Amber’s Caramel Corn

There is totally a method to the madness here at BAH.  Remember when I told you that you should spend a ridiculous amount of money on a jar of coconut oil?  Ok, I didn’t tell you that you might experience sticker shock when you saw how much the grocery store charges for coconut oil, but I strongly suggested that you go out and get yourself a jar of the stuff.  That was because in addition to being the perfect oil for those delightful Pomme Frites, I knew that we’d be talking popcorn soon thereafter.  And if you’re going to fire up the stove and pop some kernels, as opposed to using an air popper or throwing them into the microwave in a paper bag, coconut oil is going to be your friend.

A mere tablespoon or two (depending on the size of your pot) of the stuff helps to transfer the heat of the stove into the kernel where the internal moisture heats up until the whole thing explodes into a beautiful bite of tender fluffiness.  Although you shouldn’t be cooking your popcorn over super high heat, the coconut oil can take what you throw at it and leave your popped kernels without any residual greasiness.  And don’t worry about your popcorn having a coconutty flavor.  It won’t.  But it will provide you the perfect palate on which to load up some easy caramel sauce for Amber’s Caramel Corn.

Amber’s Caramel Corn

Adapted from Bluebonnets & Brownies

BAH Note: I’ve asked the oracle of google what purpose the baking soda serves in the caramel sauce.  The best explanation I could find is that it is supposed to help the caramel set up soft. My real world data suggests that the caramel coating sets up rather hard and brittle on the popcorn.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  It just isn’t the soft caramel corn that you might get at the beach or county fair.  It’s more like what I remember Cracker Jacks to have been like.  And I won’t lie, it’s a huge pain to scrub out of your pot and bowl.  Be sure to use a nonstick pot to cook up the caramel and fill your work bowl with hot water for a bit before you attempt to scrub it clean.

  • 1/4 cup uncooked popcorn kernels
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and cook until the kernels have popped (for a refresher on cooking popcorn on the stove, please refer to Jenna’s method).  Transfer the popcorn to a bowl large enough to let you stir in the caramel.  You may need to divide the popcorn into multiple bowls.

Line a half sheet pan or a few cookie sheets with aluminum foil.

In a large, nonstick pot or saucepan, heat the sugar, butter, vanilla extract and salt over medium heat, stirring often.  Continue to cook and stir until the sugar melts and the sauce takes on a caramel color.  Be careful not to overcook the sauce or it will burn.

Turn off the heat and add the baking soda to the saucepan.  As you stir in the baking soda, the sauce will bubble up and double in volume.  Be careful here, hot sugar is rocket hot and burns are no fun.

Carefully pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn.  If your popcorn is in more than one bowl, divide the sauce among all the bowls you are using.

Working quickly, and carefully, use a silicone spatula to combine the popcorn and caramel sauce.  Not each piece will be completely coated but there should be some caramel on each popped kernel.  Transfer the coated popcorn to the foil lined sheets and let it cool completely before grabbing handfuls of it and shoving it in your mouth.

Should you find you have leftovers, store it in an airtight container such as a zip top plastic bag with as much of the air removed as possible.

{printable recipe}

14 thoughts on “Amber’s Caramel Corn

  1. Ooh! I never thought to use coconut oil for popping pop corn. Awesome idea. We have an air popper which I love but I’ve been totally craving caramel corn for WEEKS and think this is the sign to make it. I love the “photo” at the top of your post! 🙂

    1. Kelly, coconut oil is absolutely PERFECT for making popcorn. Yes, please take this as a sign that you need to cook up a batch of caramel corn pronto.

    1. Yes. And also yes. And 100% worth it.

      This is an instance where I wholeheartedly agree with The Mistah’s philosophy of “let it soak”.


  2. My favorite kind of caramel corn is the kind someone else makes so I don’t have to clean it up. A friend makes gigantic batches at Christmas that involve oven time and a giant turkey toaster. I like this shove it in your face faster method better.

    1. Good lord, I cannot begin to imagine mass producing caramel corn in my kitchen. It would take an entire year to clean up from it. I couldn’t agree with you more that this “shove it in your face method” is better.

      The summer in college that I lived at the beach, one of my jobs was across the street from a Fisher’s Popcorn shop. The smell of caramel corn makes me feel 20 years old again.


    1. GREAT TIP Dianne. I think I dropped about $7 for a jar of it at Giant. I never even thought to look for it at Joe’s.


    1. Yes Jenna, you do. And it’s good for more than just popcorn. I use it when I make curries, instead of olive oil.


    1. Now Jen, I KNOW you have a dutch oven in your kitchen that can accommodate a big batch of popcorn. I say put that Staub to work.


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