Easy Homemade Caramel Corn

from 31 votes

Sit back and snack on everyone’s favorite sweet and crunchy treat with a recipe for Easy Homemade Caramel Corn.

Easy Homemade Caramel Corn

My mom and grandmother declare every holiday as the perfect excuse to send me my favorite treat—a tri-colored assortment of butter, cheddar and caramel popcorn from my best buddies over at The Popcorn Factory.

Since I polished off my latest tin weeks ago, and the next holiday shipment is way too far away, this kernel-crazed aficionado has resorted to making her own.

Caramel being poured over popcorn in stockpot

Few foods are as satisfying to crunch into as homemade caramel corn. That sticky, chewy, crispy bite satisfies like no other sweet and salty snack.

With a 10-minute prep time, and endless mix-in options, going the DIY route is much easier than you might think!

Homemade caramel over freshly popped popcorn

Homemade caramel corn begins with freshly popped kernels that are then tossed in a quick-fix combination of butter and sugar. But to really achieve the classic caramel corn consistency, the coated kernels are then baked until slightly crispy.

Child's hands on baking sheet of homemade caramel corn

Serve this sweet and salty treat in bowls or go the extra accessible step and make parchment paper cones for finger-friendly snacking year-round.

The best caramel popcorn

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Dessert

Easy Homemade Caramel Corn

Homemade caramel corn is a breeze to make!
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 31 votes
Easy Homemade Caramel Corn
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 20 servings

Ingredients 

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Grease two baking sheets with cooking spray.
  • Add the vegetable oil to a large stockpot set over medium heat.
  • Add the popcorn to the pot and cover it. Once you hear the first kernel pop, remove the pot from the heat for one minute. Return the covered pot to the heat, shaking it over the flame until all of the kernels have popped. Discard any unpopped kernels.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then allow the mixture to boil, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the baking soda.
  • Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn, stirring to coat the kernels.
  • Transfer the coated popcorn onto the baking sheets, spreading it out into an even layer.
  • Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove the caramel corn from the oven and stir it one more time before allowing it to cool completely. Break it into pieces and serve.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 24mg, Sodium: 157mg, Potassium: 49mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 284IU, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

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5 from 31 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Oh my goodness! This stuff is THE BEST! I was afraid that the clean up would be a nightmare, but with hot water the caramel melts right off the pans. I’m gifting it to everyone I know this Christmas!

  2. If you can find the corn puffs, it is even better. No hulls to deal with!!! I can’t find the puffs this year. Since the pandemic the price has gone up to about 3X so it is getting expensive to make it that way. Plain old popcorn works just fine.

  3. 5 stars
    I cook longer than recommended because I want my caramel corn crisp. But it’s lovely! And so easy! I made 5 gallons a few years ago.

  4. I have not made the recipe yet, but would love to. I am not a fan of corn syrup. Can anything else be substituted?

    1. Hi Sue! Honey can often times be substituted for corn syrup, however I haven’t tried that swap in this recipe specifically.

  5. 5 stars
    This is my favorite caramel corn recipe. Have made it multiple times. It’s always a hit and turns out perfectly. Sometimes I drizzle almond bark over it. A friend said the caramel corn was “dangerous”! In fact, some neighbors, who I don’t see very often, don’t remember my name but remember I brought the caramel corn! Lol

  6. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! I cook the caramel to soft boil stage on candy thermometer before adding baking soda. I add 2-4 cups whole pecans.

  7. 5 stars
    This is my all-time favorite recipe for caramel corn! Mine always turns out more crunchy than sticky, which I prefer so there’s no worry of anyone hurting their teeth. I make this for my grandpa several times a year and it’s absolute favorite thing. He talks about it all the time and makes everyone try it when they visit him. He’s even started giving me money toward the shipping so I’ll make it for him even more frequently.

  8. I tried this recipe and my family loved it, they are already asking me to make another batch, very tasty and crunchy and yet melts in your mouth.

  9. 5 stars
    So so good but too addictive! Made it at Christmas for gifts for kids at church. Added dried cranberries and flaked almonds. The adults were grabbing the bags and eating the goodies then coming back for bags for their kids!!

  10. Made this today for Christmas Eve and it was absolutely delicious and the family loved it. Will definitely make this again

  11. 5 stars
    I made this and followed the directions exactly, except that I didn’t have kosher salt and substituted pink Himalayan salt. I must tell you that this was sooo very good. Crunchy and not sticky to the teeth. Amazing flavor! Everyone loved it and thought I had bought gourmet caramel corn. This is definitely a keeper. I might try adding peanuts the next time to make it taste like good old fashioned Cracker Jacks! Thank you for this recipe.

  12. 5 stars
    Me again -I have made this recipes many times and it always comes out perfectly! The house smells like a candy factory and the caramel corn is delicious. I eat it and use it for simple gifts. Sometimes I drizzle white and dark almond bark over it. I have put peanuts in as well. Always terrific. I gave some to a neighbor who said it was toxic! – in a good way!!!

  13. 5 stars
    Wow, this recipe is really good. Years ago I made caramel corn from a different recipe and remember being disappointed in the results. It came out as a gooey, clumped-up mess. But this recipe worked really well. The popcorn didn’t stick together nearly as much and the caramel coating dried well. I only had microwave popcorn, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly as printed. Thanks for posting this!

  14. 5 stars
    First time ever to make caramel corn. My popcorn usually turns out tough, followed directions in recipe it was perfect. So I continued on to the caramel part. It turned out delicious…so now I have to make a batch for my son, his Dad and I have nearly eaten the first batch… fantastic recipe 5 stars.

  15. 5 stars
    I didn’t want to use corn syrup, so I used honey. It worked great. I also crisped up some bacon and added it to the popcorn. Bacon caramel popcorn.

  16. Do you have to add the salt to the mixture? I know I should add the baking soda, but with the salt also, it would be too much sodium for our diet.
    Thanks

  17. 5 stars
    Best caramel corn ever! My kids and I devoured this last night. Making another batch today for our Halloween party tonight.

  18. I’ve tried to make caramel popcorn (not your recipe) but my question is how to I make it so it’s not a big glob and more like popcorn than popcorn balls?

    1. Hi Marci! You’ll avoid the popcorn from balling up based on how quickly you stir in the caramel mixture. Once it hits the popcorn, stir as quickly as possible then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool in a single layer :)

      1. I followed the recipe to a t, in fact I made it twice. My question is is it supposed to be kind of grainy or sugary? thought. would be shiny

      2. Hi Marci. We have been making caramel popcorn in our house for years. My wife doesnt want us all consuming so much sugar. Make half the recipe for the drizzle and drizzle on popped popcorn sparingly. It doesn’t come out overly saturated with syrup but definitely sweet enough for us.

    2. I’ve been making it like this for years and we love it. I usually skip the baking step and we eat it just as it comes from the kettle.
      The times I’ve tried baking, the popcorn seems to shrivel up and it’s not a good presentation. What could I be doing wrong.

  19. My spouse and I stumbledd over here frim a different web address and
    thought I might check thigs out. I like what I see so now i’m following you.
    Look forward to looking at your web page for a second time.

  20. OMG I love caramel popcorn. Thank you for providing a print link, this is absolutely perfect for my Canada Day celebration (which is today xD) thank you.

  21. If you don’t have time to make your own delicious homemade caramel corn, check out TheBigPopper.com. Their caramel popcorn is an old-fashioned favorite that is as delicious and addictive a snack as ever. I recommend ordering a tin or two today for home or as a gift.

  22. Nice to see that you did your own thing with the corn. It looks decadent and really yummy! I want to dive in to that cone of crunch.

    Here is my Strawberry, Roasted Corn & Avocado Salsa for Summer Fest:

    http://su.pr/1CYkMZ

  23. Love your caramel corn! I used to work in a candy store, and we made caramel corn in this large copper pot with a huge wooden paddle. It was hard work, but it was totally worth it at the end!
    I’ve made some Fresh Corn and Black Bean Salsa to celebrate Summer Fest. Cheers!

  24. Yum! Caramel corn is one of those things I just can’t resist! This time of year, I can’t help but just eat corn straight off the cob most of the time, grilled or steamed, but if I do cook with it, my favorite recipes include:

    Calabacitas
    http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2009/08/calabacitas/

    Three Sisters Chili, and
    http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2009/09/three-sisters-chili/

    Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Soup
    http://heartlandrenaissance.com/2007/11/green-chile-chicken-tortilla-soup/

    A few have been on the blog for a while, but I couldn’t help but share them this week for SummerFest! Thank you for hosting!

    Best,
    Sarah