Easy microwave caramel popcorn! This deliciously sweet and crunchy treat comes together SO quickly for weekend movie night or a weeknight treat!

Looking for a quick and easy microwave caramel popcorn recipe? You’ve found it! Keep reading to learn my expert tips for making amazing caramel corn in the microwave.

Microwave caramel corn in a bowl on a countertop


 

This microwave caramel corn is the perfect treat when you want something crisp and crunchy to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Tender, air-popped popcorn is coated with crisp brown sugar caramel. Then it’s sprinkled with kosher salt to create a delicious, perfectly salted caramel corn. Because we all know sweet and salty is the world’s best combination!

There are certainly a lot of homemade caramel corn recipes out there in the world. But the best thing about this one is that it can be made entirely in the microwave!

The first time I made this easy microwave caramel corn recipe, I couldn’t believe how quickly it came together.

The deep and buttery caramel flavor is just as delicious as any other version. In fact, it may be even better, since you don’t have to wait to enjoy it, and you’re not left with a sticky mess of pots and pans.

Once you try this easy microwave caramel popcorn, you may never go back to the classic caramel corn made over the stovetop.

It’s sure to become a family favorite and is so easy to whip up before movie night or game night. I also love making a big batch of this microwave caramel corn for holiday gifts at Christmas time.

No matter when you decide to make this easy caramel popcorn recipe, it’s going to be a hit!

Table of Contents

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to make
  • Great for movie night
  • Only takes 10 minutes
  • Sweet and salty

You also might like these recipes for snickers popcorn, white chocolate popcorn, m&m popcorn, oreo popcorn, peanut butter popcorn, candy popcorn, caramel corn and chocolate drizzle popcorn.

You also might like this article on is popcorn gluten-free.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Microwave caramel corn ingredients on a countertop
  • Brown sugar: Brown sugar sweetens our caramel coating and adds great depth of flavor. I don’t recommend substituting granulated or dark brown sugar in this recipe. 
  • Butter: Butter adds richness and delicious flavor to the caramel sauce. I prefer salted butter over unsalted!
  • Popcorn: I’m using Orville Redenbacher Original Popcorn, but any popcorn kernels will work!
  • Corn syrup: Light corn syrup helps prevent sugar crystallization and helps make the caramel shiny. 
  • Vanilla: Vanilla enhances the sweetness and richness of the caramel. Real vanilla extract is best, but you can use imitation vanilla if it’s all you have on hand.
  • Salt: Salt helps balance out the sweetness of the caramel. I like using kosher salt for this microwave caramel popcorn recipe. And remember to reserve 1/2 teaspoon of salt for sprinkling at the end!
  • Baking soda: Baking soda softens the caramel so it isn’t hard to chew.

You also might like these recipes for homemade caramels, dairy-free caramel sauce and the best caramel corn.

How to Make Microwave Caramel Corn

  • Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper and spray it very lightly with nonstick spray. Set aside. 
Popcorn kernels in a brown bag
  • (Optional) If you have an air popper, use the kernels and pop according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • If you don’t have an air popper, place the popcorn kernels in a large brown paper bag and fold the top over twice to seal in the popcorn. 
Popcorn in a brown bag
  • Microwave the popcorn for 3 minutes, or until popping is about 5 seconds apart– you don’t want to burn the popcorn so make sure to listen to when the popping stops. 
Caramel in a glass bowl
  • In a medium-sized microwave-safe dish bowl, add the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Heat for 1 minute, then stir. Heat for another minute and stir again. 
Microwave caramel in a glass bowl
  • The butter and sugar should be melted. Continue heating in one-minute intervals (stirring between each interval) until the caramel is bubbling and golden brown. In my microwave, this took two more minutes. 
  • Then reduce the intervals to 30 seconds each and continue cooking until the temperature is just barely at the soft ball stage (240F). In my microwave, the total cook time for the caramel was 4 ½ minutes. 
  • Add the vanilla, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to the hot caramel. Stir to combine. 
Microwave caramel corn in a bowl on a countertop
  • Pour the popcorn into the caramel and gently mix with a spatula to combine. Microwave for another 15 seconds.
  • Pour the caramel corn out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle over the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Allow the caramel corn to cool to room temperature and then break it into clusters and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Storage Instructions

You can store this microwave caramel popcorn in an airtight container for up to one week, but I recommend eating it shortly after preparing it!

Microwave caramel corn in a bowl on a countertop, with bowls of popcorn and jars of milk in the background

FAQs

How do you microwave popcorn in a brown paper bag?

To make microwave popcorn, place the popcorn kernels in a large brown paper bag and fold the top over twice to seal in the popcorn. Microwave the popcorn for 3 minutes, or until popping is about 5 seconds apart. You don’t want to burn the popcorn, so make sure to listen when the popping stops. Then remove the popcorn from the microwave, transfer it to a large bowl, add salt, and enjoy!

Why is my caramel popcorn soggy?

Caramel popcorn becomes soggy if it is stored in an airtight container for too long. For best results, enjoy your caramel popcorn immediately after preparing.

What can I add to microwave popcorn?

There are lots of ways to jazz up microwave popcorn. Try adding Parmesan cheese, cinnamon and sugar, nutritional yeast, or chili and lime seasoning. You could also add chocolate drizzle or make homemade caramel, if you want to get fancy!

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • For another favorite recipe, try this oven-baked caramel corn!
  • Baking soda softens the caramel so you’ll end up with crunchy caramel corn that isn’t hard to chew! Don’t skip this ingredient!
  • Caramel popcorn becomes soggy if it is stored in an airtight container for too long. For best results, enjoy your caramel popcorn immediately after preparing.
Microwave caramel corn in a bowl on a countertop

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you try this microwave caramel popcorn, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you! 

Microwave caramel corn in a bowl on a countertop
5 from 3 votes

Microwave Caramel Popcorn (Easy Recipe!)

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Easy microwave caramel popcorn! This deliciously sweet and crunchy treat comes together SO quickly for weekend movie night or a weeknight treat!

Ingredients

  • cup popcorn kernels about 10 cups popped
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions 

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it very lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • (Optional) If you have an air popper, use the kernels and pop according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you don’t have an air popper, place the popcorn kernels in a large brown paper bag and fold the top over twice to seal in the popcorn.
  • Microwave the popcorn for 3 minutes, or until popping is about 5 seconds apart– you don’t want to burn the popcorn so make sure to listen to when the popping stops.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Heat for 1 minute, then stir. Heat for another minute and stir again.
  • The butter and sugar should be melted– continue heating in one-minute intervals (stirring between each interval) until the caramel is bubbling and golden brown. In my microwave this took two more minutes.
  • Then reduce the intervals to 30 seconds each and continue cooking until the temperature is just barely at the soft ball stage (240F). In my microwave, the total cook time for the caramel was 4 ½ minutes.
  • Add the vanilla, ½ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to the caramel. Stir to combine.
  • Pour the popcorn into the caramel and gently mix with a spatula to combine. Microwave for another 15 seconds.
  • Pour the caramel corn out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into an even layer. Sprinkle over the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Allow the caramel corn to cool to room temperature and then break it into clusters and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

RECIPE NOTES
  • Baking soda softens the caramel so you’ll end up with crunchy caramel corn that isn’t hard to chew. Don’t skip this ingredient!
  • Caramel popcorn becomes soggy if it is stored in an airtight container for too long. For best results, enjoy your caramel popcorn immediately after preparing.

Nutrition

Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 79mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 473IU | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg

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Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is the easiest popcorn recipe I’ve tried! Prepared this microwave caramel popcorn for our movie marathon and everyone enjoyed it!

  2. 5 stars
    My family and I loved this caramel popcorn! I also loved how easy and mess-free it was to make in the microwave, thank you!

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