Time to Pop Some Corn (Recipe: Junk Food Popcorn)

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Popcorn is a great snack to enjoy with your family. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to make, and tastes great. Consider all the ways you can dress up your popcorn, including this recipe for Junk Food Popcorn.

Junk Food Popcorn | Life as Mom

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Popcorn has long been one of my favorite snacks to feed the kids. With a reliable air popper at my side, it’s an easy snack or treat that I can whip up in minutes, all based on a whole grain.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed it a number of ways: air popped with butter, made into kettle corn via an old fashioned stovetop popper, popped in the microwave in a paper sack, and baked in the oven for what we call “Junk Food Popcorn” (see below).

But there are even more ways to enjoy popcorn than even these! Consider popping some tonight and snacking with your sweeties.

Check out these links for other fun popcorn ideas:

  • This popcorn site features recipes, coloring pages, and all sorts of poppin’ information.
  • Pefect Popcorn Recipe
  • Popcorn Cake (similar to rice krispie treats, with chocolate candies)
  • Maple Pecan Popcorn
  • Chili Popcorn
  • Make Cinnamon Popcorn & Watch a Show Together
  • Easy Homemade Popcorn: the trick to making your own, healthier microwave popcorn
Junk Food Popcorn | Life as Mom

Our family favorite, however, the style of popcorn that causes us to go weak in the knees and fight over whose is whose, the popcorn that might as well be called, My Precious is this recipe. Also known as Junk Food Popcorn, it’s my mom’s caramel corn recipe that she made for me and my siblings when we were growing up.

Mom was never patient enough to bake it, but I highly recommend that you not skip the baking process. It hardens the caramel coating, producing a sugary crunchy. Thorough stirring is essential so that you can coat your popcorn well and get caramel to coat all over.

A warning about Junk Food Popcorn. It’s seriously addictive. Seriously. Grown men have been known to eat an entire batch, despite their better judgement. If you are making this to give as gifts — which is a great idea, by the way — bag it up and get it out of your site. If you’re not careful, you will eat it all before the bags are sealed.

Ask me how I know.

A bowl of Caramel Popcorn atop a blue plush blanket.
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5 from 1 vote

Easy Caramel Popcorn

Popcorn is a great snack to enjoy with your family. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to make, and tastes great. Consider all the ways you can dress up your popcorn, including this recipe for Caramel Popcorn
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: caramel corn, caramel popcorn


  • 3 quarts popped corn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda


  • Pour the popcorn into a large, nonstick roasting pan.
  • In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let bubble for 5 minutes. Do not stir! Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda.
  • Immediately, pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn and mix well. Bake at 225 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Spread the popcorn into a single layer on waxed paper to cool. Break the pieces apart and store in an airtight container – if you don’t eat it all before it’s time to put it away.
Junk Food Popcorn | Life as Mom

Post originally published May 23, 2008; updated September 9, 2016.

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    1. There isn’t a really good alternative for this type of recipe. Candies with boiled corn syrup need the syrup for them to work out. Honey and treacle don’t harden up in the same way. This article explains a lot about your options.

  1. We used to love to get “fancy” flavored popcorn from a local popcorn/candy shop but it is so expensive for just a tiny bit so we haven’t gotten any in over a year. I usually make plain popcorn in my popper with coconut oil and butter. My boys would LOVE this treat during our next family movie night. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Great site, Lynn. Those PB bars sound real good.

    Thanks l, for the heads’ up. I knew it had to come sooner or later. I think it’s just a conspiracy to raise grocery prices.

  3. You should have a warning on the Caramel Corn recipe. It is seriously addicting! Whenever I make it, I eat almost the entire thing on my own.

  4. I posted a recipe for caramel corn on my blog last night. The recipe came from my husbands grandmother. It is basically the same recipe with small differences. We love caramel or junk food popcorn at our house. Thanks.