No-Fail Caramel Corn Recipe

When I was a kid, I remember my mom making caramel corn on a special occasion, such as Christmas, and there was a mysterious giant thermometer that would be used to test the sweet, bubbling sauce to see when its temperature was just right to mix with the popcorn. You won’t need any special equipment—not even the not-so-mysterious one I know now is a candy thermometer—to make this super-easy caramel corn recipe courtesy of the Popcorn Board. They reached out to spread the word and help celebrate National Caramel Corn Day, which is April 6. You don’t need a special occasion or even an excuse to whip up a batch of this sweet, crunchy treat—but if you do, this is as good as any. Enjoy the “holiday”!  


No-Fail Caramel Corn

Makes 3 quarts

3 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick), diced
¼ cup corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

1. Place popcorn in a large bowl; remove any unpopped kernels.

2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.

3. In a large, deep pot, stir together brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt over medium heat until well blended. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes; DO NOT STIR.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam). Quickly stir popcorn into hot mixture until completely coated. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and allow to cool. Break into smaller pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Note: Keep in mind that popcorn kernels expand up to 40 times their original size. So 1 ounce, which is 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons of un-popped kernels will make 4 cups (1 quart) of popped popcorn.

Caramel is cooking for the caramel popcorn. Photo courtesy of the Popcorn Board.

While it may sound intimidating, just pour the caramel into the popcorn bowl and start mixing it up. It will all distribute evenly, we promise! Photo courtesy of the Popcorn Board.

The last step--cooking your caramel corn. Photo courtesy of the Popcorn Board.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.