How to Make Caramel Corn

I’m showing you How to Make Caramel Corn. This is a caramel corn recipe that is both fabulous tasting and easy.   Watch my video showing you how to make caramel corn, then scroll to the end of this post and print out the complete recipe so you can make it at home.

Caramel Corn with Candy Corn mixed in

But first, there’s a short story behind this addictive stuff.

When I was visiting Kendall Jackson Winery a few years ago, 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.  I dare you!

How to Make Caramel Corn:

How to Make Caramel Corn : melt the butter

Melt the butter in a big pot.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add the brown sugar

Add brown sugar.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add corn syrup

And then add a small amount of corn syrup.

How to Make Caramel Corn : bring sugar to boil, then simmer

Bring that mixture to a bubble.  Then turn it down to a simmer and leave 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?

How to Make Caramel Corn : continue to simmer and stir the sugar

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.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add salt

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 kind of what makes the flavor of this caramel corn special.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add baking soda

Then add a smidgen of baking soda.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add vanilla

And a bit of vanilla.

How to Make Caramel Corn : the caramel

Stir it up and it should look like this.

How to Make Caramel Corn : add the popcorn

Pour in 12 cups of popped popcorn.  I use popcorn that I pop on the stove.

How to Make Caramel Corn : stir the caramel into the popcorn

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

How to Make Caramel Corn : stir to combine

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!

How to Make Caramel Corn : spread the caramel corn on a baking sheet

Spread the caramel corn on a greased baking sheet.

How to Make Caramel Corn : baked and fresh out of the oven

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

How to Make Caramel Corn : let it cool

Move this good stuff to waxed paper to cool completely.

Caramel Corn

EAT.

Caramel Corn with Candy Corn mixed in

So now you know How to Make Caramel Corn!  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 football-watching Sunday nibbling.  Make it for Halloween.  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 better 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.

If you’re looking for more fall treat recipes, you might also enjoy my Frito Snack Mix or these Cinnamon Popcorn BallsChocolate Acorns and Easy Pumpkin Patties are fun fall treats too!

5 from 5 votes
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How to Make Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn is a delicious sweet treat that is especially good to make in the fall months.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 12 servings (1 cup per serving)
Calories 200 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 cup packed 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

Instructions

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

  2. Melt the butter in a 1 gallon pot over medium-high heat. Add the 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 the 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 baking 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.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • *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.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Caramel Corn
Amount Per Serving (1 serving (1 cup))
Calories 200 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 12%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 20mg 7%
Sodium 488mg 20%
Potassium 60mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 23g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 5.2%
Calcium 1.8%
Iron 2.7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Comments

  • Tricia wrote:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Year after year I tell myself I’m making caramel popcorn, then I get busy and forget. Not this year! Great video too 🙂

  • Joanne wrote:

    So amazing for movie night at home. Easy to make too!

  • Heather wrote:

    This completely brings me back to my childhood when my parents used to make caramel corn popcorn balls and hand them out to the tricker treaters. Boy, I am really showing my age.

  • Jennifer Farley wrote:

    Delicious! Such a great snack!

  • ADS wrote:

    Such a perfect treat, especially with Halloween being so close. 🙂

  • Melissa Sperka wrote:

    Dangerously delicious!

  • Michael Knight wrote:

    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.

  • Andrea wrote:

    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.

  • Semi steph wrote:

    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!!!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Love that idea!!

  • Shelby wrote:

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

  • Leah at YourDimeYourTime.com wrote:

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

  • sallymac wrote:

    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…

  • Kelly wrote:

    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..

  • Ali wrote:

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

  • Ameirah wrote:

    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.

  • Kierston wrote:

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

  • Christina @ This Woman Cooks! wrote:

    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!

  • jenna wrote:

    oh my heavens! what a perfect halloween treat!