caramel popcorn closeup

This Caramel Popcorn Recipe Is Worth the Indulgence

If you’re looking for a popcorn recipe that’s great for any occasion, this homemade caramel popcorn will get your family and friends’ seal of approval!

You’ll have no problem finding caramel popcorn in the grocery store, but there’s just something about the homemade kind that tastes so much better. 

Here’s a caramel popcorn recipe that’s sweet, a little salty, and super fun to make using your Popper

Caramel Popcorn Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need to prepare the following ingredients to make this homemade caramel popcorn:

  • ½ cup kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

Follow these steps to make classic homemade caramel popcorn:

Step 1: Heat

Woman turns the stove to medium heat

Set your Popper over medium heat and give it 1-2 minutes to preheat. 

Step 2: Add Oil and Kernels 

Kernels coated in oil

Pour coconut oil and kernels into the Popper.

Step 3: Turn

Woman turns crank of yellow stovetop popcorn popper

Cover the Popper and turn the crank clockwise. This will coat the kernels in oil and make them pop. 

Step 4: Pop 

Woman pours popcorn from yellow popper into a brown bowl

When popping slows, remove the stovetop popcorn popper from the heat and pour the popcorn into a large bowl.  

Step 5: Cook the Caramel

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt, stirring regularly until the sauce comes to a boil. Then, allow it to cook for 4 to 5 minutes without stirring.

Get the caramel off the heat and incorporate the baking soda and vanilla extract. Stir quickly because the sauce will bubble! You’ll know your caramel is ready when there are no clumps of sugar left and it’s fully smooth.

PRO TIP: Getting the caramel to the right temperature is crucial. You want it to reach the soft-ball stage, which is around 235-240°F. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature — you won’t regret it. 

Step 6: Combine

Gradually drizzle the caramel over your popcorn, mixing as you go to coat all the kernels. Top with a sprinkle of salt to balance the sweetness. 

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to remove unpopped kernels before adding the sauce to the popcorn. 

Step 7: Cool and Serve

closeup of caramel popcorn

Wait for the caramel to cool and set, then break the popcorn into pieces and dig in! 

You can try this caramel popcorn recipe for movie night, reserve it for your annual Halloween party, or make it on days you want to cuddle with a cozy blanket and read a good book. 

More Caramel Popcorn Tips

  • You can enjoy the caramel popcorn as is, or you can add mix-ins like pecans, candy, pretzels, and chocolate chips. Or you can try making your own Chicago style popcorn. Adding cheese makes the popcorn sweet and savory.
  • To make caramel popcorn balls, grease your hands with butter or cooking spray, then grab a portion of the caramel popcorn and shape it into a ball. Repeat until there’s no popcorn left. Just remember to let the caramel cool a bit before shaping — you don’t want to burn your fingers!
  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, do the cold water test to find out if the caramel is at the soft-ball stage. Just scoop a small dollop of the caramel and drop it into a bowl of cold water. Give it a few seconds to cool, then try forming the caramel into a ball. If it holds the shape in the water but flattens once it’s removed, it’s ready. 
  • This caramel popcorn recipe makes 6 quarts of popcorn, which is good for 3 to 4 people — or someone with a serious craving for this sweet snack. In case of leftovers, you can store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or keep it in the freezer (where it stays good for around 3 months). We know you’ll polish it off before then, though!

Indulge in Homemade Caramel Popcorn Goodness

Who can say no to the sweet, crunchy deliciousness that is caramel popcorn? It’s a crowd favorite for a reason, even more so when it’s homemade. Now get your household together for a movie, whip up a batch of caramel corn, and have a blast! 

Want more popcorn recipes? Then head over to our blog for all kinds of inspiration

FAQs About Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Is caramel popcorn gluten free?

Yes, homemade caramel popcorn is gluten-free since popcorn naturally doesn’t contain gluten, while caramel is made up of sugar, salt, baking soda, and — in this recipe’s case — maple syrup. None of these ingredients have gluten.

Why add baking soda to caramel popcorn?

Baking soda makes caramel better overall. It keeps the sauce light, smooth, and glossy, plus it neutralizes the acidity from the sugar and maple syrup.

Why is my caramel popcorn not crispy?

The usual reason popcorn turns soggy is because of extra moisture. You might not have given the popcorn enough time to cool and let steam evaporate, or you could have made too much caramel and not enough popcorn. Humidity can also be a factor.