Caramel Corn


Addictive, delicious caramel corn! Have a craving? Caramel corn is easy to make at home! All you need is freshly popped popcorn, brown sugar, butter, molasses, and corn syrup for homemade caramel corn!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Caramel Corn Nostalgia

The memory has faded some, but the feeling of pure joy is as strong as ever—dad coming home and pulling out from behind his back, to the raucous squeals of us kids, boxes of Cracker Jack, caramel corn that rattled when you shook the box. (Remember those commercials?)

We had to have our own box, couldn’t possibly share, because each box had a surprise gift and we each had to have our own gift. (Is that brilliant marketing or what?) No wonder I love caramel corn.

Caramel Corn in serving dish

Caramel Corn Recipe

  • Yield: Makes about 5 quarts

Caramel corn is quite easy to make, just don't attempt to make it (or any candy) on a humid day. Be careful as the caramel sauce is quite hot; as a safety precaution do not have children running underfoot while making this recipe.


  • 4-5 quarts popped popcorn (a double batch of this popcorn recipe, unsalted, unbuttered), any un-popped kernels removed
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups salted peanuts (optional)


1 Pre-heat oven to 225°F. Place already popped popcorn in large roasting pan; set aside.

2 Bring sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses, salt to a boil: Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, molasses and salt in a thick-bottomed, 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil.

How to make caramel for caramel corn How to make homemade caramel corn

3 Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 250°F or small amount of mixture dropped in ice water forms a hard ball (about 12 to 14 minutes).

Making caramel for caramel corn how to make caramel corn at home

4 Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. The caramel will foam up a little and turn a lighter color when you add the baking soda.

5 Carefully pour hot mixture over the popcorn in a large roasting pan. (If you would like peanuts with your popcorn, sprinkle the salted peanuts over the caramel sauce at this point.)

Using a wooden spoon, stir until all popcorn is coated. (Be careful not to let the caramel touch you; it's very hot.)

adding caramel to popcorn to make caramel corn finished batch of homemade caramel corn

6 Cook in oven: Place in the 225°F oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir to more evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel sauce.

Return to oven. Continue cooking for 20 minutes more.

7 Remove from oven. Immediately spread caramel corn out onto parchment paper or a Silicone mat. Let cool completely. Break into bite-sized pieces. Store in tightly covered container.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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30 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Jo

    As silly as it sounds, I didn’t find out until recently that you could successfully make popcorn on the stove. I had an air popper which flung popped kernels around the kitchen so gave up on that. Followed this recipe to the letter, came out perfect.


  • Bob

    I skip the part where you take the pot off of the flame. When the first few kernels pop I add the rest and reduce the heat. Popping will usually start in about a minute. With this technique you don’t burn any kernels and almost all of them pop. Let them rest for 30 seconds to get crispy and then enjoy.

  • Couldn't Be Parve

    This sounds delicious. Just a quick question. How long will this caramel popcorn last before it gets stale? I want to make some for gifts and am wondering how far ahead I can make it. Thanks

  • Mrs4444

    This is exactly the same recipe my family’s used for generations. One tip I would add is to take the time to remove any seeds at the end–Dental work is such a DRAG!

  • Elsa

    It was my first time popping my own popcorn and everything turned out great! I visit this site religiously and have used multiple recipes from here. Thanks for all the good recipes and the nice helpful tips along with it!

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