March 4, 2021

Vegan Popcorn with Caramel

Spilled popcorn box of caramel popcorn.

Vegan Popcorn with Caramel has a lovely light sweetness. You’ll learn how to make caramel popcorn on the stove and without corn syrup. 8 cups for you and your friends!

Caramel popcorn spilled out onto a white table from a popcorn box.

I made some Easy Caramel Popcorn and I am feeling proud. Isn’t it nice that you can get such a great snack out of simple corn kernels?

You can pop your snack in so many ways too. On a stovetop, in an instant pot or in a popcorn maker.

Popcorn is a year-round treat and it can be dressed up in so many ways. I finally broke down and bought a popcorn maker. It makes life easier and much cleaner.

It is one by Orville Redenbacher and I highly recommend it if you’re in the market. So now I can make popcorn any time I want in just minutes and eat it with a multitude of toppings such as this wonderful vegan caramel popcorn recipe.

If you can bear to part with any of your treat it would also make a wonderful homemade gift.

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Two boxes a snack treat up close to the camera.

Caramel popcorn without corn syrup

This is really very easy and you don’t need corn syrup at all. You just need to cook the caramel sauce about a minute longer than you would if you were using corn syrup.

You could use a candy thermometer and you cook it to the temperature of 255°. I’ve included exact steps below if you are interested in going with a candy thermometer.

Tips for making easy caramel corn

The recipe card is below but I’m going to give more hints, and tips here that can’t fit into the recipe card.

Make sure the corn kernels are certified organic and that means it will also be non-GMO because genetically modified ingredients are prohibited for organic products.

Make the popcorn according to your package directions. 8 cups of it. After it’s all popped pick out any of the corn kernels that have not popped so you don’t bite into one while you’re enjoying your vegan popcorn.

After baking your snack take it out of the oven and spread it out on two baking sheets if you’d like to cool the caramel down faster.

Spilled snack out of a red and white box onto a white table.

How to make caramel popcorn on the stove

  • Cook popcorn on the stove, in an Instant Pot, or in a popcorn maker.
  • Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  • In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and salt
Ingredients for a sweet sauce and a saucepan with butter and sugar added.
  • Cook until butter is melted and continue cooking for 4 minutes without stirring. It gets rolling.
  • Add baking soda and vanilla, stir to combine
  • Pour over popped corn and stir well.
Cooking the caramel and then showing it over popcorn in a bowl.
  • Immediately spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. The mixture starts to cool pretty fast so that is why you want to do this right away.
Wide photo showing a snack treat spread out on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees.
  • Cool completely.
  • Store in airtight container or eat. 🙂

Vegan caramel corn variations

If you’re looking for something like cracker jacks then you can add peanuts. They go in at the very end right after you’ve taken the vegan popcorn out of the oven.

Stir as usual and you’re ready to enjoy a delicious snack.

Another nice addition is dried cranberries. So, let’s say you have just added peanuts and now you can add cranberries. They add a really nice sweet/tart texture.

Now you have two variations. Here’s a picture of this easy caramel popcorn with the variation of both peanuts and dried cranberries being added.

Large heavy bowl filled with easy caramel popcorn and spilling over the side.

How to use a candy thermometer to make caramel

  • In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and salt,
  • Bring to a boil (over medium-high heat) stirring (almost) all the time so as to not burn. When it comes to a boil clip on the candy thermometer. This is what my candy thermometer looks like.
  • At this point, you only need to stir occasionally. Be very careful as it is at a rolling boil. Cook until the thermometer reaches the hard ball stage. That is 255 degrees on the thermometer.
  • Remove the candy thermometer carefully and don’t get any hot mixture on your skin.
  • You’ll have to work quickly with the caramel because it will start to cool while mixing with the popcorn. Pour over the popcorn eyeballing half of the mixture. Stir with a large wooden spoon.
  • You can pour some into a large mixing bowl and stir that way in a few smaller groups. Place back onto the baking sheet and place in a 300-degree oven and bake 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven stir and bake 5 more minutes.
A spilled box of a vegan snack with two more boxes behind.

What are some other popcorn toppings

  • Nutritional Yeast and cumin of course.
  • Dairy-free butter and Franks’s hot sauce or Sriracha.
  • A vegan dry mix for cool ranch dressing.
  • Chili seasoning mix. Here’s my recipe for Homemade Chili Seasoning Mix.
  • And you can dress up this recipe in other ways too!
    • Salted caramel
    • Chocolate caramel
    • Caramel apple

FAQ’s

Cab you freeze popcorn?

Indeed! There are so many plusses for freezing it.
Popcorn is super cheap and a few corn kernels pop up huge quantities. Of course, it’s very easy to eat a couple of cups at a time.
Go ahead and put it in an airtight container or freezer bag and then in the freezer because it stays good for weeks!
Not only that popcorn never actually freezes and never turns stale when stored this way. Amazing!

Why do you add baking soda to caramel?

Baking soda stops the reaction of the sugar seizing up in the cooking. You get a nice smooth caramel.

Closeup of vegan popcorn at the top of a red and white box.

More snack like desserts

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Your opinion means a lot to me and if you’d like to leave a comment and possibly a star rating I’d love to hear your thoughts.

📋 Recipe

Caramel popcorn spilled out onto a white table from a popcorn box.

Vegan Popcorn with Caramel

Ginny McMeans

Vegan Popcorn with Caramel has a lovely light sweetness. You’ll learn how to make caramel popcorn on the stove and without corn syrup.

.wprm-recipe-rating .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #f2bb62; }

5 from 3 votes

Prep Time 4 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 24 mins

Course Appetizer

Cuisine Vegan

Servings 8 Cups

Calories 169 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • ¾ cup organic brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dairy-free butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1.4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Cook popcorn on the stovetop, Instant Pot, or in a popcorn maker.

  • Pour into a bowl and set aside.

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

  • In a saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and salt.

  • Cook until butter is melted. Continue cooking for 3 minutes without stirring.

  • Add baking soda and vanilla extract, stir to combine.

  • Pour over popped corn and stir well.

  • Spread evenly onto the prepared cookie sheet.

  • Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees.

  • Cool completely.

  • Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition

Serving: 1CupCalories: 169kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 314mgPotassium: 65mgFiber: 2gSugar: 20gVitamin A: 22IUCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg

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