With just a few simple ingredients, you can take your regular popcorn to a whole new level with Gourmet Caramel Popcorn. Baking it in the oven makes it nice and crunchy and leaves the house smelling like heaven!
Homemade Caramel Corn
Are you a popcorn-for-dinner type of person? I am. In fact, I love choosing a night to curl up on the comfy corner of our sectional with a jumbo bowl of popcorn, a large glass of ice water, and the remote control. A good Netflix Show or a great documentary and I’m a happy camper.
This caramel popcorn recipe is something I remember making with Mom over the years. She’d make several batches and we would just hang in the kitchen for hours – munching and crunching and chatting and laughing. Memories of “home” that I’ll always treasure.
Why This Recipe Works:
- EASY RECIPE – A simple recipe that is perfect for movie night or a birthday party.
- CRUNCHY – We love a tasty treat that is crunchy too. Baking it in the oven helps achieve the perfect texture.
- GOURMET TASTE – This gourmet caramel corn is full of buttery caramel flavors and is a sweet treat that’s hard to stop eating.
- MAKES A GREAT GIFT – I recommend packaging this delicous popcorn in a gourmet popcorn bag and surprising a friend with the perfect gift.
Ingredients needed for Caramel Popcorn:
The finest ingredients will yield great flavors in this decadent treat.
- Popcorn – You’ll need three tablespoons of oil and about 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels to make the popcorn in a Stir Crazy. You can also pop it according to your desired method.
- Butter – I use unsalted butter.
- Brown Sugar – I prefer the light version of brown sugar.
- Syrup – You’ll need about 1/2 cup of white corn syrup for this recipe.
- Vanilla – I love the Watkins brand of vanilla.
- Salt – Kosher salt is my go-to.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda gives the caramel mixture the rise.
How to make the best homemade caramel popcorn:
Make a big batch of popcorn. I love using my stir-crazy popcorn popper which I’ve used my entire life. To make this recipe, you’ll need about 2-3 tablespoons of oil (I prefer olive oil) and approximately 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels.
Make the caramel topping. In a large stock pot, melt the butter. Then add the brown sugar and corn syrup and bring the mixture to a boil. Let simmer for a couple of minutes, and then add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Continue cooking and stirring constantly. The mixture will start to grow, so be careful to avoid boiling over.
Pour caramel over the popcorn. Carefully, pour the caramel over the popcorn, and immediately stir to evenly coat the popcorn..
Bake. Prepare two baking sheets with baking spray, and spread the caramel popcorn evenly. Bake at 225 degrees for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Storing and Freezing:
- Store caramel popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
- Freeze caramel corn in freezer bags (or sealed containers) for up to four months. This is the perfect treat to pull out of the freezer on a rainy day!
A few tips for making epic caramel corn:
- First off – get a Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper STAT. It’s the BEST popper, in my opinion. All of my siblings own one (or two) and I made sure both boys had one when they left home. I’ve gone through a few of them in my 56-plus years!
- You need 2-3 tablespoons of oil and about 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels to make 6 quarts (needed for this recipe).
- The caramel topping cooks very quickly. Just make sure you stay close to the stove so it doesn’t cook over. The baking soda causes the mixture to bubble up – which is when you know that’s it done.
- BEWARE – because it’s hard to stop eating this caramel popcorn. Your family will gobble it up. You will eat more than you wanted to. Your kid who works at the local popcorn store will tell you it’s better than the caramel corn they sell. Even the dog will go crazy begging for some. My solution was to throw some of it in a freezer bag and run it to the laundry room freezer as fast as I could. 🙂
Baking soda is added to the caramel to react with the acid (the brown sugar and corn syrup). This reaction causes the caramel to bubble and expand, resulting in a lighter and more delicate texture.
The key to getting crunchy caramel corn is to bake it in the oven. A delicious snack that freezes well too!
I prefer to use white popcorn (over yellow) kernels for popping popcorn. It has a lighter, more delicate texture and is our favorite.
Kitchen Tools Used: (affiliate links)
Gourmet Caramel Popcorn
- 24 cups popcorn (popped) – 6 quarts
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pop 6 quarts of popcorn, removing any un-popped seeds. Pour into large bowl and set aside.
- In a large stock pan, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, and cook for two minutes.
- Add vanilla, salt and baking soda, and mix well. Stir for a couple of minutes until it starts to “grow”. You will know it when you see it.
- Pour mixture over popcorn, and stir until popcorn is well coated.
- Spread on baking sheets and bake at 225 degrees for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
- Cool, and store in an airtight container.
- You need two tablespoons of oil and about 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels to make 6 quarts (needed for this recipe).
- The caramel topping cooks very quickly. Just make sure you stay close to the stove so it doesn’t cook over. The baking soda makes the mixture start to grow – which is when you know that’s it done.
- This caramel popcorn stays well on the counter, for up to five days, in an airtight container.
- You can freeze this popcorn as well, up to three months.