A Spicy Perspective

Microwave Caramel Popcorn

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Magic Microwave Caramel Popcorn – A ridiculously easy caramel corn recipe made in the microwave! This crisp, flavorful caramel popcorn recipe makes fabulous nostalgic holiday gifts.

microwave caramel popcorn recipe

Holiday Popcorn Bliss

Remember the can of caramel popcorn that always showed up around the holidays?

You know, that big canister of seasoned popcorn with caramel corn, cheesy popcorn, and buttered popcorn brimming the top of the can?

I loved that.

As kids we would sit by the fire, nibbling crunchy corn from the canister and play board games, or listen to my dad read stories. Such great memories are associated with popcorn.

For years I’ve been perfecting my caramel corn recipe.

I spent hours hovering over the stove-top to make sure the caramel reaches the perfect candy consistency, so it didn’t crystallize after coating the popcorn.

microwave caramel corn

Easy Caramel Popcorn

A good caramel popcorn recipe is a thing of beauty, but fairly tedious to make.

Until now.

A friend recently told me her mom has always made her caramel popcorn recipe in the MICROWAVE.

Blackout, warping noises, little birds fluttering around my head….

How many hours have I wasted sweating over the stove?


Microwave Caramel Popcorn

The first time I tried this method of preparing a caramel corn recipe, I stood shaking my head while the seconds ticked away on the microwave.

“It can’t possibly be as good.” I told myself. A self-soothing message to ease the pain of countless hours lost.

After removing the paper bag filled with caramel corn, and dumping it out on waxed paper, the verdict was in.

It is not as good as stove top caramel corn, it is BETTER.

Making your caramel corn recipe in the microwave provides an extra thin, ultra-crisp coating of caramel with even coverage.

If you think about it, shaking the corn in a bag would provide astounding uniformity, over-pouring the caramel on the popcorn in a roasting pan, and trying to mix the gloppy mass with a wooden spoon.

Why had I not thought of this before?

microwave caramel corn

Ingredients Needed

  • Popped Popcorn (freshly popped from kernels)
  • Cashews (optional)
  • Brown Sugar
  • Butter
  • Corn Syrup
  • Sea Salt
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Baking Soda
  • Large Paper Grocery Bag

easy popcorn recipe

How to Make This Easy Caramel Popcorn

  1. Pour your popcorn (and nuts if desired) into the paper grocery bag making sure to take out any unpopped kernels. Then microwave the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla in a large microwavable bowl. 
  2. Immediately stir in baking soda, and pour the caramel over the mixture in the grocery bag. 
  3. Fold the top of the paper bag over a few times and shake all the ingredients together then microwave for one minute, in the bag. Shake it vigorously and microwave for a little longer. 
  4. Open the bag and pour out the popcorn onto some wax paper. Break up any clumps that you may find and let the caramel corn cool completely. 

Get The Full (Printable) Microwave Caramel Popcorn Recipe Below!

caramel popcorn

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between caramel corn and kettle corn?

Kettle corn is a simple stovetop popped corn, sprinkled with sugar at the last minute, so the sugar melts over the kernels. 

However, caramel corn is popcorn thoroughly covered in a rich caramel candy coating. As the coating cools it hardens and turns crispy.

How long does this recipe last?

Homemade caramel corn can last in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Even longer in very dry climates. But if you are anything like my family with teenagers, they won’t last past the night! 

How do you revive stale popcorn?

One way you can revive this recipe is by spreading it out on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees F for about 5 minutes. 

You can also place it in another paper bag and microwave for 1 minute. Then shake vigorously.

More Edible Gift Ideas:

Sommer Collier and Family | ASpicyPerspective.com

Here’s an Instagram shot of my family cutting this year’s Christmas tree. Our friend Johnny from GardensForLiving.net helped us pick the perfect tree!

What are you doing to get in the holiday spirit?

Print Recipe
5 from 24 votes
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Microwave Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 11 minutes
This crisp, flavorful caramel popcorn recipe makes fabulous nostalgic holiday gifts.
Servings: 12



  • Pour the popcorn and nuts in a large paper grocery bag. Be sure to pick out any un-popped kernels. Place the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir, then microwave another 2 minutes, until boiling.
  • Immediately stir in the baking soda and pour over the popcorn, in the bag. (The baking soda will cause the caramel to foam up.)
  • Fold the top of the paper bag over a couple times and shake well. Place the bag in the microwave and cook for 1 minute. Shake the bag vigorously again and microwave for 45-60 more seconds. Check at 45 seconds to make sure it's not burning.
  • Open the bag and pour the caramel corn out on waxed paper. Break up clumps if needed. Cool completely to harden. *Every microwave is a little different. After the caramel corn cools completely, if it does not crisp up, put it back in the bag and microwave for another 30-45 seconds.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 636mg, Potassium: 196mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 19g, Vitamin A: 195IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 1.9mg
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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65 comments on “Microwave Caramel Popcorn”

  1. This is so delicious, and so easy! I frequently make it and have always followed the recipe exactly. But last night I got a little creative and added a teaspoon of cinnamon. It was a big hit for Monday Movie Night!

  2. Yum! Easy and delicious!

  3. This popcorn is so addicting!! I’ll be making it all fall and winter! 

  4. This came out amazing! I can’t wait to make it again and again this fall!

  5. This is totally addictive!! My kids couldn’t stop eating these!!

  6. This recipe totally works! Crispy caramel crunch and not gooey at all. I will definitely make this again! Loved it and it barely lasted one evening.

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  8. I had this exact recipe from jr high school and have lost the recipe. I am overjoyed to find it! Makes the best Caramel corn! I always nuke it 2 times and shake it for like 2 minutes each time before I lay it out. So good! Thanks!

  9. So good! And dangerously good because it’s so easy,  I see myself making it too many times in the future, and probably a few lbs. in / on my future!

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  12. Just wondering where you get that paper & what it’s called? Thanks!

  13. Just made this using maple syrup (what I had on hand) taste just like. Moms! Though I still stirred it in a bowl lol

  14. Can I use dark corn syrup? (novice baker here!)

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  16. Microwave Caramel Popcorn | A Spicy Perspective

  17. finally, a good use for a microwave!

  18. Wow! This looks
    Totally delicious! I can’t wait to try it :)

  19. This was a great recipe! Next time I will definitely add cashews, and I’ll probably use 3/4 t salt and baking soda. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. This is WAY too salty. Cut salt down to 1/2 tsp and then this is fine. With the amount of salt called for, the popcorn is completely inedible :(

  22. Made today. This is absolutely the best caramel corn recipe and easiest I have ever made. Thank you so much

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  24. So easy and so perfect as holiday gifts! That is, if it lasts that long without being eaten by me :)

  25. We tried popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave once, and the bag caught fire… :/ Not sure how everyone else gets their popcorn to work in a paper bag, but it would be awesome if it would work for me, too! lol, wary to try it again.

  26. Omg! Super easy and totally tasty! Saw this on Pinterest and was so excited that I had a bag and all ingredients on hand. Thanks :)

  27. This looks amazing!! Can’t wait to try it out. There are always alot of holiday movie watching in December. This will be a fun snack to try out :) Love the idea of incorporating cashews. I am a huge nut fan.

  28. This is exactly how my family has always made our caramel corn! So quick and easy.

  29. Yum! I eat air-popped popcorn almost every day…this looks dangerously easy:)

  30. no way, this is brilliant!

  31. delicious– love that you wrap it up in newspaper!

  32. This is incredible! I had no idea I could make caramel popcorn so easily and now that I know… this will be deliciously dangerous :)

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  34. Perfect for snack time! Looks freakin’ awesome!

  35. Ah! Love it! So easy and so delicious. I just love how you packaged them too. Perfection! Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. I’m sorry I’ve been so absent. Between moving (and feeling quite sick) I’m just now catching up to over a month of blog-reading! I hope you are doing well. It feels good to be back :-)

  36. We always make our own homemade microwave popcorn — that store bought stuff is full of chemicals, yuck. Will have to try your caramel version!

  37. What a fun idea to make caramel corn in MW..beautiful family click, Sommer!

  38. Your caramel corn looks incredible, I love the cashews!

  39. Yes!!! My neighbor makes the BEST caramel corn but he’s one of those ‘I change what I do every time’ kind of guys so he’s never able to tell me how he does it… and I fail every time I try. But NOW! I win!! Can’t wait to try this! I just need to make sure I do it for a party so it all doesn’t stay in the house, aka I eat all of it.

  40. Wow! What fabulous recipe and so great for the holiday time and movie night!! Great idea!

  41. I LOVE caramel corn and always say “I’m gonna make some!” yet never get around to it. I’ll get around to it now with this easy recipe. and Btw, we have the same microwave!

  42. You just changed my life. I was about to make a whole batch on the stove. I think I love you.

  43. Can’t wait to try this! I have summer memories of the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk popcorn from Johnsons Popcorn. Miles and miles away now, I still crave that taste. This recipe could do it!

  44. Love seeing your family with the tree!!! Great looking popcorn :)

  45. Cool trick! I do love popcorn and adding caramel is a must!

  46. I want to shake a bag of popcorn and cashews together with gloppy caramel! This sounds too fun! I love your gift idea, all wrapped up in newspaper with a ribbon – this is too creative! My family would enjoy this thoughtful, tasty treat!!

  47. Nice! I must try this recipe! I usually make them in the oven. This is way easier. :) I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  48. I love brown bag popcorn, but I haven’t tried making caramel corn! And now I’m totally going to have to…

  49. What?! What an awesome idea! I love it!

  50. Ack! This looks amazing and easy and naturally gluten-free. Win. Win. And WIN! I think I might try with salted pecans. I love salted caramel things! Thanks for the ideas!

  51. This popcorn looks so good! My hubby os a popcorn lover too, he would adore this!

  52. What?? So there is a way to get caramel corn without shaking the pot over a stove and burn it anyways? I am so IN! Totally going to try this this evening!!

  53. I am most DEFINITELY trying this recipe, Sommer. Because at this moment in time, believe I make the best caramel corn (stove top) on the planet. I truly hope you can prove me wrong!! ;)

  54. This is such a great no-fuss recipe for caramel popcorn. It usually involves a whole lot of utensils to make it.

  55. I’m in. I’m sooooo in.

  56. So cute! Love the photo of your family getting your tree!

  57. I never would have dreamed you could make this in the microwave – so easy! I can’t wait to take some with my to my family’s holiday party. Also, I LOVE that you included cashews – I’ve been on a serious cashew kick lately.

  58. Love the way you presented this in newspaper!

  59. love this one Sommer. Off to pin and stumble this!!

  60. What a cool trick Sommer – I would never think to make Caramel Popcorn in the microwave!