Salted Caramel Corn | Make Ahead Mondays


Update: The Pick Giveaway Winner plugin chose Christi P. as the winner of the Whirly Pop and Coconut Oil. Look for the email I’ve sent you, Christi! I can’t even wait for you to get to try these things. Congratulations!

My Grandma is one of my biggest cooking heroes. She has spent the majority of her life feeding people. My Grandpa, her husband, was a pastor who couldn’t walk away from someone who looked hungry, and everyone looked hungry to Grandpa. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating that one of my most treasured possessions is my collection of recipe cards handwritten for me by Grandma in my first years of marriage. There is just nothing to compare to road-tested recipes written by the hand of someone you love bigger than the bay. The only drawback? Well, maybe I get just a touch weepy whenever I make her recipes. In other words? I weep a lot.

The recipe I’m sharing today is a holiday staple. I only allow myself to make it from December first through January thirty first because otherwise I’d be the size of a house. We give bags of this to friends, Romans and countrymen. In other other words? We give it to EVERYONE. If you walk near my house in Advent, you’re getting a bag full of Salted Caramel Corn shoved in your hands. It’s just the way we do things, because it’s how Grandma does it.

And since we’re talking about Grandma, let me tell you, she was ahead of her time. Grandma was doing Salted Caramel WAY before anyone else. As in decades. When salted caramel hit the food scene I was all, “What? You mean other people DIDN’T salt their caramel?” Honestly. I was agog. Aghast. Alarmed. Arsey-versey. Shall I stop now? Please say yes. I’m all out of words that mean agape that begin with ‘A’. Oh, no I didn’t. Oh yes, I did… Astounded, awestruck, astonished, amazed…

We were, however, talking SALTED Caramel Corn. On the back of the recipe card, Grandma wrote about the final step of the process, “This is what makes it crisp and it does not stick to your teeth-” I’m neither an orthodontist nor have I played one on t.v., but many of my kids’ braces wearing friends are able to eat this with no issues! If you’re looking for a caramel corn that fits the bill for your favourite dental appliance sporting pals, this is the one!

Think of this as the ultimate in caramel corn. It’s perfectly caramelled (new word. I made it up), just a touch salty, crispy and not at all sticky and is totally simple to make. I promise you many accolades and much affection (more ‘A’ words!) if you make a batch of two of these to give away. Here’s where ‘Make Ahead Mondays’ comes into play. This caramel corn is good for about ten days after it’s made. One batch makes roughly eight quarts. Make a batch, bag it up and give it away for the next few days. If it starts softening a bit, crisp it up in a 250°F oven for a few minutes. This is a room-temperature storage item. You want to spread some joy? ” The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear” AND give them a bag of this stuff. I’m pretty sure Buddy would approve. (My final ‘A’ word.)

If you want to try a sample of this good stuff, I’ll be selling it as a fundraiser for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer at the 26th Annual Arts and Crafts Fair at Houghton College in Houghton, New York tomorrow (Tuesday, December 4th) and Wednesday the 5th. Come on down and see me!


Salted Caramel Corn | Make Ahead Mondays
There is nothing that can compare to Grandma's Salted Caramel Corn with its brown sugar, nutty browned butter and touch of salt. Grandma is a genius.
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 quarts plain (unseasoned, unsalted) popcorn in a very large mixing bowl
  1. Line 2 half-sheet pans with silpats, parchment paper or non-stick foil. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. It will foam up big time! Don't worry, it's to be expected.
  3. Pour the molten caramel over the popped corn in the bowl and stir gently but thoroughly to evenly coat the popcorn. Split the popcorn between the two prepared pans and spread it out evenly. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. Grandma says "Watch it closely during baking to ensure it doesn't stick and burn. If it tends to do this, lower the temp a tad. This step is what makes it crisp and it does not stick to your teeth!"
  4. Let the caramel corn cool on the pan (if it is sufficiently done, you'll hear it crackling as it cools!), then store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Now the GIVEAWAY! This one is sponsored by ME! Just me! No one else! Several years ago, my Aunt Molly sent my family a Whirly Pop. Have you ever heard of one of these? I hadn’t until she sent me one. It is, in short, the ULTIMATE popcorn popper. It’s a funky pan with built in stirring mechanism that makes up to SIX QUARTS of theatre style popcorn in under THREE MINUTES. I’m telling you, this is on the short list of things I would replace the same day if it broke, not that I see it breaking any time soon. Honestly, folks… it has a 25 year warranty on all moving parts. Can you beat that? We’ve put this thing through its paces for almost seven years and it’s still going strong! We seriously use this every. single. day.  Sometimes we eat three batches a day! Oh! And you can make the best kettle corn of all time in these bad boys, too!

It is so much more inexpensive and incredibly healthier to pop your popcorn this way. Plain bagged popcorn is FAR less costly than and contains none of the weird, nasty preservatives found in the microwave stuff. You can get away with using much less oil when using the Whirly Pop than you would using a big pot on the stove. It’s pretty much the best way ever to make popcorn.

So here’s what I’m giving away. ONE WHIRLY POP…



Believe me, you haven’t had popcorn until you’ve had it popped with coconut oil in a Whirly Pop.

Here’s how to enter! (Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry method you use so each one is counted!)

Mandatory Entry:

What’s your favourite popcorn topping? Hot sauce? Plain old salt? Sardines? (What? Could happen!) Nutritional yeast? Talk to me!

Optional Entries:

Like Foodie with Family on facebook.

Follow Foodie with Family on Instagram.

Follow Foodie with Family on Pinterest.

Follow Foodie with Family on Twitter.

Tweet the following, “I want to win a Whirly Pop and coconut oil for the perfect popcorn from @foodiewithfam ”

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by me and paid for by me. Sadly, I can’t ship this package outside of the continental US, so this giveaway is only open to residents of the aforementioned!





  1. Nadia says

    When I make popcorn at home I either grate some parmesan cheese on top or eat it plain and dip it in sriarcha sauce for a kick!

  2. wendy m. says

    How funny that you should mention nutritional yeast. I never heard of it and a friend used it recently as a topping on her kale chips. My favorite popcorn is kettle corn, salty and sweet. If I had to top it, it would be for Hurricane Popcorn, Hawaiian style, using a sprinkling of Furikake! Yum! AND I have not popped with coconut oil before.

    • says

      I’ll tell you, our favourite popcorn of all time is popped in extra virgin coconut oil the sprinkled with salt and Nutritional yeast flakes! It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s sublime!

  3. ladywild says

    All depends on the day. I like it plain with butter and salt most of the time, but I’ve been known to dip into some sweet kettle corn too.

  4. Michelle says

    I can’t believe you just posted this! I searched your site this morning for a caramel corn recipe!! Anyway, I like plain old butter and salt.

  5. Lori H says

    Butter & salt are my faves, but I’ve also been known to scarf down kettle corn at the summer fairs. Thanks for the tip using coconut oil – I’ll have to give it a try!

  6. Emily G says

    Butter, salt, pepper and finely grated parmesan. (We usually use the rinds I keep in the freezer for popping into soups-just pull one out and grate a little off; it goes a long way).

  7. Margie says

    I mostly love it with just butter and salt. I’m really intrigued about the nutritional yeast though. Have to give it a try.

  8. Judy in CA says

    An old girlfriend of one of my sons used to make popcorn that was sweet and salty – don’t know how she did it, but man was it good!

    p.s. I’ve followed you on fb and twitter for a long time, and now also on pinterest, instagram and I tweeted. 😉

  9. says

    We eat a lot of popcorn, and we just do butter and salt, or sometimes Greek or Creole seasoning. I’ll have to branch out. I make mine on the stovetop but I’d love a whirly pop!

  10. Shyla says

    I always go back to plain old butter and salt! It’s just good!! I am excited to give coconut oil a try, too. Am slowly trying to wean my family from the evil microwave stuff. I am sure a whirly pop would help!

  11. Daria says

    I am a kettle corn kind of girl, but I have already started pinning popcorn recipes even though I have never made popcorn except in the microwave!

  12. elle says

    On my popcorn I love browned butter with salt. Yum! I would love to have the whirly pop! I have 5 boys and they eat large amounts of popcorn (well anything really!) and this would make it a breeze to make such large amounts!

  13. Mignon says

    Wow I am going to make your Grandmothers Salted Caramel Corn soon! I’m also going to share it on my Facebook page because it. sounds. so. awesome! I still love stove top popped popcorn with lots of that evil stuff that starts with a “B” and sea salt! I have many happy memories of cuddling up with my boys, when they were little, with a big bowl of popcorn and watching movies.

  14. Christine R. says

    Lately I have been eating it with Sriracha lime butter. And have your Sriracha lime salt recipe on my list to try…

  15. Rachel says

    I have to say my favorite popcorn is kettle corn. I have brought a whirly pop home once and my engineer husband thought it wouldn’t work well (hight of the stirrer) and had me return it. (Kind of wish I had tried it anyway as my kids love popcorn and I can’t stand the microwave kind and hate the noise shaking a pot on the stove makes. For fun toppings I use different seasoning blends from Penzeys I got as samples.

  16. Catherine says

    I think my favorite way to eat popcorn is plain old salt! However, just had kale chips with nutritional yeast and they were yummy,so I am not opposed to trying it that way, too!

    The salted caramel corn will definitely be among my holiday treats to giveaway this year. It sounds sooo good, any easy to boot! Thanks!

  17. Pam says

    Butter and white truffle salt. Mind blowing. That jar of salt that I bought a few years ago for $15 was one of the best kitchen investments ever!

  18. Kel says

    Popcorn is my favorite food! Right now I eat it with Cabot powdered cheese (ie real sharp cheddar in powder form). thanks!! I will try your recipe.

  19. kate C. says

    Do I have to choose? I guess I’d say butter and that flakey garlic salt, though spicy caramel corn (with cayenne pepper) is pretty amazing. I’ll have to try this recipe!

  20. says

    I’m a traditional kind of gal when it comes to popcorn – a big bowl oozing with real butter and a hint of seasoned salt – that’s how I prefer it!

  21. says

    Call me a plain Jane – I like my popcorn with plain old butter & salt. I do love kettle corn, but haven’t perfected an at-home recipe! Would love to win this. Thanks,

  22. Inara says

    My usual favorite is just seasoned salt and parmesan cheese, though I’ll have to admit to not having gotten too experimental… I *love* the cheddar popcorn that comes out during the holidays, and salted caramel corn (figures, right?). The boy puts garlic and Sri racha on his.

  23. Deja says

    Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper! Yum.
    I was looking for something to make for my daughter’s preschool bake sale – so few signed up I offered to make several items. I was planning on your Hot Chocolate on a Stick, and this is being added to the list as well!

  24. Theresa says

    My favorite popcorn topping also doubles as my favorite pumpkin seed or roasted vegetable anything topping — salt, black pepper, garlic, and brown sugar. Although sometimes I just make plain salted popcorn and dip in some sriracha…

  25. Laura R. says

    My topping of choice is fresh ground roasted garlic and sea salt!!! Oh, and if I’m feeling crazy I put cheese on it:)

  26. Bryn says

    My favorite popcorn topping, ever since you wrote about it on your blog, is Sriracha sauce. You have turned me into a Sriracha-sauce-covered-popcorn eating maniac, and I love it. I will be forever indebted.

  27. Rachel D. says

    A Whirly Pop!!!!!! That just brings back such memories of my Dad. He had a Whirly Pop and loved it.

    My favorite topping is melted butter and salt, the classic.

  28. Elena Vo says

    You are hilarious! My favorite topping is a mix of the Rooster Sauce (also known as Sriracha) and a tad bit of oilve oil. It’s my ultimate comfort food on a long winter day.

  29. Karen says

    I pop the corn on the stove with a mix of extra virgin olive oil and sugar, then sprinkle with kosher salt. It is heavenly!

  30. Gerilynne says

    I love popcorn. In fact, I think it is darn near the perfect snack. Kettle corn makes me a happy girl which is why I MUST try this recipe. In fact, I cannot wait to try it.

  31. WildchildT says

    I already follow you on Fb. My favorite topping is butter with an italian-cheese blend spice. Yum. I LOVE carmel corn but I only make it on special occasions because I’m a pig around Carmel Corn:(

  32. Tu Amiga says

    Greetings! My favorite popcorn topping is good old-fashioned butter. Alas, that is not good for my heart, so now it is Rooster sauce. That sauce is the BEST!

  33. Melissa Moore says

    My favorite is hot sauce and butter, but I think I’m going to give the Sriracha sauce a “whirl” 😉

  34. Danielle says

    I like Zatarian’s creole seasoning on it, but now I’m thinking I need to find some nutritional yeast to try on it. And I do have a bottle of sriracha kicking around somewhere. And I want to try the salted caramel … time to get popping!

  35. Stephanie says

    Popcorn is absolutely my favorite snack! I pop mine in olive oil and top with sea salt and butter. I can’t wait to try your caramel corn recipe; I make it only a couple of times of year for the same reason you mentioned!

  36. Jenny says

    Love caramel corn and have been making that recipe for years (but without the awesome addition of the salt!)…can’t wait to try it that way!

  37. Debbie D says

    I am a popcorn fiend! Try it with some Splenda (can’t do sugar), butter and salt for deliciousness. Add some cinnamon. Great!

  38. Carol C. says

    I love all the ideas I’ve seen on comments and am going to try to spice it up a little. I usually just have butter and salt. I hadn’t made caramel corn with salt before but will add it this next time for the holidays. Great snack to bag and giveaway!

  39. Brie says

    Wow! How awesome is that!! My favorite popcorn topping is just plain ‘ol popcorn with Hot tamales (the candy) mixed in…. hubby likes it with hot sauce and parmesan cheese!

  40. Anne Weber-Falk says

    Plain old salt! Unless I’m at the movies. There I will ask for a light bit of butter topping and no additional salt.

  41. Anne Weber-Falk says

    I have “liked” you on FB already! This is my favorite post of yours, ever. It really made me smile. Thanks.

  42. Jennifer says

    I am a sucker for real butter and popcorn salt. I always want to love caramel corn, but it always seems to have a burnt taste rather than the buttery toffee taste I’m hoping for. Maybe I’ll give this recipe a try.

  43. Karen B says

    My son believes he invented putting Red Hot on popcorn about 10 years ago. Our family loves it and we’ve gotten a lot of people hooked on it.

  44. Ginny J says

    Hi Rebecca! I met you this morning at the fair. I’m pretty sure that white chocolate peppermint is my favorite topping, but your Grandmother’s recipe is incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  45. Maureen says

    A little caramel sauce for me. But my husband is all about a white cheddar powder that he got from a seasoning store around here or he also love bacon salt.

  46. Christi P. says

    I am just a simple girl when it comes to popcorn. Me and my husband make it together on the stove in loads of oil. He dumps small amounts of the popped corn in the bowl, I salt, he dumps more…I salt. It is amazing. All my friends call it Papa Pikes Popcorn and request it often. My other favorite is carmel!! I can’t wait to try the coconut oil!!

  47. Jenn says

    When I’m feeling decadent, I mix chilpotle chili powder and garlic powder into melted butter, drizzle over air-popped popcorn and shake on some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

  48. Stephanie says

    I have been doing the nutritional yeast thing. I love it..,so does my BF, but he is not aware of nutrional yeast! 😉 Thank you for this giveaway and recipe.

  49. Pam McG from Ohio says

    My favorite topping is butter and salt but I’d love to try some new flavors and I have always wanted a Whirly Pop!

  50. Anna Kim says

    My favorite is just salt and loads of butter. yes, I don’t expect to live very long. haha jk. butter is the best! caramel second :)

  51. says

    I enjoy popcorn almost anyway it’s fix but my go to favorite is real butter and salt! Yummy! My Grandpa Bryant made popcorn every Sunday night after church. My brothers and I looked forward to his popcorn and our special time with him.

  52. Beth D. says

    I enjoy popcorn with…more popcorn on top :)
    Seriously, my favorite topping mixture is just oodles of butter and a fair amount of salt.

  53. Tonia says

    Whirly Pop – teehee! ;-D And I’m going to try this caramel corn because I love caramel corn and I’ve never made it!

  54. Kim says

    I raise my 3 Grand Children & when I need the 14 yr old to babysit, they love him to make what they call the best popcorn ever. He uses the cheddar cheese powder (that I got to make your Amish crackers, but never did) a little sugar, butter & salt. Then to top it off they sprinkle on Franks Red Hot. They love it!

  55. Jen Grimm says

    I tweeted @MandalynnJDG I want to win a Whirly Pop and coconut oil for the perfect popcorn from @foodiewithfam

  56. Lisette says

    I love my popcorn kettle corn style, with seasoned salt as a close second. Or drizzled with chocolate….well you get the idea.

  57. Cindy says

    Do you know the temperature to cook the caramel to? I get all insecure at just cooking it for a certain length of time… (I’ve had some unfortunate fudge incidents).

  58. Tabitha says

    Rebecca, I am making a big batch of this tonight for my co-workers this weekend, and I was wondering if i’m doing the right thing using unsalted butter? I figured it would be unsalted since i’m adding salt to the caramel anyway, but wanted to make sure.
    Thanks again for another amazingly yummy looking recipe!


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