This super easy recipe for Caramel Popcorn takes 10 MINUTES start to finish! You make it in a brown paper bag in the microwave. It is SO crunchy and flavorful! And you don’t have to stir a giant pan in the oven for an hour. WIN.

Caramel Corn

The other day I was on the phone telling my sister Laura just how tacky I am. I bought a new sweater but wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep it, so the tags were still on. I wore it to preschool drop off…and then again to preschool pick up, because by then I had decided to keep the sweater but had still forgotten to take off the tags.

That was when Laura told me that she was also wearing a new sweater. With the tags still on…because she was still thinking about whether or not to keep it. Welcome to my family. We’ve got all kinds of class.

how to make caramel corn

Classy kind of like the other day when I walked past Truman hanging out on the couch, poking at his belly. A minute later I’m in the kitchen and I hear, “Mom…is there such a thing as belly button boogers?” (Okay, gross, but actually a totally valid question, especially if you’re 4.)

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Are you ready for another AUNT SHIRLEY recipe?? I hope you guys aren’t feeling overloaded. (How could you feel overloaded by creamy mashed potatoes, famous dinner rolls, and sparkling Christmas slush? I’M NOT SORRY.)

easy caramel popcorn

This recipe is KILLER you guys. I’ve made traditional Caramel Corn before, and while delicious, it involves stirring a giant pan of popcorn in a crazy hot oven. I am the worst at burning myself (I literally have a burn on the back of my hand right now from trying to stir this cauliflower rice while it baked in the oven. Doh!)

Some things you will love about this recipe: You don’t need a candy thermometer. You don’t need to wait for a special temperature. You don’t have to stir forever, on the stove OR in the oven. And you can have crunchy, caramel-y popcorn in your mouth in 10 minutes flat.

Caramel for Caramel popcorn

carmel popcorn

how to make caramel popcorn

Carmel popcorn

All you need is a clean paper bag from the grocery store (not the lunch sack size–the big guy.) Oh, and a microwave. The microwave is pretty important. It’s what gets you out of using your oven. Basically, you add popped popcorn to the bag, boil some sugar on the stove for a couple minutes, then pour it over the caramel and shake, microwave, shake. That’s IT.

I can’t think of an easier neighbor gift for Christmas this year. (Okay well actually this Sticky Sweet and Salty Chex Mix might give the Caramel Corn a run for it’s money. That stuff is legit and also done in about 10 minutes.)

Caramel Corn recipe

Here are some packaging ideas. These are mini paper bags, I think I got them at Hobby Lobby. A regular size lunch bag would be cute too, with a ribbon and tag. (Here are some I found that have Christmas designs on them!) Or you could get these cute red and white popcorn bags.

The recipe calls for already popped popcorn. You can either buy a bag at the store to make life easy, or you can pop your own at home. We have had this Orville Redenbacher Presto Pop for about 10 years now. It never fails! It’s so much cheaper than buying bags of microwaveable popcorn. Plus you can add whatever amount of butter and salt you want. It is totally worth the 15 bucks.

homemade caramel popcorn

If you do microwaveable popcorn, buy whatever kind you can find that has the least amount of butter and salt. If you use regular movie theater style buttery popcorn, it might be a little overwhelming once you add the caramel.

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One year ago: Crispy Swedish Cardamom Cookies 
Three years ago:  Frosted Peppermint Gingerbread Bars (Candy Lasses Bars)
Six years ago: The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

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10 Minute Caramel Popcorn in the Microwave

Yields 4 quarts popcorn     adjust servings

This super easy recipe for Caramel Popcorn takes 10 MINUTES start to finish! You make it in a brown paper bag in the microwave. It is SO crunchy and flavorful! And you don't have to stir a giant pan in the oven for an hour. WIN.


  • 4 quarts of popped popcorn
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Add the popped popcorn to a large paper grocery sack that hasn't been used (make sure it's clean).
  2. Grease a baking sheet with plenty of nonstick spray.
  3. In a 3 quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
  4. When the mixture is at a rolling boil, set a timer for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. It's going to bubble and foam up, be ready!
  6. Add the vanilla and stir.
  7. Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn in the bag. It's nice if you have someone around to help you hold the bag open, but I managed it on my own. Stir the caramel in with the popcorn a little bit.
  8. Fold the bag down several times. Place the bag in the microwave and microwave for 1 minute on high heat.
  9. Take it out and shake the heck out of it! Keep the top folded obviously.
  10. Put it back in (top folded) and microwave for 1 more minute.
  11. Shake it like a polaroid.
  12. Pour the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet, breaking up any chunks.
  13. Let cool for a couple minutes, then stuff your face! 


If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

Here are some other ideas for neighbor Christmas gifts this year!

Caramel Nougat Pecan Rolls << I give this to my neighbors every year for Christmas. It’s really something special for the holidays!

Caramel Candy Pecan Roll from The Food Charlatan


Sticky Sweet and Salty Chex Mix (Christmas Crack) << another great neighbor gift idea :)

Sticky Sweet-and-Salty Chex Mix (Christmas Crack) from The Food Charlatan


Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies << if you haven’t made these, you haven’t lived!

Caramel Pecan Thumbprint Cookies from


More delicious Caramel Corn recipes from other bloggers!

Sweet and Spicy Curry Cracker Jack from Snixy Kitchen
Friday Favorite Caramel Corn from Your Home Based Mom
Vanilla Caramel Corn from Comfortably Domestic