This quick and easy Caramel Corn Recipe is the perfect treat for parties and holidays. A gooey and soft buttery caramel sauce on top of perfectly salted popcorn that is ready in no time!
Super Easy Caramel Corn Recipe
The smell of caramel popcorn is one of the most heavenly smells out there! I used a family recipe gifted to me by my husbands side of the family and modified it to make it even more delicious!
Ingredients Needed for Caramel Corn
Here’s a basic list of ingredients for this easy caramel popcorn. Most of them are pantry staples and you probably have them at home already! You can always find the complete list of ingredients in the printable recipe below.
- 3 bags popcorn – or 1 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
- brown sugar – light or dark brown will work
- butter – use salted sweet cream butter for the best flavor
- corn syrup
- sweetened condensed milk – full fat or fat free can be used.
- salt – only if you’re using un-popped popcorn kernels
How to Make Caramel Corn
This recipe is so easy and tasty, everyone will ask for the recipe!
- PREPARE the popcorn – microwave if using bagged popcorn, stovetop or popcorn popper if using the un-popped kernels.
- COMBINE butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, THEN add the sweetened condensed milk. This helps prevent burning or scalding the milk and making clumps in the caramel mixture.
- BOIL the caramel mixture for 4-5 minutes until it reaches soft ball stage, or 235F º. I highly recommend using an instant read thermometer for this, as overcooking could result in burned or very hard caramel. Add in the vanilla last.
- POUR the caramel mixture over the popped popcorn while it is still hot so it coats the popcorn evenly.
- COOL the popcorn on a greased baking sheet until room temperature.
How to Store Caramel Corn
You can store caramel popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days. The caramel is completely cooked like candy, there is no need to refrigerate it, I would not recommend storing it in a cold place as it can make the caramel hard and difficult to break apart and eat.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it a day or two ahead, and it transports easily in a large bowl or on a flat baking sheet. It can also be given as a delicious homemade gift around the holidays!
Tips and Variations
- Use a wooden spoon! Candy makers everywhere use them because they don’t conduct heat like metal and won’t melt like silicon or rubber spatulas when the caramel gets above boiling temperatures. BONUS – they also won’t scratch the bottoms of non stick pans!
- Use dark brown sugar for a darker, richer color and flavor of the caramel.
- Use a thermometer – it really does make a difference when you know your caramel is the right temperature. This helps prevent the caramel from burning or being too runny!
- Spread it out on a baking sheet after mixing together to cool even faster!
- Add toppings! Peanuts, pecans, cashews, or candy. You could even swirl a little melted dark chocolate on top after the caramel popcorn has cooled. YUM!
More Easy Treats to Try and Share
Here are a few of our favorite easy recipes to make and share with our friends and family! They’re SO GREAT for parties, holidays, and celebrations!
- Gooey Butterscotch Nut Bars
- Chocolate Gooey Chex Mix
- Easy Scotcharoos Recipe
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
- Samoa Truffles
I can’t wait for you to try this easy and delicious gooey caramel popcorn! So many great memories were created around this recipe, I hope the same for you. I know you’ll love it as much as we do!
Caramel Corn Recipe
- large mixing bowl
- wooden spoon
- baking sheet
- heavy bottomed pot
- 3 (3.2 oz) bags of popcorn, (or 1 cup unpopped kernels)
- ½ cup salted butter
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prepare popcorn and place in large mixing bowl, spray baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat combine butter, corn syrup, and light brown sugar. Mix well and bring to boil, THEN add the sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly using a wooden spoon. Boil for 4-5 minutes until mixture reaches soft ball stage (235Fº).
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt. Pour mixture over bowl of popcorn and stir in gently with large greased spoon to coat the popcorn completely.
- Pour onto the greased baking sheet and let cool to room temperature before serving.
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