a glass bowl of caramel popcorn sitting on counter surrounded by marshmallows, brown sugar and popcorn.

Viral Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Share

This viral homemade caramel popcorn recipe will have your friends and family asking for the recipe.

Although this recipe is super simple, it is also extremely good. Its salty, chewy and sweet. I first saw it on my childhood friend Cortney’s social media. I then made it for a mom’s night and we’ve all been hooked since! After making it several times now, I needed it to forever live here on the blog for easy sharing with friends. Because they will ask for the recipe!

Caramel popcorn is traditionally associated with county fairs, fall and harvest time events as well as Christmas time but we enjoy it all year long. We have made it so many times for events, get togethers and even holiday gifts.

Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate,  I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our family in this way.

an overhead shot of a bowl of caramel popcorn with a towel underneath.

What Makes This Recipe The Best Viral Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe?

When I think about caramel, the words that come to mind are; rich, decadent, buttery, soft, sweet and chewy. This homemade caramel popcorn is all of those things with a touch of saltiness. I don’t like eating caramel popcorn that is super crunchy or stabs me in the mouth. So if you’re looking for ooey gooey deliciousness, I’ve got you. I truly believe this is the best caramel corn recipe.

P.S. You may also want to check out my Gluten Free Gooey Butter Cookies recipe. It is another fan favorite that gets rave reviews whenever I take it somewhere.

ingredients for caramel popcorn recipe on a counter, brown sugar, marshmallows, butter and popcorn.

Ingredients for Soft Homemade Caramel Corn Recipe

We just need 4 simple ingredients to make the best homemade caramel popcorn.

  • Popped Popcorn: For ease, microwave popcorn is great.
  • Butter: I prefer salted but if you use unsalted butter you may need to add more salt in the cooking process.
  • Brown Sugar: Light or dark brown sugar works, but light brown sugar is my preference.
  • Marshmallows: this is the surprise ingredient here.
    • The addition of marshmallows to the caramel popcorn gives it chew and softness. This is the hack that makes this viral homemade caramel popcorn stand out.
popped popcorn, butter, marshmallows and brown sugar.

What isn’t necessary to make this the Best Caramel Popcorn

You will not see any light corn syrup (or dark corn syrup) nor baking soda called for in this recipe. We also won’t be needing any vanilla extract, a candy thermometer or parchment paper. When I say this is a simple and easy recipe, I mean it! 

close up image of two hands pulling apart homemade caramel popcorn

Equipment Needed to Make Delicious Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Large Mixing Bowl: I personally like using a Tupperware 32 cup Thatsa Bowl Mixing Bowl. It is large enough to carry a double batch of the viral homemade caramel popcorn. It also has a lid which makes it easy to take to girls nights or potlucks, or for storage. But any large mixing bowl will do.

Medium Saucepan: A medium size saucepan is just the right size and depth.

Silicon Spatula: I like to use a high heat resistant spatula since the spatula is in contact with the high heat of the caramel sauce for the entire cooking process. Wooden spoons get sticky and cheap plastic can melt into the finished caramel sauce.

a bowl of caramel popcorn with more caramel sauce being poured over top

How to Make Viral Homemade Caramel Popcorn

This easy caramel popcorn recipe will give you delicious results, but, make sure you stick around till it is complete. Don’t walk away during the cooking process, and stir often as the caramel can burn easily.

  1. Pop microwave popcorn according to manufacturers instructions, then set aside in a large bowl.
    • One bag of microwave popcorn or the equivalent amount popped in any other method.
    • Which is 2 Tbsp un-popped popcorn= 4 cups of popcorn, popped.
    • If you don’t use microwave popcorn, I suggest also buttering ( with 1/4-1/2 cup of butter) and salting your home popped popcorn for added flavor. You can adjust the amount of salt to your personal preference. 
  2. Buttery Homemade Caramel Sauce: In a medium saucepan, completely melt butter 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter, over low to medium heat.
    • (Do not use high heat as you make toffee instead of caramel.)
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar to the melted butter, continue to stir until fully combined and slightly bubbling.
  4. Add 10-12 marshmallows into the caramel mixture, stir vigorously until fully incorporated and smooth.
  5. Mix it up: Carefully pour warm caramel sauce over popped popcorn in the large bowl, stir to combine for the perfect texture and coating of smooth, soft caramel.
    • Alternatively, you can spread the popped popcorn onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet/ cookie sheet and pour the caramel sauce over the spread out popcorn.  
process collage of melting butter, stirring in brown sugar, marshmallows and stirring till smooth

Storage of Easy Homemade Caramel Popcorn

For storage or keeping any leftover homemade caramel corn, place it into an airtight container or food safe storage bag. Remove as much air as possible before closing.

bowl of homemade caramel popcorn on white table

Caramel Popcorn Balls as Christmas Gifts for the Holiday Season

You can easily turn this best caramel popcorn recipe into holiday gifts or popcorn balls! We have even sold these at a craft fair.

To do so, form the popcorn into balls quickly after combining the recipe. The caramel sauce is the softest and easiest to work with while still warm, but it can be hot so take caution. Then package into small food safe storage bags, add a festive ribbon and gift tag.

There are some really cute option on Amazon for festive holiday bags! These “It’s Fall Yall” Food safe bags are adorable for autumn. And this variety pack of Christmas food safe bags are fun for kids.

Trouble Shooting for Viral Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Why is my caramel hard?

Your caramel may be hard if you heated the butter and brown sugar too high and too fast. Use low to medium heat (depending on your own stove top) and melt the butter slowly. Once you have added the brown sugar, stir very often till it has combined.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes you can double it! I often do a double batch and mix it in my 32 cup Tupperware thatsa bowl. Sometimes when I increase it, I do 3 bags of popcorn to just a double amount of the caramel sauce. It isn’t as ooey gooey this way but still absolutely delicious.

More Desserts to Try

If you have a sweet tooth, and I mean, you’re here right? You will want to check out my Gooey Butter Cookies Recipe too!

pinterest image with multiple iphones in image with caramel popcorn photos on the screens
bowl of homemade caramel popcorn on white table

Viral Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Joanna
A quick and easy recipe for the most deliciously decadent caramel popcorn ever.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8 1/2 cup servings

Equipment

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • medium saucepan
  • Silicon Spatula (heat resistant)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bag Microwave popcorn or 2 Tbsp. un-popped popcorn popped with another method, which equals 4 cups popped popcorn.
  • 1/2 cup salted butter 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar light or dark
  • 10-12 marshmallows regular size

Instructions
 

  • Pop microwave popcorn according to manufacturers instructions, then set aside in a large bowl.
  • If you don't use microwave popcorn, I suggest also buttering ( with 1/4-1/2 cup of butter) and salting your home popped popcorn for added flavor. You can adjust the amount of salt to your personal preference. 
  • In a medium saucepan, completely melt butter 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter, over low to medium heat.
  • (Do not use high heat as you will make toffee instead of caramel.)
  • Stir in 1/2 cup brown sugar to the melted butter, continue to stir until fully combined and slightly bubbling.
  • Add 10-12 marshmallows into the caramel mixture, stir vigorously until fully incorporated and smooth.
  • Carefully pour warm caramel sauce over popped popcorn in the large bowl, stir to combine for the perfect texture and coating of smooth, soft caramel.
  • Alternatively, you can spread the popped popcorn onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet/ cookie sheet and pour the caramel sauce over the spread out popcorn. 
  • Serve and enjoy! Try not to eat the whole thing on your own, or do it anyway. I really won't judge. 🙂
  • For storage or keeping any leftover homemade caramel corn, place it into an airtight container or food safe storage bag. Remove as much air as possible before closing.

Notes

Why is my caramel hard?
Your caramel may be hard if you heated the butter and brown sugar too high and too fast. Use low to medium heat (depending on your own stove top) and melt the butter slowly. Once you have added the brown sugar, stir very often till it has combined.
 
Can I double this recipe?
Yes you can double it! I often do a double batch and mix it in my 32 cup Tupperware thatsa bowl. Sometimes when I increase it, I do 3 bags of popcorn to just a double amount of the caramel sauce. It isn’t as ooey gooey this way but still absolutely delicious.
 
Keyword caramel, dessert, snacks

Share

6 Comments

  • Lydia July 11, 2024 at 9:49 am

    I love popcorn and this recipe looks like the perfect fix for a sweet tooth! Thank you for sharing!!☺️

    Reply
    • Joanna July 12, 2024 at 8:01 am

      Popcorn has always been a favorite snack too! Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Reply
  • Amber July 11, 2024 at 10:26 am

    5 stars
    My kids are going to love having this homemade caramel popcorn at our next Tea time ! So simple to make too!

    Reply
    • Joanna July 12, 2024 at 8:02 am

      It will be such a fun addition to tea time! Enjoy!

      Reply
  • Emily July 11, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    looks so good! And my kids looooove popcorn! 🙂

    Reply
    • Joanna July 12, 2024 at 8:02 am

      It is such a great snack! This makes it extra yummy 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating