If you’re looking for a caramel corn recipe without corn syrup, this honey popcorn is what you need. A sweet and smooth caramel coating of brown sugar and honey covers the popcorn, resulting in a crunchy honey-toffee treat.
Honey makes a great addition to caramel, like in these small batch sticky buns!
This recipe needs around 12-14 cups of popped popcorn. This can be made using approximately 1/3 – ½ cup of popcorn kernels. Use a little more kernels as it is likely that not all the kernels will pop. See the step-by-step instructions below to make stove-top popcorn.
The popped popcorn is coated in a honey caramel sauce, then baked until crispy.
The honey caramel
The honey caramel coating in this caramel corn is made using honey, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking soda. All the ingredients except for the baking soda are combined first and cooked over heat until the sugar has reached 240°f / 116°c.
Afterward, the baking soda is added in which reacts with the hot sugar and creates an airy and fluffy mixture. This is what the popcorn is coated in before it is baked.
The amounts for the ingredients are listed in the recipe card below but here is a run-through of what they are and their task in the recipe.
- Freshly popped popcorn
- Soft brown sugar – This gives the deep toffee notes.
- Honey – This helps avoid a gritty caramel and adds extra flavor to the caramel.
- Salt – Salt balances the sweetness
- Vanilla – Always a great addition to the caramel.
- Butter – This is necessary for a smooth and silky caramel.
- Baking soda – The baking soda reacts with the caramel. It puffs up and brings an airiness to the caramel. Once baked it makes the caramel both satisfyingly crunchy but also slightly chewy.
Step by step
How to make stovetop popcorn
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Add in 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and just a couple of popcorn kernels. Cover the saucepan and wait for those kernels to pop.
- Once the kernels have popped, add in around 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and cover the pot again, shaking the pot to coat all the kernels in oil.
- Continue cooking the popcorn, shaking the pot regularly to cook the popcorn kernels evenly. The saucepan’s lid can be lifted slightly to let out some steam. Cook until the popping slows right down.
- Remove the lid and tip the popcorn out onto two parchment paper-lined baking trays.
The honey caramel
- Melt the sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Boil it until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage of cooking.
Soft Ball Stage – This is the stage when the sugar mixture reaches around 240°f / 116°c. You can test this with a candy thermometer or spoon some hot caramel into a glass of ice-cold water. The caramel will form a soft and malleable ball when it hits the water.
The baking soda
- After this point, remove the pan from the heat and add in the baking soda. Be careful as this will cause the caramel to foam and rise.
Coating the popcorn
- Pour this thick caramel over the two trays of freshly popped popcorn, and gently stir the popcorn around in the caramel to coat it. Don’t worry if not all of it gets coated as you will get more chances to coat it once the popcorn is baked.
Baking the honey caramel corn
- Place the baking sheets in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes to ensure the popcorn gets coated evenly.
- As the caramel popcorn is baking, the caramel will become very liquid again. Once the popcorn has baked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool down completely.
Serving and storing
Let the caramel corn cool down before serving. It will harden as it cools, and become crunchy.
Keep the caramel corn fresh by storing it in a sealed bag or airtight container for up to three weeks. The popcorn will stay the freshest if the seal is properly airtight.
This caramel popcorn recipe makes around 12-14 cups of caramel corn. One serving of caramel corn is roughly 3/4 cup. This recipe makes 16-18 servings.
Caramel popcorn FAQ
1/4 cup popcorn kernels make approximately 5 cups popped popcorn.
1/2 cup makes approximately 10 cups popped popcorn.
You’ll need to first make clarified butter as pure butter contains milk solids that will burn. Remove the milk solids by melting the butter and scooping off the white foam that accumulates on the top. Carefully pour the butter out of the pan but leave behind the milk solids that have settled at the bottom of the pan.
Popped popcorn stays fresh for up to three weeks if kept in an airtight container.
Honey helps to stop the brown sugar from crystalizing. It can be replaced with maple syrup or other sweet syrup.
In the mood for more sweet treats?
- 12-14 cups freshly popped popcorn
- 100g (½ cup) soft brown sugar
- 120g (½ cup) honey
- 80g (5½ Tablespoons) butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F). Spread the popcorn out onto two parchment-lined baking trays.
- In a saucepan, melt together the brown sugar, honey, salt, vanilla and butter. Bring it to a boil and let it keep bubbling away until it reaches the 'soft ball' stage of cooking (240°F / 116°C). You can test this with a candy thermometer or by dropping a spoonful of the hot caramel into a glass of cold water. When the caramel hits the water, it will form a soft ball.
- After this point, remove the pan from the heat and add in the baking soda. This will cause the caramel to foam and rise up so be careful.
- Pour this thick caramel over two trays of freshly popped popcorn, and gently stir the popcorn around in the caramel to coat it. Place the baking trays in the oven for around 25-30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes to ensure the popcorn gets coated evenly. As the caramel popcorn is baking, the caramel will become very liquid again which will make it easier to coat the popcorn evenly.
- Once the popcorn has baked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool down completely. It will harden as it cools.
- This honey caramel corn stays fresh for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 94Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 93mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 0g