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Best Soft Caramel Corn Recipe

Updated on October 18, 2015
Warm and Aromatic Soft Caramel Corn
Warm and Aromatic Soft Caramel Corn | Source

Best Recipe For Soft Caramel Popcorn Plus Crunchy Option

Have you ever tasted fresh popped popcorn slathered and mixed with a warm sauce of soft buttery caramel? Ohhh! Are you in for a luscious snack treat when you make Soft Caramel Corn! Even the aroma is a big draw. This is the best caramel popcorn we've tasted and my recipe, below, is quick to make. It's aching to be eaten still warm, while at it's finest.

  • I have re-created and improved my old-time soft caramel popcorn recipe . . . Adjusting it here and there, testing and re-testing, tweaking to perfection. Making it my own! I'm happy with the delicious result.

You Can Go Solo, Or Ask a Family Member To Help With The Final Step in Making This Recipe.

My husband loves the soft caramel corn, and now assists me when making it. I've made it myself, but I so appreciate his help. It is easier having a helper stir the caramel sauce into one of the two pans of popcorn. If you have a teen or adult in your household, you might grab them to help with this part. It must be done quickly so it mixes easily. Doing it yourself is doable if you use a super large bowl to mix the coating on the popcorn.

  • My Photos Showing Steps in Making the caramel corn, along with tips, will lead you to the recipe below.

Crispier Recipe Option For Hard-liners of Crunchier Caramel Corn

If you like the crispier cracker jack-type caramel popcorn you can first cook my softer recipe. Then, mix it into the popcorn and bake the batch in the oven, stirring occasionally to crisp it. Instructions are included.

Credit: Photos & Soft Caramel Popcorn Recipe: The author, aka, MariannesWhims

First Step Is Popping Your Popcorn - We make ours in this Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper.

Popcorn Popped Oil-free in Microwave.
Popcorn Popped Oil-free in Microwave. | Source

A Quick Caramel Corn Recipe Made In No Time.

This caramel corn recipe can take less than 30 minutes to make, once ingredients and utensils are gathered.

Gather Some of The Utensils and Pans Needed for This Recipe

~air popper or microwave popcorn popper
~2-qt saucepan
~liquid and solid measuring cups

~silicone heat resistant spatula
or long handled spoon

~2 large dutch ovens/roaster or
~1 large aluminum turkey roaster
or l super-size stainless steel bowl

Choose Heat Resistant Long Handled Stirring Utensils


Grocery Shopping List

Check this list before your next grocery shopping trip. Here's every ingredient you'll need for making the Best Soft Caramel Corn.

  • Popcorn
  • Light corn syrup Karo with Vanilla. It did not contain high fructose.)
  • Butter
  • Peanuts (optional)
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cream of tartar

Why Glass Measuring Cups Are Preferred By Many Over Plastic.

  • The red measurements are clear to see, yet, the greatest feature is they are made of glass.
  • Glass measuring cups are easier to clean, especially after measuring oil, or using them to serve syrup, or gravy.
  • Plastic can look smudgy or scratched. Scratches can pick up bacteria.
  • Glass most often are dishwasher safe and microwaveable.
  • Some plastics may contain PVC's that leach toxins.
  • Withstands hot liquids.

Preparations Before Getting Started

1. Rub a thin film of butter on pans to be used for mixing the caramel corn.

2. Butter the stirring utensils. Don't butter the handles where you grip.

3. Mix baking soda, salt and cream of tartar, together in a very small bowl. Place by stovetop.

4. Pop the popcorn.

It Helps To Split Popcorn between 2 Pans.

Popcorn Ready For Caramel Sauce
Popcorn Ready For Caramel Sauce | Source

Next, Melt Your Butter. Add Brown Sugar. Stir. Then, Add Corn Syrup. Stir All Together.

Melting Butter And Adding Ingredients
Melting Butter And Adding Ingredients | Source

Alert Your Helper In Time

If you have a helper, ask them to be ready as you start to cook the caramel. It can harden fast if cooked too long or not stirred into the popcorn immediately. Hot caramel can burn your skin. Do not touch or eat it while it is super hot. Keep children at a safe distance away for their safety.

Once Caramel Starts To Boil--- Stop Stirring! - Set The Timer For 4 Minutes

Stop Stirring When Boiling Starts
Stop Stirring When Boiling Starts | Source

When Timer Goes off, Quickly Add Mix Of Baking Soda, Salt, and Cream of Tartar - Don't Stir More Than a Few Gentle Strokes To Mix.

Mixing in Baking Soda, Salt, and Cream of Tartar
Mixing in Baking Soda, Salt, and Cream of Tartar | Source

Pour Caramel Sauce Over Popcorn In Both Pans and Stir It To Mix Well. This Step Goes Fast and Is Critical To Do Immediately. Be Careful Of The Hot Caramel.

Stirring in Caramel
Stirring in Caramel | Source

The Finished Soft Caramel Corn - Look Luscious? It Sure Is!

Finished Soft Caramel Popcorn
Finished Soft Caramel Popcorn | Source

Cook Time

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25-30 minutes

Soft Caramel Popcorn Recipe - Ingredients

  • 1 cup to 1 1/4 cup Popcorn kernels, Pop 1/2 cup at a time
  • Peanuts (optional)
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 cubes)
  • 1 cup brown cane sugar, Dark or light
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup, Karo Syrup-has 0% high fructose
  • 3/4 teaspoon soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions For Best Soft Caramel Corn

  1. First: Pop the popcorn. Remove un-popped kernels. Pour popcorn between two buttered roasters, Dutch ovens, or one super large bowl or large turkey roaster. Peanuts may be added, if desired.
  2. Mix baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar in a tiny bowl and place by stovetop. Have corn syrup and brown sugar measured and ready by stovetop. Cut up butter in a few pieces and place it in a saucepan.
  3. Alert your helper (if available) to be ready soon to help with stirring caramel sauce into the popcorn.
  4. Melt butter in a sauce pan (heat below medium).
  5. Stir in brown sugar. Add corn syrup and stir. Adjust temperature to medium heat.
  6. Watch sauce and stir occasionally until boiling begins.
  7. When mixture starts to boil, remove spatula or spoon and set timer for 4 minutes. Important--Stop stirring while boiling.
  8. Let caramel sauce boil steadily on medium heat for 4-minutes, without stirring. Do not overcook.
  9. Immediately, take pan off heat and add mix of soda, cream of tartar, and salt, stirring gently only a few stirs to mix bubbling sauce. (Caramel sauce will become frothy with baking soda mixture and swell up.)
  10. Hot Mixture: Use Caution Not to Burn Skin.
  11. Next: Without delay, carefully pour hot frothy caramel sauce over popped corn in both pans. Stir, mixing sauce into popcorn.
  12. Ready to eat soon while still warm. Store in a covered container.
  13. Bon Appetit!
  14. Recipe Credit: The author, aka, MariannesWhims

Do You Like My Soft Caramel Popcorn Recipe?

5 stars from 1 rating of Best Soft Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Recipe Instructions For Final Steps To Baking Crunchier Caramel Corn

Many caramel popcorn recipes are not finished unless baking the caramel corn in the oven. The caramel corn recipe is already so good when it is warm with soft chewy caramel that I don't bake it. It is a little tacky when warm (definitely not recommended for those with braces or other devices in the mouth.)

But, For Those Who Prefer Crunchier, Drier Caramel Corn:

Here's instructions for this final step to bake soft caramel corn (made from my recipe on this page) in the oven:

Preheat oven to 200 degree F.

Put caramel corn in a large greased roaster. Bake in oven for one hour, Stirring occasionally. When done, spread caramel popcorn on a Demarle Silpat or waxed paper to cool. Store in a tightly covered container.

Do you remember the first time you tried caramel corn? How about soft caramel corn?

My first recollection was having Cracker Jack when I was around five years old. I was especially impressed with the peanuts and the prize in the box. Later, when I was close to middle school age a neighborly lady from next door brought over a large bowl of freshly made soft and tacky caramel corn to share with us while visiting. It was still warm. It surpassed eating Cracker Jack, hands down! The aroma was heavenly and so was the taste.

We would love to read your caramel corn comment.

Which Type Caramel Popcorn Do You Like Better? - Pick A Side: State Your Preference

Do you Like Warm, soft Caramel on Your Popcorn OR Crunchy Crisp Carmel Corn?

An Awesome Treat For Holidays, Parties, Movies, and Friends

When is a perfect time for caramel corn? Almost anytime is a fun time for caramel corn.

Why not make it to enjoy on family movie night or as a surprise treat for the kids when they come home from school. It would be fun eating it while taking a relaxing break on the patio after mowing the lawn or working in the garden.

Caramel Popcorn is popular at parties, holidays, breaks from school, given as gifts at Christmas, and while watching Nascar races, or sports on television.

How about at a tween slumber party (Oops! I'm dating myself. Slumber parties were so fun in my day, but they are called sleep-overs now. I hope they are just as fun.)

Getting back. . . Imagine sitting in a porch swing eating caramel popcorn, or huddled around a fire pit in the backyard with friends and family. I bet you can think of more occasions. Caramel corn is a good snack any season. A great way to make memories and start a family tradition.

Thanks for visiting. Was this article helpful to you?

Enjoy some good memories over a bowl of caramel popcorn. More comments follow.

Spread some smiles today.

Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper, White, 12 Cup
Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper, White, 12 Cup
This microwave popper is the type we used, as shown in my own photo above. It does not require oil and is easy to use and care for with little cleaning.

Do You Enjoy Caramel Popcorn and Caramel Desserts? - What Foods Do You Like Containing Caramel?

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Just made. It's way way too buttery, kids spit it out. Gonna try only 1/2 stick with next batch

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @kayenta: Thanks for taking a look. This caramel popcorn tastes so good.

    • kayenta profile image


      6 years ago from utah

      Yum! Makes me want to eat them right now:)

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @Zeross4: Thanks for your visit. Hope you like it if you make a batch. We made it lately, it's so good.

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 

      6 years ago from Kentucky

      I want some!

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @WriterJanis2: Mmmm. It's so good. Hope you try it.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      You have me craving this now.

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @Charito1962: Thanks for stopping by my caramel corn lens. I hope you like the recipe if you give it a try. Thanks for the squidlike.

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @ecogranny: I'm so glad you stopped by my caramel popcorn lens. I bet you miss the popcorn. Hope you can start having it again.

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I love caramelized popcorn! I have a sweet tooth.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      When we had a microwave, we had popcorn nearly every night, and I sometimes made caramel sauce as a special treat. Your recipe looks divine. I'm going to check out that whirly-gig stove-top device. Maybe we can start having popcorn again, if I can find room for it in our tiny kitchen.

    • MariannesWhims profile imageAUTHOR

      Marianne Gardner 

      6 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      @marvins: Thanks! Welcome to Squidoo.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Delicious........ Nice corn.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      yummy delicious popcorn. This lens made me hungry... hehe :D

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I learned to make caramel corn using a microwave to cook the caramel. The neatest (literally) trick was to put the popped corn in a clean paper grocery bag (about 1/2 full) and just quickly dump the cooked caramel on top. Then fold over the top and shake shake shake. Then pop the whole bag in the microwave and cook on high for about a minute. Shake again. Cook for one more minute. Shake. Then just tear open the bag. The popcorn is easy to remove when it is cooled and there is no messy bowl to clean. The two sessions in the microwave crisp up the caramel so might want to skip that part to keep it soft.. I can't wait to try this using your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love popcorns! Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      6 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I used to make caramel popcorn when I was in junior high with a friend whose family was from Europe. They LOVED it, and I loved making it because they loved doing it so much. Sweet memory!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      6 years ago from USA

      Nothing better than a good recipe like this one. Congrats on the LOTD and for sharing your wonderful recipe.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This looks delicious and easy to make! I can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks for sharing... :o)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like crunchy and soft caramel popcorn. Its yummy and sweet and possibly addicting. Thanks for sharing this tasty lens!

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      That looks like the recipe I grew up on. Fantastic memories of those popcorn balls.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks tasty, I may have to try this.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      yummy me like warm popcorn.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I'll save this page. We've been growing popping corn for the first time this year and we're hoping it's going to be ready soon. Fingers crossed we may be able to try out your recipe with it! Thanks for sharing and congrats on LoTD.

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Simple and doable :) Will try this at home.. :)

    • rhondalynnjohnson profile image


      6 years ago

      When I was little my mom would mix brown sugar and peanut butter and pour over our popcorn. Yum. Great Lens.

    • clicks-4-bricks profile image


      6 years ago

      Awesome recipe! Thanks for sharing this and congrats on LOTD!

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Wow, that looks so good! I gotta make this one for movie night.

    • profile image

      Kaylab123 LM 

      6 years ago

      Okay seriously, this AMAZING!! I have been craving really good caramel corn for the last couple of days, so this lens couldn't have come at a better time!! Thank you for all the great instructions and mouth-watering photos! Can't wait to try this recipe!

    • SamuraiMarine profile image

      Samuel Wright 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, Ca.

      Popcorn is one of those mixed loves for me. I am the guy that will go into the theatre with my wife and tell her I am not interested in having popcorn and then end up eating half the bag she buys. Same at home, she will make some, not nearly as good at this looks, and I will tell her "No Thanks" and then end up eating most of it. I am going to share this with her so that I have another type of popcord that I will "Not be interested in".


    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much the photos were very helpful congrats on LOTD too

    • NuttSoRuff profile image


      6 years ago

      Love anything caramel!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like caramel desserts, not a huge fan of caramel popcorn. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      6 years ago

      I am trying to figure out how this relates to my weight loss diet. Well, it is wheat free! Oh heck - sometimes it is worth a splurge. Pinned to my candy board.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love caramel, and popcorn, will certainly give this a go. Thanks for sharing!

    • CrazyHomemaker profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens. It's making me very hungry! Congrats on LOTD and Purple Star. I'm bookmarking to try this later. YUM! Thanks for the recipe.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      lam rt ep

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like caramel corn dish due to its salty and sweetish taste. It is addicting! This recipe is perfect for movie nights, date nights, or for a quick homemade present. People of all ages love popcorn.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yummy caramel popcorn sounds like a fun treat to make.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Total Yum! Congratulations on your Lens of the Day!

    • RHKnight profile image


      6 years ago

      Yummy, two things I love that go great together. I will have to try this soon.

    • delia-delia profile image


      6 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Nicely done lens in all aspects. I like all Carmel flavored things and I love Carmel popcorn...sure looks yummy and will make it for the holidays.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never made caramel corn, but after reading this I do believe I must try it!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I love caramel anything. This recipe looks delightful! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on LOTD honors. Well-deserved!

    • starrfinancial profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks very yummy! Thanks for sharing.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      6 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Wow!!! I'm keeping this one Thanks

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 

      6 years ago from Europe

      That looks fabulous. I'll try it with golden syrup instead of corn syrup, I'm sure it will be excellent.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I find this a very informative and interesting lens. Thank you.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      6 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Lovely lens and great looking caramel popcorn! Great job. I'll be trying this.

    • RoadMonkey profile image


      6 years ago

      My grandmother loved cooking with sugar: toffee, fudge, caramel, etc. One of my favourite desserts is called banoffee - toffee banana, very sweet but lovely served with cream. We didn't have popcorn around when i was young but as I got older, it became available and I loved eating it.

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 

      6 years ago from Czech Republic

      Hi! Nice yummy lens... I was really inspired after reading it.... thank you very much for sharing your secrets!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      Sounds and looks delicious. Congrats on LOTD!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      Yes, caramel and butterscotch are good. Congratulations on LotD and your purple star.

    • Nightcat profile image


      6 years ago

      Congrats on LoTD! :)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I love homemade caramels. Yum!

    • bobnolley lm profile image

      bobnolley lm 

      6 years ago

      Nice and hungry now! Congrats on your LOTD!


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