caramel popcorn


This delicious caramel popcorn is a party pleaser and will be gobbled up in no time. So get out your popcorn popper and make some for the gang!

Caramel Popcorn
Yields about 4 quarts

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as peanut or canola
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, (yellow)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


Pop the Popcorn: Spray two large heatproof rubber spatulas and a very large metal bowl (at least twice the volume of the popped popcorn) with nonstick cooking spray, or lightly wipe with vegetable oil. Heat the oil in an 8-quart or larger heavy-based stockpot or popcorn popper over high heat. After a minute, put a popcorn kernel in the pot and cover. When the kernel pops, the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and shake it back and forth over the heat to agitate the kernels. Keep moving the pot as the popcorn pops. Remove the pot from the heat when the popping slows almost to a stop (it’s better to have a few unpopped kernels than burnt popcorn).


Immediately pour the popped corn into the large metal bowl. Search through the popcorn, removing any unpopped kernels (which fall to the bottom of the bowl) or burnt pieces.

Make the caramel: Measure the baking soda into a small dish so it’s ready to go. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a nonstick silicone mat. In a 4 quart or larger saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Gently stir with a wooden or metal spoon just enough to immerse the sugar. Brush down the sides of the pot with water and a clean pastry brush. Cook the sugar mixture over high heat without stirring until it melts and bubbles and turns a very light golden caramel color on top; this will take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your stove. The caramel will be darker than it appears on the surface; so don’t overcook. (When it looks like the picture below, take it off the burner).

Cooking Caramel

At this point, remove the pot from the heat. Working quickly off the heat, thoroughly whisk the baking soda into the caramel.

Baking Soda in Caramel

Do this in or near the sink in case it spills over. The baking soda aerates the caramel, which makes it easier to eat when it’s cool, but causes it to bubble vigorously now, so be careful. Immediately pour the bubbling caramel over the popcorn in the bowl.

pouring caramel over popcorn

Just use the caramel that pours out easily; don’t scrape the sides of the pot (the sugar on the sides of the pot crystallizes easily and can cause the caramel to do the same).

Using the heatproof spatulas, toss the caramel with the popcorn.

stirring in caramel

When the popcorn is thoroughly coated, pour it onto the lined baking sheet and use the spatulas to pat it into one flat layer.

spreading caramel popcorn

As soon as it’s cool enough to touch, use your hands to break the layer into small clusters. Let them cool completely and then store in an airtight container for up to a week. ENJOY!

caramel popcorn