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Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn

homemade salted caramel popcorn in a glass bowl

I’m here to spill the secrets on making perfect stovetop salted caramel popcorn at home. The size and shape of the pot do matter. That olive oil can and should be used. And adding an irresistible salted caramel topping takes it over the top into a dessert that is a must-have for those crisp, cool fall days ahead. Or, frankly, any time of year.

Ingredients

Scale

For the popcorn:

  • olive oil
  • popcorn kernels, high-quality preferred*
  • salt

For the salted caramel:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the pot. Heat a 3-5 quart pot, preferably with a narrow bottom, over medium heat until fully heated, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Make the popcorn. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. If the olive oil smokes a little bit, this is OK, even expected. Add 3 kernels to the pot and cover with a lid. Wait for all three popcorn kernels to pop. After the 3 kernels pop, add enough popcorn kernels to fit in a single layer on the bottom of the pot, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover the pot and give it a couple of shakes, still keeping the pot over medium heat.  Set the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape and do not shake the pot any further. Remove the pot from the heat when there are 2 seconds between pops. Set the pot aside while you make the salted caramel. 
  3. Make the salted caramel. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water over high heat. Cover the pot with a lid for 1 minute. Remove the lid and stir the sugar using a rubber spatula. Cook the sugar, uncovered and frequently stirring, until the sugar turns golden brown and smells nutty, about 4 – 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and slowly add the butter (the mixture will bubble and spatter), whisking constantly. Slowly drizzle in 1 tablespoon of cream while whisking, mixing until the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt. 
  4. Make the Caramel Popcorn. Set the caramel aside to cool for 4-5 minutes. Drizzle the caramel over the popcorn in the pot. Cover the pot and shake the pot to evenly distribute the caramel. Eat immediately.

Equipment

Notes

POPCORN. The quality of kernels you use matters; no Orville Redenbacher here. In this case, quality doesn’t need to equal expensive. Look for Farmer’s best or Amish kernels at your local grocery store, or for an extra special treat, seek out kernels at your local farmer’s market. 

Keywords: stovetop popcorn, best stovetop popcorn, caramel popcorn