Caramel Corn Reindeer are the perfect DIY holiday gift for all of your friends and coworkers. Delicious caramel corn fills cone-shaped treat bags that are then decorated with antlers made from pipe cleaners, wiggly eyes, a bright red nose, and a sparkling red bow. These adorable caramel corn reindeer are sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone lucky enough to receive one.
The inspiration for these Caramel Corn Reindeer was from a post by Smart Schoolhouse.
Ingredients for Caramel Corn
You could definitely make your own favorite caramel corn or even store-bought cracker jacks.
Just in case, I’m including my recipe for caramel corn which uses standard ingredients. Actually, this recipe is a variation of my popular Bourbon Pecan Praline Popcorn post.
- Popcorn: It wouldn’t be caramel corn without the main ingredient – popcorn! I like to pop my own popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave, which I’ll describe in a minute.
- Peanuts: For this caramel corn, I used unsalted peanuts.
- Caramel: The caramel included unsalted butter, light brown sugar, light corn syrup, salt, vanilla extract, and baking soda.
Making the Caramel Corn
- The first thing that I did was to make the popcorn. I added unpopped kernels to a brown sandwich bag, folded the top three times, and placed it in the microwave on the popcorn cycle. Once the kernels were popped, I dumped them on a wire rack set inside of a rimmed baking sheet to allow the unpopped kernels to drop out.
- Next, I added the popcorn to a large bowl and poured the peanuts on top. I made sure to leave the peanuts on top so that they could be well coated in the caramel.
- To make the caramel, I started by heating the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter was melted and the mixture started to boil. Then I reduced the heat to medium-low and let the caramel cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, I removed the caramel mixture from the heat and added the vanilla extract and baking soda. Then, I stirred the mixture until everything was well incorporated.
- I quickly poured the caramel onto the popcorn and peanuts. Then, I stirred everything together. Once the popcorn and peanuts were coated in caramel, I poured them into a large disposable aluminum roasting pan. I placed the caramel corn into a preheated 250°F oven for one hour, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes.
- After an hour, I removed the caramel corn from the oven. Then, I poured it onto a piece of parchment paper and allowed it to cool completely.
Supplies Needed for Reindeer
While caramel corn is certainly delicious, it is the reindeer packaging that makes this adorable holiday treat.
- Packaging: The caramel corn was packaged in a cone-shaped treat bag that I purchased from Michaels and secured with a small rubber band.
- Antlers: For the antlers, I used one brown pipe cleaner that I had cut to 10-inches, along with another brown pipe cleaner that I had cut into four equal pieces. I got the pipe cleaners from Walmart.
- Face: I used large wiggly eyes that I got from Walmart and a ½-inch red pom poms that I got from Joann’s for the nose.
- Bow: I used a red sparkly bow that I purchased from Hobby Lobby for the final decoration.
- Hot Glue Gun: I used a hot glue gun to secure the wiggly eyes, red pom pom, and bow.
Making the Caramel Corn Reindeer
Now that the caramel corn was cool and all of the supplies were laid out, it was time to put the Caramel Corn Reindeer together.
- First, I added a cup of the caramel corn to one of the cone-shaped treat bags.
- Then, I secured the bag with a small rubber band (Photo 1). Next, I twisted the 10-inch pipe cleaner around the bag to cover the rubber band. (Photo 2). I took two of the smaller pieces of pipe cleaner and twisted them around the larger piece to form antlers on one side and repeated this on the other side. (Photo 3).
Using my hot glue gun I glued the red bow onto the bag towards the top where the antlers were joined to the bag (Photo 4). Then, I glued the wiggly eyes onto the bag (Photo 5). Finally, I glued the red pom pom for the nose at the bottom of the bag (Photo 6).
The caramel corn that I made was enough to make 12 precious Caramel Corn Reindeer.
If you want to dazzle those on your gift list for this holiday season, you should definitely go the extra step and make these adorable Caramel Corn Reindeer. The contents are delicious and the packaging captivating. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own caramel corn, you can definitely use store-bought caramel corn or even cracker jacks.
As the caramel corn is baked in the oven, the caramel remains somewhat liquidy. The purpose of tossing the caramel corn every 15 minutes during the hour of baking is to re-distribute the caramel and more thoroughly coat the popcorn and peanuts.
You can definitely omit the peanuts. If you do omit the peanuts, you should increase the amount of popcorn by 2 cups. You can also substitute another nut for the peanuts if you like.
I like to use a disposable aluminum roasting pan because I don’t need to worry about cleanup. Rather I just “dispose” of the pan when the caramel corn is finished.
The disposable aluminum roasting pan that I use measures 15-3/16 x 11-5/16-inches. Because of the size of my oven, anything larger would not fit.
You could use a large-rimmed baking sheet. However, I would recommend that you line the baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.
I used Karo light corn syrup. The label clearly indicates that it contains 0g of high fructose syrup.
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Caramel Corn Reindeer
- Hot glue gun
- 2 cups (10-ounces) unsalted peanuts
- 8 cups popped popcorn (See Tip 1)
- ¾ cup (5.625-ounces) light brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup (1 stick, 4-ounces) unsalted butter (See Tip 2)
- ¼ cup (2.75-ounces) light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter or salted peanuts)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
Caramel Corn Reindeer
- 12 cups caramel corn (use the above recipe or your own caramel corn)
- 12 cone-shaped treat bags
- 12 small rubber bands
- 12 12-inch brown pipe cleaners cut to 10-inches
- 12 12-inch brown pipe cleaners cut into 4 equal pieces
- 12 small bows
- 24 large wiggly eyes
- 12 ½-inch red pom poms
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Add the popcorn to a large bowl. Add peanuts on top. Do not mix at this point. Set aside.
- Heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, undisturbed and uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla extract and baking soda. Be careful here because the baking soda will cause the caramel to boil up significantly.
- Pour the caramel over the popcorn and peanuts; quickly stir to coat.
- Spread the mixture onto an ungreased large disposable aluminum pan (15-3/16 x 11-5/16 x 2-⅞ inches). Bake for one hour, removing every 15 minutes to stir. (See Tip 3)
- Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool. It may seem sticky at first but will dry as it cools.
- Yield: 12 cups. (See Tip 4)
Caramel Corn Reindeer
- Fill a cone-shaped treat bag with 1 cup of caramel corn. Secure the bag with a rubber band.
- Twist one 10-inch pipe cleaner around the rubber band. Then twist two of the smaller pieces of pipe cleaner around one side of the larger pipe cleaner to form antlers. Repeat with two smaller pieces of pipe cleaner on the other side.
- Secure the bow towards the top over the rubber band/twisted pipe cleaner with the hot glue gun. Secure two wiggly eyes towards the top with the hot glue gun. Finally, secure a red pom pom at the bottom with the hot glue gun.
Chula’s Expert Tips
- It’s best to use popcorn with no flavor added like unflavored SkinnyPop popcorn. I like to pop my corn in a brown paper bag in the microwave with nothing added. I typically use 6 tablespoons of kernels when I make my own popcorn in the paper bag.
- You can use salted butter rather than unsalted butter in the caramel. However, omit adding any additional salt.
- The reason that I use a disposable aluminum roasting pan is that the caramel can stick to the pan from the baking making cleanup somewhat of a chore. This way, I just toss the pan in the trash. You could, however, use a large-rimmed baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil instead.
- The caramel corn will stay fresh for up to a week if stored in an airtight container.