Simply Homemade: Microwave Caramel Popcorn

Does anyone else have a nostalgic kind of day once in a while? That was my day earlier this week. Most of you can probably guess by now that my happy trip down memory lane was centered around family and food!!! But not just any food, my favorite food and one I have enjoyed since early childhood…popcorn! I’m not sure if loving popcorn is genetic but it has spanned both sides of my family and multiple generations so I have to assume it is 😉 Care to take a jaunt down Nostalgia Lane with me and end our journey with the deliciously simple microwave caramel popcorn recipe? Then here we go!

My mom’s dad has always had a popcorn crop on his farm and he’s experimented with growing all different kinds. Thanks to this blessing of always having the best homegrown popcorn, I was able to find my favorite and request it each time (white popcorn vs yellow is my little heart’s biggest desire). They’ve always had huge barrels of popcorn kernels in their basement and we never left their house without a container full of it. My mom has only ever popped those morsels of joy in her nearly 40 year old popcorn popper (seasoned with love and still used to this day-scroll to the bottom for a picture of this beaut). I have memory after memory of sitting on the kitchen counter as a child watching mom twirl the popcorn popper’s handle round and round waiting for the popping to start and the delicious smell to fill the room. Ending the day with popcorn has always been her way of unwinding and that may be another genetic trait passed on because I am often found doing the same!

Mom or Dad would always cut the top half off a brown paper bag so mom could pour the popped kernels in as they came out of the popper (don’t know why but she never put it in a bowl, always the bag). Mom had a knack for handling large batches where all the popped kernels didn’t fit in the popper once it started going so she had to pour the popped ones into the bag midway through the batch and keep the unpopped kernels inside to continue heating. My dad’s mom didn’t have the same twirl popper as mom, she had an air popper that we used to stare into and wait on the popped kernels to spill out of and into our hands (…and some into the bowl). She used to let us sprinkle sugar on the popcorn instead of (or in combination with) salt. Why did we want to do that? I’m still not exactly sure other than that meant we could lick straight sugar out of the bowl after we’d devoured the popcorn and what kid would turn down that chance? On rare occasions when she could corral grandpa into the kitchen to help her, they would tag-team cooking a batch of caramel popcorn for us.

Let me paint you a picture here. My dad’s dad was a solid fix foot four inches tall and a farmer through and through. Needless to say the kitchen was not his natural habitat 😉 My dad’s mom was about as opposite as could be. She was four foot eleven (& a half according to her) inches tall on her best day and I have very few memories of her not in the kitchen. In order to make this delicious caramel popcorn my grandma needed my grandpa’s height and long arms to reach into the bag and stir while she poured the caramel mixture in. She also realized she needed more than just her 2 hands to have any sort of prayer against all of our tiny hands sneaking handfuls of popcorn before it had been drizzled with caramel and then again after the caramel coating was on and before it was cool enough not to burn us. Despite their best efforts, we inevitably managed to snag a few pieces here and there and the sweet stickiness of just cooked caramel was well worth the impatient wait!!!

Maybe you’re a grandma reading this and looking to spoil grandkids with a sweet treat. Or maybe you’re a mom wanting to make special memories by letting your kids “help” like we helped our grandparents. Or, maybe you’re just a lover of popcorn and/or sweets. Regardless, I hope you try and love this simple recipe and take a trip down your own Nostalgia Lane of happy memories!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

  • Servings: Approximately 12
  • Print

This is a deliciously simple recipe perfect for snacking on any time!


-7 quarts plain popped popcorn (for those of you challenged with measurements like me this is 28 cups or enough to fill almost half a regular size brown paper grocery bag)

-1 stick butter

-1 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup light corn syrup

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



1) Pop enough popcorn to fill the regular grocery size brown paper bag almost halfway and set aside.

2) In microwaveable bowl combine the stick of butter, brown sugar, and light corn syrup. Microwave 90 seconds or until you see it start to boil.

3) Remove bowl from microwave and stir to combine then place back in microwave for another 90 seconds.

4) Remove bowl again and add in baking soda and vanilla and stir well to combine.

5) Pour caramel mixture from bowl slowly onto the popped popcorn in the brown paper bag, stopping to shake or mix the popcorn mid way through so caramel is distributed evenly.

6) Roll top of bag down and shake well to help caramel mixture coat popcorn then put bag into microwave for 90 seconds.

7) Remove bag from microwave and shake well again then microwave once more for 90 seconds.

8) Spread wax paper on flat surface then slowly pour caramel popcorn from bag onto the wax paper to cool, spreading it out slightly.

9) Let cool, remove any pieces that are too done or any unpopped kernels you notice, pour into serving ware of choice and enjoy!

This is the seasoned-with-love-over-40-years-crank-style popcorn maker used by my mom. You seriously can’t find things like this anymore, believe me when I say I tried!

This is the 10 year old popcorn maker I’ve used religiously to support me and my daughter’s popcorn addiction!

Action shot! Note the fabulous sea foam green Tupperware bowl passed down to me and used often for large batches of popcorn!

Oh yeah, this is yet another health-conscious recipe 😉 It’s worth it though, trust me on that!

That’s the stuff right there! I think around a quarter of each batch disappears during the cooling period when it’s in plain sight on my kitchen counter…Lord, please grant me strength & self-control 😉

Found these adorable boxes and filled them up to share the caramel goodness with some friends and family! Homemade caramel popcorn is a great gift any time but especially nice as we head into the Fall and football game season!

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