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Best Caramel Popcorn Recipe

No, you can’t just eat a handful. This homemade caramel popcorn recipe is addictive!

Crunchy popcorn and nuts with a mouth-watering buttery salted caramel coating. Perfect for gifts, picnics & parties.

caramel popcorn in a jar on table

I’m not kidding about this popcorn. It’s scrumptious. It’s mouthwatering. And it will satisfy the biggest sweet tooth craving.

It starts with plain old popcorn and ends up as a delicious salted caramel-nut popcorn treat that simply can’t be beat.  I got the caramel popcorn recipe from my cousin Cindy who brings it regularly to family events. Rarely is a kernel left behind. 

This homemade caramel popcorn recipe is easy to make and is a great treat for snacks, loot bags and dessert.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Use whatever nuts or combination of nuts you like such as almonds, pecans, macadamia, cashew or peanuts.
  • Drizzle white or dark chocolate over the popcorn when it has completely cooled in the pan.

Shortcut

You can pop your own popcorn the old fashioned way or you can go to your local popcorn kiosk in the mall and buy plain popcorn to save the extra step. I do.

Make Ahead

  • Homemade caramel popcorn can be made up to a week ahead.
  • Store it in an airtight container or ziploc bags.

Try serving the popcorn in fun paper cups or cartons. If you’re looking for a savory popcorn instead, try our Spiced Herbed Popcorn.

Steps to making the best homemade caramel popcorn

plain popcorn
ingredients for caramel sauce for popcorn
caramel saucing bubbling
Best Ever Caramel Popcorn
homemade caramel popcorn in glass jar

Occasions to use homemade caramel popcorn

  • baby showers
  • birthday parties
  • special milestone events
  • picnics
  • holiday cocktail parties
  • gifts (I fill up small cellophane bags from the dollar or bulk store and tie them with a bow)
caramel popcorn in a jar on table
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4.93 from 13 votes

Best Caramel Popcorn Recipe

No, you can't just eat a handful. This homemade caramel popcorn recipe is addictive! Crunchy popcorn and nuts with a mouth-watering buttery salted caramel coating. Perfect for gifts, picnics & parties.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 9 cups
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels (to make about 8 cups popcorn))
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Caramel-Nut Coating

  • 2 cups pecans, cashews, peanuts and/or almonds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250F/121C
  • MAKE POPCORN: Put 3 kernels and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot with a lid. Heat to medium. When kernels pop, add rest of the kernels. Shake to cover them in oil. Cover pot and let kernels pop. When popping slows, remove from heat and empty popcorn into a large bowl. You should have 8-9 cups. Add nuts. Prepare two baking pans lined with parchment paper. See NOTE 1 for shortcut.
  • MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE: Bring sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt to a boil, stirring to blend. Leave mixture to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and vanilla (be careful, it will foam and bubble up). Stir until well blended.
  • STIR AND BAKE: Pour caramel sauce over popcorn and mix well until popcorn is evenly coated. Divide popcorn onto two baking pans. Spread it out evenly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 1 hour, stirring 2-3 times to break up clumps and coat popcorn well with caramel. Remove from oven and let cool completely. If desired, form tennis-size balls while the popcorn is slightly warm. 

Notes

  1. Shortcut for popcorn: You can buy plain popcorn (nothing added) at your local popcorn kiosk. You will need about 8 cups. I do this all the time. I don’t suggest you use microwave popcorn because of the additives, but you can in a pinch. 
  2. To store: When popcorn is cooled, store on the counter in an airtight container or ziploc freezer bags for up to a week.
 
Nutrition values are estimates for 1 cup of caramel popcorn. 

Nutrition

Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 644mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 327IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

Here is a savory popcorn treat you might like. I serve it as an appetizer.

Spiced Herb Popcorn get the recipe

Spiced herb popcorn with smoked paprika, lemon zest, garlic and fresh herbs. Addictive!

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10 Comments

  1. is there your recipe for the banana bread after the popcorn recipe? can’t find it. thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    Recipe turned out perfectly!! Used vegan butter and made it 100% vegan it was delicious followed the recipe to a T thanks so much !!

    1. So great to hear Melissa! And I’m thrilled that it worked so well with 100% vegan butter. Thanks for leaving a comment.

    2. You never listed the temperature of the oven for the caramel popcorn?
      This recipe sounds great,
      Just wanted to know the oven temperature.

      1. Hi Diane. The first instruction in the recipe says “Preheat oven to 250F/121C”. Perhaps it was easy to miss. I think you’re going to like the caramel popcorn!