Caramel Puff Corn (without corn syrup) is an addictive sweet, salty snack that tastes like caramel popcorn, but with no hulls and no kernels. Perfect snack for game days, movie night, your holiday goodie tray, and gift giving.
Be sure to check out our favorite variation: Cinnamon Spice Caramel Puff Corn with a kick of cayenne pepper!
Caramel Puff Corn is a great snack that's always a crowd pleaser -- no one can stop eating it.
I'm serious... when a bag of this comes out, forget about it. It's gone in a flash.
The crunchy caramel coating and the puffy interior that melts in your mouth … it’s just too much to resist. So we don’t.
This Caramel Puff Corn recipe without corn syrup has honey instead of light corn syrup.
The smooth, homemade buttery caramel sauce perfectly coats the puff corn and bakes into a crispy, crunchy snack that tastes like caramel corn -- and no one can stop eating.
To make it even more irresistible, try our favorite variation, Cinnamon Spice Puffed Caramel Corn with cinnamon and cayenne. Keep reading to see how we do that!
Try these sweet treats next
- Microwave Chocolate Peanut Brittle
- Coconut Chocolate Balls
- Million Dollar Bars
- Cranberry Almond Macaroons
You’re going to love this
- Irresistible sweet, salty, crunchy, caramelly snack with rich buttery flavor
- Great alternative to traditional caramel corn -- no hulls, hard seeds or unpopped kernels
- Caramel puff corn with NO corn syrup
- Makes great holiday gifts
- Easy to make, no candy thermometer needed
Caramel Puff Corn -- No Corn Syrup
Many recipes for Caramel Puff Corn call for corn syrup because it helps stabilize the sugars and keeps it from crystallizing. However, if you are looking for a substitute, this recipe for Caramel Puff Corn without corn syrup uses honey, instead.
Honey makes a very flavorful caramel coating without tasting overpoweringly of honey. You'll love it.
Refer to the recipe card for the full ingredient list.
Puffed Corn. This is that puffy popcorn-like snack with no kernels and no hulls you see in the chip aisle of your local grocery store. Get a 9 oz. bag of “plain” or butter flavor.
Brown sugar. I use dark brown sugar because I love the deep intense molasses flavor. Light brown sugar works just as well.
Honey. Honey is the corn syrup substitution in this recipe — and it works perfectly!
Salt. The bag of puff corn is salted, but a little more salt in the caramel and at the end enhances that salted caramel taste.
Baking soda. Baking soda reacts with the caramel mixture and creates tiny air bubbles that help make it easy to spread onto the puff corn. The aeration also keeps the caramel crunchy without being too hard to bite into.
How to Make Caramel Puff Corn without Corn Syrup: Step-by-Step
1. Prep the oven and baking sheets.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Prepare baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. You can use two half sheet pans, two 9 x 13 pans, one full-sized rimmed baking sheet pan or a very large roasting pan.
Pour puff corn into a single layer onto the prepared pans.
2. Make the caramel.
In a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, sugar, and honey together. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for five minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (careful, it may spatter a little), baking soda, and salt.
Stir while the mixture foams up.
3. Coat the puff corn with caramel.
Carefully pour the hot caramel mixture over the puff corn. Use a rubber spatula to coat the puff corn as well as you can.
It’s okay if every puff isn't perfectly covered yet, you’ll have more chances to evenly coat them during the baking process.
4. Bake the caramel puffcorn.
Bake and give it a good stir every 10-15 minutes for 50-60 minutes or until it's no longer sticky. To tell when it's done, pop a piece in the fridge to quickly cool it. If it's crunchy and not at all sticky or tacky, it's done.
Pour the caramel corn puffs out into an even layer on wax paper or parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle some sea salt over the puff corn before it cools.
Let it cool completely, then break it apart into bite size pieces.
Store in an airtight container. Or, you know, just eat the whole bowl like we do.
Cinnamon Spice Caramel Puff Corn
Jazz up this easy recipe with cinnamon and cayenne for a warm and spicy snack.
Just stir in 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of cayenne when you add the baking soda.
If you thought this stuff was addictive before, wait until you try THIS!
Boil the caramel mixture for the full five minutes. If you cook it for less than that, the caramel coating will be sticky and buttery.
Be careful when adding the vanilla. It may spatter a bit.
It’s okay if you don’t coat ALL the puff corn on the first coating. You’ll have more chances to coat them as you stir it during baking.
If the caramel mixture has not cooked long enough, caramel coating can become sticky. Be sure to cook the caramel mixture for the full five minutes to avoid sticky caramel corn.
Yes! Place caramel puff corn into freezer bags and pop it in the freezer.
Beware, though, it doesn't freeze hard, so it's perfectly edible when frozen. So don't think you can hide it in there.
When you add baking soda to caramel, it adds tiny air bubbles that aerate the mixture which not only makes it easy to spread over the caramel corn, but also makes it soft enough that you can bite into it.
These Nordic Ware aluminum sheet pans are nice and thick -- and made in my home state of Minnesota :).
A silicone spatula and spoonula set like this are handy for stirring the caramel mixture and stirring the puff corn around on the baking sheets.
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Caramel Puff Corn Recipe without Corn Syrup
- 9 ounces puff corn
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- ½ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
Optional Cinnamon Spice Puff Corn Add-ins
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Prepare two half sheet pans or one full sized rimmed baking sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. You can also use a large roaster pan.Pour puff corn onto the prepared pans.
- In a heavy, large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, sugar, and honey together. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for five minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (careful, it may spatter a little), baking soda, and salt. Stir while the mixture foams up.
- Carefully pour the hot caramel mixture over the puff corn. Coat the puff corn as well as you can. It’s okay if every puff isn't perfectly covered yet, you’ll have more chances to evenly coat them during the baking process.
- Bake and stir every 10-15 minutes for 50-60 minutes or until it's no longer sticky. You can tell it's done when a cooled piece is crunchy.
- Pour the caramel corn puffs out onto wax paper or parchment paper. If desired, sprinkle some sea salt over the puff corn before it cools.
- Let it cool completely, then break it apart. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. Caramel Puff Corn also freezes well. Just pop it in a ziploc bag and toss it in the freezer.
To Make Cinnamon Spice Puff Corn
- Add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper with the salt and baking soda.