This easy, homemade Caramel Corn is a must-make recipe in my kitchen each and every Halloween season. Crunchy, sweet and completely irresistible!
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I’m issuing a warning before we move ahead with this. This stuff is addictive. I suggest immediately packaging it up in cute, festive containers and giving it away to friends and family. There, you’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Although caramel popcorn is just fine on its own, I like to mix in some pretzels, black licorice, and candy corn. There are lots of possibilities. Mixed nuts, assorted candies, anything goes. The add-ins add some nice contrast and make it even more festive.
Along with my Perfect Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, this Caramel Corn has been a Halloween tradition in our house for decades.
How to Make Caramel Corn
A lot of people may not realize how easy it is to make Caramel Corn at home. The caramel cooks up quickly and easily on the stove with no candy thermometer needed. After boiling, the mixture is streamed over warm, freshly popped corn and baked to the desired crispness.
I put together the quick little video below to show you just how quick and easy it is to prepare. Be sure to watch for my little gremlin, Lexie, who makes an appearance in the video. Where there is popcorn, there is Lexie. The full, printable recipe appears at the bottom of this post.
The longer you bake it, the crispier it will be. If you don’t care about your relationship with your dentist, you can take it out of the oven after 20 minutes and it will be slightly soft and chewy. For a crisp, crunchy result, bake for 30 minutes.
Beg people to take it out of your house! But save a little for movie night or the football game or to munch on when you are handing out candy on Halloween night.
- 3/4 cup popcorn kernels freshly popped
- 3/4 cup butter 1-1/2 sticks
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Optional Add-Ins: black licorice pieces pretzels, candy corn, assorted nuts
- Preheat oven to 250 F degrees. Place freshly popped corn in a large roasting pan and place in oven to keep warm while making caramel coating.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow to boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Remove popped corn from oven and carefully pour caramel mixture in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
- Spray two large rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide coated popcorn between the two baking sheets and bake in the oven at 250 degrees F, stirring with a spatula every 15 minutes, for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces. Keep it pure and simple or add any optional add-ins to make it festive.
- Store in an airtight container or two gallon sized zippered storage bags.
I use my air popper to pop the corn directly into my turkey roasting pan. If you don't have a turkey roasting pan you could use one of those disposable foil roasting pans from the grocery store or any oven safe pan large enough to hold a boat load of popcorn.
After popping corn, pick through it and remove any unpopped kernels.