Caramel Corn Puffs

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Is there anything better than a sweet treat that we can make with our kids? Certainly not! These caramel corn puffs are super simple and tasty and require very little prep work or effort. Using store-bought puffed corn and a homemade caramel coating creates a quick but delicious treat.

Caramel Corn Puffs Ready to Eat

Plus, like any great recipe, these are extremely versatile. Create other sweet flavors or use savory ingredients for a salty snack. Keep reading to learn how to make these classic caramel corn puffs as well as some other variations I think you’ll love.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Caramel Corn Puffs (see text for details)
  • 5 oz bag of puff corn
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

How To Keep Caramel Corn Puffs Crispy 

To keep these caramel puffs crispy, the key is to bake them low and slow in your oven. After boiling a sticky sweet caramel sauce and drizzling it over the puffs, you’ll bake them in a low-temperature oven for about an hour. This crisps them up beautifully. 

By rushing the baking process, or skipping it altogether, you’ll end up with a softer final product rather than a crispy puff. If you do prefer a softer version, I’ve got you covered! See my recipe variation below.

Instructions

Here are all the steps to making these deliciously sweet caramel corn puffs. Don’t forget that there’s a bonus recipe below to make these soft instead of crispy.

Step 1 – Make the Caramel

Preparing Caramel for corn puffs

To a small saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, salt, and cinnamon if you are using it. Melt the butter and let the mixture come to a low boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring often. 

While the caramel is cooking, preheat your oven to 250°F (121°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. I also like to spray the parchment with a little cooking spray to prevent any sticking.

Step 2 – Add the Baking Soda

Adding baking soda to caramel

At exactly 4 minutes, add the baking soda to the caramel mixture and remove it from the heat. The mixture will puff up and get thicker; this is exactly what you want to happen.

Step 3 – Coat the Puffs

Coating caramel corn puffs

In a bowl large enough to contain the puffs and still have some room for stirring, drizzle the caramel mixture over the puffs. Stir as you pour to coat the corn puffs and continue until all of the caramel has been used.

Spread the puffs in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Do this step pretty fast, as the caramel will start to harden quickly.

Step 4 – Bake the Puffs

Baking caramel corn puffs

Place the baking sheet in a 250°F (121°C) oven and let them bake for 15 minutes.

Step 5 – Toss To Crisp

Tossing Caramel Corn Puffs to crisp

After 15 minutes, use a large spatula to toss the puffs to keep them from sticking and to cook them evenly. Continue this for 60 minutes in total.

Step 6 – Break Apart and Enjoy!

Breaking apart caramel corn puffs

When 60 minutes are up, the puffs should feel crispy, and you can break them apart to serve!

Cookware Used

Here are all the tools you’ll need to create these tasty caramel corn puffs. 

Large bowl: Use the largest bowl you have for this. Stirring the puffs to coat them in the sticky caramel mixture requires a lot of room, and you’ll avoid cleaning up a mess later by using a really big bowl.

Parchment paper: I find that parchment paper is the best way to keep these puffs from sticking to the pan. Plus, it makes cleanup a breeze. 

Large baking sheet: A large baking sheet that allows enough room for a single layer of puffs will result in the crispiest result. I used an 11×17 baking sheet. 

How To Store Caramel Corn Puffs

Once you make this tasty treat, you may have leftovers. It’s rare, but it has happened once or twice that we had a few spare kernels to save for later. 

Make sure they are completely cool, and then toss the puffs into a zip-top bag. Remove as much air as possible before sealing. They will stay crispy and delicious for about a week.

Corn Puff Recipe Variations

Try all of these variations on caramel corn puffs. Or you can get creative and come up with your own! 

Soft and Sweet Caramel Corn Puffs

As mentioned above, you can make these little puffs on the softer side by tweaking the recipe slightly. 

In step 1, cook the caramel for 2 minutes instead of 4. Then proceed to steps 2-3. After step 3, you’re done! Don’t bake these little babies if you want them to stay soft and chewy. They are delicious that way, too!

Chicago Style Puff Corn

Chicago-style popcorn is a mix of caramel and cheese popcorn, creating the perfect sweet and salty snack. Follow the same recipe as above but instead of butter or plain corn puffs, use the bright orange, cheese-covered corn puffs. This sounds like an odd combination, but trust me, it’s amazing.

Sweet and Spicy Puff Corn

Create a wonderful sweet and spicy version of these caramel corn puffs by swapping the cinnamon for cayenne pepper or chili powder. It gives these sweet treats a subtle kick that will keep you reaching for more.

Now, It’s Your Turn!

Caramel Corn Puffs served and ready to eat

Now that you’ve seen how easy this recipe is, it’s time to make it yourself! Start with the classic caramel corn puffs recipe, and then start getting creative with different flavors and spices to make it your own. 

Remember that you can make these soft or crispy, or you could even split the batch in half and have both! Keep the oven low and cook them slowly if you want the crispiest, crunchiest, caramel puff snack to share with your family and friends.

Print

Caramel Corn Puffs

 

 

 

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Cuisine: Snack

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 5 oz bag of puff corn
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

Prepare the Caramel

Add the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, salt, and, optionally cinnamon to a small saucepan. Melt the butter and let the mixture come to a low boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring often. 

While the caramel is cooking, preheat your oven to 250°F (121°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the Baking Soda

At exactly 4 minutes, add the baking soda to the caramel mixture and remove it from the heat. The mixture will puff up and get thicker.

Coat the Puffs

In a bowl large enough to contain the puffs and still have some room for stirring, drizzle the caramel mixture over the puffs. Stir as you pour to coat the corn puffs and continue until all of the caramel has been used.

Immediately and quickly spread the puffs in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet, before the caramel hardens.

Bake the Puffs

Place the baking sheet in a 250°F (121°C) oven and let them bake for 15 minutes.

Toss To Crisp

After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and use a large spatula to toss the puffs to keep them from sticking and to cook them evenly.  Repeat this every 15 minutes for 60 minutes in total.

Break Apart and Serve!

When 60 minutes are up, the puffs should feel crispy, and you can break them apart to serve!

 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 47 g
  • Calories: 203 kCal
  • Sugar: 23.6 g
  • Sodium: 177 mg
  • Fat: 9.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.8 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.07 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29.8 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g
  • Protein: 1.02 g
  • Cholesterol: 11 mg

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