Homemade Caramel Corn



I grew up saying “car-mel” but down south I hear “cara-mel” more often than not. In fact, the other day I heard “cara-mul” and that’s when I decided I didn’t care how to pronounce it anymore I just want to eat it.

So, my mom’s homemade caramel corn is fantastic. It’s best fresh out of the oven, still warm and soft, sort of like rice krispie treats. But, unlike Rice Krispie treats that dry out over time, Caramel Corn stays good for about a week or so in a sealed ziplock back!

Okay, on to the recipe!


Mom’s Homemade Caramel Corn

1 cup unpopped popcorn (I have a stovetop popper but an air popper would work perfectly too!)

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup karo syrup

1 t. salt

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda


Pop popcorn and pour it into a big, deep buttered dish. My mom uses a roaster, and I used a really huge lasagna dish I have. If you need to, you can divide it between two pans.

Melt butter in a medium pan, and once it’s melted add karo syrup, salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Remove it from heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour all over popcorn stirring to coat all the pieces.

Bake in the pan (just spread out) for 1 hour at 225 degrees, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool on wax paper but make sure you sneak a few bites while it’s still warm!

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Comments (31)

  1. Kim Carter says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    I just bought some the other day and was thinking I need to find a good homemade recipe. I cannot wait to try!

  2. Ruth says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Yum! This recipe looks delicious and not very difficult to make! I foresee making a lot of this to give away at Christmas.
    I just want to confirm that it really is 1 cup of popped popcorn? You didn’t mean 1 cup unpopped?

    • Lynn says
      Posted October 27, 2015

      It would be 1 cup unpopped! I use the same recipe! It’s so very yummy! For a fun Christmassy twist add a cup of craisins to the popcorn just before you pour the caramel over the popped corn. It is a yummy tart addition to the caramel corn and it’s really pretty in a bowl on your table at Christmas time!

      • Ruth says
        Posted October 27, 2015

        Thanks Lynn! Sounds delicious! I will have to try it that way.

  3. Laura says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Yummy!!!! I know what I’m making today!

  4. Kacie M says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Yum, Yum! I love some good caramel corn, especially right out of the oven when it’s still warm and goey. Pinning! πŸ™‚

  5. Posted October 27, 2015

    We use this same recipe and it is A-MAZE-ING! Love it! *Car-mal*

  6. Faith W says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Did you mean 1 cup unpopped popcorn? I assume you must otherwise you would have liked make 6 times more than recipe for your pictures! πŸ™‚

  7. Amy says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    This is the puff corn and the recipe I’ve used for years. It is way better than popcorn because you don’t have those annoying hulls to get stuck in your teeth. πŸ™‚ http://www.olddutchfoods.com/recipes/category/3/view/15

  8. Ashley says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Well… I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life and I grew up saying “car-mul” as well.. and then it just got to the point where someone said I was saying it wrong… so I say “car-mul”… when I’m talking about candy and food…But I say Car-A-Mel when I’m ordering a macchiato at Starbucks..weird right??

    • Kellie says
      Posted November 10, 2015

      I know this is an older comment, but I just had to tell you that I laughed out loud at this. I do the exact same thing when talking about candy vs. ordering at Starbucks! Too funny!

  9. Nancy says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Awesome idea. They charge so much money now for caramel corn especially with nuts or chocolate.

  10. Lisa says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    We say “care-a-mel” up here in Canada! But what is karo syrup, is that like corn syrup? I’ve tried making this once in the past and it was so chewy, even after I let it sit out to cool, and it all stuck to my teeth! Does this happen to you? Any tips to avoid this?

    • Carla says
      Posted October 27, 2015

      This Canadian says it more like care-eh-mel. Can’t take the ‘eh’ out of me πŸ˜‰ Also wonder what the karo syrup is.

      • Colleen says
        Posted October 27, 2015

        Yes, Karo syrup is a brand of corn syrup.

  11. Andrea says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    You can actually make ‘air popped’ popcorn in the microwave with just popcorn and a paper bag. No butter or oil either!
    My favorite ‘microwave popcorn’ is really simple and easy:
    1 brown paper bag(lunch size)
    1/3 C popping corn
    1 tsp. oil(I use canola or olive, you can also use melted butter)
    1/4 tsp. popcorn salt
    Add all ingredients to bag and fold over top, lightly shake to coat. Microwave 1 1/2 mins or until popping slows down.

  12. Posted October 27, 2015

    CARE-UH-MEL corn is the best. I’ve never tried to make it myself, though. I should.


  13. Posted October 27, 2015

    This is an old fashioned snack, but still really good. Plus everything is better when you make it at home. Thanks for the recipe


  14. sahara says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    OMG I have to try this!


  15. Helen G says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    This is making me hungry! I need to try this! xx

  16. Inma says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    Wow, this looks amazing! I’ve been looking for a homemade recipe for a while, as I have tried to improvise without much success. And the fact that they keep for a week is brilliant, although if they taste as good as they sound there is no way they will last a week!

    Inma x

  17. Lauren says
    Posted October 27, 2015

    You can add other flavors too when you add the vanilla. I like to buy the instant apple cider packets and pour one of those in to make caramel apple popcorn. Perfect for fall!

  18. Kerri says
    Posted October 28, 2015

    After you posted the recipe, I made it last night for the World Series.
    It is similar to cracker jacks!! It is delicious!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!1
    Go Royals!!

  19. Posted October 28, 2015

    When I saw this, I knew I had to make it soon! We had it tonight and it was AMAZING! The caramel is so light and crisp! Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  20. Joanna Jayasuriya says
    Posted October 29, 2015

    My mom, and now I have used this recipe for as long as I can remember. We make it and give it as gifts to neighbors and friends during the Holidays. I swore I would NEVER share the recipe πŸ™‚

  21. Kristi says
    Posted October 29, 2015

    I pronounce it “car-mel” too πŸ˜‰
    Now I really want some of my mom’s caramel popcorn. It’s the best!

    Kristi | Be Loverly

  22. Laurel says
    Posted February 9, 2016

    Made this for Christmas treats to send home, and it was gobbled up!

    I cheated though… I used 2.5 bags of popped microwave “regular strength” butter popcorn.
    Amazing. This recipe is great!

  23. Posted May 12, 2016

    Mm delicious, this turned out just right. Thanks for sharing.


  24. Posted February 21, 2019

    Sounds delish!!