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Deliciously crunchy sweet spiced Caramel Apple Popcorn is easy to make and the perfect snack for your next movie night.
There’s just something about fall that creates the perfect atmosphere for movie night.
It could be the chill in the air or the shorter days.
Whatever the reason is, I can’t think of anything cozier than an evening at home snuggled under a warm blanket watching a good movie with family or friends.
And of course if it’s movie night, snacks are involved!
Popcorn is the classic snack-of-choice for movie night. But did you know that it is really easy to make caramel popcorn from scratch at home?!
Homemade Caramel Apple Popcorn is crunchy and delicious with a warmly spiced sweet apple flavor. After you make this and share it with loved ones, be prepared for them to ask for it again.
In this recipe, we use Karo® Syrup, which chefs rely on for its consistency. Here it helps create a smooth texture and has a balanced sweetness that lets the flavor of other ingredients shine through.
And to make movie night really special, you can take this homemade treat one step further. Make a movie night snack board!
How to Make a Movie Night Snack Board
This Apple Caramel Popcorn makes a perfect centerpiece as part of a movie night charcuterie board or snack board. I went with a fall movie night theme and chose items that complimented the theme well.
I love putting together boards like this because all you really need is one homemade item, and then you can get a bunch of store-bought items to fill it out. It’s an easy way to feed a crowd for a movie night gathering!
Here Are a Few Things You Can Include in a Movie Night Snack Board
- Cheese: I like to include two or three different kinds. Here I included brie and blue cheese. Cheddar would also be great.
- Crackers: It’s good to have a basic cracker so that the other ingredients are the focus. After that, you can include some type of flavored cracker if you want. Here I included water crackers, as well as a store-bought crispbread-cracker hybrid that that had almonds and dried cranberries. You can also try your hand at homemade crispbread if you want!
- Fresh Fruit: Select fruit that’s in season. Here I went with a fall theme and included pears and grapes. Apples and/or figs would also be a great addition.
- Dried Fruit: I like to include things like dates, apricots, cranberries, etc.
- Cookies: Like fruit, go with seasonal choices. Gingersnap cookies are perfect for fall, and vanilla wafers would also work well. I used store-bought gingersnaps, but you can make your own gingersnaps if you want!
- Candy: Such as caramels, chocolate chips, etc. Or you can go with classic movie candy if you prefer!
- Nuts: Use whatever you like; hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.
The Best Cinnamon Caramel Apple Popcorn
Caramel Apple Popcorn Ingredients
- Karo® Syrup
- Baking Soda
- Apple Chips
How to Make Caramel Popcorn
- Add the oil and popcorn kernels to a 5-quart pot over medium heat.
- Cover the pot and cook, shaking frequently, until the kernels are popped. Remove the pot from the heat when you don’t hear any more pops after 3 seconds.
- Add the sugar, butter, Karo® Syrup, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, stir to help the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, don’t stir anymore.
- Bring the mixture up to a boil, and then let it cook for 4 minutes without stirring.
- Remove the caramel from the heat. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and baking soda.
- Carefully stir to combine. The mixture will foam up because of the baking soda.
- Immediately pour half of the caramel onto the popcorn.
- Use 2 heat-safe spoons or spatulas to toss to combine. Add the remaining half of the caramel, and toss again to combine. If the weather is humid, spread the popcorn mixture out onto a large baking tray. Bake at 300F for 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
How to Store Caramel Popcorn
Store Caramel Apple Popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
If the caramel popcorn gets stale, spread it out on a large baking tray and warm it in an oven preheated to 200F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Variations on This Recipe
- Add nuts. Toss in up to 2 cups of nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds, in with the popcorn and apple chips.
- Chocolate drizzle. After the popcorn is cooled, while it’s still on the baking tray, drizzle the top with up to 1 cup of melted chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips). Let the chocolate set before serving.
- Make it into trail mix. Once the popcorn is cool, add 2 cups nuts or seeds and 2 cups chopped dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, cranberries, apricots, etc.).
Tips for Making Caramel Popcorn
- Use a spice mix. If you have pumpkin pie spice apple pie spice on hand, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of that instead of the cinnamon + nutmeg.
- Don’t skip the baking soda. This is what makes the caramel porous due to tiny air bubbles, and more pleasant to eat.
- Keep a close eye on the caramel as it cooks. It’s when you walk away that it will decide to burn!
Caramel Popcorn FAQs
Why Do You Add Baking Soda to Caramel?
Baking soda in caramel creates a chemical reaction. Because baking soda has an alkaline pH level, it reacts with other ingredients that are acidic (here, sugar and corn syrup). As a result, tiny air bubbles are formed as carbon dioxide is released.
These little air bubbles create a more porous, delicate texture in the caramel. And they make it a lot easier to chew (and less likely that you’ll break a tooth trying to chew it!) because the caramel is less hard.
Do You Need to Bake the Caramel Popcorn Once it’s Made?
Baking caramel corn after the caramel and popcorn are mixed helps remove excess moisture so that the popcorn stays fresher tasting longer.
I find that it’s particularly important if you live in a humid climate. However, if you live in a dry environment you might be able to skip baking caramel popcorn.
How Do You Fix Stale Popcorn?
Spread the popcorn out on a large baking tray and warm it in an oven preheated to 200F for 10 to 15 minutes.
More Popcorn Recipes to Try
- Butterbeer Popcorn (Inspired by Harry Potter)
- Gingerbread Popcorn
- Salted Butter Toffee Popcorn with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Nuts
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Cinnamon Caramel Apple Popcorn
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup Karo® Syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 3 ounces unsweetened apple chips about 2 cups
- Coconut oil spray
Ideas for the Movie Night Snack Board:
- Fresh fruit such as apples, pears, grapes, figs, etc.
- Dried fruit such as dates, apricots, cranberries, etc.
- Gingersnap cookies
- Candy such as caramels, chocolate chips, etc.
- Nuts such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.
To Make the Stovetop-Popped Popcorn:
- Add the oil and popcorn kernels to a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Cover the pot and cook, shaking frequently, until the kernels are popped. Remove the pot from the heat when you don’t hear any more pops after 3 seconds.
- Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl along with the apple chips and toss gently.
To Make the Caramel and Caramel Popcorn:
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and lightly spray it with coconut oil spray.
- Add the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, stir to help the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, don’t stir anymore.
- Bring the mixture up to a boil, and then let it cook for 4 minutes without stirring.
- Remove the caramel from the heat. Carefully add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and baking soda, and stir to combine. The mixture will foam up because of the baking soda.
- Immediately pour half of the caramel onto the popcorn/apple chips mixture. Use 2 heat-safe spoons or spatulas to toss to combine. Add the remaining half of the caramel, and toss again to combine.
- Spread the popcorn mixture out onto the large baking tray.
- Bake for 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
To Make the Movie Night Snack Board:
- Along with Cinnamon Caramel Apple Popcorn, arrange any other items on a large board or tray.
- Enjoy along with your favorite movie!
- Recipe Total and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 14 cups of Cinnamon Caramel Apple Popcorn; each serving is 1 cup.
- Nutritional Information: Information for this recipe was calculated for the popcorn only and doesn’t include movie night snack board items.
- Storage: Store caramel popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
- Serving Tip: If the caramel popcorn gets stale, spread it out on a large baking tray and warm it in an oven preheated to 200F for 10 to 15 minutes.
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