Caramel Corn is quintessential fall food and this recipe is quick, easy, and can be made in the microwave!  No candy thermometers or complicated instructions, just warm, buttery caramel coated bites.  Now there are generally 2 schools when it comes to caramel corn: those who like it warm and soft, and those who like it crisp and crunchy. This recipe is awesome because 1. It tastes amazing, 2. It’s suuuper easy, and 3. You can make it gooey or crunchy. You can even form it into popcorn balls.  Pretty much anyone and everyone who eats this asks for the recipe!

Caramel Corn

How do you make caramel corn in the microwave?

You’ll want a large, microwave save bowl.  I use a large glass mixing bowl.  Use a bowl that’s larger than your ingredients to leave room for the mixture boiling and growing in volume as it cooks.  You’ll combine brown sugar, butter, and a little corn syrup in the bowl and microwave just until everything melts together and is stirred smooth.

TIP: Cut your butter into small pieces so it melts quicker. 

Caramel Corn Ingredients in a bowl

After it’s melted and smooth, then you’ll cook it for a couple minutes to dissolve the sugar.  It will look like caramel after you pull it out (because it is caramel!)

caramel in a bowl

The magic happens when you add the vanilla (watch it sizzle!) and the baking soda.  Stir in the baking soda and you’ll see the caramel actually grow and become lighter in caramel and almost….fluffy.

caramel sauce in a bowl

What’s the easiest way to mix caramel corn?

At this point, your popcorn should be in a large bowl.  The largest bowl you can find.  Use one that is way bigger than you think you’ll need, it just makes it SO much easier to stir.  I use a ridiculously large bowl like this one for my caramel corn, and also rice krispy treats.  It’s one of my most favorite kitchen tools!

You’ll also want to make sure you carefully remove ALL unpopped kernels from the bowl so you don’t break a tooth.

Mix it up well with a big spoon.  The longer it sits out, the firmer it will get, but it won’t ever get crunchy-hard unless you bake it.

How do I make crunchy caramel corn?

If you’d like to turn your soft caramel corn into crunchy caramel corn, all you need to do is bake it! Just spread it all out on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Caramel Corn

For a variation try this reader favorite: Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

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Caramel Corn

Easy Caramel Corn


The easiest buttery-soft caramel corn recipe made with pantry ingredients and in the microwave, with instructions on making it gooey OR crunchy!


12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Karo syrup (light or dark is fine)
1/8 teaspoon salt (if you are using salted microwave popcorn then omit salt here)
1/2 cup real butter (1 stick)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla


Pop popcorn and set aside. Place brown sugar, Karo syrup, salt, and butter in a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds. That should be enough to melt the butter at least half way. Stir it all to combine. No microwave on high for 2 minutes. Take it out and stir. Microwave for 2 more minutes.

While the caramel is cooking, put the popcorn in a big bowl. Use one that is way bigger than you think you’ll need.  Also, remove any un-popped kernels.  When the caramel is done cooking, take out of microwave and add baking soda and vanilla.  Stir well and then pour over popcorn and stir up popcorn immediately to coat.

Eat warm straight out of the bowl, or spread out onto waxed paper or foil and let cool to room temperature (for soft, gooey popcorn).

For crunchy caramel corn: spread out on a cookie sheet (you might need 2) and bake at 300 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.  Pull out a piece and pop it in the fridge to let it cool quickly to test crunchiness!




  1. Gooey for me! And fall is also my favorite time of the year! I love fall clothes and I love fall food even more!

    Also, I made the French Bread recipe for buns for BBQ pork sandwiches. The buns turned out so well! They were delicious.

  2. Oh my gosh, that photo makes me want to eat my computer screen. I am drooling right now. I’m a caramel corn finatic. Love it! Thanks for the nice comment on my blog! I read yours too, and I love it!

  3. Only crunchy! I think I am going to make this with the Young Women one wednesday. That should be fun. We dont have an oven so we can only do things that are micro friendly. Hope they like it chewy!

    1. I have a recipe that’s done in the microwave in a paper grocery bag (believe it or not) that turns out crunchy! However, I suspect that teenage girls will like anything that’s sweet!

  4. I will be making this for snack for after school today! Yum! Or maybe I should make a “test” batch for breakfast just in case I mess it up. Wouldn’t want to disappoint the chillins! 🙂

  5. I like it gooey.

    I’ve been using this same recipe for years except with 1 tsp of baking soda. I got the recipe from my husbands grandmother, except it didn’t use the microwave because she’s been making it since the dawn of time LOL. I also always use the microwave to make it. So much easier!

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