Crazy Good Caramel Popcorn

Crazy Good Caramel PopcornNo football game is complete without the most delicious homemade caramel popcorn known to man.  This recipe is straight from my mother’s treasured recipe box, and I am privileged enough to even have it in her own handwriting. 😉  Her markings on the recipe card say that it is from Imogene Machotka in Odessa, Texas, circa 1980.

Back in the day my mom used an air popper to pop the corn, so the consistency of the syrup is apparently somewhat dependent on the corn not being coated in two pounds of buttery flavoring.  For that reason, I recommend starting with something like Orville Redenbacher’s Naturals. Unless, of course, you have a hot air popper.


  • 2 1/2 quarts popped corn (about one large bag of microwavable popcorn)
  • 1/2 C. butter or margarine
  • 1/4 C. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pecan halves, peanuts, almonds, etc. (optional)


  1. Measure out popped corn, and be sure all the kernels are sifted out.
  2. Put in a shallow roasting pan, and add pecan halves, raw peanuts, almonds, etc. to corn before putting in warm oven (250º) to keep warm while making syrup.
  3. In medium-sized (non-Teflon) pan, melt the butter/margarine, corn syrup, and salt.
  4. When melted, add sugar a little at a time until dissolved.
  5. Bring to a gentle boil (not too hot) and let boil 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat.  The mixture will be straw-colored.
  6. Stir in vanilla and baking soda.  Allow syrup to puff up and then pour evenly over popped corn and stir to coat each piece. Separate a little and put on baking sheet one layer deep.
  7. Bake 1 hour at 250º.  Don’t over-bake, or it will be sugary.
  8. Cool a few minutes, then lift off pan with spatula enough to loosen it.  Then let cool completely.  It will be soft at first but will crisp as it cools.  If it’s too sugary in the end, then either the syrup cooked too hot or too long, or it baked too long.  Store in tins or zip-lock bags.

Now let me warn you: you’re going to have a hard time letting this cool.  The temptation will be to eat every lovin’ piece before you even get it lifted off the pan with the spatula.  But you don’t want to do this, because you may lose your latest dental appliance.  Besides, if you can wait until it is cool, hardened, and crispy, I just can’t even tell you how crazy good it is.  If you have enough pan/oven space, just go ahead and make a double batch.

A creative lifestyle and DIY blogger, I make something in every spare moment. Sewing, knitting, baking, crafting, and anything else requiring thoughtful creativity or that will make my family happy top the list of the things I like to do.

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