Caramel corn is a necessity in our house around the holidays. Every year my husband’s mom makes loads of it and gives us each a giant bag at Christmas time. This year, I thought it would be fun to make some a little early for a Halloween treat exchange at my work, and I thought it’d be even more fun to try and make it vegan. Although, I’m not really sure what my MIL’s recipe is, maybe hers is vegan too, but I digress. This recipe is super easy to make, and even easier if you can list an extra pair of hands (thanks, honey!). You see, caramel corn is a delicate process. Caramel can burn quite quickly if you’re not careful, so having someone else helping in the kitchen can make the whole process a little less stressful.
The first batch that I made of this I used regular white sugar. Now, the first batch didn’t turn out bad so if that’s all you have on hand it’ll totally work. Just keep in mind that the white sugar will make it a bit more like kettle corn than caramel corn. On my second batch, I decided to go with brown sugar instead and this was where I hit the sweet spot. The brown sugar caramelized perfectly and became even more delectable after baking it in the oven for a bit. It came out perfectly crunch with just the right amount of sweet and chewy. Nobody wants to be digging caramel out of their teeth for hours. This recipe would make a great Christmas gift for family and friends or stuff it into little baggies for kid’s school functions or holiday parties. Now I won’t be making it for that purpose since my MIL makes it every year, but best believe as soon as I run out, I’ll be heading into the kitchen to make some more!
Vegan Caramel Corn
Approx. 10 cups of plain popped popcorn (for me, this was right around 2 batches in the air popper)
2 heaping Tbsp of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 tsp table salt
2 Tbsp plain unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/4 cup organic 100% maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 300°F and prepare two baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicone baking mats (I used one of each and both came out the same).
- Add all ingredients except baking soda to a pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- Stirring constantly, add the baking soda and reduce heat to low. Stir for about a minute or until you see the mixture change to a dark caramel-y color.
- Dump your popcorn into paper bags and evenly pour your caramel mixture into the popcorn.
- Shake the popcorn vigorously until well coated (this is where the extra set of hands comes in!!)
- Spread the coated popcorn evenly out onto your baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the popcorn reaches a nice golden brown color.
- Remove from the oven and lay out on a either a new piece of parchment paper, a clean baking sheet or I used a couple of clean cutting boards. This cooling process will allow the popcorn to become crispy and delectable.
- Store in large ziploc bags or sealed containers until you’re ready for some seriously delicious snacking!