Old Fashioned Caramel Corn (using only unrefined sweeteners)

Joel had a few friends over last night to watch the live streamed U2 concert . I thought it would be nice for them to have a little snack mid concert, so I made up a batch of this delicious caramel corn. It was well received and was eaten up quite quickly. In fact, one friend thought I was joking when I said it was a healthier version! This recipe uses rapadura, a whole cane sugar, and honey. No white or brown sugar, no corn syrup. Just buttery sweetness.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe that my husband grew up eating.Β  I thought this would be a good week to share it, with Halloween coming up. Another great “candy” recipe is homemade fudge. So good.


Old Fashioned Caramel Corn Yield: About 16 cups

To get a thicker coat of caramel, just use a little less popcorn. I used butter in this recipe since it wasn’t really for Elena and I, but coconut oil would work here too for a dairy free version. You could also experiment with different sweeteners, such as maple sugar or coconut sugar.

    3/4 cup of popcorn kernels, popped
    1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil
    1 cup of rapadura
    1/4 cup of honey

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon vanilla

1-Melt the butter, rapadura and honey together in a small pot. Allow to simmer for five minutes. Be very careful with this hot mixture, as it can cause bad burns.

2-Meanwhile, place the popcorn in a large bowl with plenty of room to stir. When the mixture has simmer for the allotted five minutes, then add the baking soda and the vanilla and stir it in (it will get foamy).

3-Take off of the heat and pour over the popcorn. Stir until well coated.

4-Place on two jellyroll pans in a single layer and place in a 250 oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. This hardens the caramel. If a lot of the caramel is dripping onto the pan, you can give it a gentle stir back onto the popcorn throughout the cooking process.

5-When done, remove from pans, breaking into small pieces and cool. Enjoy!

The following two tabs change content below.
I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Jessica says

    We don’t celebrate Halloween but this will be a fun family treat. Thank You! Last year at Christmas I tried to think of a healthier way to make them & just could not so we did w out! Thanks again!

  2. Sarah says

    I make a quick version of this that tastes like cracker jack using molasses, honey, butter, and adding peanuts to the popcorn. It’s really good too. I don’t bother baking it, I just eat it sticky. : )

    • KimiHarris says

      Yummy! That sounds great. You can eat this one sticky too. πŸ™‚ I bet yours is a little more sticky though, since you use molasses. Want to share the recipe?

  3. says

    Mmm… I’ll try this sometime this week, although I really enjoy the popcorn I make using peanut butter and brown rice syrup. Much lower on the sugar, and still tastes just as sweet! If the kids aren’t around, I throw some dark chocolate chips in – ends up tasting like Moose Munch! πŸ˜‰

      • says

        Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you! Here’s the recipe:
        2 T coconut oil
        1/3 c popcorn kernels
        1/2 c brown rice syrup
        1/4 c crunchy nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew)
        1/4 t sea salt
        1/4 ( or more πŸ˜‰ ) c dark chocolate chips

        Pop the popcorn with the coconut oil, set aside. Heat the brown rice syrup and stir in nut butter to a rolling boil, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, stir in salt. Pour the mixture over the popcorn, and stir to coat popcorn. Let cool slightly, and add chocolate chips. Enjoy! πŸ™‚ It also makes awesome popcorn balls if you stick them together while still warm… which is what we did for our Harvest Party tonight. πŸ™‚

  4. Helen V says

    All I can say is WOW! I am trying very hard to not eat this right out of the oven. Don’t want to burn off my taste buds:) Thank you so much for this one. We love caramel corn!

  5. says

    We love popcorn at our house and have it often with smoothies for a snack. Sometimes I will batch up carmel corn to make it extra special for them. . . I just use coconut oil and honey – yum! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing Kimi!

  6. says

    Oh and I forgot to mention that sometimes we like to add our raw, roasted pecans on top or mixed it – delish! πŸ˜‰ Give it a try – you won’t be sorry! Although I can’t promise you won’t have a hard time turning down 2nds! lol

  7. Tonya Davis says

    The recipe sounds yummy but I noticed it called for 3/4 cup of popped corn and yielded 16 cups. Did I miss something, I usually do ~smile~!


  8. Amy says

    This looks great! I would love to make it for Halloween night. Where do you purchase rapudura? Could I replace it with coconut sugar?

  9. Dana says

    I just made this and the taste is wonderful. The only problem I had was that I did use Coconut Oil /butter mixture and I couldn’t get the sugar and oil to blend properly. It was kind of clumpy- I mixed it good and the kids didn’t really care but I am just wondering if coconut oil won’t blend with sugar like butter does.

    Thanks for the recipe!!

  10. Sara C. says

    Thanks for this great recipe! I just made a double batch and it is fantastic. I used maple syrup instead of honey and it worked beautifully. Happy Halloween!

  11. karen says

    here is another good one that came off the popcorn bag from azure standard.

    Old Fashioned Caramel Corn Yield: About 40 cups

    2 cups of popcorn kernels, popped
    1/2 cup of butter or coconut oil
    2 cups of honey
    1/3 cup molasses
    3 tsp peanut butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    dash salt

    1-Melt the butter or coconut oil, add rest of ingredients together in a small pot.

    2-Meanwhile, place the popcorn in a large bowl with plenty of room to stir.

    3-Pour mixture over the popcorn. Stir until well coated.

    4-Place in stainless steel bowls, large roaster or jelly roll sheets and place in a 200 oven for about one hour. Stir every 15 minutes. If you want to make popcorn balls, place in 200 oven for 45 minutes and then form balls.

    5-When done, cool. Enjoy!

  12. says

    Thanks for posting this. I didn’t have any corn syrup or honey, so I added extra sugar with water, and about 1 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar to make sure the sugar wouldn’t crystallize. I wasn’t sure how much of the c of t it would need, so I probably used too much, but I wanted to make sure. It tastes excellent!

  13. Rebecca says

    Fabulous recipe! I knew there had to be a healthier version out there – thank you!! I used coconut sugar and added a pinch of sea salt. We like our caramel corn warm and gooey so we skipped the baking part. Very yummy!! I can’t wait to try that Moose Munch recipe too!

  14. Cheryl says

    Just made this and it is amazing!! Eating it sticky- we’ll see how much makes it to the oven for the final step! Thanks!

  15. Katie says

    Making our 2nd batch now. 1st one was eaten super quick! (Mostly by me) We used the coconut oil and we didn’t have rapadura so used some sucanat on the first batch. 2nd batch we didn’t have a full cup of sucanat left so it was 3/4 sucanat and 1/4 turbinado.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  16. KarenL says

    Thank you for posting this recipe! It matches, exactly, the caramel corn recipe I’ve always used (minus the vanilla, plus sea salt) but better ingredients!

    So…my kids (and I!) love Caramel Crispix, too, so I switched the “not so good” ingredients for sucanat and honey in the recipe and it turned out great!

    Pre-heat oven to 250Β° F

    17 oz Crispix cereal – put in a large shallow pan or roaster

    In heavy sauce pot combine:
    1 cup unsalted butter
    1/2 c honey
    3/4 c sucanat
    1/2 tsp sea salt

    Bring to boil over med heat. Boil 5 min, stirring occasionally. Pour over cereal. Cook @ 250Β°F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Pour out onto parchment or wax paper to cool.

  17. John A. Cooper says

    Good Afternoon; can you use agave in this recipe? Also, apart from the candy bars, are there any other agave sweets recipes that you can inform me of? Icing recipes would also be welcome.

    Thank you,

    John A. Cooper

  18. Erin says

    I just want to let you know how big of a hit this popcorn has been with my family and friends! I made a big batch and shared it all around and everyone loved it so much I’m making another right now to include in treat bags for a children’s Halloween party this weekend, I’ve been told its the only thing I ought to bring to contribute to Thanksgiving dinner, and my aunts and uncles have requested that bags of it be their Christmas gifts this year as well. “Best caramel corn I’ve ever had” has been the common refrain. So thank you!

  19. Jill says

    This is great right after mixing but once I put it in the oven it started burning after only 15 minutes. Any ideas why?

    • KimiHarris says


      Either you were cooking it at 350F instead of 250F, your oven is too hot, or the pan was too close to the heat elements.

  20. Samara says

    This is great Kimi! Thanks! I am sorry to say that unrefined sugar is totally unavailable here , so I used regular brown sugar. But the recipe is great!

    Thanks again. Your recipes never fail me! πŸ™‚

  21. says

    I’ve had this pinned forever, and was thinking about finally making it tonight, or this weekend. Can’t wait!

    …Random question though, just because I’m curious: What does the baking soda do; or why is it needed?
    Curious, novice cook here, so thanks for helping explain the food science part to me, if anyone knows.
    Happy Weekend! : )

  22. Micah says

    I’ve made caramel corn before (from a different recipe) and none of my children enjoyed it. I made this recipe tonight & we all tasted before putting it in the oven. Everyone loves it!! Can’t wait for it to come out of the oven!


  1. […] These simple cookies use only a few ingredients and are so delicious. Almonds are the main ingredient and flavor, making this cookies gluten and grain free as well as delicious. Slightly Sweetened with coconut (palm) sugar, these cookies are full of protein from the ground almonds and are perfect to pack in a lunch or to have with a cup of coffee after dinner. We served these to some guests last week, and they were well received (along with the caramel popcorn!). […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *