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This sweet and salty classic caramel corn recipe will bring you back to childhood! Made without corn syrup and customizable to your liking will make this a time-honored treat for all generations!

bucket of caramel corn

If you’d rather skip my essential cooking tips and tricks and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.


Who remembers eating Cracker Jacks as a kid? Maybe I’m too old, or couldn’t stand the cheap toys in the box, but I’m more of a Fiddle Faddle girl.

I think it might be because there is about 237% (purely guesstimating) more caramel and gooey goodness on their popcorn than on Cracker Jacks popcorn. The more coating the better!

I can also Hoover an entire bag of Poppycock when the mood strikes me.

I love caramel corn, maybe because I love anything with caramel almost as much as I love anything that tastes like bananas!

Caramel covered popcorn? It’s like a gift directly from Heaven!

My mom makes the best caramel corn I have ever tasted. Crispy and sweet and I love eating it until I get a stomach ache or get it stuck between each and every one of my teeth.

The only thing that could possibly make her recipe even better would be some sea salt.

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Crispy Sweet and Salty Grandma's Caramel Corn spilling out of a bucket onto a table


If you have been reading for a while you will know I am all about enjoying great food, killer cocktails, and sweet desserts just in smaller portions.

If you make things right you only need a little bit anyway.

So with this in mind, I make this caramel corn without corn syrup.

The trick is to bake it afterward to get the sweet caramel coating to dry onto the popcorn so you can store it and eat it without a sticky mess on your hands.

Plus, baking it gives you an extra treat that I will share with you a little later.

Close up of Crispy Sweet and Salty Grandma's Caramel Corn with Pecans in a parchment lined decorative bucket


This recipe for making caramel corn is simple, only takes a few minutes of hands-on time, and makes a LOT of it so you only have to make one batch a week.

Unless you have growing kids or a killer sweet tooth and then you might have to make 2 batches.

Just get organized first so the process flows smoothly and you will have caramel corn without a destroyed kitchen in no time.

  1. have your popcorn already popped
  2. prepare your baking pan with nonstick spray
  3. gather all your caramel ingredients in one place
  4. make plenty of room on your counter to work
  5. use a pot big enough to stir the caramel coating on the popcorn
  6. have your add-ins ready to go
  7. set a timer


FIRST: Pop the popcorn and set in a large heat safe bowl. This is a great time to remove any unpopped kernels. Spray your baking sheet with nonstick spray or line it with nonstick foil. If you want to use foil that is nonstick already you need to spray it too.

SECOND: Place the butter and brown sugar in a large pot and melt. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 5 minutes.

THIRD: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. This will foam and bubble so be careful!

FOURTH: Pour over the popcorn and quickly stir to coat. Spread the coated popcorn on the prepared baking sheets.

FIFTH: Bake at 250F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before storing.

For the full recipe and detailed instructions, please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

One of the best parts of Grandma's Caramel Corn is the crispy crumbs at the bottom. - caramel corn | Take Two Tapas | #CaramelCorn #PopcornRecipe #CaramelPopcorn #EasyCaramelCorn #SummerSnacks #SnacksToShare #GlutenFreeSnacks


You can add anything you like to your caramel corn and make it your own recipe.  I like to add the following to mine:

  1. SnoCaps
  2. M&Ms
  3. Chocolate Chips
  4. Toffee Bits
  5. Pecans
  6. Peanuts
  7. Cashews
  8. Macadamia Nuts
  9. Toasted Coconut Chips – like in my Tropical Hawaiian Popcorn
  10. Sunflower Seeds

My only tip for customizing your caramel corn is to know WHEN to add your add-ins. Anything that will melt, AND that you don’t want to melt, add in once the caramel corn has been baked.

All chocolate items get added in once the caramel corn has completely cooled or you will have a monumental mess on your hands.

Nuts and seeds etc get added in when the caramel is drizzled so they too can get the sweet and crispy coating on them. 

Check out this Candy Bar Popcorn from Hostess at Heart and this Crack Corn from An Affair from the Heart if you are looking for more ideas!

For more insider tips & tricks, and a candid behind the scenes look follow me on social media! Check use out on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter (yes, people still use Twitter, LOL!)

I hope you like this recipe for my mom’s caramel corn and that my baking tips are helpful to you when crafting your own caramel corn concoction!

Make sure you make a few extra batches for when company comes to town. It also makes great hostess gifts for holiday parties and the teachers love it for their classroom!

This recipe for traditional caramel corn will bring you back to baseball games and Cracker Jacks. This snack may not include the prizes in the box but you will love it just the same!


overhead of Grandma's Caramel Corn spilling out on to table from container

Grandma's Salted Caramel Corn

Yield: 16 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This sweet and salty classic caramel corn recipe will bring you back to childhood!  Made without corn syrup and customizable to your liking!



  • 1 cup white corn kernels (16 cups popped)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

Caramel Coating

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Optional Additions


Prepare your popcorn and pans

  1. Pop your popcorn. You can use the oil or air pop method just don't use the pre-packaged microwave kind.
  2. Place in a large mixing bowl. I use my dutch oven because it's wide and deep.
  3. Prepare the baking pan with nonstick spray.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250F.

Prepare the caramel coating

  1. In a medium saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the brown sugar is dissolving.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and salt.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Add the baking soda and stir carefully. THIS WILL CAUSE IT TO FOAM AND BUBBLE so make sure your pot is big enough to handle that.
  8. Quickly drizzle the caramel mixture over your popcorn.
  9. Stir to coat all the popcorn as evenly as possible.

Bake the popcorn to set the caramel

  1. Pour the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Spread out as evenly as possible.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


*If you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it with some stars.  Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 556mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

Did you make this recipe?

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Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Ugh. NonononoNO! I followed your recipe and ended up with black bitter yuck. I think if I didn't time the brown sugar and butter to five minutes it would have been better. Fortunately, I cooled off a tiny bit ona a spoon, before I poured it on the popcorn. Unfortunately, I had already poured in the nuts I was using.

The nuts washed off. There's that at least...


Thursday 16th of December 2021

I'm sorry that you had problems. I just made this recipe yesterday to take to the neighbors and didn't have any problems. What temperature was your burner when you were boiling it? Are you at a higher altitude?


Sunday 10th of January 2021

When do I add the salt? There's salt in the ingredients but it doesn't say anything about salt in the instructions. Do I add it with the brown sugar and butter? Or with the vanilla? Or after the caramel is on the popcorn? Or after it comes out of the oven?


Monday 11th of January 2021

So sorry for the confusion! My mom brain is kicking in and just going on auto pilot I guess LOL. You add the salt when you add the vanilla extract. When you take the sugar mixture off the heat. I hope this helps!


Tuesday 22nd of December 2020

Hmm still in the oven but I think I boiled the sugar too long since it really doesn't pour.


Wednesday 30th of December 2020

If the caramel is too thick you definitely cooked it too long. It should pour like a thin gravy.


Saturday 18th of July 2020

Can you substitute oil for butter?


Sunday 23rd of August 2020

That would probably be nasty!


Sunday 19th of July 2020

I haven't tried this but I am not sure that it would work. I would stick with the butter:)

Jim Szutowicz

Wednesday 8th of July 2020

What temperature do yo back it at?

Jim Szutowicz

Wednesday 8th of July 2020


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