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Homemade Caramel Popcorn

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

A side view of a glass bowl filled with delicious homemade caramel popcorn.

Freshly made caramel popcorn is practically impossible to resist. It beats any store-bought one. If you have a stove-top popcorn maker, whip it out and make some now. This recipe makes ridiculously good caramel popcorn. But, don’t take my word for it, go make some and see for yourself.

Best popcorn kernels to use

To make the real deal, you need to get some mushroom popcorn kernels. These kernels pop to a ball or mushroom shape that we all associate with caramel popcorn. Surely, regular popcorn will work too, and it will taste good too. But it won’t be the real deal.

How to pop mushroom popcorn kernels

These kernels can’t be popped to a mushroom shape in a microwave so you need a stove-top popcorn popper.  In a microwave there is not enough heat so those kernels will only come out looking like regular popcorn. It’s not what we want.  Stove-top popcorn poppers are best suited for popping mushroom popcorn at home because you need really good heat for mushroom kernels to pop into proper balls. They aren’t expensive and will last a long time with proper care. You can make any kind of popcorn in them, not just mushroom popcorn.

A bowl of homemade caramel popcorn, a top down view.

Storing caramel popcorn

Once cooled down to room temperature, transfer it to an air-tight container asap. Caramel will draw moisture from the air, making the popcorn lose its crunch and become soggy.

A bowl of homemade caramel popcorn, a top down view.

Homemade Caramel Popcorn

For best results and to make the real deal caramel popcorn, use mushroom popcorn. If you don't have mushroom popcorn, butterfly popcorn will also work with very good results. You can use prepared popcorn, or make your own following the instructions provided below.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel popcorn, popcorn, snacks
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 16 cups
Calories: 245kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

For mushroom popcorn:

  • 1/2 cup mushroom popcorn kernels this equates to about 4 quarts of popped mushroom popcorn
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil or other high smoking point oil, like peanut, hazelnut or sunflower oil, etc.

For the caramel:

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250F.

To prepare popcorn

  • Heat 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil in the stovetop popcorn popper to 400F. If you don't have an IR thermometer, just throw in three kernels together with the oil and wait for all three to pop. Once they do, the popper is ready for popping.
    Heating oil in stovetop popcorn popper to make caramel popcorn. taking temperature with IR thermometer in hand.
  • Throw in 1/2 a cup of mushroom popcorn kernels, close the lid and start agitation.
    Popcorn popper on a stove over fire, popping popcorn.
  • Once the popping sounds stop, remove the popcorn popper from heat and dump the popped popcorn into a large bowl.
    A partial view of a popcorn popper filled with mushroom popcorn just before making caramel popcorn.
  • Make sure to put the popcorn in a fairly large bowl. You want the popcorn to not fill more than 2/3 of the bowl. Half way is ideal. Otherwise it will be very hard to stir it without some popcorn spilling out. If you don't have one of the required size, do it in two batches.
    A large bamboo bowl filled with popped popcorn.

To glaze popcorn with caramel

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla.
    Caramel glaze in a pot ready for popcorn glazing to make caramel popcorn.
  • Pour over popcorn in a thin stream, stirring to coat.
    Mixing popcorn and caramel sauce to make caramel popcorn.
  • Place the coated popcorn in one large (12 x 18 inch) baking pan lined with parchment paper. If you don't have one, use two smaller pans.
    Caramel popcorn on a baking dish.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes until still very warm but manageable to handle. At this point start quickly separating the popcorn into individual pieces and spreading them out. It helps to do it on a large table so you have enough space. Don't let the popcorn cool completely before doing this otherwise the pieces will stick together and will break when you try to separate them.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a couple of weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 266mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 0.4mg

This post was updated on March 19, 2019

Leave a Comment

 

16 comments

Nadine November 20, 2019 - 5:02 am

Just made this using glucoses as I’m in New Zealand worked awesome

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan November 20, 2019 - 11:28 am

Glad to hear it, Nadine. Thanks for your feedback.

Reply
Brittany Morris August 4, 2019 - 1:47 am

Making this now and it looks and smells so delicious! What does putting it in the oven actually do? Can skip that and eat it after I pour the caramel on?

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan August 4, 2019 - 3:04 am

It will solidify the caramel. Skip if you like eating sticky mess. Will taste good I am sure, just will be messy.

Reply
Caramel Popcorn Macarons - Pies and Tacos June 27, 2019 - 1:43 pm

[…] that this Caramel Popcorn recipe is the best thing in the world! I’ve adapted the recipe from Taste of Artisan. And I swear, it was hard not eating the whole thing, guys! It was hard to focus on shooting the […]

Reply
Lynda Obremski March 4, 2019 - 6:58 pm

Where do u get mushroom popcorn? Never heard of it.

Reply
victor March 4, 2019 - 10:02 pm

I buy from a local restaurant supply store or from Amazon, like this one – mushroom popcorn.

Reply
Shane January 23, 2019 - 11:08 am

Wow, loving the taste of this caramel popcorn. It takes a bit of time to make but it’s so worth it IMHO.

Reply
Lenna January 11, 2019 - 4:12 am

Hi
I’m so new to doing this period. Could I used microwave popcorn?

Reply
victor January 11, 2019 - 11:38 pm

Hi Lenna,

Absolutely you can, but you need to expect slightly different results. For a mushroom popcorn kernel to pop to its desired spherical shape, it needs to be heated to a high enough temperature. Anything less and it will pop to the usual butterfly shape. Microwave won’t produce spherical shapes. That said, just because the shape is butterfly it doesn’t meat it won’t taste good. So, make you popcorn in a microwave, glaze it with caramel and enjoy.

Reply
Amela May 11, 2017 - 4:12 pm

Hi there,

Thank you for the recipe. It is the only one I’m making .

I just made one batch and I have a lot of leftover caramel. Do you think I could store it somehow? 🙂

Thanks

Reply
victor May 11, 2017 - 9:42 pm

You are very welcome. Put the leftover caramel in a mason jar, close with a tight lid and it will keep for months in a fridge.

Reply
Jenny November 21, 2016 - 12:30 pm

I made these last night with light brown sugar and it turned out very good. Will be making again for sure.

Reply
victor November 21, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Glad to hear it.

Reply
Tessa November 17, 2016 - 1:45 pm

Mine turned out very good but I let it cool down too much and ended up with quite a few broken up pieces. They didn’t look as pretty as yours but tasted delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Reply
Nathan Johnson May 17, 2016 - 4:27 pm

The other day, I had the strangest craving for caramel popcorn! I found this recipe and tried to make it. I tried to substitute for corn syrup, so that might have been where I went wrong. Despite that, the end result was actually quite tasty. I am excited to make this one again (except I’ll follow the recipe better!). Thanks for sharing.

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