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Last updated on April 13th, 2024 at 04:46 pm

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Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe [Video]

Homemade Caramel Popcorn is the best caramel corn recipe you will ever try, coated in a rich, thick, and buttery homemade caramel sauce. Even my family says it is the best they have ever had. 

Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Although popcorn has been around for over 5,000 years, it was Louis and Frederick Rueckheim who started the delicious caramel popcorn recipe. In 1870, they started experimenting will all sorts of coated popcorn at their popcorn store in Chicago. The recipe that led to caramel popcorn was made from molasses, peanuts, and popcorn but they called it “The Best Carmel Corn.” 

Now, it’s one of the most famous and popular popcorn flavors, and honestly, it’s my favorite. If I have to choose between sweet and salty popcorn, I will opt for the sweet version. 

Store-bought caramel popcorn costs an arm and a leg, I am always surprised, trying to figure out how they came up with that price tag. That’s why, making my own, was a no-brainer, especially since it was so easy to make it at home. Now, I always whip some for movie nights.

The homemade version is budget-friendly, easy to make, and it tastes delicious. Not sticky, not soggy, but perfect popped kernels coated in a sweet caramel sauce.

We love a good movie night snack, and usually, we make something sweet and something salty, the Chips Cover Chicken Tenders are delicious, and these Air Fryer Almonds are so good.

Ingredients needed:

  • Popped popcorn: Air-popped popcorn or microwave popcorn are both fine.
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted butter. 
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract.
  • Brown sugar: Dark or light brown sugar, packed.
  • Corn syrup: You can use dark or light corn syrup. 
  • Baking soda: Not baking powder. 
  • Kosher salt: For flavor. Skip if you used salted butter.

How to make homemade caramel popcorn from scratch?

  1. Make the popcorn: First, make your popcorn on the stove, with a popcorn maker, or in the microwave, and put the cooked popcorn in a very large bowl. 
  2. Preheat oven: Then, preheat oven to 250 degrees F, cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. 
  3. Make the caramel sauce: Now, over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly. Then, stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring it to a boil and let it boil without stirring for four minutes. Then, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. 
  4. Pour it on: After the caramel cooks, pour it over the popcorn and stir until it is evenly coated. 
  5. Place popcorn on a cookie sheet: Next, place coated popcorn evenly onto each baking sheet and bake for one hour, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Cool and serve: Finally, remove the roasting pan from the oven and let it cool completely before breaking it up to serve.

Expert tip

I am going to give you a few tips to make the crispiest caramel corn. Keep the lid slightly ajar when popping the popcorn, this will help release the steam and the popcorn will be dried and crispier.

Also, when making the caramel sauce, the longer you cook it, the less sticky it will be and the crunchier the corn. Once coated in caramel, don’t skip that baking step. The heat will dry the coating even more, and the result will be the crunchiest popcorn you have ever tried.

Recipe variations:

  • Golden syrup: Instead of corn syrup, you can use pure maple syrup or golden syrup. 
  • Melted chocolate: For even more sweetness, add a drizzle of melted chocolate to your caramel popcorn. You can use milk, dark, or white chocolate. 
  • Festive caramel popcorn: For festive popcorn, toss some rainbow sprinkles on them while the caramel is still sticky. 
  • Salted caramel popcorn: Similarly, you can make salted caramel popcorn by sprinkling some kosher salt on it when it comes out of the oven. 
  • Add nuts: If you love Cracker Jack caramel popcorn, why not add some chopped peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or almonds to the mixture before adding the caramel sauce? 
  • Add more: In fact, you can add whatever you like such as pretzels, M&M’s candies, marshmallows, or raisins. 

Frequently asked questions

Why is my caramel sauce grainy?

Grainy caramel is usually caused by crystallized caramel. This happens when the sugar has not dissolved before adding the butter. You do not want the sugar to get splashed on the sides of the pot either, which will also cause grainy caramel. However, this recipe calls for a more crispy caramel, so it is not too sticky. The longer you bake it, the crunchier it will be.

Do I need a candy thermometer?

You do not need a candy thermometer if you make sure to let the caramel sauce boil for four minutes without stirring. But a thermometer is nothing to be afraid of. If you have not tried using one, it is simple. Just place it in the pot but do not let it touch the bottom. They usually have clips so you can keep them in place while you cook. 

How do I make popcorn on the stove?

First, heat 1/3 cup of vegetable oil in a saucepan until it is hot. It is ready when it is shimmering. To test, place three popcorn kernels in the pot and cover it. If it pops, it is ready. Now add one cup of popcorn, cover, and remove it from the heat. After 30 seconds, put it back on the heat and continue cooking until the popping slows down to one pop every few seconds. Remove the unpopped kernels once it has cooled.

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: You can store your leftover caramel popcorn in an airtight container or gallon-size zip baggie for a few days. 
  • Freeze: Freezing your extra caramel popcorn will also work. You can put it in a freezer bag, and it will be good for several months. 
  • Thaw: Thaw caramel popcorn overnight before serving. 
  • Reheat: After thawing, reheat popcorn in the oven at 250 degrees F for five minutes. This also makes stale caramel popcorn taste fresh again. 

More delicious snacks for movie night:

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Homemade Caramel Popcorn is the best caramel corn recipe you will ever try, coated in a rich, thick, and buttery homemade caramel sauce.

Caramel Popcorn is sweet with just the right balance of crunch and chewiness! Prepare a huge batch of this favorite snack for your next movie night! #caramel #popcorn #caramelpopcorn #snacks #sweetandsavorymeals
  • Prep Time15 MIN
  • Cook Time1H
  • Servings 10 cups


  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter salted or unsalted
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  • Make popcorn per package instructions. Add popped popcorn to a very large bowl.
  • Prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
    melting butter in a saucepan
  • Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla extract.
    adding brown sugar to melted butter in a saucepan
  • Pour over the popcorn, and stir to coat.
    pouring caramel mixture over popcorn in a bowl
  • Distribute the caramel in one layer onto the prepared baking sheets and bake stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour.
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into smaller pieces. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Recipe tips:

  • Keep the popcorn warm while you make the caramel sauce by keeping it in the oven on low. 
  • Since all the kernels can’t pop, be sure to remove any unpopped popcorn kernels before putting the prepared baking sheets in the oven. You do not want anyone choking on unpopped kernels. 
  • Make sure you stir constantly until the caramel sauce comes to a boil. Then, do not stir it at all for four minutes.
  • Make a double batch and store it in separate baggies so you always have some on hand when you want something super delicious and crunchy. It is perfect for movie nights with the kids.
  • Be sure to use baking soda or your caramel will be too hard. 
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Karen A Stone

Karen A Stone

I love this recipe my grandma used to make it. I put peanuts and raisins in mine just for an extra snack.



Tried this out. The popcorn was a-mazing. My daughter love it!!

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

thank you for the feedback



My husband thought the carmel would get to hard to eat. He helped me make it through. Dog couldn't wait. Super easy to make. Carmel stayed soft. Must say some of the best carmel corn I've ever had.



I literally search for this particular recipe every time I have a craving! It’s the best & so simple 🥰

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

so happy that you liked it, thank you for the feedback!

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