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Homemade Caramel Popcorn (Recipe With Pictures)

Updated on February 22, 2014

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3.6 stars from 7 ratings of Homemade Caramel Popcorn


  • 3/4 Cups Unpopped Popcorn Kernels (or a package of microwave popcorn)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, walnut pieces, or whatever you like (optional)


  • Large mixing bowl (or two)
  • Air popper (or you can stove-pop the corn) OR microwave for packaged popcorn
  • 2 medium size baking pans (preferably ones with some depth because the popcorn will need to be stirred in them)
  • Oven

Preparation time: About 1 hour 30 mins

Stove Popped is my personal preference. Here is the popcorn before we coat it with delicious sugar!
Stove Popped is my personal preference. Here is the popcorn before we coat it with delicious sugar!
Melting the Caramel
Melting the Caramel

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Varies depending on amount of popcorn you use


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. That's not a typo, this requires a low temperature.
  2. Pop the popcorn. Either method (microwave, stove, or air) is fine but make sure you don't have any kernels mixed in with the final product. After popping put the popped corn into a separate bowl and leave out the leftover kernels.
  3. Melt the margarine, sugar, and syrup in a medium sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

This is roughly how the caramel should look just before mixing with the popcorn.
This is roughly how the caramel should look just before mixing with the popcorn.

   4. Boil the mixture without stirring for about five minutes, and remove from heat.

  5. Add the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture should start to look frothy and smell like heaven. Don't be tempted to sample it though, it's extremely hot.

Coating the popcorn with caramel sauce.
Coating the popcorn with caramel sauce.

   6. You'll likely have too much popcorn to stir it all up at once, so do it in sections. A bit of the popcorn with some sauce, mix it up (like rice krispie squares) and dump into the baking pan. Then repeat until it's all coated.You'll probably feel like you don't have enough sauce, but trust me, it WILL work! Just be moderate with the sauce and you'll have plenty to go around.

Popcorn baking in the oven.
Popcorn baking in the oven.

7. When all the popcorn is deliciously coated and in the baking pan(s), put them in the oven and bake at 250°F for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

8. The longer you bake the popcorn, the lighter and crispier it gets. Sample some each time you stir it, and remove when you feel it's done.

9. Let cool and enjoy!

The finished Caramel Corn!
The finished Caramel Corn!

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