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Easy Stove-top Caramel Popcorn (GF)

Every now-and-then it’s fun to stop for a moment and think of some favorite memories of childhood. One of my favorite memories as a child was watching my Mom make homemade stove-top caramel popcorn.

As far back as I can remember, my Mom has been making this caramel popcorn. She said that she found the recipe in a magazine years ago and it is her favorite recipe, (and mine), for caramel popcorn. The aroma of freshly popped popcorn, along with the cooking caramel sauce on the stove, is one of my favorite childhood memories.

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stove top popcorn

This stuff is so delicious that in our family, the recipe has been handed down through the generations. My Mother still makes this yummy caramel popcorn for many of the holidays or family gatherings and there is seldom any leftover. Once you start eating it… well… let’s just say… you’d better loosen your belt because this stuff is unbelievably addictive, errr… wonderfully satisfying! You will certainly not be begging for more, ummm… disappointed! 

It all starts with popping 1/2 – 3/4 cup popcorn, (for more caramel coverage use 1/2 cup).

stove top popcorn

A hot air popcorn popper actually works the best if you have access to one but you can use any popcorn you like.

stovetop popcorn

Just a fun side note: See that enamel dishpan? That is a good old-fashioned, enamelware dishpan. It has been in our family for well over 70 years. Simply seeing that pan reminds me of my childhood. My Mom still uses it, (as you can see in the pic), on a regular base. Through the years that pan has been used for a wide variety of things. Shoot… I think I could write a whole blog post simply on that dishpan! It has a life story of its own. 

Place your popped popcorn in a large metal pan/bowl. *DO NOT USE PLASTIC! When you pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn the hot caramel may melt the plastic if it comes into contact with it.

Once you have the popcorn ready it’s time to make the caramel sauce.

popcorn 2

The caramel sauce is a combination of only 4 ingredients: sugar + butter + white corn syrup + vanilla.

butter

In a medium saucepan combine 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1 whole stick butter + 1/2 cup white corn syrup. (*Do not add the vanilla until after the sauce is finished. If you add it during the cooking process the vanilla will “cook out” of the sauce and it will not be as flavorful.)

caramel

Cook on medium heat for approximately 8 – 12 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on if you are using a gas stove or electric range. For the first few minutes, you only need to stir the sauce occasionally. During this first few minutes get a glass and fill it with 1/2 cup of cool water. I will explain in a second what this is for.

As the sauce continues to cook it will start to bubble and you will notice that it starts changing colors: from a yellowish color to a light caramel color. Once the color starts changing you will need to stir it constantly. It will only take a matter of 3 – 4 minutes for the sauce to go from the light caramel color to a medium caramel color. If you use a candy thermometer – the sauce is ready when it reaches 300 degrees F. If you do not have a candy thermometer you can check using the following method:  candy thermomoter alternatives

Take a glass filled with about 1/2 cup cool water in it. Now take a spoon and drop a small glob, (about 1/2 tsp.) of caramel sauce into the cool water. If after a few seconds the glob turns hard your sauce is ready. If the glob stays soft the sauce needs to cook for another minute or two.

carmel 2

Keep checking this way until the glob of caramel is firm. Once the sauce has reached this stage you know that is it ready. If you under-cook the sauce, the caramel popcorn will be chewing and sticky. If you over-cook the sauce it will taste scorched.  (After you make a few batches of this caramel popcorn, you will quickly become a pro at telling when the sauce is ready.)
Once the sauce is ready, remove it from the heat.

caramel 3

Now add 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the hot caramel sauce and stir until blended well. ***Please note that when adding the vanilla to the hot caramel sauce the mixture will bubble and steam until it is fully blended in. Be careful not to stand directly over the pan during this process.

caramel 4

Immediately, pour the hot caramel mixture over the popped popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon or metal spoon. Be careful not to get the hot caramel sauce on your skin because it may burn you. Work quickly because the caramel sauce will cool quickly.

caramel popcorn 2

Easy Stove-top Caramel Popcorn (GF)

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 quarts popped popcorn

Instructions

  1. In a medium sauce pan combine sugar, butter and white corn syrup.
  2. Cook on medium heat for approximately 8 - 12 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on if you are using a gas stove or electric range. For the first few minutes you only need to stir the sauce occasionally.
  3. As the sauce continues to cook it will start to bubble and you will notice that it starts changing colors: from a yellowish color to a light caramel color. Once the color starts changing you will need to stir it constantly. It will only take a matter of 3 - 4 minutes for the sauce to go from the light caramel color to a medium caramel color. If you use a candy thermometer - the sauce is ready when it reaches 300 degrees F.
  4. If you do not have a candy thermometer you can check using the following method: Fill a glass with 1/2 cup water.
  5. Scoop a small spoonful of syrupy mixture into the water (about 1/2 tsp.) If after a few seconds the glob turns hard, your sauce is ready. If the glob stays soft the sauce needs to cook for another minute or two.
  6. Add vanilla, (stand back when adding because it will steam).
  7. Pour mixture over popped popcorn, stir with long handled wooden spoon.
  8. Add nuts and candies if desired.
  9. Store in a container with a tight lid.
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http://blessedbeyondcrazy.com/crazy-crunch-caramel-popcorn/

caramel popcorn 4

Doesn’t that look delicious???? I wish I could give you a bite!

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All of the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten-free so it is a great snack to take to parties if some of the guests are gluten intolerant. Just be careful if you add extra ingredients; such as candied nuts, candies, sprinkles, etc… these additions may or may not be gluten free so be sure to check before adding them.

When you are stirring the caramel sauce into the popcorn, you can also add chopped nuts, sprinkles, candies, chopped cookie pieces, etc… Just let your imagination go wild and see what combinations you can come up with.

caramel popcorn 3

I really hope that you enjoy this recipe because it truly is a favorite of mine.

Festive Popcorn Balls

Festive Popcorn Balls

What is your favorite popcorn?

Happy popping!
Linda

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • KATHY WHITMYER February 11, 2016, 12:28 pm
    IS IT 1 STICK OF BUTTER OR 1 CUP
    • Blessed Beyond Crazy February 11, 2016, 12:54 pm
      Hi Kathy, Sorry for the confusion. It is actually one whole stick of butter. I used salted butter, but you can use unsalted if you would like. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Have a great day! Linda
  • M.SESHAGIRI RAO January 28, 2016, 11:23 pm
    This site is very useful for everyone. Thank you
    • Blessed Beyond Crazy January 29, 2016, 9:35 am
      Thank you so much!!!! Linda
  • Fia December 10, 2015, 3:54 pm
    Thank you for the recipe - a new popcorn favorite has arrived to Sweden :)
    • Blessed Beyond Crazy December 11, 2015, 10:17 am
      Hi Fia, Wow, that's so awesome! Thanks so much for letting us know that you enjoy our post for the Easy Stove-top Caramel Popcorn! Enjoy! Linda
  • Kimberly April 15, 2015, 3:25 pm
    I just made this and it turned out great! I used half a cup plus about another 1/8 cup kernels and I'd probably just use the half cup next time. Also, it went FAST. I'm glad I used my candy thermometer because I was expecting it to take a lot longer to reach 300 degrees. I think start to finish, including popping the popcorn, this only took about 20 minutes to make. Also, I don't have a large enough bowl so I used a half sheet pan with a layer of parchment and gently folded everything together. Thanks for a great recipe!
    • Blessed Beyond Crazy April 16, 2015, 11:08 am
      Hi Kimberly, We are so glad that you enjoyed this recipe. It really is a favorite recipe in our family. I love that it is easy enough to to adjust the amount of popped popcorn. Use less mixture for more coverage and more popcorn for less coverage. Thanks for stopping by and for trying this recipe. Have a great day! Linda

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