- Chocolate: After the caramel corn comes out of the oven and has cooled, drizzle dark, milk or white chocolate over the top.
- Spices: Try adding 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or apple pie spice to the caramel sauce.
How long can you keep caramel corn?
You can store caramel corn for up to one week at room temperature. The caramel corn should be stored in an airtight container for best results.
Having a party? You can easily double or triple this recipe, simply adjust the number of servings in the recipe card below. This caramel popcorn is sure to be a huge hit with family and friends!
More party snacks
- Caprese Skewers
- Chocolate Fruit Dip
- Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips
- Pizza Muffins
- 16 cups salted popcorn popped
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Coat two sheet pans with cooking spray. Place the popcorn in a large bowl.
- Cut the butter into 8 slices and place in a saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat.
- Melt the butter, then add the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to the pan.
- Increase the heat to medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, stop stirring and let it cook undisturbed for exactly 4 minutes.
- Remove the caramel from the heat. Add the baking soda and vanilla extract, then stir.
- Pour the caramel over the popcorn then quickly toss the popcorn in the caramel mixture to coat.
- Divide the caramel corn between the two sheet pans. Place the pans in the oven.
- Cook for 1 hour. Every 15 minutes, stir the popcorn and rotate the pans from the top to bottom oven racks.
- Remove the popcorn from the oven. Cool, then break into pieces and serve.
This post was originally published on May 6, 2016 and was updated on July 18, 2019 with new content.