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!

  • Yield about 16-20 servings


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


  • 01

    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.

  • 02

    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.

  • 03

    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.)

  • 04

    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.

  • 05

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