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This caramel popcorn is sweet, buttery and addictively crunchy. The recipe is very simple, with a few key ingredients for the perfect popcorn. It’s delicious for snacking and makes a great gift too.
Have you ever made caramel popcorn? It’s actually easier than you might think. This recipe makes a big batch. You can even double the recipe if you want an extra big batch for gifting to friends and neighbors over the holidays. This recipe is sweet and crunchy with a thick layer of caramel on the popcorn.
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe has 2 secret/not-so-secret ingredients.
- Butter – for that buttery deliciousness. A must for any caramel sauce.
- Brown sugar for the deep golden color and sweetness. You can use light or dark brown sugar for this recipe.
- The the first “secret” ingredient is corn syrup. Corn syrup makes the caramel sauce pretty fool proof. It means that the caramel is less likely to burn or crystalize.
- Then adding a little baking soda is the second secret ingredient. It makes the caramel bubble up and expand in volume. This makes it much easier to coat the popcorn in an even layer of caramel.
- Then you’ll also need a little vanilla extract and salt for flavor.
For the popcorn, you’ll want about 10-11 cups popped popcorn – which is about ⅓ cup kernels. You can pop your popcorn on the stove or in a popcorn maker. You can find everything you need to know about making popcorn on the stovetop here (just make sure to skip the butter). I’ve also bought bags of lightly salted popcorn (that’s already popped) when I’m in a rush. Just be sure that you aren’t using any kind of buttered microwave popcorn or anything that’s heavily salted.
Note: I like a thick layer of caramel on my popcorn. If you prefer a thinner layer, making your popcorn less sweet, feel free to use anywhere between 10-15 cups of popped popcorn (about ½ cup of kernels).
Making the Caramel Sauce
My favorite part of this caramel sauce is that there’s no need for a candy thermometer. In a large saucepan you’ll melt the butter first, then once it’s completely melted add in the butter and corn syrup and give it a stir. Once everything is melted, stop stirring. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil for 5 minutes (without stirring). Then remove the pot from the heat and stir in the baking soda, vanilla extract, and salt. Note: if your popcorn is already salted, you can skip the salt.
The Secret to Perfect Caramel Popcorn
After you’ve made the caramel sauce and tossed the popcorn in your sauce, then it’s time to bake the popcorn. Baking the popcorn is the secret to perfect popcorn for a few reasons:
- It ensures that the popcorn doesn’t get soggy.
- Makes your popcorn addictively crunchy.
- And extends the shelf life for about about 2-3 weeks, making it perfect for gifting.
You’ll divide the coated popcorn between 2 lined baking sheets, then bake in the oven at 225F for 50-60 minutes. Every 15 minutes or so, take the sheets out of the oven and flip the popcorn so that it bakes evenly. If you’re using a thinner layer of caramel (ie if you used 15 cups of popped popcorn instead of 10) it will only need about 40-45 minutes baking.
More Snack Recipes to Love
- How to Make Stovetop Popcorn
- Ultimate Popcorn Recipes
- Cajun Popcorn
- Slow Cooker Chex Mix
- Muddy Buddies
- Baking Sheets
- 10 cups popcorn* about ⅓ cup kernels will make 10 cups
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt leave out the salt if your popcorn is already salted
- Line 2 cookie sheets with baking mats or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 225F degrees.
- In a very large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add in the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir to melt everything together.
- Once melted, bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Stop stirring and let the mixture gently boil for 5 minutes without stirring.
- Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda, vanilla extract and salt.
- Toss the popcorn with the caramel sauce.
- Divide the popcorn between the 2 baking sheets and spread into an even layer.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, flipping the popcorn every 15 minutes or so.
- Once fully baked, remove from the oven and cool fully. Break the popcorn into pieces. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.
- 10 cups of popcorn will be enough for popcorn with a very thick layer of caramel. For a thinner caramel coating, use 15 cups of popped popcorn instead. You can pop your popcorn on the stovetop or in a popcorn machine. Do not toss your popcorn in butter.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 weeks.