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best homemade caramel popcorn
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5 from 4 votes

Best Homemade Caramel Popcorn

No, you can't just eat a handful of this addictive homemade caramel popcorn. 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 (change as needed): 9 cups
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels (to make about 8 cups popcorn))
  • 1 tbsp 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 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250F
  • 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.