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Easy Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn is a deliciously sweet and salty treat that’s easy to make at home with this quick recipe.  Use your favorite popping corn or use the Instant Pot to make this easy Caramel Corn in no time.

caramel corn in a white bowl

Getting those giant tins of popcorn at Christmas or the huge bags from the fair is great and all, but recreating that familiar flavor from those packages is easy to do at home. The caramel popcorn was always fought over in our house, everyone wanted the sweet kernels that stick to your teeth and have just a hint of saltiness. The cheese and butter flavor usually ended up stale and thrown out, where the caramel popcorn was always eaten quickly. 

My love for caramel runs deep, check out some other favorite caramel recipes:

pot with butter and sugar next to a bowl of popcorn

What do I need to make Caramel Corn?

  • Cooked Popcorn – have your popcorn cooked perfectly and set aside
  • Brown sugar – this is going to be the base of our caramel sauce
  • Butter – use unsalted since we are adding salt to the sauce
  • Corn syrup – I use light corn syrup for my caramel sauce
  • Salt – adding a little salt to caramel helps the sweetness come through better and adds dimension to the flavor
  • Baking soda – this helps to make the sauce texture just right
  • Vanilla Extract – vanilla is always a good idea and helps smooth out the flavors
pot with caramel melting

This quick and easy Caramel Corn is big on flavor and stringy caramel goodness. Bonus: It is easy enough to make for your family movie night each week. My kids often request fun add-ins or variations like:

  • White chocolate chips
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Chopped pecans
  • Chopped almonds
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Mini caramel chocolate candies (such as Rolos)
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Crushed pretzel pieces
popcorn kernels in an Instant Pot

How do I make Caramel Popcorn?

Making fresh popcorn using my Instant Pot Popcorn recipe, or your own favorite plain popcorn recipe is a big part of this Caramel Corn recipe- you want fresh kernels to cover in gooey caramel sauce!

  1. Preheat the oven
  2. Prep the baking sheet
  3. Cook the sauce
  4. Pour over the popcorn
  5. Stir and spread
  6. Bake
  7. Cool and serve
white bowl of caramel popcorn next to a checkered napkin

How do I store Caramel Corn?

Keep your completed caramel corn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. 

This caramel popcorn recipe is perfect to make as gifts also, just package in cellophane bags with pretty bows, and your friends and family will love having a tasty treat made by you just for them. You can dress this popcorn up with additional ingredients for any holiday as well, using colored candies and additional sweets- like this Christmas Popcorn

bowl of caramel corn with a spatula in it

In the comments let me know how you enjoyed your Caramel Corn and when you pronounce Caramel how many syllables you say, this one is always a fun question! 

More Delicious Popcorn Recipes

caramel corn in a white bowl

Easy Caramel Corn

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 1536kcal
Author: Emily Grace


  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Cook popcorn using your preferred method on stove, Instant Pot, or in popcorn maker.
  • Pour popped popcorn into bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  • In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt.
  • Cook until butter is melted and then continue cooking for 3 minutes without stirring.
  • Add baking soda and vanilla, stir to combine
  • Carefully pour hot mixture over popped corn and stir well.
  • Spread evenly onto cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


Calories: 1536kcal | Carbohydrates: 296g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 958mg | Fiber: 42g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 355IU | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 10mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @GraceGoodEats or tag #graceandgoodeats!
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