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How to Make Caramel Popcorn with Caramel Candies

How to Make Caramel Popcorn with Caramel Candies

There is nothing like watching a movie while munching on some popcorn. But, why not take this classic snack to the next level with some deliciously sweet caramel? That may sound a bit daunting – caramel isn’t exactly easy to make. This recipe skips making caramel from scratch and uses caramel candies instead. Not only is it far easier to work with, but it also tastes the same! Keep reading to learn how to make caramel popcorn with caramel candies.

Each bite of this caramel popcorn will leave you wanting more. The popcorn boasts buttery caramel flavors and a crunchy outer shell. What could be better? Rather than buying caramel popcorn from the store, pick up some caramel candies and make them at home!

A bag of this caramel popcorn makes a great present for the holidays, or for an upcoming picnic. After making this recipe, you’ll see just how easy it is, and will make it all the time!

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What’s the Difference Between Using Caramel Candies and Using Caramel?

Making caramel by hand can be difficult, especially for new cooks. It can also be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle it. To make caramel for popcorn, you usually have to add baking soda which causes the caramel to expand rapidly. The sugar in caramel gets incredibly hot and can severely injure you, if not handled carefully.

By using caramel candies, you don’t have to put in as much effort. Lots of the hard work is taken out, and you don’t have to worry so much about the exact temperature of the caramel candy. That means much less work for you! Making caramel popcorn with caramel candies does not change the taste either. It tastes the same and has the same texture as when using homemade caramel.

 

How to Make Caramel Popcorn with Caramel Candies – Ingredients

  • Caramel candies: choose your favorite brand of caramel candy. It is best to use plain, uncoated caramel in this recipe. Soft caramel will melt easier, but if using hard caramel, crush it for easier melting.
  • Butter: can be replaced with margarine. Feel free to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on if you want a saltier caramel popcorn.
  • Water: helps melt all of the ingredients together.
  • Popcorn: it’s best to use plain popped popcorn for this recipe, but buttered popcorn is fine. You can use stove-popped popcorn or bagged popcorn.

 

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CARAMEL POPCORN

Step 1 – Prep the oven

Preheat your oven to 300°F, and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Step 2 – Pop your popcorn

Pop your popcorn either in the microwave or on the stove. For microwave popcorn, follow the instructions on the bag. To pop it on the stove, use the following instructions:

  • Add oil to a large pot. Only add enough to cover the bottom of the pot.
  • Turn the stove up to medium-high heat and add in the popcorn.
  • Once the kernels start popping, cover the pot. Leave a small gap for steam to release.
  • Move the pot back and forth over the heat until you hear fewer popping sounds.
  • Take the popcorn off the heat, and uncover it. Pour it into a large bowl until the caramel is ready.

Step 3 – Make the caramel

Add the caramel candies, butter, and water into a saucepan. Heat the pan over low heat, and stir constantly. Keep mixing until the caramel candies have melted. Keep your eye on the pot during this whole process as it can go from yummy caramel to burnt goop quickly!

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss. You can also use a wooden spoon to carefully combine the caramel and popcorn. Make sure each piece of popcorn is fully covered in caramel. You don’t want to take a bite expecting caramel popcorn, and end up eating naked popcorn.

Step 4 – Bake the popcorn

Spread the caramel popcorn onto the greased baking sheet. They don’t have to be spread out evenly but give them some space to prevent lots of popcorn clumps. Place them into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Give them a bit of a stir to prevent clumping. Then let them bake for another 10 minutes.

If you want to keep the popcorn sticky and soft, you can skip this step.

Step 5 – Rest the popcorn

Cover a separate baking sheet with parchment paper, then add the popcorn to it. Let them cool completely. Break the cooled popcorn into pieces and enjoy!

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RECIPE

Will bagged popcorn work in the recipe?

Absolutely! Any plain popcorn can work in this recipe, but the fresher the popcorn the better.

What else can I add to the popcorn?

Combine the popcorn with some peanuts for an extra crunch. Or, drizzle the finished caramel popcorn with a bit of chocolate to make it more decadent.

Do I have to bake the caramel popcorn?

It may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but baking makes a huge difference in the popcorn’s texture. By baking the caramel popcorn, you get a much crunchier caramel shell on the popcorn. To get the best caramel popcorn, make sure not to skip the baking process.

How can I keep the popcorn crunchy?

Keep the caramel popcorn in an airtight container to keep them crunchy. You want to keep the popcorn away from moisture.

Can I use flavored caramel candies?

This recipe uses regular caramel candies. We haven’t tried using flavored caramel, but it could work. However, don’t use caramel candies that have a shell (i.e. chocolate-covered). This will change the melting point and give an undesirable texture.

What’s the safest way to melt caramel candy?

Once you unwrap the caramel candies and add them to the pot, it’s go time! Make sure to stir constantly to prevent the caramel from burning. It also helps to cook the caramel on low heat. By taking it low and slow, the caramel is easier to manage.

Why is my caramel popcorn bitter? 

If your caramel popcorn tastes bitter, then you may have overcooked the caramel. The best way to avoid overcooking the caramel is to cook it on low and keep an eye on the color. Also, make sure to not leave the popcorn in the oven too long, or at too high of a temperature.

 

TIPS & NOTES

  • Pour your popped popcorn over a cooling rack to get rid of un-popped kernels.
  • Use salted butter instead of unsalted butter in your recipe to get that classic “salted caramel” taste.
  • Switch out the caramel candy for about ¼ cup of crushed butterscotch candy. This will make delicious butterscotch popcorn!
  • To make healthier caramel popcorn, pop your own popcorn. Making it with microwaved buttered popcorn will be delicious, but it may add a few more calories.
  • Melt the caramel in the microwave instead of on the stove. Add the same ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 3 minutes. After each minute, take the caramel out and stir. Once it’s completely melted, continue the same steps.

 

STORAGE NOTES

The most important part of storing this caramel popcorn is to keep it away from moisture. Store the popcorn in an airtight container, or in Ziploc bags at room temperature. They will stay crunchy and delicious for 2 weeks. I don’t think they will last that long, though!

It’s best not to place the caramel popcorn in the fridge or freezer. This will make the popcorn soft and possibly soggy.

How to Make Caramel Popcorn with Caramel Candies RECIPE

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Cooling Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serving: 10 cups

Ingredients

  • 11 oz. of Caramel candies of choice
  •  3 Tbsp butter (unsalted or salted)
  •  1 Tbsp water
  •  10 cups of popped popcorn

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease a baking sheet.
  2. Pop the popcorn either on the stove or in the microwave.
  3. Add the caramel candies, butter, and water into a pot. Cook on low heat. Stir constantly until the candy has melted.
  4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss to combine. Make sure the popcorn is fully covered in caramel.
  5. Place the popcorn onto the greased baking sheet and spread them out.
  6. Put the popcorn into the oven and let the popcorn bake for 10 minutes. Give the popcorn a mix, then bake for another 10 minutes. While the popcorn bakes line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Remove it from the stove and pour the popcorn over the lined baking sheet. Leave it to cool completely.
  8. Break the pieces up and enjoy!

How to Make Caramel Popcorn with Caramel Candies

Ingredients
  

  • 11 oz. of Caramel candies of choice
  • 3 Tbsp butter unsalted or salted
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 10 cups of popped popcorn

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F and grease a baking sheet.
  • Pop the popcorn either on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Add the caramel candies, butter, and water into a pot. Cook on low heat. Stir constantly until the candy has melted.
  • Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss to combine. Make sure the popcorn is fully covered in caramel.
  • Place the popcorn onto the greased baking sheet and spread them out.
  • Put the popcorn into the oven and let the popcorn bake for 10 minutes. Give the popcorn a mix, then bake for another 10 minutes. While the popcorn bakes line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove it from the stove and pour the popcorn over the lined baking sheet. Leave it to cool completely.
  • Break the pieces up and enjoy!

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