1 cup popcorn kernels unpopped
2 cups unsalted butter 2 sticks
½ cup light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
– Preheat the oven to 250° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
– Pop popcorn using your preferred method. Place the popped popcorn in 2-3 very large bowls. (You will need enough room to toss the popped popcorn with the caramel sauce.)
– To make the caramel, melt the butter over medium heat in a 2-quart saucepan. Once melted, stir in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
– Once the mixture reaches a boil, let it continue to boil for an additional 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from the heat and add in the baking soda and vanilla. (The mixture will bubble quite a bit.)
– Divide the caramel sauce between the popped popcorn evenly and toss to coat thoroughly using a rubber spatula, salad tongs, or large spoons.
– Spread the popcorn evenly onto the prepared baking sheets. Clumps are fine and will spread out during baking.
– Bake for 40-50 minutes, tossing and redistributing the caramel sauce every 10 minutes. Test a cooled piece of popcorn after 40 minutes. It should be crispy and if it’s not, return pans to the oven for an additional ten minutes of baking.
– Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before packaging. Store in airtight containers.