Salty Caramel Popcorn Recipe

This is caramel corn just the way it should be – but how it never is. Really fresh, sweet and crunchy, with just enough salt to keep it from being too cloying. The original recipe calls for the addition of 2 cups of salted peanuts and 1/4-3/4 teaspoons of  cayenne pepper. We eliminate both at our house due to allergies (peanuts) and preference (cayenne pepper) – feel free to adapt!

Salty Caramel Popcorn
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

nonstick cooking spray (like Pam)
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. popcorn kernels
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. (600 g.) sugar
3 T. unsalted butter
1 T. kosher salt

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas, a large mixing bowl and two large baking sheets with the nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan (one with a lid), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

Have the baking sheets and baking soda ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 c. water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda (the mixture will bubble up).

Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together (as if you’re tossing a salad), until the popcorn is well coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm (you might want to have a bowl of ice water at the ready in case you burn a finger or two). Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


  • January 10, 2012


    Cant wait to try this!

  • January 10, 2012


    My family loves popcorn! wonder if they’d like it with cayenne pepper? Hmm, may have to try it.

  • January 11, 2012

    Justine Ickes

    Hmm. Sounds like the perfect family movie night treat.