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How to Make Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Updated on July 9, 2018
Helena Ricketts profile image

Helena Ricketts loves cooking from scratch and sharing her recipes with anyone who wants to try something new in the world of food.

Making homemade caramel popcorn is SO easy!

Homemade caramel popcorn is a great snack for movie night, anytime the kids are having friends over or when you just want a treat to cure that sweet tooth.
Homemade caramel popcorn is a great snack for movie night, anytime the kids are having friends over or when you just want a treat to cure that sweet tooth. | Source
5 stars from 2 ratings of Homemade Caramel Popcorn!

Have you ever made homemade caramel popcorn?

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When I was a little girl, my mother gave me a cookbook for my 8th birthday. Inside that fantastic cookbook was a recipe for homemade caramel popcorn. We made it so many times that the recipe is burned forever into my brain.

Over the years we tweaked the recipe. Changed a few little things here and there to make it better. One of the best things about this recipe is that it doesn't take that long to make and the finished caramel corn will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days. At least I think it will but I can't say for sure because it never lasts longer than a day in our house.

I remember one time my mother made quite a few bags of this caramel corn for my Girl Scout troop. We were going away to camp for the weekend and this was our contribution to the snack box. It was fantastic and kept very well in the brown paper sacks that she packed it in.

One thing to remember when you decide to make this popcorn is to use PLAIN popped corn. You can use popcorn that you pop in the microwave but you'll want to make sure that it's plain with NO seasoning on it at all. We have found that using a hot air popper or popping the corn on the stove top works best because you are guaranteed to have popped corn with no seasoning whatsoever on it.

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 8 cups of yummy caramel popcorn!

Ingredients

  • 8 cups popped popcorn, plain
  • 3/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • one handfull peanuts, optional

Making Homemade Caramel Popcorn in Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
You will need 8 cups of unseasoned popped popcorn.  We did ours on the stove.Put your popcorn into a large baking dish.  If you are adding peanuts, you'll want to add them at this step.Put the butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup into a saucepan and turn the heat on medium/low.It will look like this when the butter has melted and everything is nicely mixed together.In a few minutes, you'll notice that it starts to bubble because it is going to boil.  Stop stirring and set the timer for 5 minutes.Resist the urge to stir!  This is what it looks like a couple of minutes into the boil.Almost there.  About 4 minutes into the boil.This is what it looks like when the 5 minutes is up.Stir in the baking soda and vanilla.  It becomes creamy and smells fantastic at this point.  You have just made caramel!Pour the caramel over the popcorn.Stir the caramel and the popcorn to start the coating process.After a couple of times in and out of the oven and stirring, enjoy the fruit of your labor.  Delicious, homemade caramel popcorn!
You will need 8 cups of unseasoned popped popcorn.  We did ours on the stove.
You will need 8 cups of unseasoned popped popcorn. We did ours on the stove. | Source
Put your popcorn into a large baking dish.  If you are adding peanuts, you'll want to add them at this step.
Put your popcorn into a large baking dish. If you are adding peanuts, you'll want to add them at this step. | Source
Put the butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup into a saucepan and turn the heat on medium/low.
Put the butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup into a saucepan and turn the heat on medium/low. | Source
It will look like this when the butter has melted and everything is nicely mixed together.
It will look like this when the butter has melted and everything is nicely mixed together. | Source
In a few minutes, you'll notice that it starts to bubble because it is going to boil.  Stop stirring and set the timer for 5 minutes.
In a few minutes, you'll notice that it starts to bubble because it is going to boil. Stop stirring and set the timer for 5 minutes. | Source
Resist the urge to stir!  This is what it looks like a couple of minutes into the boil.
Resist the urge to stir! This is what it looks like a couple of minutes into the boil. | Source
Almost there.  About 4 minutes into the boil.
Almost there. About 4 minutes into the boil. | Source
This is what it looks like when the 5 minutes is up.
This is what it looks like when the 5 minutes is up. | Source
Stir in the baking soda and vanilla.  It becomes creamy and smells fantastic at this point.  You have just made caramel!
Stir in the baking soda and vanilla. It becomes creamy and smells fantastic at this point. You have just made caramel! | Source
Pour the caramel over the popcorn.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn. | Source
Stir the caramel and the popcorn to start the coating process.
Stir the caramel and the popcorn to start the coating process. | Source
After a couple of times in and out of the oven and stirring, enjoy the fruit of your labor.  Delicious, homemade caramel popcorn!
After a couple of times in and out of the oven and stirring, enjoy the fruit of your labor. Delicious, homemade caramel popcorn! | Source

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

  1. Pop a total of 8 cups of plain, unseasoned popcorn by either microwave, hot air popper or on the stove top.
  2. Put the 8 cups of popcorn into a large baking dish and if you are adding the peanuts for homemade Crunch N Munch, you will want to stir them in with the popcorn at this point. You can divide it between 2 8" by 12" baking dishes if you don't have one that is larger. Set these pans aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  4. In a saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup. Turn the burner on to medium/low heat and stir until the butter melts.
  5. Once the butter melts, keep stirring until the mixture starts to boil. Once you see the bubbles, stop stirring and set your timer for 5 minutes. You are going to let the mixture boil and resist the temptation to stir it for the full five minutes.
  6. Once the five minutes is up, turn off the burner and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.
  7. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir the popcorn around to start coating it with the caramel. You will not get a great coating at this point but you will by the time we are finished.
  8. Put the caramel popcorn into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
  9. When the 10 minutes has passed, pull the pan out and stir again. You should start to see a better coating starting to develop on the popcorn. Return the pan to the oven and set the timer for another 10 minutes.
  10. Once the second 10 minutes is up, pull the popcorn out of the oven and stir again. Again, the caramel should be coating more of the popcorn when you stir it.
  11. If you feel that the popcorn could benefit from one more stir, return it to the oven for five more minutes then stir one more time.
  12. Allow the caramel corn to cool in the pan. It usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Pour the cooled caramel corn into a bowl for eating now or a storage container or ziplock bag for eating later. It will keep for a few days as a great, quick snack on your pantry shelf. At least I think it will keep that long!

Caramel Popcorn is Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I stored this batch in our pantry and can guarantee it will not be there tomorrow night!
I stored this batch in our pantry and can guarantee it will not be there tomorrow night! | Source

How to Clean up the Pans Afterward

A lot of people cringe whenever they think about making caramel anything because some caramel recipes are hard to clean up afterward. This caramel ends up being softer than a lot of caramels, but it still stays firm on the popcorn. As a result, cleanup is a lot easier. Here's how I do it.

  • I fill the baking pan and the saucepan with extremely hot water.
  • I add a drop or two of dish soap.
  • Wait about 15 to 20 minutes and the caramel comes right off of the pans and utensils used to make the popcorn.

It really is an easy cleanup so don't let the thought of cleaning up caramel keep you from making this popcorn.

© 2014 Helena Ricketts

Comments

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    • Helena Ricketts profile imageAUTHOR

      Helena Ricketts 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks! It is easy to make. I hope you enjoy it! Please come back and let me know what you think about it once you make it.

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      Okay, I should not have read this hub before dinner. How delicious this sounds! Your instructions are so clear and make this sound easy enough that I really will try to make this. Thank you for sharing, voted up and useful!

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