This Oven-Baked Caramel Corn is my favorite caramel corn recipe. It’s so easy to make and has a perfect sweet/salty ratio. To be honest…it’s downright addicting!
It has been fairly routine for us to have a simple supper on Sunday evenings. After church we usually have a big midday meal (whether we dine out, or eat at home) followed by a light meal later that evening. By light what I really mean is popcorn. Yep, popcorn with a little something extra on the side. Oftentimes, that little extra something is a hot – out of the oven – ham and cheese sandwich. Suffice it to say popcorn is the main course and anything more are the “sides”. Granted while our “main course” is usually just plain popped corn, this caramel corn is a good way to change it up some.
This oven-baked caramel corn recipe is full of buttery, sweet and salty goodness with the just-right amount of crunch.
And the peanuts!
Oh, how I love the peanuts!
I remember when I was a little girl how I sought after each and every peanut in the Cracker Jack box. I didn’t eat it for the sake of the caramel corn, or even the prize. For me it was all about the peanuts. And there was never enough! Now I have my new Cracker Jack – the homemade kind – where I can have as many of those crunchy, caramel nuts as my heart desires. That’s alota nuts!
I use my hot air-popper to make mine, so I can control the salt. But if you don’t have one, any popcorn popper will work. You can even use microwave popcorn if you want. Just make sure it’s plain and not buttered, or flavored.
- 5-6 quarts popped corn (about 1 cup of kernels)
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 (12.5 oz) container Spanish peanuts (redskins)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray two large, rimmed baking sheet pans with non-stick spray.
- Add popcorn and peanuts to a large, oven-proof mixing bowl that has been coated with non-stick spray. (I use a large stainless steel bowl.) Place in oven to warm while making syrup.
- In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and molasses. Heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches a hardball stage of 260 degrees on a candy thermometer (about 5 minutes).
- Remove from heat and whisk in the baking soda. Mixture may foam a little.
- Immediately pour the hot mixture, in a thin stream, over the warm popcorn. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the caramel into the popcorn until all of the popcorn is coated.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared sheet pans, spreading it out to cover pans.
- Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the caramel from bottom of pan and into the mixture every 15 minutes. Cool and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.