Mom’s Microwave Caramel Popcorn

All you need are about 15 minutes, plus a few simple ingredients, a microwave, and a brown paper bag for my Mom’s Microwave Caramel Popcorn!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - www.afarmgirlsdabbles.comIt’s this time of year, during the holidays, that my craving for caramel popcorn is fiercest. As if there weren’t enough sweets to be had with all the pretty cookie platters and holiday gatherings. But my craving is what it is, and I don’t even try to fight it anymore.

My favorite caramel corn is a recipe from my friend Ann, an oven-baked version that is absolutely phenomenal. But it does require a candy thermometer on the stovetop and some babysitting in the oven, which amounts to stirring the caramel corn every 15 minutes a few different times. And that is where the beauty of my Mom’s Microwave Caramel Popcorn recipe shines. It’s easy peasy. No candy thermometer or oven baking required!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - www.afarmgirlsdabbles.comI remember enjoying this sweet treat when we were young, but haven’t had it in so many years. Then, when we were back in South Dakota for corn harvest in October, Mom made a batch of this microwave caramel popcorn one evening. In a very short amount of time, she had a fresh crunchy batch of delicious caramel popcorn set out on the counter. I couldn’t believe how quickly it came together, and then how very delicious it was!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - www.afarmgirlsdabbles.comAll you need is popped corn and a few simple ingredients for the caramel, a microwave, and a brown paper bag. Give yourself about 15 minutes and you’ll have a pan of caramel popcorn cooling in a pan on the counter, ready to indulge in.

Microwave Caramel Popcorn -

I’m not gonna lie…that oven-baked version from my friend Ann is still #1 in my book. It has a little deeper flavor, a little fuller crunch. But this microwave recipe from Mom is what I’ll be making more often from here on out. It’s just too easy to put together, and is still incredibly delicious. Now I have every reason to enjoy wonderful homemade caramel popcorn whenever the craving hits me, any time of year.

Mom's Microwave Popcorn

Yield: 4 quarts caramel corn


  • 4 qts. popped corn (from almost 1 cup unpopped kernels)
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more sprinkled on at the end, if desired
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda


Place popped corn in a grocery-size brown paper bag. Set aside.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl (a bowl with a spout works great), combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. It will be boiling. Stir in vanilla, and then the baking soda, until combined. Immediately drizzle caramel mixture over popcorn in the paper bag. Fold top of paper bag over a couple times and shake well to evenly coat the popcorn. Set bag in microwave and cook for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove bag, shake again, and then microwave for another 1-1/2 minutes. Pour caramel corn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Spread out caramel corn, breaking up clumps if desired. Immediately sprinkle with a bit more kosher salt, if desired. Let cool completely.

Note: Microwave power can vary quite a bit from microwave to microwave. Adjust cook time accordingly. 

Adapted slightly from Mom's recipe box.


31 Responses to “Mom’s Microwave Caramel Popcorn”

  1. #
    Donna — December 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Love caramel corn and your Mom’s recipe sounds really easy! :-)

  2. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — December 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    You had me at “no candy thermometer required”!! This looks so good and I love that this recipe was handed down from your mama!

  3. #
    Wendy — December 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I am really hoping that Santa checked my wish list this year and saw that a microwave was close to the top of the list! When we sold our house last year, we had a microwave over our stove and we had to leave it behind. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without one. I really miss it. I would love to make this as the recipe is so simple. Hopefully I’ve been good this year! Merry Christmas Brenda!!

  4. #
    Melanie @ Carmel Moments — December 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I love caramel popcorn. Looks amazing and easy!

  5. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Microwave?! LOVE this!

  6. #
    Tieghan — December 23, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Mom’s have the best recipes. I am convinced of it!! Love this, Brenda! :)

    And Merry Christmas!

  7. #
    Layla @ Brunch Time Baker — December 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Mom’s do have the best recipes! Love this recipe. Merry Christmas :)

  8. #
    LB @ Bullets And Biscuits — December 29, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Oh WOW. Mine is the oven version but this one intrigues me. I’m gonna have to try it ASAP ;)

  9. #
    Shaina — January 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Such a quick and easy snack!

  10. #
    Barbara @ Barbara Bakes — January 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Perfect for the upcoming playoffs.

  11. #
    Angie | Big Bear's Wife — January 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I would love to have a giant bowl of this popcorn right now!

  12. #
    jane maynard — January 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I made it tonight – PERFECTION!

    • Brenda replied on January 8th, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Woohoo! That’s awesome, so glad you liked this, Jane! :)

  13. #
    Laura Dembowski — January 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Caramel corn always seems so complicated. This is a genius and easy way to make it!

  14. #
    Valerie — April 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I made a half batch and divided it between two lunch-size paper sacks sprayed with Pam. No sticking! I used an 1100 watt microwave and only heated the coated popcorn for two intervals of 45 seconds. Great recipe!

  15. #
    Patty — May 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I use to make this when my kids was little but lost the recipe

    • Brenda replied on May 12th, 2014 at 11:30 am

      Enjoy!! :)

  16. #
    Mary — November 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Okay! Got a question…..So the corn is already popped before adding the carmel mix to the bag correct?? This sounds really good. Thank~You!

    • Brenda replied on November 20th, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      Correct. Enjoy! :)

  17. #
    Lori — November 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Awesome! we made it and it was sooo easy and delicious! Thank you!

    • Brenda replied on November 25th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Yay! Thanks for coming back to let me know. Enjoy!

  18. #
    Andrea — November 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Thank you Brenda for your website. I grew up on a farm near Gettysburg, SD. So many of your recipes really hit home. Lots of good basic recipes I’ve enjoyed eating and making.

    • Brenda replied on November 25th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Lovely to meet you, Andrea. Thanks for saying hi!


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