The Best Caramel Corn Ever


Tired of handing out candy bars at Halloween? Super-buttery caramel corn can be yours – in just a few easy steps.

And I mean SUPER buttery. Remember Screaming Yellow Zonkers? THAT kind of buttery.

No joke. Check it out –

Let’s start with a fast, easy, and nearly cleanup-free way to make popcorn.

1/4 cup unpopped kernels. 1/2 teaspoon salt. 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.

Put them all in a brown paper lunch sack. Fold the top over to close.

Microwave for about 2 minutes, or until the popping nearly stops.

Remove from the microwave, and carefully open the top of the bag to reveal 8 cups of beautifully popped corn.

Repeat. You now have 16 cups of popcorn in under 5 minutes.

Next, check out MaryJane’s caramel corn blog post – step-by-step directions and photos for turning the Easiest Popcorn Ever into the Best Caramel Corn Ever.

If you’re just after the recipe, here it is: Carol’s Caramel Corn.

And for you folks (like me) who still like to read your recipes off a piece of paper, here’s the print version.

Happy Halloween!

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. "Cindy Leigh"

    I’m scared to try that paper bag thing!!!!! But I want to…… Do you lay it on it’s side, or stand it up?

    I just lay it on its side, Cindy, same as a microwave popcorn bag; works fine. Be brave – try it! :) PJH

    1. Dottie Hogan

      It works awesome! I do mine all the time this way now and I’m a popcornaholic! Don’t be scared at all. I just put the popcorn in (usually 1/4 – 1/3 C depending on how piggy I am) and a tsp of oil or so a dash of sea salt. Then I fold over the top about 1″ put a piece of packing tape in the middle and put it on the Popcorn setting in my microwave. Works beautifully!

  2. narfing

    I’ve done this many times and never add the salt or oil.

    If you are worried about the paper bag exploding, fold the top over twice about 1/4″ each and then staple each end making sure the staples are 2″ apart. You won’t get any sparks and your popcorn will stay in the bag wonderfully.

  3. DWgirl

    I just might have to hand this out to trick or treaters and break tradition.
    We typically hand out onions disguised as caramel apples. Heh Heh.

    Oooh, you’re mean!! But I love it… :) PJH

  4. Lily

    Is it possible to make the caramel colored like purple?
    You could try adding some purple coloring, but the brown in the caramel won’t allow for a true purple color. ~Amy

  5. horses272

    I have made this recipe for years without the molasses though. I also air pop the popcorn. I also add 1-1/2 cups salted peanuts. Remember to stir several times after you take it out of the oven as it tends to get quite crispy-this will soften as it cools. I make this every christmas for gifts and my friends start asking for it by Labor Day. DO NOT increase the oven temperature.

  6. helenfl

    Cindy, I’ve just started doing it. Stay with the portions KA suggests, and don’t overpop. I stand it up, it seems to start the popping better, but as it fills it falls over. I used a larger amount once, popped it too long, and the bag/corn started to smoke. My husband took it to the driveway and sprayed it with the hose. It tastes better without all the additives of commercial bags!

  7. DBB

    Brown paper bags are not food grade and should never be used for cooking food it – they are not manufactured in a fashion that guarantees food safety due to the chemicals used in paper making. Particularly if you’re going to heat the bag.
    If you have any hesitations about the use of paper bags, please find instructions on how to fashion a parchment bag here. ~Amy

    I think brown paper LUNCH bags would be food safe, though – after all, they’re carrying food, right? I wouldn’t think they’d harbor harmful chemicals, since they’re made specifically for carrying your PB & J to work. But Amy’s right – if you’re at all worried, use something that you trust. PJH

  8. irishovens

    Do you think it would be possible to substitute boiled cider for the molasses? I was thinking of using dark brown sugar to compensate.

    Don’t see why not – boiled cider sounds pretty yummy to me! Go for it – and let us know how it comes out, OK? You could be on to something here. PJH

  9. Sandy

    I have made a similar caramel corn for decades. It is so easy. I love the baking soda foam part as is so neat how the whole color and consistency of the syrup changes. The long slow baking really makes it. Used to make what seemed like boatloads of this at Christmas and bagged it up as gifts. Also served at parties, etc and was always a huge hit. I also bagged corn in ziploc bags and froze them when I made it early in the month of December. It always came out of the freezer fresh tasting as if just made. Never got sticky. Have also thrown in nuts with the popcorn before stirring in the syrup and baking. Love, love this easy caramel corn!!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Sandy, so good to know the caramel corn freezes well – I’d thought about doing that, but was worried it would become sticky as it thawed. And I may add honey-roasted peanuts next time, thanks to your tip – much appreciated! ;) PJH

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