Homemade caramel popcorn recipe is sweet and buttery for the perfect snack. The caramel coating is just the right amount, so the popcorn stays crispy. This is the best caramel corn.

Bowl of caramel popcorn.
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This easy caramel popcorn is the best oven baked dessert. Each bite is light, buttery and coated in the perfect amount of caramel. I have perfected all of the amounts, so it has the best caramel coating.

Whip up a batch for movie night, after school snacks or just because. Either way, this easy recipe does not disappoint. If you love flavored popcorn recipes you might love our Puppy Chow Popcorn, Peanut Butter Popcorn, or our Rainbow Popcorn Recipe.

Why we love this recipe

Popcorn is so frugal and really delicious. Anyone can make this recipe without much effort. It is the best recipe to serve a crowd!

We even make popcorn balls for another fun movie night treat.

Ingredients

  • butter – Unsalted butter is best.
  • brown sugar – You can use light brown sugar or dark brown sugar.
  • corn syrup – Light corn syrup or dark corn syrup both work well in this recipe. You can use what you prefer.
  • vanilla extract
  • popcorn – Pop kernels prior to starting the recipe. I like to use plain popcorn without any butter or seasonings on it. You can use microwave popcorn or stovetop popcorn.

Get the complete ingredient list in the recipe card.

Variations ideas

  • Nuts- This popcorn is delicious with nuts added in. Our favorites include peanuts, almonds and pecans. I prefer to use whole or halves and not pieces. Cashews would also be tasty.
  • Chocolate- Drizzle chocolate or white chocolate on the popped corn after it comes out of the oven. Allow it to cool and then break into pieces as normal. If you are feeling decadent, drizzle both types of chocolate on the popcorn.
  • Holiday popcorn – This is a fun seasonal idea. You can add Christmas m&m’s to the mixture. Also, melt red and green candy melts to drizzle on top.

    Another idea is to melt white chocolate and use red and green food coloring. This could work for any holiday or occasion.
  • Sprinkles- Coordinate the popcorn to seasons, holidays, parties and even Game Day. After you drizzle a little chocolate, add a few sprinkles to jazz things up.

How to make homemade caramel popcorn

  • Step 1. First, preheat the oven. Allow the oven to heat up to 250 degrees. While the oven is heating up, put the popped popcorn in a very large bowl.
Saucepan with butter.

Step 2. Second, make the caramel sauce. Use a medium saucepan or large saucepan to melt the butter.

Saucepan with brown sugar added to butter.

Step 3. Next, heat and stir the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Allow this mixture to come to a boil and stirring every 15 minutes.

Mixture boiling in pan.

Step 4. Stop stirring and allow it to boil for about 4 minutes. Resist the urge to stir it during this step. After the 4 minutes, remove from the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla extract.

Popcorn in bowl coated in caramel.

Step 5. Pour the caramel sauce. Get all of that decadent caramel sauce and pour it over the popcorn. Give it a good stir to coat all of the popcorn with the caramel sauce.

Popcorn on baking sheet.

Step 6. Bake the popcorn. The last step is to put the popcorn in two large shallow baking sheets or dishes. Bake for about 40 minutes. Make sure to stir the popcorn half way through the baking time.

Bowl of caramel popcorn.

Step 7. Place in a bowl and serve.

Storage

Allow to cool completely on the counter after it is out of the oven. Break into pieces once cool and place into an airtight container or bag.

It will stay fresh as long as you keep it inside an airtight container. If the popcorn gets stale, no worries. You can put it back in the oven at 250 degrees for a few minutes to make it crispy again. Don’t highly heat the popcorn and make sure to use low degrees.

How to easily get rid of kernels?

It can be time consuming to pick out each individual unpopped kernel. I have a little trick for you.

Pour the popcorn over a cooling rack and the kernels will fall through while the popped corn stays on top. It makes it so fast and easy.

I usually put wax paper under the wire rack or sit it on a baking sheet to catch the kernels. This will prevent them from rolling all over.

Expert Tips

  • Make sure to use a really large mixing bowl to combine the popcorn and caramel sauce. You will need the room and it will help contain the mess.
  • The caramel mixture will bubble up while cooking. I suggest using a larger pan to ensure this does not bubble over the pan and create a huge sticky mess.
  • You do not want to omit the baking soda. This ingredient helps to react with the other ingredients to make sure the caramel is the right consistency. It also helps to make it easier to coat the popcorn so that it is evenly distributed.
  • Pick out any popcorn kernels that did not pop before adding the caramel mixture. You don’t want these unpopped kernels to get into the caramel because it will really hurt your teeth.
  • If you prefer the popcorn to be more heavily coated in caramel, reduce the amount of popcorn in the recipe.
  • Some people prefer chewier popcorn as opposed to crispy popcorn. If this is your preference, reduce the baking time and that will result in less crispy popcorn.
  • I would use a silicone spatula. This is the preferred tool to use when stirring the caramel mixture as it will clean very easily.
  • Nonstick skillets are best for this recipe. I wouldn’t use cast iron or other types of skillets in this recipe. Nonstick is best to make cleanup easy.

More easy candy recipes

I can’t wait for you to try the best caramel popcorn. Please leave a comment once you do.

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Caramel Corn Popcorn

5 from 8 votes
Homemade caramel popcorn recipe is sweet and buttery for the best snack. The caramel coating is the perfect amount so the popcorn is crispy.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6
Cuisine American
Course Dessert
Calories 635

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popped popcorn in a very large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Then stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil without stirring for approximately 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and then stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.
  • Then pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and stir it to coat all the popcorn with the caramel sauce.
  • Then place the popcorn in two large shallow baking dishes/ or pans and bake in preheated oven, for approximately 40 minutes (stirring half way through).
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
  • Store in an airtight container. I placed them in gallon size ziplock bags.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 635kcal, Carbohydrates 94g, Protein 1g, Fat 31g, Saturated Fat 20g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 8g, Trans Fat 1g, Cholesterol 81mg, Sodium 403mg, Potassium 110mg, Fiber 1g, Sugar 93g, Vitamin A 946IU, Calcium 74mg, Iron 1mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Desserts on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you create delicious desserts on a budget and do not require a ton of time. Together, we are going to make something sweet that the entire family will love!

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  1. I’d like to make this recipe but I need to know how many cups of popcorn is required. I don’t use microwave popcorn, it’s the old fashioned way for me!