Caramel Corn




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The perfect balance of crunchy and sweet, this caramel corn recipe is going to knock your socks off!  I've searched, scoured and experimented to find you the best caramel popcorn recipe, and I think you will be pleased.  Never before have I experienced such a harmonious balance of flavor and crunchiness in caramel corn, and  I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you.

A great addition to any holiday spread, caramel popcorn also makes a great gift, and takes very little effort to make.  So get in the kitchen and get started!

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Step 1: Ingredients

  • 12 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped kernels)
  • 2/3 heaping cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  ignore the chocolate bar.  it's not a part of this recipe


Step 2: Pop Corn

Pop corn according to your own preference.  If you have an air popper, I think that's the way to go.  If not, I recommend Papa Donaldson's method, chronicled here.  I tend to eschew microwave popcorn, but if you can find it without the weird butter-chemical toppings (and they do make it!), go for it. 

Heat your oven to 250oF (120oC).  Coat a baking or roasting pan with cooking spray or butter.  Toss the popcorn in the dish and keep warm in the oven.

Step 3: Gooey Goodness

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup.

Heat, without stirring, to 250 to 265 degrees F (121 to 129 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a rigid ball.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Step 4: Marry Caramel With Corn

Pour syrup over popcorn and stir to coat.

Return popcorn to oven for one hour, stirring every fifteen minutes.  Any less time and you corn may turn out soft and gooey, instead of the crisp, caramelly joy you could be enjoying.  It is worth your patience on this step.  

Store in an airtight container, or you will be sad like I was, and find your once perfect corn has turned mushy on you.  Delicious yes, but far more prone to making your teeth stick together in an unpleasant way.

This recipe is going to knock your socks off, I assure you.  Next week, I hope to supply you with the perfect chocolate coating to top off this miraculous corn (currently still in the testing stages).  Woot!

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13 Discussions


3 years ago


p.s. how am I supposed to ignore a chocolate bar?


6 years ago

I love it

I tried i with homemade microwave popcorn


9 years ago on Step 2

 This is another easy and good way to pop corn if you don't have a hot air popper:  Put 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels into a paper lunch bag.  Fold over the top 1" of the bag three times over and then - I'm gonna get flack for this - close the bag with two staples.  I swear your microwave will not blow up so long as you only use two staples AND you space them by at least 2-3 inches.  Put the bag in the microwave flat side down and nuke until the popping slows to less than one every 1-2 seconds (could take 2-5 min, just go by ear).  This will get you about 4-5 cups.

1 reply

Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

As long as your quantity of food being cooked, is more than the metal (two little staples) the microwave won't arc. You can do the TV dinners in aluminum trays in microwaves, and because there is more food than aluminum, it's fine. Remember not to use china, cups or anything trimmed with gold or silver because it will tarnish and never shine again.

puma b32

9 years ago on Introduction

This is the best way.
My mom gave me a recipe that calls for
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar(packed)
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt

Bake at 280 F for 45-60 min
It makes a very rich Carmel

1 reply
AsaBerdahlpuma b32

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

I'm gonna have to try that next time. I'm making mine right now. You'll enjoy the pictures in a bit.


Hi, could you use white sugar instead
also could you use golden syrup?



9 years ago on Introduction

It tasted so freakin' good!!  I love your instructable and recipe!!  Thanks so much for sharing, my family devoured it!


9 years ago on Introduction

After researching and testing nearly as much as you, scooch, I prefer to be even more minimalist, and use real homemade caramel. This is just the ol' heating sugar (and a little water) until the candy therm says to stop (I think 236°, but folks should look it up). Then add a bit of cream, and stir until incorporated.

The key secret is what you've uncovered: baking for a long while. This makes the difference between chewy, soggy stuff, and the crispy, crunchy, commercialish stuff. But without the corn syrup/butter stuff. Just pure caramel.

1 reply

I would love to try a recipe without the corn syrup!   This is definitely going into my book of upcoming experiments.


ohmygod, you are so, so, so awesome. I can barely wait to try this. excellent photos, btw.

if you add about a 1/4 tsp. of baking soda with the vanilla,  the caramel will foam up with air and give it a lighter texture.  It also makes it a little easier to mix with the popped corn.   And I have found that 15-20 min. in the oven works for me.