Salted Caramel Popcorn

Get ‘stuck’ into everyone’s favorite carnival fare—Salted Caramel Popcorn combines brown sugar, salt, and butter to make a treat that is too good to pass up.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image above

Going to the carnival was always a treat. Yes, there were the rides and the games but I mostly I looked forward to the food (I know right? How shocking that a food blogger should think with their stomach!)

That’s why, as an adult, I HAD to develop my own recipe for Salted Caramel Popcorn. I bring together brown sugar, butter, sea salt, and syrup and drape the resulting mix all over my already-delicious stovetop popcorn. Now if only I could fit a Ferris wheel in my backyard.

I’ve taught you how to make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn and Microwave Caramel Corn; today we’re going to combine those two skills and make a popcorn mix that is pure bliss. Ready for my kernels of wisdom?

Is Popcorn Healthy?

In a word, yes. But, in more words, not in this particular recipe. As I explain in this article, plain popcorn has very few calories and is in fact a good source of fiber. Low in calories AND it fills you up? Sounds like the perfect snack, right? Wellllll, we run into trouble when we start loading on stuff like, well… salted butter, brown sugar, and syrup. So, while it’s totally okay to indulge every once in a while with caramel popcorn, don’t make a habit of it.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup corn syrup
  • 2 tsp flaked sea salt
Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn ingredients

How to Make Salted Caramel Popcorn

The Popcorn

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a large heavy-based pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over MEDIUM heat. Place 2 popcorn kernels in the melted butter. Cover with the lid and let the two kernels pop.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn step 1

Step 3: Pour in the rest of the kernels and shake the pot to form a single layer. Replace the lid and keep on the heat. Once the popping starts, crack the lid a little to let the steam out.

Step 4: When there is frequent popping, turn down the heat for a few minutes. Once the popping has subsided, remove the pot from the heat.

Step 5: Let the popping stop completely before opening the lid.

The Caramel Topping

Step 1: In a small pot bring the rest of the butter, brown sugar, syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Be careful the mix doesn’t boil over. Boil for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image step

Step 2: Pour the caramel over the popped popcorn. Toss it all together with a rubber spatula to coat it.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image step

Step 3: Spread the popcorn out onto the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the rest of the sea salt. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and then let it cool before breaking it up and placing it into sealed jars or paper bags.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image step

Top Tips For Perfect Salted Caramel Popcorn

  • Shake your pot for 30 seconds. Doing so ensures all the kernels are adequately covered in the melted butter and have heated up consistently so that they pop at about the same time. For more tips on preparing popcorn, check out our perfect stovetop popcorn.
  • Give the pot the occasional shake during popping to free up any kernels so they reach the bottom and pop up.
  • Fresh kernels will pop up bigger and fluffier. Old kernels, meanwhile, may have dried out and won’t pop as well.
  • Stir the caramel quickly throughout the popcorn. The caramel will set before you know it and lose its malleability. If you’re looking for other caramel popcorn recipes, you might enjoy our microwave caramel corn.
  • Spread the popcorn out on the baking sheet so that the heat (and caramel) can access every nook and cranny.

FAQs

Do I need to add baking soda?

Adding baking soda to the caramel mix creates a honeycomb texture that results in crunchier Caramel Corn. So, it’s more a matter of preference than necessity.

What kind of syrup should I use?

Corn syrup is used regularly to make caramel. It gives it a smooth consistency and makes your popcorn nice and chewy. But if you don’t want to go with corn syrup, you can try maple syrup or honey. Both are natural sweeteners and make decent substitutes for corn syrup.

Why isn’t my popcorn crunchy?

Did you forget to open the lid a crack to let out the steam? Or did you leave the lid on too long after the popping stopped? It’s the steam that’s the crunch killer. Also, try leaving the popcorn in the oven for a bit longer. Maybe you’re using a lot of caramel and not allowing it enough time to harden and crisp up.

Can I use microwave popcorn?

Sure. While I prefer the taste of stovetop popcorn, if you like microwaved stuff, feel free to use it. Do up the caramel as the recipe outlines then combine the two on the baking sheet. Or you can follow this recipe I did up that goes over the steps in detail.

Which other ingredients do you suggest I try?

This is the fun part! I’ve added M&Ms, peanuts, raisins, and pretzels to the mix. Try them, or ransack the candy aisle the next time you’re at the grocery store and mix ‘n’ match.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image featured image below

How to Store Salted Caramel Popcorn

Let the caramel popcorn cool completely. Storing it while still warm will allow the steam to make your kernels soggy. Put the popcorn in an airtight container (sealed jars work well) then store in a cool, dry place, like your kitchen counter or pantry. To make it easier to serve to the kids, I divide up the caramel popcorn into small brown paper bags that they can then grab whenever they want a snack. And don’t put it in the fridge; the moisture in there will ruin your crunchy corn.

Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn featured image featured image below

Salted Caramel Popcorn

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup Popcorn Kernels
  • 1 cup Salted Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • cup Syrup
  • 2 tsp Flaked Sea Salt

Instructions
 

The Popcorn:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large heavy-based pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over MEDIUM heat. Place 2 popcorn kernels in the melted butter. Cover with the lid and let the two kernels pop.
  • Pour in the rest of the kernels and shake the pot to form a single layer. Replace the lid and keep on the heat. Once the popping starts, crack the lid a little to let the steam out.
  • When there is frequent popping, turn down the heat for a few minutes. Once the popping has subsided, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Let the popping stop completely before opening the lid.

The Caramel Topping:

  • In a small pot bring the rest of the butter, brown sugar, syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Be careful the mix doesn't boil over. Boil for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pour the caramel over the popped popcorn. Toss it all together with a rubber spatula to coat it.
  • Spread the popcorn out onto the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the rest of the sea salt. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes and then let it cool before breaking it up and placing it into sealed jars.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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