Crispy, buttery, and utterly delicious caramel corn that’s perfect for Halloween, Christmas, Birthday parties, or even just an evening snack. Super simple to make, and it stays crisp and crunchy for a surprisingly huge amount of time!
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Popcorn is a classic snack for a reason; it isn’t just easy to make at home, but it is crunchy, more-ish, and usually salty.
While salty popcorn is obviously delicious, have you ever tried making something a bit sweeter?
This recipe for caramel popcorn combines a sweet, simple, and slightly tangy caramel sauce that goes really well over some popcorn. Alongside coating the popcorn in the sauce, you bake it in the oven to get the sugar to “hard crack,” which keeps it staying crisp and snappy for days.
Caramel Popcorn Ingredients
Make sure you look at the recipe card at the very bottom for the exact amounts so that you know exactly what to buy for this recipe.
• Butter (or margarine)
• Brown sugar
• Corn syrup
• Baking soda
• Vanilla extract
• Air-popped popcorn
How To Make Caramel Popcorn
• Pop all of your popcorn first and then remove from the heat
• Combine the butter, sugar, syrup, and salt, bringing the mixture to boil over medium heat
• Leave it for 5 minutes boiling without touching it
• Once done, remove from the heat, add the baking soda and vanilla
• Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and stir until coated
• Bake in the oven for 50 minutes at 250 Fahrenheit, stirring frequently
Why You Can’t Touch The Mixture When It Is Boiling
One instruction that usually accompanies making any kind of caramel sauce is to not touch it once it reaches boiling temperature, but why is that?
The biggest enemy when making a good caramel sauce is sugar crystals. Caramel sauce is basically a lot of sugar being held in suspension in butter, and sugar just loves to crystallize into bothersome little crunchy crystals when it gets exposed to the air.
If you stir the caramel sauce as it is cooking, then some of the sauce will cling to the sides of the saucepan. These tiny bits of sauce will then dry out and crystallize, which will then encourage further crystallization in the sauce as the rest of the caramel meets those little crystals.
This can result in a thick, crusty sauce that doesn’t have any of that wonderfully smooth, delicious texture most people are looking for in their sauces.
If you accidentally stir or agitate the pot after it starts boiling, you can wet a brush down with some water and then wash the sugar crystals off of the pan as it is boiling. The crystals will then fall back into the sauce, avoiding any crystallization.
How to Get That Perfectly Crisp, Crunchy Texture From Your Caramel Corn
The secret to that perfect texture that proper caramel corn has is to get the caramel sauce to the hard crack stage.
This can actually be done by heating the sauce on the pan until it reaches the right temperature and then coating the corn with it. However, this is really easy to burn, and a lot of people struggle to get it to the precise right temperature.
Instead, baking it for 50 minutes at 250 Fahrenheit is a lot more reliable way to get the proper texture. This lets the caramel sauce come to the right temperature slowly, ensuring a much better crackly and crunchy exterior along with the corn.
For even more textural contrast, you could mix nuts like pecans, almonds, or peanuts into the sauce as well.
If you want to try this, try and grind up the nuts a little bit; not into a completely fine powder, however, but just enough that it mixes a bit more easily with the corn. Make sure to only add it in once the sauce is at the finished temperature on the stove as well.
Looking for more delicious Snack recipes? Try these out:
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- Prep Time
- 5 minutes
- Cook Time
- 1 hour 25 minutes
- Karlynn Johnston
- ¾ cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 25 cups popcorn air popped
- Preheat the oven to 250 °F.
- Get your popcorn all popped up and remove the kernels that are left. You could use microwave popcorn, but there is just nothing like air-popped when it comes to fluffy, amazing popcorn. I use the big roasting pan that I have "for turkeys"- and throw the popcorn in there.
- Combine your butter, sugar, syrup and salt and bring to a boil on medium heat.
- Now, this next part just about kills me, but DO NOT stir it for 5 minutes after it starts to boil.
- Once that is done remove from the heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will sputter and spit at you, so be careful.
- Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and stir until coated.
- Put in the oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Make sure to stir it frequently, bringing the popcorn from the bottom of the roaster to the top to make sure it dries out and bakes.
- Once it’s done, set it aside to cool.
- Once it's cooled completely, break into smaller pieces and store in plastic sealing bags at room temperature for up to a week.
- Keep it stored in a cool, dry place and it will stay crispy!
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.