Caramel Corn

Homemade Caramel Corn

Someone every Christmas would send my grandma one of those big tubs of popcorn, the variety pack with plain, cheezy, and caramel corn. The caramel was my favorite (duh, isn’t it everyone’s?) with the cheezy corn coming in second. Poor plain popcorn would get fed to the birds more often than not. I mean, especially by the time you’d made it through half the giant can, anything left was stale and soft and chewy. Those words should never be used to talk about good popcorn. Barfarama, amiright?

I think the popcorn buckets have gone out of fashion as Christmas gifts. Seems I have not seem one in well over a decade. It’s just as well because making your own caramel corn is easy enough and tastes much more delicious than the pre-fab stuff. Plus you can add nuts or whatever you like to it to make it fancier. Even a drizzle of melted chocolate. That would be pretty damn fancy indeed.

Keep some of this on hand during the holidays to feed unexpected parties or to wrap up quickly in cellophane bags and give away as tokens of your appreciation. (Or tokens of the fact that you forgot to buy a gift for a kindly holiday hostess or your neighbor’s weird kid.)

Caramel Corn Video

Caramel Corn Recipe — Printable!

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Caramel Corn

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, popped, will make about 8 cups
  • 1 cup nuts (any kind, raw or toasted)
  • Caramel:
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Optional flavorings: 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and/or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Pop the corn and separate the fluffy bits from the hard bits and unpopped kernels. Discard the hard parts and set the fluffies aside with the nuts in a BIG bowl. As big as you can get.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 250ΒΊF.
  3. In a medium sauce pot, combine butter, sugars, salt, water, and any flavorings you like. Bring to boil over medium heat and boil 5 minutes until thickened. Stir frequently to prevent boiling over. It will bubble up quite a lot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and soda.
  5. Quickly pout the caramel over the popcorn and nuts and toss with a large spoon until fairly evenly coated. (You can serve it now if you’ll not be trying to store it for later munching.)
  6. Spread out onto the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, giving it a stir every 10 minutes.
  7. Cool and store in airtight containers.

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*Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read about how to pop popcorn or watch the video above.

20 Comments

  1. Great Stone Face on December 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Wow, that looks delicious!

    When making popcorn, I leave the lid a tiny bit off the cookpot to let some steam out. A tight lid on the pot makes the popcorn tougher.

    • Hilah on December 24, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Thank you for that, GSF! It is true. And I think you told me that before and I meant to mention it on the video but forgot.

  2. Crazy Dave on December 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Hey Hilah, I’ma make this for family. I have a bag of these lightly seasoned (sweet and spicy) Killer Mixed Nuts (that’s what they’re called). Would that be too much flavor throwing those in with the caramel? Also, they are already roasted – won’t they burn with another 1/2 hr. in the oven? How does the oven cooking alter the recipe’s flavor and texture ?

    • Hilah on December 24, 2012 at 11:24 am

      Hi Crazy Dave! πŸ™‚ I think that would be tasty! And I doubt they would burn at such a low temperature, but you can always add them in later, maybe at the 15 minutes mark. The oven cooking is kind of optional, too. It dries out the caramel and popcorn so that you can store it without it getting soggy. If you were going to serve it right away, all hot and sticky, you could totally add the nuts in with the caramel and eat it all right then. It’s really good warm and fresh, too.

  3. Luana W on December 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

    O.M.G. Hilah ~ if you’ve never tried making caramel corn with the bagged butter flavor PUFF CORN you totally should – example:

    http://www.fritolay.com/assets/images/blue/chesters-butter-puffcorn.gif

    its the best ever! No husks to get stuck between your teeth or up in your gums, just awesome corny goodness! My new favorite is the popcorn balls I had as a kid (made with melted marshmallows, butter, vegetable oil and strawberry jello mix) made with the puff corn! Everyone who tries them LOVES it!! Keep up the good work and Happy New Year!

    • Hilah on December 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Wow! I don’t even think I’ve ever seen that on the shelves! Seems like it would be a good salty-sweet combo, though. Thanks for writing, Luana! Happy New Year!

  4. Nikki on December 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Just made this today…best ever caramel corn! Love every one of your recipes!

    • Hilah on December 31, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you so much, Nikki! πŸ™‚ Hope you have a great new year!

  5. Leslie on January 11, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Heat the oil and add your 3 “tester” kernels. When they pop – dump in all the rest and put the pan on the side for 30 seconds, then return to fire. All the kernels are the same heat and you will have less unpopped kernels (or none!) at the bottom. BTW – love your videos

    • Hilah on January 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Wow! Thanks, Leslie! I’ve never heard of doing that but I’ll try it next time. We eat a lot of popcorn. πŸ™‚

  6. Dave on January 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Hi Hilah,
    Your recipes that I’ve tried are great…One question: I made the carmel corn recipe. It was fantastic! However ,my partner and I realized that if we eat the full amount, we’ve consumed a stick of butter. Is there any way to cut down on the amount of butter?
    Best to you,
    Dave

    • Hilah on January 28, 2013 at 11:46 am

      That is a good question. I have not tried this, but I suspect you could half the butter and use milk in place of water…
      Another thing is, I first made this recipe with 1/2 cup water and it worked fine, but I preferred the slightly thicker caramel. But if you were to use 1/2 cup water you could probably coat an extra few cups of popcorn with it, so not exactly cutting back on the butter, but increasing the number of servings you’d get out of it at least.

  7. Adam on January 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Would using fluffies made with an air popper work just as well? Or are they too brittle like the microwave ones?

    • Hilah on January 28, 2013 at 11:42 am

      I think that would work fine.

  8. Meggs on June 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I JUST finished making this. Yum! It’s supposed to be for my boyfriend’s softball team, but I’m currently munching…
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hilah on June 27, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Ha! Great to hear you are enjoying it, Meggs! Guess you’ll just have to make another batch. πŸ™‚

  9. Steven on August 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I can’t stop eating this. I’ve been making my own popcorn lately (unsalted) as a way of eating a healthier snack, but I think this caramel corn is defeating my original purpose! However, I have cut the syrup in half. I find that that is plenty for me to lightly coat all the popcorn popped from 1/2 cup of kernels.

  10. Fran Pal on January 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I made this a few days before I served it. I put in an airtight container after it was cooled. However, when I served it two days later some of it was soggy inside. Can you give me some help.
    Thank you.
    Fran

    • Hilah on January 23, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Fran!
      Try cooking it a few minutes longer in the oven to make sure it’s more dried out. Hope that helps next time!

  11. peter on December 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    hey hilah
    another twist try jalipeno cheese powder from the bulk store holy nice bit of spice i melt it with the butter them pour over. then before theoven sprinkle a bit more

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