Old Fashioned Caramel Corn is sweet, crunchy, and totally addictive. When stored in an airtight container, the caramel corn will keep for several weeks, if it lasts that long!
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of Contents
Ingredients for Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
I used the following ingredients for the Old Fashioned Caramel Corn: Freshly popped popcorn, unsalted dry roasted peanuts, unsalted butter, light brown sugar, corn syrup, Kosher salt, vanilla extract and baking soda.
While there are several methods that can be used to pop the corn, my preference is to either do it on the stove in some oil, or use the microwave like when I make Skinny Microwave Popcorn in a Paper Bag.
When I use the microwave, I start by adding about ¼ cup of unpopped corn to a brown lunch bag.
Then, I use the popcorn setting on my microwave to pop the corn.
Once the popping has stopped, I pour the popcorn onto a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. This allows the unpopped kernels to fall through!
I repeat this process one more time to end up with the desired amount of popcorn.
Making the Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
Step 1: Once I made the popcorn, I added it to a large bowl. Then, I added the peanuts on top of the popcorn.
I didn’t stir the popcorn and peanuts together at this point. The reason was the peanuts are heavier than the popcorn and would have ended up at the bottom of the bowl making it more difficult to coat them with the caramel.
Step 2: To make the caramel, I started by adding the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
I stirred the mixture with a silicone spatula until the butter had melted and the mixture had come to a boil.
Step 3: I let the caramel mixture continue to boil uncovered and without stirring for five minutes.
After five minutes, I removed the pan from the heat and added the vanilla extract and baking soda.
I stirred the caramel to ensure that the vanilla and baking soda were well incorporated. I had to be careful here because of the caramel reacting with the baking soda.
Step 4: Once the caramel was ready, I poured it over the peanuts and popcorn.
Step 5: I quickly stirred the mixture with a wooden spoon to coat the peanuts and popcorn. Then, I dumped the caramel corn onto a large disposable aluminum pan.
Step 6: After spreading the mixture in the disposable pan, I baked the old fashioned caramel corn in preheated 250°F oven for an hour.
Every 15 minutes I removed the pan from the oven and stirred the caramel corn to ensure that the popcorn and peanuts were well coated.
Step 7: After giving the caramel corn one last stir, I dumped it onto a piece of parchment paper so that it could completely cool. I broke up any large clumps, tasting a few along the way.
I ended up with about 9 cups of Old Fashioned Caramel Corn. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Every bite was crunchy and totally addictive. Yum!
Frequently Asked Questions
I would recommend against using store-bought microwave popcorn. The reason is that has a lot of additives in it that will impact the final taste of the caramel corn.
You can use Unflavored Skinny Pop. A-4.4 ounce package has about 10 cups of popcorn. Since this recipe uses 8 cups of popcorn, you’ll have a little left over to munch on! Because Skinny Pop is lightly salted, omit the salt from the caramel.
You can definitely omit the peanuts.
I’ve made this Old Fashioned Caramel Corn a number of times. Sometimes, I’ll substitute toasted pecans or mixed nuts for the peanuts. Feel free to use whatever nuts you prefer.
The secret to a crispy caramel corn is baking it in a very low oven and stirring it a several times during baking. In the oven, the caramel stays melted and thin, allowing it to coat each of the pieces of popcorn and peanuts when it is stirred. The heat from the oven also crisps up the popcorn.
The sugar in the caramel is hygroscopic. This means that it absorbs the moisture from the air resulting in a stick caramel corn. That’s why the caramel corn should be kept in an airtight container.
I first blogged about this delicious Old Fashioned Caramel Corn on January 1, 2017. Since then, I’ve made this delicious treat a number of times.
This update includes the original recipe along with new photographs and improved text.
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Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
- 8 cups fresh popped popcorn (about ½ cup unpopped corn) (See Tip 1)
- 1 cup (6-ounces) unsalted dry roasted peanuts (See Tip 2)
- 5 Tablespoons (2.5-ounces) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (3.75-ounces) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (2.75-ounces) light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt (See Tip 3)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 250° F.
- Place popcorn in a large bowl; add peanuts to the top. Do not stir. 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 saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla extract and baking soda. (See Tip 4)
- Pour the caramel over the peanuts and popcorn; stir to coat.
- Spread the mixture in a large disposable aluminum pan. Bake for one hour, removing every 15 minutes to stir.
- Spread the mixture onto parchment paper to cool. It may seem sticky at first but will dry as it cools.
- Store in airtight container. (See Tip 5)
- Yield: About 9 cups.
Chula’s Expert Tips
- You can use Unflavored Skinny Pop rather than popping your own. Because the Skinny Pop is lightly salted, omit the salt from the caramel mixture. I would recommend against using store-bought microwave popcorn because of the additives.
- Feel free to use different nuts to suit your taste. Also, you can omit the nuts all together.
- If using regular table salt, reduce the amount to ½ teaspoon.
- Be careful when stirring the caramel after the addition of the vanilla extract and baking soda. It will boil up significantly.
- If kept in an airtight container the caramel corn should keep for about a week.