Caramel Corn

You know how we consider certain foods to be staples or necessities? Like eggs, milk, bread, etc.? I propose that we add this caramel corn to that list. I mean, I really feel that this is the kind of thing that I need to have around my house at all times.  This is unexpected for me, because growing up I always thought caramel corn was alright, but I would prefer some cheesy cheddar or white cheddar or whatever other cheese-flavored popcorn any day.  But now, oh yes, caramel corn reigns at the top of this popcorn-lover’s list.

I made this for a Halloween party I went to, so I mixed in some candy corn and honey roasted peanuts as well.  I packaged it up in little cellophane bags tied with pretty seasonal ribbons, and it was very well received.  (Though I loved it so much, I stole a few bags to take back home with me 😉 )  It can certainly be enjoyed in many other ways though.  Perhaps in little bags along with a few other treats as a post-travel snack waiting for your Thanksgiving guests when they arrive the evening before.  Set out in a large bowl during Thanksgiving day for guests to munch while you prepare your meal.  In holiday gift bags, along with your usual sugar cookies, fudge, etc.  Or like me, in a hopefully never-empty giant container in my pantry for random snack attacks.  Whatever your reason, it’s just too good and too easy not to make!

Caramel Corn
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1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pop popcorn using your preferred method.  (I swear by my Whirley Pop!)  Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls).  Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.

Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring.  Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract.  The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.  Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.  (I found my salad spoons very useful for this step.)

Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout.  It will melt and become better spread out while baking.)  Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes.  After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn.  If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.

Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.

Source: adapted from Christie’s Corner

32 Responses

  1. i love popcorn of all sorts but caramel definitely takes popcorn to an entirely different level! can’t wait to try this! Annie, how long will this last stored in an airtight container, provided it isn’t eaten in 1 day 😉 ?

    • Tara, I’m not sure as it hasn’t lasted all that long in my house. However, the little packages I made for the party lasted well into the next week and still tasted as good as the day I made them. I’m thinking this will keep well for quite some time.

  2. You know those gigantic varietal tubs of popcorn? As a kid, my attention did not waver from the caramel corn section of those seasonal gifts. Your version looks delicious, and I love the addition of candy corn and honey roasted peanuts. Yum!

  3. I agree, I NEED this…but I rarely keep it around for two reasons: It disappears as quick as I make it and I’m the one making it all disappear! :o)

  4. how clever! You always come up with the cutest ideas! I bet these would go over well with my sisters class!

  5. Ohhh, that looks so good. I did have a quick question — approximately how many baggies did you get out of that? I have problems estimating appropriate amounts of popcorn…

    • Sarah,
      I made about 20 baggies of popcorn, but I also doubled the recipe. So maybe 10ish out of a regular batch 🙂

  6. This is so cute and clever! I have a great little store near me that makes homemade candy corn in different seasonal colors. These would be great stocking stuffers with the red/green candy corns!

  7. How cute and delicious 🙂 I love the addition of candy corn. It’s perfect for this time of the year!

  8. Your bags are so cute! I almost always go for the cheese or butter over caramel, but I need to try this recipe if it converted you to a caramel corn lover! Plus, my family is addicted to caramel corn, so I know it won’t go to waste 🙂

  9. These little goodies look to cute to eat. You always make eveything look so easy! Thanks for sharing.

  10. I couldn’t agree more! It should be counted as a staple. There’s something about caramel corn that sets all my eating limits out the window–I can eat it and eat it and eat it!!!

  11. I love caramel corn! My parents even had a gourmet popcorn store when Iwas growing up, and we love it so much that we had a “popcorn” bar at our wedding last month! This recipe looks yummy!

  12. This looks so good! I have a bag of mellowcreme pumpkins stashed away–I think for a Thanksgiving day snack I’m going to make this and mix those pumpkins in! Thanks for sharing!

  13. I LOVE caramel corn. Never made it though. 😦

  14. I love your blog!!! So many wonderful recipes. I look forward to reading and following your site. This looks like a great caramel corn recipe.

  15. These are soo cool, they would make great gifts.

  16. […] Night Basket” – Make flavored popcorn (caramel corn and a traditional butter and salt variety sound delicious!) and package it in nice bags with […]

  17. This stuff is fantastic. I may well make some to give as holiday gifts after the first batch turned out so well. 🙂

    I tell you, there’s nothing like a silicon spatula for a sticky project like this.

  18. I don’t know if I love you or not, Annie! I am soooo full on this stuff. I just made some to bring to a party and it is fabulous. I added almonds to make it just a tad more grown up but I can’t stop snacking on it myself.

  19. i just made a big batch of this for holiday gifts and for something to munch on during our family game event after Christmas dinner and i’m crossing my fingers that it lasts until Christmas day! sooooo good Annie!!! thanks for posting!!

  20. I’ve been meaning to make this since the day you posted it and finally this afternoon I had a ton of air-popped popcorn just sitting on the counter and begging to be made into a super-special treat. This recipe is a winner! Delectable and deeeeelicious!

  21. Seems like most caramel corn recipes are very similar! I love that you added candy corns to the mix. Some people don’t like nuts but the candy corn is a nice touch!

  22. I can’t wait to make this for a thanksgiving treat. I am going to package the popcorn in bags. How many should I expect to make with this recipe?

  23. I’m gearing up for my first craft fair in 2 weeks and I make lots of different things. I’m going with a Halloween/Fall theme for this fair and I think I’m going to make this and take it along too!

    It looks gorgeous tied up in a cellophane bag and cute ribbon!

  24. Annie, I am soooo fortunate to have discoverd your Blog a couple months ago. I have been making my through so many of your recipes. I have to say I have enjoyed everyone so far!!! Now I have to say that this Caramel Corn recipe is the BOMB (very very addicting)!! I made it this past weekend for a get-together my family and I went to. I added in Candy Corn which was an awesome addition. Thank you for taking the time to write about your food recipes and experiences, everday I look forward to seeing what you write about next!

  25. Did you add the nuts to the popcorn and then pour the caramel over all of it and then bake it OR did you just add the nuts after it came out of the oven?
    I love your festive bags! Thank you for a great recipe.

    • No, the nuts would burn if you added them before baking. I just added the mix-ins after the caramel corn had baked and cooled.

  26. I love this recipe. I have it in the oven now. So funny, because I’ve had it on a recipe card for years. I got on your blog just to see if you had a better recipe – and it’s the same 🙂 I always make this with white sugar and it turns out awesome. I think you could do the same with any caramel corn recipe. Everybody loves and requests it.
    Your blog is one of my favorites. I check it every day.

  27. Hi Annie,

    I visit your site every morning! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful stories, recipes, and tips with us. Today, I made your carmel corn. I airpoped the popcorn kernels and then made the carmel just as you recommended. it came out fabulous! I made a huge mess but I had lots of fun. I did not cook the carmel though. I immediately started eating some after the carmel cooled and realized it was pefect as is. Next time when I get this method under control and the proper pans, I will cook it as instructed. I have a feeling this popcorn will not last long.

  28. I made a double batch adding M&Ms or Reece’s Pieces after baking. Very good and easy. The added baking time gave just the right crunch.

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