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How to Make Crunchy Caramel Corn in the Microwave

Thanks for sharing!

The sweet, buttery, crunchy caramel corn you love can be done in the microwave to make it faster and easier.  It’s perfect for a snack and fun for a party!

white bowl filled with cracker jack style crunchy caramel corn with lots of peanuts

There is just something about the buttery crunch of homemade caramel corn that makes you keep going back for more.  There is no stopping it and it’s ok, because you won’t really want to stop anyway. The secret to getting that crunch is cooking the popcorn after coating it in caramel.

A lot of people do that in the oven, and it works great.  But my husband’s grandma has a secret that makes it so much quicker and even easier!

wax paper lined pan filled with cooling caramel corn

When I asked my husband if his grandma had any recipes he really loved, this was the first thing he mentioned.  He remembers them making it together when he was a kid.

They liked it so much, that he and his sister asked her to make it a couple of years back.  We all went to Grandma’s house and made the caramel corn.

To be honest, I was shocked to see her dump it all in a paper bag and put it in the microwave. I had never seen it done like that.

We couldn’t wait for it to cool.  We ate it while it was still hot and sticky!

caramel corn spilling out of popcorn container laying on its side

So, next time you are at the grocery store, ask for a paper bag.  You’ll thank yourself!

My husband’s grandma also gave us her popular chicken broccoli casserole and her husband gave us Grandpa Joe’s pumpkin apple muffins. They are all winners! Have you ever made homemade caramel corn?

Tips and Tricks: 

Add as many or as few peanuts as you like.  We love the peanuts, so we add a ton.  You can leave them out and it’s good that way too.

Make sure the caramel corn is completely cooled before you bag it up.  If kept in an airtight container, it will keep its crunchy exterior for quite some time.  Humidity will make it soften quickly.

You can use two bags of microwave popcorn if you’d like.  Otherwise use your air popper or pop some on the stove.

Everyone will have a better experience if you really make sure there are no unpopped kernels in the mix.  I like to dump the popcorn into one bowl and transfer it a handful at a time into a second bowl.

The hard kernels naturally fall to the bottom of the first bowl and it’s easy to keep them out of the final mix.  Those guys make for an unpleasant surprise if you leave them in there.

Just make sure to get those unpopped kernels out before you add the caramel, You don’t want one sneakily stuck to a good piece of corn!

bowl of caramel corn spilling onto counter

Serving Caramel Corn:

We find so many occasions where serving this cracker jack like mix is appropriate.  Like a baseball themed party or a snack for watching an actual game.

We almost always have some for a big game football parties as well.  It is a fun sweet snack that doesn’t require committing to a full slice of dessert.

two red and white striped popcorn containers filled with crunchy caramel corn

Caramel corn will take your next movie night to the next level as well!

If you are going to serve it at a party, store it in an airtight container until it’s almost time for the party to start. Then transfer it to your serving bowls.

It is also a fun party favor.  Bag it up on small cellophane bags and give it to your guests as a parting treat!   This would make for a fun and different bake sale item as well!

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

Yield: 24 Servings

Crunchy Caramel Corn in the Microwave

Bowl filled with crunchy caramel corn.

The sweet, buttery, crunchy caramel corn you love can be done in the microwave to make it faster and easier.  It's perfect for a snack and fun for a party!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 16-20 cups popped popcorn*
  • peanuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Place popcorn in a paper grocery bag.  Add nuts if using.
  2. In medium sauce pan, add butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Boil for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in baking soda.
  4. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn. Roll down the top of the bag and shake.
  5. Place bag in microwave and heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes
  6. Shake and place back in microwave. Heat for 1 minute 15 seconds.
  7. Shake again and then pour onto a wax paper lined rimmed baking sheet to cool.
  8. Cool completely before moving to an airtight container for storage. 


*You can use 2 bags of microwave popcorn or pop your own corn using your favorite method.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 150mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 1g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

The sweet, buttery, crunchy caramel corn you love can be done in the microwave to make it faster and easier.  It's perfect for a snack and fun for a party!

Thanks for sharing!

Lynn Tjerne

Thursday 16th of December 2021

OMG this is great!!!! I usually do the oven method but thought I would try this. All I can say is thank you!!! My caramel is a bit different but I used your microwave times and it is fantastic! Same amount of popcorn 16-20 cups (5 Qts) 1 cup butter 2 cups brown sugar 1/2 cup corn syrup 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 quarts popped popcorn


Thursday 16th of December 2021

Yay! I am so glad you gave it a try. I had always baked it before too, but this makes it so much faster. I'll have to try your caramel recipe next time!

Penny Wolf

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

I would like to share a tip for sorting the old maids from the popped corn. Pour your corn onto a 2 piece broiler pan and shimmy the pan. The unpopped corn falls through the holes of the top of the broiler rack and into the grease catch. Thanks for this recipe!


Thursday 22nd of April 2021

That is such a great tip, thanks for sharing!

Amy (Savory Moments)

Thursday 7th of May 2020

I've always made it in the oven since we don't have a microwave, but this is so great to know! I love caramel corn -- such a great snack!


Saturday 9th of May 2020

We love the oven finished caramel corn too, but this makes it so much quicker!

Andrea Nine

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

I had no idea you could do it like this in the microwave! Totally going to do this! Have a beautiful day friend!


Thursday 7th of May 2020

It's so much faster than baking it and you get the same finish! I hope you love it!


Sunday 21st of January 2018

Ok, I think I can actually manage this one! Can't wait to make this! thanks for sharing it!


Thursday 7th of May 2020

You can for sure!

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