Quick and Easy Caramel Puff Corn

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Caramel Puff Corn is a great snack for movie night. This buttery kernel-free popcorn is coated in a crispy caramel crunch for the perfect sweet and salty snack. Better make extra, it’s addictive!

Corn puffs coated in caramel

Caramel corn is great, but getting it stuck in my teeth is not. This Caramel Puff Corn recipe takes store-bought puff corn and turns it into a crunchy, sweet, and salty treat!

Really, any caramel corn recipe could be used for whipping up a bowl of deliciousness. The only difference is that we use more baking soda and corn syrup with a touch of vanilla.

And I hear you already. I know we should all be eating less corn syrup, and I don’t use it often! But there are some places that other sweeteners just won’t give me the same results. This is one of those times!

Caramel Corn puffs ingredients in bowls


  • Puff corn
  • Butter
  • Corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Baking soda

I buy the butter-flavored puff corn to make this recipe, but I usually buy a bag of cheddar puff corn to snack on with it! The cheddar and caramel flavors are surprisingly perfect together.

Just like those holiday tins!

Caramel and cheese coated corn puffs in a blue bowl

How to Make It

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees F. You don’t need a very hot oven for this recipe or the sauce will burn.
  2. Next, spray your roasting pan bottom and sides with cooking spray. If you are making multiple batches, use multiple pans!
  3. Then, pour your puff corn into a large heatproof mixing bowl — or use a large stockpot! (Photo 1)
  4. Now, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the corn syrup and brown sugar and stir until combined. (Photo 2)
  5. Increase the heat to medium once combined and stir constantly until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce to a simmer and stir for 4 more minutes. (Photo 3)
  6. After simmering, add the vanilla extract.
  7. Remove your mixture from heat and add baking soda and stir. (Photo 4) The mixture will foam (Photo 5), and that’s ok! Continue stirring until the color is consistent with no streaks.
  8. Pour the caramel mixture over your puff corn (Photo 6) and immediately mix until the pieces are as evenly coated as you can get. (Photo 7)
  9. Spoon your coated puff corn into your baking dish (Photo 8) and place it in the oven. Make for about 45 minutes, stirring well every 15 minutes.
  10. Once the puff corn is evenly coated, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. When it’s warm but not hot, separate the pieces onto non-stick foil or parchment paper to finish the cooling process. (Photo 9)
Making puff corn coated in caramel

Why do you bake it?

The baking part of this recipe is optional but definitely recommended!

Without it, the finished product won’t be as crunchy. The baking time allows the caramel coating to continue cooking.

It also helps produce a more even coating! As it bakes and gets stirred, the excess caramel in one spot transfers to other spots.

Cooling and Breaking Apart

Make sure you let this puff corn cool completely before breaking it apart and packing it into airtight containers for gifts or storage.

Once it’s done baking, pour the baked puffs onto some non-stick foil or parchment paper and spread it apart as best as you can so it isn’t in giant clumps.

If there are any big chunks of caramel puff corn, gently break them apart once it cools.

Additional Flavor

Looking to mix it up? So many flavors go great with this Caramel Puff Corn!

Cinnamon can be added at the same time as the baking soda. Simply mix the baking soda and cinnamon together before adding to the caramel. This will ensure an even spread of the cinnamon. I do not use a lot of cinnamon, just a hint — maybe half a teaspoon.

Once cooled, you could drizzle it with some melted chocolate! Milk, dark, or white, they’d all be a great complement to the caramel.

Salted caramel puff corn can be achieved by sprinkling 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or Himalayan pink salt as soon as the last bake is completed and before it has cooled so the salt will stick.

What I used for this recipe

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Roasting pan: This covered roasting pan comes with all the tools to make the perfect roast!

SaucepanThis nonstick saucepan is perfect for whipping up caramel sauce or tomato sauce!

Mixing bowls: These heatproof mixing bowls are great for all your baking needs! They nest inside each other for easy storage and have a great silicone bottom for a no-slip grip on your countertops.


Caramel puff corn in a wooden box



Carmel puff corn in wooden box

Caramel Puff Corn

Quick and easy snack just like caramel corn but without the kernels.  Great for snacking and makes the perfect hostess gift too!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 266kcal
Author: Beth Mueller




  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  • Spray a large ovenproof pan with tall sides with cooking spray. Alternatively, you can use 2 or 3 large cake pans. I use my large roasting pan.
  • Pour corn puffs into a large heatproof bowl, or use a large stockpot as a bowl.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn syrup and brown sugar, stir until combined.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and stir frequently until the mixture starts to bubble and boil. Continue cooking and stirring for 4 minutes.
  • Add the vanilla, caramel mixture may bubble, and stir.
  • Remove from heat and add baking soda and stir until well combined. The mixture will foam up. Continue stirring until the color is consistent throughout with no streaks of white or lighter colored sugar mixture remains.
  • Pour sugar mixture over corn puffs. Mix with a spoon until all pieces are coated. It will be harder to stir as the mixture cools. If the pieces are not equally coated, it will be fine.
  • Place coated corn puffs into the prepared baking pan.
  • Place into preheated 250 degree F F oven.
  • Cook for 45 minutes, stirring well at 15 minute intervals.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • While caramel corn puffs are warm, but not hot, separate pieces and begin placing into a large bowl or place onto nonstick foil to finish the cooling process.
  • Once completely cooled and separated place into an airtight container or eat.


Cinnamon can be added at the same time as the baking soda. Simply mix the baking soda and cinnamon together before adding to the caramel. This will ensure an even spread of the cinnamon. I do not use a lot of cinnamon, just a hint, with 1/2 teaspoon. 
Once cooled, it can be drizzled with melted chocolate.
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Serving: 11/2 cups | Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 291mg | Potassium: 96mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
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