Yay, another random food holiday! And this one is one of my favorites. It’s National Popcorn Day, and I am about to crush some caramel corn up in here.
Caramel corn is so amazing, but I think it’s one of those things that people are a little nervous about making. I know I was before I tried it. I am here to tell you though: Don’t be nervous. It is extremely easy — you don’t need a candy thermometer or any special kitchen tools at all.
This is actually a Paula Deen recipe called Grandma Paul’s caramel corn. It has been my go-to caramel corn recipe for several years now, although I adjusted the baking temperature just a bit. I absolutely love it — it’s perfectly sweet and crunchy, and I always get tons of compliments on it when I make it. In fact, several years ago when I was freelancing, I made up a bunch of batches and sent them to my clients as Christmas gifts.
That’s how good it is.
It does take a bit of time to make, but like I said, it’s really, really easy. The only reason it takes a long time is because it has to bake for a while, and you have to stir it every so often. So don’t panic when you look and see that it takes over an hour to make. Most of that is cooking time, and trust me, it’s well worth the wait.
There are two ways to make this recipe: with corn syrup, or without. I’ve always made it with corn syrup, but don’t you know, when I went to make it today, of course I had no corn syrup in my house. So I decided to try to make it without it, and it actually turned out remarkably well — I honestly couldn’t tell the difference. If you decide to forego the corn syrup, just replace it with water.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup (or 1/2 cup water)
- 1 teaspoon salt (see note)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 8 cups popped popcorn (see note)
- 1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray and pour in popcorn.
- 2. Over medium heat, melt together butter, brown sugar, corn syrup (or water) and salt (if using -- see note). Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Be careful, as mixture will foam up quite a bit.
- 3. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir to coat well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Spread on parchment or waxed paper to cool and dry.
- Note: For popcorn, I usually use two bags of microwave popcorn, which is generally rater salty, so I will omit the added salt. If you're using popcorn without added salt, be sure to add in the 1 tsp of salt.