Not Yo’ Mama’s Caramel Corn: Oven Baked Caramel Corn

Oven Baked Caramel Corn

That’s right! This irresistible oven baked caramel corn is my husband’s recipe. This stuff is so delicious! Seriously, I will never buy caramel corn again. It’s light, airy, sweet, salty, buttery caramel taste will have you wanting to eat the whole batch.

This recipe is pretty simple and today I am going to share with you some of my husband’s tips and tricks to help you make the most delicious caramel corn. So let’s get started.

This recipe calls for plain popped popcorn. We discovered it’s super easy to pop plain popcorn in the microwave using a brown paper bag. Just simply add 1/3 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels to a small lunch sized brown paper bag. Fold the top of the bag down about one inch. Press the popcorn button on your microwave and let the popping begin! If you don’t have that button then cook for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. I believe we had to do this about 4 times to get 7 quarts of popcorn. ​

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Weeding through the unpopped kernels transfer the popped popcorn to a large bowl. If you don’t have a bowl you can spread the popcorn out onto two cookie sheets. We cover our cookie sheets with my silicone baking mats for easy clean up. It’s not required but it sure does make clean up much easier. If you don’t have a silicone baking mat then I recommend using foil.

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Now it’s time to gather the ingredients for the caramel topping. For this recipe my husband uses margarine instead of butter. I tried making it with butter, and I realized margarine works much better. Which is a plus in my book because it is much cheaper!

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Cook the caramel topping according to the recipe directions. Make sure to stir the mixture constantly to prevent it from burning. Once the caramel topping has finished cooking pour over the popcorn and give it a good stir. This is when my husband’s tricks come into play. There are two things that he does that really keep the popcorn light and crunchy compared to thick, sticky and chewy (which you don’t want).

  • Pour just a little bit of the caramel topping at a time over the popcorn and stir well to coat. Then pour a little bit more of caramel topping and stir again. Don’t worry if the popcorn isn’t completely coated at this time.
  • Make sure not to drench the popcorn in the caramel topping. My husband never uses all of the caramel topping. He usually leaves a little bit leftover in the pot. This prevents the popcorn from being drenched in the caramel. If your popcorn ends up with a chewy texture then you added too much caramel.
  • If you are using two cookie sheets then make sure to alternate them from the top to the bottom rack every time you stir the popcorn.

Transfer the popcorn to the cookie sheets. Stir the popcorn every 15 minutes for one hour then transfer to wax paper to cool. Enjoy!

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Oven Baked Caramel Corn

Ingredients: 

  • 7 quarts plain popped popcorn*
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts or any nuts of your choice (optional)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

* **Make sure to read the notes before making your caramel corn.

  1. Place the popped popcorn into a large bowl or two shallow greased baking pans. Add the nuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat.* Don’t worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
  4. Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes.* Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Notes: 

  • ​Pour just a little bit of the caramel topping at a time over the popcorn and stir well to coat. Then pour a little bit more of caramel topping and stir again. Don’t worry if the popcorn isn’t completely coated at this time. 
  • Make sure not to drench the popcorn in the caramel topping. My husband never uses all of the caramel topping. He usually leaves a little bit leftover in the pot. This prevents the popcorn from being drenched in the caramel. If your popcorn ends up with a chewy texture then you added to much caramel. 
  • If you are using two cookie sheets then make sure to alternate them from the top to the bottom rack every time you stir the popcorn. 
  • If needed you can use pre-packaged unpopped plain popcorn instead of making your own bags. 

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