Better Than Caramel Popcorn is gooey, deliciously sweet and so easy to make with just a few simple ingredients! The coating in this caramel popcorn recipe is made with butter, sugar and whipping cream – that’s it!
Better Than Caramel Popcorn is one of my absolutely favorite treats and I really do love it more than traditional caramel popcorn. Not only is the recipe delicious, but it only requires a few very basic ingredients which I usually always have on hand. Actually, maybe that’s not a good thing – it’s almost too easy to make this a little too frequently!
The coating is a little lighter and less sticky than regular caramel popcorn. You’ve got to try this recipe – I promise that this will become one of your favorite ways to eat popcorn. I got this recipe from one of my college roommates way back when – we won’t go into how long ago that was. We made this popcorn at least once a week in college and it was always gone within minutes. My whole family absolutely loves this popcorn recipe!
What kind of popcorn do you use to make caramel popcorn?
You can use microwave popcorn, air-popped popcorn, or you can use my favorite stove-popped popcorn that is made with coconut oil. I haven’t used microwave popcorn in quite a while. At first it was because of the fact that I kept reading things about how it was so bad for you, but then once I started making my own popcorn on the stove, I realized how much better fresh popcorn tastes! If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s so easy and it’s so much yummier too.
How do you make popcorn on the stove?
I used to just use a large stockpot to make popcorn on the stove (which works great!), but I recently got this popcorn maker and it makes the whole process even easier. The popcorn cooks perfectly every time. To make popcorn on the stove:
- Put 1-2 Tbsp of coconut oil in the stovetop popcorn maker or in your stockpot. If you are using a stockpot, make sure you have a lid!
- Turn the heat on medium high and add about 6-7 “test” kernels to the pot. Put the lid on and wait for the kernels to start popping.
- As soon as the test kernels start popping, you can add the rest of the popcorn kernels. 1/8 cup of popcorn kernels will yield about 4 cups of popped popcorn, so you will want about 1/4 cup of kernels to make 8 cups of popped popcorn. I usually do a little bit extra though, it doesn’t have to be exact!
- Replace the lid and either continuously stir the handle on the stovetop popcorn maker or periodically shake your stockpot to prevent the kernels from settling in one spot and burning. As soon as the popping starts to slow down significantly, remove the pan from heat. That’s it!
Is caramel popcorn gluten free?
Yes, caramel popcorn is gluten free which makes this a great snack for those who can’t eat gluten. Most popcorn recipes are perfect for those with gluten sensitivities because there is no gluten in popcorn! There are only 3 ingredients in the sauce so it is very easy to identify other potential allergies as well – all gluten free as well!
Ingredients in Better than Caramel Popcorn
- 2 bags microwave popcorn (make sure to use a more “natural” kind – no butter or salt so that you can taste the sauce better!) or about 8 cups of popped popcorn
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
How do you make caramel popcorn?
Place popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside while preparing the sauce.
Combine the butter, sugar and whipping cream and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Within a couple of minutes the sauce should be boiling, continue boiling until mixture reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees Fahrenheit)*.
Remove the mixture from heat and pour over the popcorn, stirring until all of the popcorn is well coated. Make sure to serve immediately – this recipe is soooo much better warm!
*You can use a thermometer to get the mixture to the right temperature, but I never used one in college and I usually don’t use one now for this recipe. The mixture will just get to a point where it is thicker and starts to get a tiny bit darker and that’s when it is ready. Since this isn’t candy, you don’t have to be quite as exact with the temperature but you definitely don’t want to undercook since you will have soggy popcorn and you don’t want to overcook or it will be too hard.
Better Than Caramel Popcorn
- 2 bags microwave popcorn make sure to use a more “natural” kind – no butter or salt so that you can taste the sauce better! or about 8 cups of popped popcorn
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup whipping cream
- Place popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside while preparing the sauce.
- Combine the butter, sugar and whipping cream and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Within a couple of minutes the sauce should be boiling, continue boiling until mixture reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Remove the mixture from heat and pour over the popcorn, stirring until all of the popcorn is well coated. Make sure to serve immediately – this recipe is soooo much better warm! Enjoy!
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Can you use margarine instead of butter in this caramel popcorn recipe?
Butter is definitely a better choice in this recipe because it is made with heavy cream. To be honest, I always use real butter in recipes because the taste and consistency just seems to be so much better. I know there is a lot of controversy about the “healthiness” of butter vs. margarine and I’m not going to claim to be an expert on that, but I feel like the taste difference between butter that is made with cream and margarine that is made with vegetable oils is very noticeable!
What type of candy can you you add to caramel popcorn?
Caramel popcorn is easy to change up a little bit with pretty much any type of candy you like. The girl who gave me the recipe told me that her family always put both Hot Tamales and Milk Duds in this popcorn after coating the popcorn with the mixture. I know it sounds absolutely crazy but the combination of those two candies with this recipe is amazing! Any type of small candy is great to add into caramel popcorn – try M&Ms, chocolate chips, Junior Mints, Reeses Pieces… or whatever your favorite candy is!
How do you store caramel popcorn?
Caramel popcorn can be stored in an airtight container for several days. This particular caramel popcorn recipe is a little bit different because the sauce is not actually a traditional caramel.
This Better than Caramel Popcorn tastes a million times better when the sauce is hot and fresh so I would plan on eating it immediately after making it.You can save this popcorn and eat it later, but the topping will harden at that point and it’s just not as yummy. This recipe is one that really needs to be eaten immediately after making it while it is still warm and gooey.
Love popcorn? So do we! Here are some other popcorn recipes to try!
- Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn
- Caramel Popcorn Cake
- Peanut Butter Popcorn
- Pretty in Pink Popcorn
- Chocolate Popcorn
- Peppermint Popcorn
- Caramel Popcorn
- Game Day Popcorn Mix
- Halloween Popcorn Mix
- Snickers Peanut Butter Popcorn
- Homemade Stovetop Popcorn
- Easy Microwave Caramel Popcorn
Better than Caramel Popcorn is made with butter, sugar and whipping cream – that’s it! This simple caramel popcorn recipe is easy to make and is absolutely delicious too!