Caramel Corn

Caramel corn 
Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I learned quite a bit on my Labor Day.

We headed out of town for a one night trip to a small town called Salado, TX, & it turned into a 3 day vacay with two of our friends from college.  We simply woke up every morning and decided we shouldn't go home.  This led to a weekend of cooking, playing board games, eating, watching movies and antiquing.  It was me with three boys in tow.   And yes, we are all in our twenties... not our sixties.  We stayed in a house my family owns in this small town, but doesn't visit often.  With no supplies for a 3 day trip and little to work with at the house, we pulled quite a bit together.

I felt like I had quite a few revelations.  Here's my top 5 from the weekend....

College football games can be extremely exhilarating.

A classic Labor Day meal can totally be made without a grill.  Oven BBQ chicken, potato salad, cheddar corn fritters and a summer brew.
(recipes coming soon)

Lots of help in the kitchen.

Three boys in the kitchen is actually a dream come true.  I have never seen prep work come together so quick.

Labor Day breakfast

Leftover apple crumb makes a pretty killer breakfast.  Especially when you add a savory breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.

Caramel corn

Cracker Jacks have nothing on homemade caramel corn.

You should totally make this.  You should totally share.

But that's the problem... it's hard to share. It's addicting.

Even for me who always picks the cheddar popcorn over the caramel popcorn in those trio cans that seem to always show up around Christmas.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  I know you know, that I know, that you all know what I'm talking about.

Gosh, I love those things.  Maybe I should start a search for a good cheddar popcorn and we could throw together our own popcorn trios by Christmas?!

But back to the good stuff.  This popcorn keeps it crunch while being bathed in a sweet and caramely layer that gets a slightly salty kick from the peanuts that go oh so well to finish it off.  It slowly bakes for an hour, which makes it even more perfect for a long weekend or a holiday where you can slow things down a bit.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Caramel Corn
Adapted from DamGoodSweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
Recipe Notes
It is possible to do this without a candy thermometer, but I would not recommend it if you are not use to this sort of thing.  Make this your excuse to buy yourself one.  It will be fool proof with candy thermometer.

I used grocery store brand "natural" flavored popcorn.  Newman's Own also has a natural flavor.  You can use air popped as well.  Just buy a popcorn with no flavors like butter or kettle corn and you should be fine.  If you air pop yourself, lightly salt it afterwards.  You want popcorn that tastes pretty plain with a hint of salt.

10 cups of popped popcorn took about 1 1/2 bags for me.

Measure everything out and get your tools ready before you start making the caramel.  Things will go very fast once you begin and you won't have time to grab things.

10 cups popped popcorn (see recipe notes)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup lightly salted peanuts

Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, and dump the popcorn into the bowl, taking care to pick out and discard any unpopped kernels.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, whisking often, until the mixture reads 250°F on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the baking soda and vanilla. Quickly pour the hot caramel over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn, taking care to distribute it as evenly as you can. Stir in the peanuts, and transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, stirring and turning the popcorn with a spatula every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn, and serve.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes about ten cups.


  1. Three boys in the kitchen sounds more like trouble to me! Glad they were helpful. I love caramel corn; and believe it or not, I have no idea what you mean by the cheddar corn - not sure I've had anything other than the powered cheddar kind, that's not nearly as appealing ;-)

  2. So many boys in the kitchen? wow...I wonder who did the cleaning after all the cooking.
    Caramel corns look so good!

  3. I'm SO glad you commented on my boiled peanut post & that I found your blog. I love it!!

    I love caramel corn, but have never made it. My mom loves it even more... I'm really thinking I should try to make this for her. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I love when my kitchen is full of boys - great dish washers and choppers, and cute to look at! I have long held an addiction to carmel corn; I can't wait to make this!

  5. Apple crumb would be awesome for breakfast! And your caramel corn looks pretty good too!

  6. Oh yeah! I would love for you to find a cheddar popcorn recipe too. I still look forward to those things around holidays. The mix of caramel and cheddar is the best. I will have to try the caramel corn. Looks delish.

  7. This must be amazing! I'm such a sucker for caramel corn. Actually, I usually choose the cheddar in those popcorn trios, but fresh homemade caramel can't be beat. Looks like a great weekend!