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Caramel Corn

I have a caramel corn recipe for you today that is both fabulous and easy.   But first, there’s a short story behind this addictive stuff.

When I was visiting Kendall Jackson Winery a few weeks back, I was involved in a series of vigorous food/wine pairings and tastings.  Eventually all of it sort of finally made sense to me.  Certain foods really bring out the flavor in the wine, and vice versa.  When we came to dessert though, I was skeptical.  They served us this caramel corn- this very recipe I’m sharing with you today- and paired it with their Late Harvest Chardonnay.  I ate and I sipped.  And then bells rang all over the place in my head telling me that I really do like sweet wine in cases like this.  Cases where caramel corn tastes so very good with it.  This stuff is hard to put down.  I’m not kidding.  Take a bite and put the rest away.  Dare Ya.  Here’s how to make this super easy recipe for Caramel Corn:

Melt butter in a big pot.

Add brown sugah.

And then a small amount of corn syrup.

Bring that mixture to a bubble.  Then turn it down to a simmer and let-it-alone for 4 minutes without stirring.  Resist the urge to stick your head over the pan and get mesmerized by those bubbles.  They pop, and then… well, that’s bad news for you and your face now, isn’t it?

Finally you can stir it, and then you’ll continue to cook it for about 5 more minutes– stirring quite often until it has turned deep golden and pretty.

Turn off the heat and add kosher salt.  Lots of it.  This is like a salted caramel popcorn.  You’ll be afraid that it’s too much salt, BUT IT’S NOT.  The salt is kinda what makes the flavor of this caramel corn special.

Then add a smidgen of baking soda.

And a bit of vanilla.

Stir it up and it should look like this.

Pour in 12 cups of popped popcorn.  I used popcorn that I had popped on the stove.

Use a spoon (a wooden one works great) to spoon that caramel syrup up and over the popcorn.

Keep stirring and getting that syrup off the bottom of the pan until the popcorn is covered in caramel and there is none of that good stuff stuck  in a puddle on the bottom of the pan.  You don’t want to leave any of it behind!

Spread the caramel corn on a greased baking sheet.

Bake it for 15 minutes or so (stirring every so often).  The color will deepen and the caramel corn will become crispy in texture.

Move this good stuff to waxed paper to cool completely.


It should last a week or so if it is kept in a sealed container.  Package it into gifts or snack baggies.  Make it for Halloween.  Make it for football-watching Sunday nibbling.  Or make it just to make it.   Big warning though:  You’d better have some friends around or you might just eat the whole batch.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that or anything, but if you have one of those form-fitting Halloween costumes that you’re trying to fit into… like Spiderman or French Maid or Sexy Devil Suit, you’d best pace yourself with the caramel corn intake.

Oh dear, have I convinced you not to make this now?  I hope not.  This is really good stuff.

Yield: 12 cups

Prep Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 30 min

Caramel Corn


1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 cups popped popcorn


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2. Melt butter in a 1 gallon pot over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer undisturbed for 4 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 whisk in salt, baking soda and vanilla. Set the whisk aside and stir in the popcorn. Scoop up the syrup from the bottom and over the top. Keep stirring and scooping the syrup over the popcorn until it is evenly covered and there is no syrup left on the bottom of the pan.

3. Spread the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the caramel corn has turned a deep amber color. Remove the caramel corn from the oven and spoon it onto a waxed paper-lined surface to cool. When completely cooled, store caramel corn in a covered container- it should stay fresh for up to a week.


*You can use air-popped popcorn for this recipe or stovetop too. Here's an easy stove-top method to follow. Microwave popcorn will work as well, but it's not recommended as being the best choice.

Source: (Adapted from Kendall Jackson)

39 Responses to “Caramel Corn”

  1. postedOct 17, 2011 3:10 AM

    Oh yum! This looks absolutely delicious but very dangerous, I hate to think how much I could inhale!

  2. postedOct 17, 2011 3:25 AM

    Mmm what a yummy recipe! This sounds fabulous.

  3. postedOct 17, 2011 3:36 AM
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    oh Lori this looks sooo good! you are the second blog in the past hour I have been to who made caramel corn. And I love caramel corn. I want this!

  4. postedOct 17, 2011 3:46 AM

    i have been dying to make this since we had some! it looks delicious.

  5. postedOct 17, 2011 6:13 AM

    I made caramel corn on Saturday! Love it!

  6. postedOct 17, 2011 6:14 AM

    Ohh, love the extra salt! And the candy corn–my weakness. Funny, I’m posting a caramel corn today, too! 🙂

  7. postedOct 17, 2011 6:20 AM

    I never would have thought to pair wine with caramel corn, but heck, I’m willing to make sacrifices!

  8. postedOct 17, 2011 7:43 AM

    I love caramel corn, and this one looks fantastic!

  9. postedOct 17, 2011 8:04 AM

    Love, love homemade caramel corn. And yes, it is extremely addicting! Your food and wine pairing sounds so wonderful! I’ve never had the sweeter Chardonnays, I’ll have to give that a try!

  10. postedOct 17, 2011 8:11 AM

    I could eat this all day long.

  11. postedOct 17, 2011 8:14 AM

    Too funny, I posted my caramel corn recipe today & even linked to your “how to pop popcorn on the stove” post! We must be connected through popcorn today 🙂

  12. postedOct 17, 2011 8:25 AM

    Oh boy. This looks SO good. I could eat it all in one sitting.

  13. postedOct 17, 2011 8:52 AM

    oh, so yummy. but oh so dangerous for the waist line. looks so delicious. a must try. (:

  14. postedOct 17, 2011 9:39 AM

    Ooooh, caramel corn with white wine. I think you may have just changed my life, Lori. Or at least my afternoon! 🙂

  15. postedOct 17, 2011 10:09 AM

    You know, I am wild for caramel popcorn but never eat it. Never. And only made it once with a college friend and it was so fabulous! I so need to make this again. Living in France I seriously never think about it! Great recipe!

  16. postedOct 17, 2011 3:14 PM
    Dana B

    This sounds delectable!! You read my mind, too, because I’ve been wanting some caramel corn 🙂 thx!!

  17. postedOct 17, 2011 5:39 PM

    Caramel corn feels like fall to me. Love it!

  18. postedOct 17, 2011 5:54 PM

    This looks and sounds delish! I think I’ll try it this weekend.

  19. postedOct 17, 2011 6:24 PM

    I Love caramel corn and have never made it! Definitely on my list to try!

  20. postedOct 17, 2011 6:57 PM

    This looks so good – – I haven’t had caramel corn in so long; looking at the picture, I can almost smell the sweetness!

  21. postedOct 18, 2011 6:21 AM

    I can’t wait to make this for the kids! And maybe I will have a small taste, too. 🙂

  22. postedOct 18, 2011 6:40 AM

    oh my heavens! what a perfect halloween treat!

  23. postedOct 18, 2011 8:16 AM

    You’re right about the form-fitting Halloween costumes. I’ve got one to fit into and don’t think I could if I ate all of this…I really want to try it though! Looks like the perfect treat!

  24. postedOct 18, 2011 11:26 AM

    “vigorous wine/food pairing and tasting”…I could go for some of that. I guess this caramel corn and chardonay will have to do 🙂

  25. postedOct 19, 2011 10:27 AM

    It never lasts a week in my house! Only time it did is when i put them in bags, and accidentally forgot one on top of the fridge. And when i did find it weeks later I shamelessly ate it!

    I never seem to find corn syrup here, and have done without it but mine are never that crunchy.

  26. postedOct 20, 2011 2:32 PM

    This looks delicious, I can eat this for breakfast, lunch and supper :0 lovely photos, great post.

  27. postedOct 21, 2011 12:49 PM

    My boyfriend and I had popcorn palooza last night and tried 5 diferent kinds of popcorn: cheddar and chilli, cheddar and garlic and onion, parmesean and rosemary, salt N butter, and carmel corn.

    Mine was really thick so it was hard to coat the kernels, but I loved how it came out not sticky. My boy friend loved the salted carmel, it was a little strong for me, but we will certainly be making it again. thanks!

    And I am sooo not fitting in a form fitting cosume..

  28. postedOct 23, 2011 6:18 PM

    this is wonderfully tasty (nice mix of sweet & salty! but totally out of control to make! Kept about 1/3 of the popcorn in the pot because it all wouldn’t fit onto a cookie sheet. I bought a bag of popcorn (can you say OKEDOKE?), which contained less than 12 cups.
    next time, I’ll use 2 cookie sheets or cut the recipe/batch in 1/2…

  29. postedOct 25, 2011 6:34 PM
    Leah at

    It SHOULD last a week….but it won’t. 😉

  30. postedOct 27, 2011 3:17 PM

    OH YUM. I need to make some…and actually, that candy corn mixed in is the kicker for me. I crave that stuff.

  31. postedNov 30, 2011 3:52 PM
    Semi steph

    This is the BEST caramel corn recipe!!! I go ahead and drizzle dark chocolate and white chocolate over the top of the popcorn once it’s cooled. It’s simply amazing!!!

    • postedDec 1, 2011 6:38 AM

      Love that idea!!

  32. postedDec 28, 2011 11:30 AM
    Nia's mommy

    I just attempted this and all went well until the oven part: began burning less than 5 minutes into the baking process 🙁

    • postedDec 28, 2011 11:34 AM

      Oh no! Was your rack in the middle of the oven? Only 300 degrees… stirring often? That shouldn’t have happened!

  33. postedSep 22, 2012 8:12 PM

    Bah. Tried this, burned it in the pot. I’ll try again soon. 🙂

  34. postedNov 13, 2012 2:53 PM

    Oh goodness, this looks amazing! Do you think it’d work as well with a non-dairy butter? I’d love to make this for a wedding shower this Thursday, but some of the folks are non-dairy.

    • postedNov 13, 2012 7:29 PM

      I’m not familiar with non-dairy butter, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there!

  35. postedJan 15, 2013 8:03 AM

    I brought this in as a birthday treat for someone who requested “homemade caramel corn.” It was a huge hit. I got more kudos for this dish than anything I’ve ever brought in before. I think it’s the salt. 🙂

    I did need to leave the caramel on low heat in order to distribute it evenly across the popcorn — it was hardening too fast off the heat. But other than that, followed the recipe exactly and it turned out GREAT.

  36. postedJan 28, 2013 5:17 PM

    Made this tonight. I used sea salt. I didn’t bake in oven either. Turned out Great! I love the sweet/salt reminds me of oldtimy candy. Can’t wait to try with a glass of wine.

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