Caramel Popcorn (no corn syrup!)

Caramel Popcorn With No Corn Syrup!

For years and years and years (give or take a year or two), I’ve been wanting to find a good Caramel Popcorn recipe that did not contain corn syrup.  The recipes I found that didn’t contain corn syrup were either complicated, or they contained other ingredients beyond corn syrup that I didn’t feel comfortable feeding my family.

But just leave it to you all to solve my Caramel Popcorn dilemma.  A big thanks goes out to everyone who suggested that this new Caramel Sauce recipe might be able to be used on popcorn.  Over the weekend, I decided to give it a try.  I figured the outcome may not be blog-worthy, but surely my family would eat it regardless of whether it was great or not.  My men are always so good to eat my experiments.  Especially if it’s an experiment with Caramel Sauce on top.

This got rave reviews, which came, as you can imagine, while they were chewing.  Since they were saying such nice things to me about my cooking, I lovingly allowed them to talk with their mouths full.   Far be it from me to scold my popcorn munching children when they are in the middle of boosting my ego.

Caramel Popcorn

1 cup unpoppped popcorn
1 recipe of this Caramel Sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pop 1 cup of popcorn and put it into two 8×13 inch baking dishes.  Stir together the caramel sauce ingredients, stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.  Drizzle the caramel sauce over the popcorn.

Stir the caramel sauce all around the popcorn the best you can without making too many popcorny messes.  Good luck with that.  (Bigger pans might be helpful, but two 8×13 pans is what would fit best in my oven.)

Bake in a 250° for 10 minutes, then stir the popcorn.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove Caramel Corn from oven and serve.

If there is any left after you feed this to your family, package some up to give as gifts.  Yep, people everywhere will be talking with their mouths full.  It’ll be a beautiful, Christmas moment.

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Comments

  1. Theresa says

    Well Laura, you have outdone yourself this time! I am a chocoholic and could usually care less for any dessert that doesn’t involve chocolate. BUT, I made your caramel sauce a few minutes ago and drizzled it over vanilla ice cream…no chocolate anywhere…and it was AMAZING!!! I can’t wait to try this recipe out as well. I do like popcorn…a lot. This will send it over the top :) Thanks for your experiments!! LOL

    [Reply]

    Kris Mays Reply:

    Theresa, Well, here’s what we do when we make caramel popcorn and are craving chocolate. We throw some chocolate chips in the mix (you would do that after baking if you follow Laura’s recipe). Toss it around a bit to distribute and YUM. Kids love it and so do I. Enjoy!

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    Theresa Reply:

    Thanks for the yummy idea Kris!

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  2. Lee Ann says

    Can’t wait to try it! I usually mix mine in a paper bag! Don’t know exactly how sanitary it is, but around this season I pick up a couple of extra unused ones at the store. Pour your popcorn in, pour on the caramel, fold the top and shake! Super easy clean up too!

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  3. Rhonda says

    I use my turkey roasting pan when making caramel corn, it allows for a lot of popcorn and it has tall sides to allow for stirring.

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  4. says

    This recipe looks wonderful! I just wanted to comment that I use a recipe from the tightwad gazette for caramel corn that calls for corn syrup, but I use honey instead of corn syrup, and it tastes so much better than the corn syrup version. Honey and butter are amazing together!

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  5. says

    Also, I have a question, your recipe calls for unpopped popcorn, but all your pictures show popped popcorn. Do you actually put the unpopped popcorn into the oven? And if so can you take pictures of it?

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    Just kidding…I totally missed that first little direction to POP
    the popcorn : )

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  6. Janae mcConnehey says

    I can’t wait to make this for my kids. All five of them. (The fifth one is my husband. lol) We love your site. Thank you.

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  7. Hayley says

    Thank you so much for this!!! my hubby loves crunch n’ munch but I’m not comfortable with all of the ingredients. Plus this would probably work out to be cheaper. :D

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  8. says

    Here’s my SUPER simple popcorn sauce. 2/3 cup peanut butter and 2/3 cup honey. Melt them both in a saucepan and then boil 1 minute. Pour over 1 bag of popcorn and mix. Delicious! Sometimes I’ll add 1/2 cup chocolate chips as well. Too many times I’ve eaten the whole bowl… But I don’t feel too guilty about it because it’s peanut butter and honey!

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  9. Greta says

    HI Laura, I’ve been visiting your site for a while ( and really enjoy your humor!)but never commented before. This time I just had to because I make caramel corn every Christmas and just use honey in place of corn syrup and rhapdura in place of brown sugar and you can’t tell the difference at all.

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  10. Melinda says

    I was planning on some caramel corn later this month. I may just have to try this. A tip I have is to use a large roasting pan for baking the caramel corn. I put the lid on mine to keep it from scortching.

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  11. Meghan V. says

    I know microwave popcorn isn’t the greatest for your health but that is what I had today when I made it. FYI for those who have to use microwave popcorn you need three regular size bags.

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  12. Teresa says

    I made this last night and my family LOVED it! My only problem was the popcorn is now chewy not crunchy like store bought carmel corn. This is my first time making it so is this normal or did I do something wrong? GREAT flavor just too chewy. Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Alycia Reply:

    I had the same exact problem. I just kept putting back in the oven for 10 min increments and then stirred. I did notice if you left it out for a little bit (5 or so min) it did crispy up some! This did work for me. It did take about 30 or so min…

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  13. says

    One little modification from my mother’s recipe: add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda after boiling the caramel sauce. It makes the sauce foam which makes it easier to spready evenly. Otherwise, I love the alternative to corn syrup. Made this tonight for the kids to take for Christmas parties at school tomorrow – quick and easy. Oh, and I put the poppsed popcorn in an 8 quart bowl and pour the caramel over, then mix and spread into pans. It is another bowl to clean, but I don’t get popcorn all over the place.

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    Joyce Reply:

    School reported that the kids gobbled up the caramel corn and left cookies almost untouched!

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  14. Susan says

    Made this tonight. Used coconut oil to pop the corn and used 2% milk, instead of cream, for the sauce. Turned out fabulously :)

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  15. muna says

    I just made your caramel sauce & made caramel popcorn with it. It is so, so good. Have saved both recipes as favorites.
    Thanks for the great recipes!

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  16. Taylor says

    Thank you for this!!!! I ran out of heavy cream and instead used vanilla coffee creamer with less vanilla extract than the recipe called for (I eyeballed) and it was still YUMMY!!!! I am never ordering caramel popcorn from other websites again!

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  17. janice says

    Use the metal roasting pan on top of the stove for popping, then just add the caramel sauce straight to the pan. Pop in the oven! Only one pot to clean! Yay!

    Delicious recipe Laura! I’ll certainly make this again and again!

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  18. Amy H says

    Made your caramel corn recipe tonight and it turned out perfect. The only alteration was adding 1/2 t. baking soda as another commenter suggested, to make it easier to pour/mix.

    Our entire family loved it. I put half of the batch into a Foodsaver bag and am going to ship it to my husband who is serving overseas.

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  19. Melinda McCormick says

    Not sure it would work but when we were kids we put it all in paper bags and shook it to spread it around, then we cooked it and shook it some more and then cooked it some more and then shook it some more.

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  20. Lin says

    Is that 250 degrees F or C ?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Fahrenheit…sorry about that. :)

    [Reply]

    Lin Reply:

    Thanks Laura :) I sorta suspected, but wanted to make sure.
    I always preferred making my popcorn on the stovetop, I seem to manage
    burning microwave ones more often than not. And now they had microwave-caramel
    in the store and I figured I’d have to go have a look how to make it myself.
    Thanks for the recipe too :)

    [Reply]

  21. Brenda says

    WOW, soooooo awesome!!!! Im an experienced baker and am pretty particular about the recipes I make, this one is a keeper for sure! Finally a good recipe with NO corn syrup. Thanx for sharing

    [Reply]

  22. Katie says

    We just made this and ended up with a soupy mess. The sauce deflated most of the pop corn (we used an air popper). I’m wondering if the cream wasn’t heavy enough (we just skimmed it off of some raw milk), or if we needed to boil the sauce harder. I may try it again later as I love the “easiness” of the recipe, but at a later date. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Lin Reply:

    When I made it, the sauce was thick and sticky before I poured it on the popcorn. If your sauce wasn’t quite ready or too thin, then I guess it’d been a mess. It worked fine for me back when I made it. I guess the idea is to coat the popcorn in sticky caramel and then dry it up (the baking) so that the caramel will harden and not be sticky anymore. Good luck next time!

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  23. says

    I made this today for the 2nd time. So delish. I used coconut sugar instead of regular brown sugar it is turns out amazing, can’t do it in the oven quite as long as the coconut sugar gives a really dark flavour so I just did it for 10 minutes instead. LOVE this and will make it often for sure.

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  24. Debbie says

    Hi there! This recipe looks really good; I’m going to give it a whirl for New Year’s party this year! I do have a question for you and your readers though. I’ve been going over recipes and much disappointing experimentation for the kind of sweet and salty kettle corn they sell in bags at the store (ie Costco). I’ve been sticking to microwave recipes unfortunately, because our stove is glass top and I think it would scratch with shaking a pot around on it. I’ve tried grinding the sugar down to baker’s sugar even as per some instructions, and it keeps coming out all burnt. All the recipes are some formulation of mixing the popping corn kernels with a type of oil with sugar and some salt and then popping. Any ideas? Thanks in advance ………

    [Reply]

    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    My thought is that since it is done in the microwave the heat is too high. Microwaves put out a LOT of heat and that could cause it to burn. I would suggest turning it down to a low heat setting if your microwave has that option.

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  25. Malika says

    Made this tonight, exactly as the recipe states — and it was incredible! I’ve been searching for a corn syrup-free recipe for some time, and this one is amazing. I allowed the popcorn to cool on parchment paper once out of the oven as I wasn’t ready to eat it right away, and it came out crunchy and delicious. A true hit! Thank you!

    [Reply]

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