With a rich homemade caramel sauce drizzled over fresh popcorn, this caramel corn is sure to bring back childhood memories of carnivals and fairs!

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Homemade Caramel Popcorn! With a rich homemade caramel sauce drizzled over fresh popcorn, this caramel corn is sure to bring back childhood memories of carnivals and fairs! | HomemadeHooplah.com

About Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Whether you call this caramel popcorn or caramel corn, the results are always the same:

A salty-sweet snack that’s perfect for eating or gifting.

And with a simply delicious flavor profile like that, it’s easy to see why caramel-covered popcorn has become a fan-favorite at carnivals and binge-watching movie nights alike.

Only now you can make it at home!

How long does caramel popcorn last?

When stored in an air-tight container, caramel corn should remain good for up to five days.

Do you have to add baking soda?

Of all the ingredients you’d expect to be in caramel corn, baking soda is probably a bit of a surprise – and it’s absolutely necessary to make sure the caramel has the right consistency to work with.

The baking soda has a chemical reaction with the brown sugar and corn syrup, causing a foam of carbon dioxide air bubbles to form. This reaction gives the caramel sauce a soft, silky texture, and it helps keep the caramel from hardening too fast, giving you time to completely cover the popcorn in sauce.

Why do you bake caramel popcorn?

I’m all for consolidating steps or making recipes more simple, but in this case, it’s very important that the caramel popcorn be baked.

The short answer: Baking caramel popcorn gives this treat the dry, crispy texture we all love about it.

The long answer: After adding baking soda to the caramel sauce (see point above), the caramel sauce has essentially “transformed” from the quick-to-dry, sticky substance we all know caramel to be to a smoother, softer sauce. So in order to get the caramel to “set” on the popcorn and make it a finger-friendly food, it must be baked to remove the moisture, helping the sauce solidify around the popcorn.

What if you prefer chewy caramel popcorn?

This recipe makes a crispy, carnival-quality caramel popcorn, but if you prefer a softer or chewier texture, simply cook the popcorn for less time.

This recipe calls for 45 minutes in the oven, so you can start off by testing a piece of popcorn after 20 minutes of baking. Pinch the popcorn with your fingers first (careful, it may be hot!) and if it feels okay, try taking a bite. If the popcorn isn’t the right consistency yet, cook for another five minutes and try again. Repeat this step until the popcorn has the consistency you like.

What else can you add to caramel popcorn?

Nothing is better than snack food except for snack food you can customize with more snack food, and that is exactly what you can do with caramel corn.

So if you’re looking to jazz up this recipe, check out this list of my personal favorite additions:

notes & this for this easy caramel popcorn

  • I mention this in the recipe instructions, but I think it’s worth stating again: making caramel corn is easy, but it’s also very messy. Make sure you have a large baking sheet, a silicone baking mat (parchment paper will not cut it for this recipe), and wax paper on hand.

More great caramel recipes

How to make caramel popcorn

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a medium saucepan, add butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Cook and whisk until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved.

Step 2 – Quickly add vanilla, salt, and baking soda to the saucepan, then continue to whisk. The sauce will get a thick, fluffy texture and turn a much lighter shade of caramel (it’s actually pretty cool to watch!) The whole process should take about 2-4 minutes. Once sauce is ready, remove the pan from heat.

Step 3 – Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, then arrange popped popcorn on top. Pour the caramel sauce on top of the popcorn and use a spatula to toss and coat the popcorn. Be sure to work quickly so the sauce doesn’t cool and harden too early.

Step 4 – Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the caramel popcorn, tossing it every 15 minutes or so to ensure the caramel is baked on evenly.

Step 5 – Remove popcorn from the oven. Line a flat surface with wax paper and pour the finished caramel popcorn out on top. If you’re adding peanuts, pour them over the caramel popcorn and then toss to mix. Spread popcorn out in an even layer.

Step 6 – Let the caramel popcorn cool completely.

Step 7 – Enjoy!

Recipe Details

Homemade Caramel Popcorn! With a rich homemade caramel sauce drizzled over fresh popcorn, this caramel corn is sure to bring back childhood memories of carnivals and fairs! | HomemadeHooplah.com
3.77 from 46 votes

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

40 mins prep + 45 mins cook + 1 hr Cool Time
1120 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
With a rich homemade caramel sauce drizzled over fresh popcorn, this caramel corn is sure to bring back childhood memories of carnivals and fairs!

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (parchment paper is not recommended for this). Spread popped popcorn evenly across prepared baking sheet, then set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, and butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Whisk constantly until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved into a smooth sauce, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla, salt, and baking soda to the saucepan, continuing to whisk constantly. Sauce will lighten and may rise a little in the saucepan. Once sauce has thickened and gets an almost “fluffy” texture (about 2-4 minutes; see above video for example) remove saucepan from heat.
  • Pour sauce over popped popcorn on prepared baking sheet, then use a spatula to toss popcorn to coat. Work quickly so that the sauce does not cool and harden. It's okay if not every piece of popcorn is covered at this stage.
  • Transfer caramel popcorn to the oven and bake for a total of 45-60 minutes. At 15 minute intervals, remove baking sheet to counter and toss caramel popcorn again to coat and break up clumps, then return to oven. Repeat this 3-4 times until popcorn is evenly coated in caramel sauce and the sauce is sticky and adhered to the popcorn.
  • Remove caramel popcorn from oven. Prepare a flat surface by covering it with wax paper, then pour finished caramel popcorn across it. While popcorn is still warm, sprinkle peanuts on top of popcorn (optional). Use a spatula to toss and spread out caramel popcorn in an even layer to cool, breaking up any remaining clumps.
  • Let caramel popcorn cool at least 1 hour before eating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 1120kcal | Carbohydrates: 176g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 466mg | Potassium: 647mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 52g | Vitamin A: 709IU | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 6mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating




26 comments

    • Shirley Browning

    Not like we made as a kid. Sorry, but this recipe is not for me. I followed instructions to a t but I ended up with tiny soggy pieces of popcorn

    • Maryam

    Can I use sugar syrup instead of corn syrup?

    • Karen McMahon

    Looks amazing and want to share with friends. But no “print friendly” version 🙁

    • Bobbi

    It is possible the type of popcorn itself affects how crispy it turns out. We pop ours on the stove and prefer white popcorn, but I don’t think white popcorn would work as well for caramel corn. I think a gourmet type yellow corn that pops up big and fluffy might work better. It is just a suggestion, but playing around with the type of corn used might produce different results. This looks yummy, and I might just have to give it a go!

    • Regan Martin

    I am super excited to make this….using my dairy-free butter, it will be totally dairy free! Usually anything ‘caramel’ has cream in it, and there is just no substitute that will work! Yeah! Thanks for offering up this yummy looking recipe!

    • Lynda Bolio

    I have a simular recipe but I put mine in a large roasting pan then add carmel and stir and bake in the pan. You could even get a roasting pan from the $ store if you don’t have one.

    • robyn

    Was it a humid day? When I make seafoam candy similar to this, never make on a humid day. It’s a total flop every time. Something with the humidity keeps the candy from setting.

    • Susan Huff

    Looks delicious, but yikes! Is one cup of this 1,000+ calories or is that for the whole recipe?

    • Lori

    Do you think spray with Pam and a foil throw away pan would help with clean up?

      • Kim

      I used Reynolds non-stick foil and had no sticking issues.

    • Carmen Armstrong

    Was the popcorn in the recipe popped in a air popper? I do mine on the stove and I wonder if the soggy results are for that reason.. I have heard that air popped corn is crispier.

      • Chrisy

      That’s a great suggestion Carmen – I can confirm that mine was popped in an air popper, so that might be the difference? I’ll make a note of it in the recipe, just in case.

      • Kim

      I used a popper with oil and popcorn did crisp up.

    • Debbie
    • 4 stars

    My popcorn was not crunchy at all, I left it in the oven almost a complete hour. I also followed the directions and took it out every 15 mins to turn. I think next time I will just increase the heat in my oven. But other than that they taste was awesome.

      • Kim
      • 5 stars

      I thought after the fourth stirring that my caramel corn wasn’t the right consistency. I set the temperature up to 350 and set the timer for 5 minutes. Smelled burning by 3&1/2 minutes and removed it from oven. Yes, the bottom was burnt. Now it did crisp up, but I have a feeling that it would have even if I removed it after 4th stirring. From what I know about candy making, it is crucial to cook it long enough before pouring over popcorn. BTW my an old friend of mine liked it burnt.

    • Florence. Smith

    I like your recipes. I will try some of your recipes.

      • Chrisy

      Thanks Florence! If you do, I’d love to hear how they turn out 😀

    • Dayna

    Love your video!! Beautifully done! Will definitely be trying your recipe! 😉

      • Chrisy

      Thank you so much Dayna! 😀

    • Julie

    Help. My corn never got crispy or crunchy. Pretty soggy. What did I do wrong ?

      • Chrisy

      Hey Julie! So sorry you had trouble 🙁 This recipe worked well for me, but I did have a neighbor who said she had a similar problem. I’m not sure what the cause was, but she said she cooked the popcorn for another 10 minutes and it turned out okay. I know it’s a little late for you to try that now, but do you think it would have helped? Did it seem soggy because there was too much sauce, or that the sauce was too thick? If there was too much sauce, I’d recommend adding another cup (possibly up to 2) of popcorn. If the sauce was still too sticky, maybe try cooking for 10 more mins.

    • Demeter | Beaming Baker
    • 5 stars

    This caramel popcorn looks absolutely amazing! Just the perfect treat for upcoming holiday get-togethers!

      • Chrisy

      Thanks Demeter! And I totally agree 😀

        • Jill
        • 5 stars

        I made this delicious treat twice –once for my family to enjoy and once to take up as a snack for my extended family Thanksgiving. It is delicious! The salted peanuts add just the right touch!

          • Robyn

          Was it a humid day? When I make seafoam candy similar to this, never make on a humid day. It’s a total flop every time. Something with the humidity keeps the candy from setting.

          • Leslie

          This looks good, but it takes forever to get to the recipe and ingredient list.