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 shown in paper cone

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 Recipe

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 close up with cashews

Ingredients Needed for Caramel Popcorn

  • 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 with cashews

How to Make 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!

homemade caramel popcorn in paper cone

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:

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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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