Fall is upon us and what's more comforting than sweet, crunchy caramel popcorn? And while you can spend your money on a fancy bag of store-bought bag of popcorn, you can make this buttery, crispy, microwave caramel popcorn in no time at home. Trust us, once you've made this homemade caramel corn, you'll never go back to the pre-made stuff.
The best part about this easy recipe is that it doesn't require a stovetop, candy thermometer, or complicated equipment, since you cook the caramel sauce in the microwave. The total time, including prep time and cook time, is only 10 minutes, so you can whip up this sweet treat for a midday snack or dessert.
Popcorn on its own is low in carbohydrates, but the addition of butter, sugar, and corn syrup make this a tad more unhealthy. On the plus side, one serving of this microwave caramel corn offers 3% Vitamin A, 72mg of potassium, and 5mg of calcium. This caramel corn recipe is also naturally gluten-free.
The Best Microwave Caramel Popcorn Recipe
This easy caramel corn recipe only requires 7 ingredients. First things first, you need to decide if you want to make air-popped popcorn using raw popcorn kernels, or microwave popcorn. I wanted to have a little more fun, so I opted to use unpopped kernels.
Take 1/2 cup of the unpopped kernels and add them to a pot with some oil over medium-high heat. Watch the magic happen as the kernels turn into popped corn. If using microwave popcorn pop two bags in the microwave.
Now comes the fun part, making the caramel mixture. You'll need a large bowl since the liquid will bubble up to almost 3X its size. If you're worried about the mixture creating a mess, throw a sheet of wax paper over the top of the bowl.
In the large microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook the mixture in the microwave for 45 seconds, remove and stir. Put it back for 1 minute 30 seconds, remove and stir. Microwave the mixture one last time for 1 minute 30 seconds, then remove and stir. The mixture will be nice and bubbly. Add 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Stir until the mixture stops bubbling, then pour the hot caramel over the popcorn.
As far as mixing the caramel and popcorn, there are two options. The first is to pour the caramel into the bowl of popcorn, mix and lay it out on a baking sheet to cool. The second way is to pour the popcorn into a large brown paper bag. A leftover paper grocery bag works great. After the caramel is made, pour it over the popcorn, shake the bag, then microwave two more times for 1 minute 30 seconds.
Depending on your microwave temperature, you may need to adjust the cooking time up or down to achieve a chewy texture or a crunchy texture. We suggest adding a sprinkle of salt at the end to bring out the flavor of the caramel. Peanut butter or chocolate chips would also make a decadent addition.
The popcorn will keep several days in an airtight container, but good luck saving anything after trying your first bite.
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This Microwave Caramel Popcorn is Perfect For Movie Night
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Add a few kernels. When popped, add the rest of the popcorn kernels and cook, covered, shaking the pan every 10-15 seconds until popcorn is popped.
- Make the caramel mixture by combining butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook the mixture in the microwave for 45 seconds, remove and stir. Put it back for 1 minute 30 seconds, remove and stir. Microwave the mixture one last time for 1 minute 30 seconds, then remove and stir. The mixture will be nice and bubbly. Add vanilla extract and baking soda. Stir until the mixture stops bubbling, then pour the hot caramel over the popcorn.
- Mix the caramel and popcorn and lay on a baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle with sea salt while still warm.