The secret behind making caramel popcorn at home is you might be disappointed in the results. If you are like most popcorn lovers, you might have already experimented with making this delicious treat in your own kitchen, or perhaps you are in search of finding the perfect recipe to have on hand. We don’t find fault in your wanting to try to make this delicious, rich caramel popcorn at home, however, there are a few things you should know.
What the recipe blogs won’t tell you about making caramel flavored popcorn at home is that you really can’t achieve the same kitchen quality depth of flavor, coatings and maintain the crunch with a homemade version as we do here.
As a perfectionist with our own recipes for My Popcorn Kitchen, we thought we would search for something our customers could make at home but what we found was disappointing.
The search to find a good caramel popcorn recipe
First, we noticed a huge red flag with the recipes we searched for online. The recipe, as it was written, usually showcased a plethora of responses from home cooks who needed to make tweaks and adjustments because they didn’t like the results they got with the original recipe.
Ok, so maybe that’s part of what makes these recipe web sites popular, but it also seems like a huge waste of time to create a recipe that doesn’t get the job done. Some of the ingredients are expensive. And for the most part, all those comments just help the website’s rankings in the search results.
Finding a good caramel popcorn recipe online
In looking at recipe web sites and the format they use, one thing they share in common as you scroll down to read the recipe, you’re constantly bombarded with ads and videos that don’t relate to the recipe or even food or cooking. And some include paragraphs of the blogger’s journey on how they arrived at this recipe. This is very annoying. (Bypass this by scrolling down to the bottom. There, you will usually find the recipe written out in its entirety.)
One recipe we viewed from Paula Deen had a typo that called for 8 cups of popcorn but the home cooks posting replies indicated it needed to be 8 quarts. Additionally, one recipe we viewed on allrecipes was so minimal in the description that it created a bunch of questions such as “do I use plain or butter popcorn?” and “how many bags do I need?” This raised a red flag as we envisioned the reader popping store-bought microwave popcorn.
Why is store-bought popcorn in those microwave bags a bad idea
Let’s talk about store-bought microwave popcorn and why you shouldn’t buy it. Microwavable popcorn was once all the rage as a simple and easy way to make popcorn at home. It still continues to be a very common way people enjoy their popcorn.
Store-bought microwave popcorn is full of chemicals
That’s right. Despite using names like “organic” or “natural” on the box, microwave popcorn has been proven to be full of chemicals – one of which is a name so long they gave it an acronym (TBHQ) otherwise the name alone makes you want to set it back on the shelf. These products also include GMO’s, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Even the bag is dangerous. The bag almost all microwave popcorn varieties come in is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either. And if you nor we can pronounce it, then we all definitely do not want to be eating it.
Should I make caramel popcorn on the stove or in the microwave
The next great debate is using the stovetop versus the microwave to pop the popcorn or to heat other ingredients. Unless you’re used to using the microwave for cooking, doing so can be unsuitable because microwave cooking is unpredictable and can be dangerous. Using a heavy pan on the stove is a more controllable medium.
- Fun Fact: In our kitchen, we have specialized pieces of equipment to pop, coat caramels or fruits, make cheeses and make chocolates. These safely and effectively coat all our popcorn with less breakage.
How hot is the caramel mixture for making caramel popcorn
The recipes we checked online all require boiling the caramel mixture which is absolutely necessary. Boiling a caramel mixture to 212 degrees F. creates an incredibly hot, sticky syrup. Should that get on your skin, it will burn you faster than you can get to the sink to wash it off. And because it’s thick and sugary, it’s not going to wipe off. This, unfortunately, is not a recipe to make with the kids.
- Fun Fact: In our kitchen, we heat our caramel to 295 degrees F. We heat our fruit flavors to 305 degrees F. Why the difference in temperature? Candy coating requires a bit higher temps and can tolerate the higher heat. Because our caramel flavors are made with butter, it will burn at 300+ degrees.
How can I get the round popcorn used to make caramel popcorn as they do at the store
Now let’s talk about the seeds. All home popping seeds are called Butterfly seeds. In other words, they pop into irregular shapes with “ears.” This causes excess breakage when stirring liquid ingredients into it. You’re better off laying out the popcorn on a large baking sheet and drizzling the toppings over it.
- Fun Fact: In our kitchen, the way we pop our seeds will produce the two different popcorn shapes we need to create cheeses or caramels and fruits. Why the two shapes? The round popcorn kernels are ideal for coating because they don’t break up. Coating is the term we use for making our caramels and fruit flavors. We pop the butterfly shape for our cheese flavors to scoop up all that cheesy goodness. See the difference in the two types of popcorn here.
How can I get my caramel popcorn not to clump or stick together
Moving on, clumping then becomes problematic in these caramel popcorn recipes. In the comments, the home cooks discussed how annoying the clumping became and then having to break apart the kernels, which also stuck to the pan. It starts to become clear that the process of making caramel popcorn at home is more complicated.
- Fun fact: In our kitchen, we hand stir our caramel, caramels with nuts and fruit flavors to minimize the clumping and sticking together that you might face at home.
At My Popcorn Kitchen, we have the equipment and the knowledge to create the best tasting flavored caramel popcorn. Making caramel popcorn at home is for those cooks who have similar knowledge about this type of cooking, can adjust recipes that fall short, and have the time needed to make a caramel popcorn that fits all the criteria of great caramel popcorn. If this type of cooking isn’t in your wheelhouse, the good news is that we deliver consistently on quality and flavor so you don’t need to try it at home. Shop our Heavenly Caramels now.