Caramel corn just tastes better when it is homemade. Why do you think it tastes better at the fair than it does pre-packaged? Because it is fresh and way closer to homemade! This recipe makes a large batch and you might want to have a sharing plan before you make it, otherwise it might just get in your belly.
It will be buttery, sweet, crispy and irresistible. You can add cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, or just about any kind of spice you want. We have even added peanuts before and it they turned out fine.
Before you go to thinking that it is hard to make, it really isn’t hard. It is a little time consuming, so you won’t be eating it nearly as quick as you would something out of a box. It’s worth the wait though, I promise!
This does have the evil corn syrup in it, but I find that sugars do not crystalize as readily in cooked candy recipes that have corn syrup. I have tried using real maple syrup as a replacement in these kind of recipes, but since that too is missing corn syrup, it has been a no go for me. I suppose you could try honey as a replacement, I have not tried.
You can use microwave popcorn to start with, but since I am already getting plenty of pans dirty, I pop my own on the stove. There is something nostalgic about hearing the first pieces popping and slamming into the pot lid. I might be dating myself, but microwaves were far to new-fangled and expensive when I was growing up. Microwave popcorn did not exist back in dinosaur times.
If you decide to use microwave popcorn, use something that doesn’t have extra butter or anything added. You really don’t want some artificial flavoring competing with your home cooked crispy caramel coating.
This stores fairly well for a few days in an air tight container or baggie. It could store for longer, but I have no idea about all that, caramel corn does not last more than a “few” days at my house. And when I say “few”, I mean exactly 2. The day I make it and the day after, it is gone before it ever sees a second sunrise.
Set 2 large bowls in a work area.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large pot, add popcorn cooking oil and heat over medium high heat.
Add 3 popcorn kernels and continue heating over high heat.
After all 3 kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn kernels and cover tightly with a lid.
Using potholders, grab the handles of the pot and the lid and shake pot occasionally to move unpopped
kernels to the bottom of the pot. If the popcorn begins to push against the lid, carefully shake some into a large bowl, replace the lid and continue cooking until most kernels are popped.
One popping has stopped, turn off the heat and dump popcorn into a large bowl.
Carefully transfer popcorn a few handfuls at a time into the second large bowl. Watch for unpopped kernels and remove. They will break the teeth of unsuspecting victims. Discard unpopped kernels.
Set popcorn aside.
Spray a large roasting pan, or 3 - 9X13 cake pan with baking spray and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
When butter is melted, add brown sugar and corn syrup, mix well.
Continue heating over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil.
Continue boiling for 5 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and add baking soda, stirring well. The mixture will puff up some, just keep stirring until there is no visible baking soda.
Pour hot caramel mixture over popcorn and stir well, coating all the pieces of popcorn as best you can. The caramel will continue to spread out and coat more spots with caramel during the next cooking step.
Transfer popcorn to baking pan/pans.
Spread out evenly.
Place in preheated oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to help coat the popcorn and rotate pieces so that there is no burnt pieces. Remove popcorn from the oven just as it starts to darken slightly.
Pour onto foil sprayed with baking spray or wax paper.
Popcorn may be clumpy, as it cools just break it apart.
Store in an airtight container.
Add any additional spices of your choosing into the caramel mixture right before pouring over the popcorn
Add nuts after mixing caramel and popcorn together, this will help keep the nuts from falling into the bottom of th pan.
Other Sweet Snack Recipes to Try: