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A recipe from my latest cookbook: crunchy caramel corn inspired by sticky and sweet cinnamon buns. The true definition of addicting.

cinnamon bun caramel corn

Almost the weekend! Hope you’re having a great week. I just looked at my calendar and it’s already Halloween at the end of next week? What is going on. Fall is way, way, wayyyyyyy too short. Not enough time to soak up all this beauty.

I’m off to San Francisco tomorrow for my friends’ wedding. They are getting married in a redwood park– and I’ll be sure to snap lots of pictures. San Fran readers: no book signing events there this weekend, but I’ll be back in February!

Can’t wait to meet you.

caramel mixture in a saucepan with a wood spoon

I don’t have plans to share any recipes from my new cookbook on my blog– but HAD to share this particular one with you. Today’s recipe is one I created for Sally’s Candy Addiction when I was working on my manuscript at the end of last year.

Side note: Remember the day I finished it? What a beast. It was 49,000 words! My fingers ache and palms sweat thinking about it.

Now that the book is out in stores and you’re learning how to make candy, let’s chat about one of my favorite recipes from the book: my Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn on page 130. This sticky and sweet caramel corn is packed with a whole lotta crunch and plenty of cozy flavor. We’re talking cinnamon, white chocolate, butter, vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel coming together in every single bite.

Is that not the most glorious round-up of flavors? My mouth is watering.

This recipe was inspired by, you guessed it, a warm caramel sticky bun drenched in vanilla glaze. So much love for this caramel corn!

cinnamon bun caramel corn

See all the cinnamon specks? 😍

Today’s caramel corn recipe is similar to my late grandmother’s recipe, a total classic I posted around her birthday last year. We make that recipe every single year around the holidays. I wanted something similar to publish in my new cookbook and this cinnamon bun flavored goodness came to life.

This recipe is so easy.

  1. Make an easy caramel sauce. No candy thermometer needed.
  2. Pour caramel over popcorn.
  3. Bake. (–> this step is what makes it soooo chewy and crunchy!)
  4. Drizzle with white chocolate because WHY NOT?

For your viewing pleasure:

Thank you Five Story Media team for helping me shoot the video!

All ingredients in candy recipes serve a particular purpose, much like baking recipes. It’s not like cooking where you can add or take away an ingredient and still have the dish turn out fine. No, no, no. In candy-making and baking, everything plays a part in the finished recipe’s structure, flavor, and texture. That being said, I know some of you might be a little curious about the use of baking soda in this caramel corn recipe. It’s not included just for kicks– the baking soda serves an imperative role. And here’s what it does:

Nerd Alert.

Baking soda’s job in the caramel is to react with the acid (the brown sugar and corn syrup). This reaction creates tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles. You’ll see this reaction happening in step 2 of the written recipe below. The caramel sauce bubbles and foams up once the baking soda is added. Once the caramel has cooled on your popcorn, the air bubbles inside the caramel create a softer texture. This softer texture means you won’t be breaking your teeth on rock-hard caramel. Rather, the caramel on this caramel corn is chewy with a slight crunch.

Get it? Caramel is chemistry!

cinnamon bun caramel corn in a teal bowl

I’ll take the whole bowl and then some. Photo from the book! ↑ ↑

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cinnamon bun caramel corn in a teal bowl

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 7 cups 1x
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


A recipe from Sally’s Candy Addiction: crunchy caramel corn inspired by sticky sweet cinnamon buns. The true definition of addicting.


  • 7 cups (56g) air-popped popcorn*
  • 1 cup (215g) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 ounces (170g) white chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Spread the popcorn out onto 2 large baking sheets– or 1 if it all fits! Set aside.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a medium heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until butter has melted. Next, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Once boiling, stop stirring. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. The caramel will immediately foam and bubble (see above for why!). Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss gently until all of the popcorn is coated.
  3. Bake caramel corn for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan(s), then break apart any large clusters. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave (stop and stir every 10 seconds if using a microwave), then drizzle over caramel corn. Allow to cool.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This caramel corn tastes great for up to 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container. Wonderful recipe to make ahead of time for holidays and entertaining.
  2. Popcorn: If you do not have a popcorn maker at home, you can simply add 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels to a brown paper bag. Seal the bag tightly by folding over the top.  Microwave the popcorn for approximately 1 minute, 45 seconds on High, or up to 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.  This method will make 5 cups, so you’ll have to do it twice. Alternatively, you can use natural-style microwave popcorn that has no butter added to it.
  3. Special Tools: 1-2 large baking sheets, wooden spoon, a sturdy pot (I like Anolon Nouvelle Copper and Crestware), double boiler (always recommended for melting chocolate- I like this one and this one).
  4. This content is copyrighted to Sally’s Candy Addiction cookbook.

Keywords: caramel corn, cinnamon bun caramel corn

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. And if you want to follow along on my book tour, find me on snapchat: sallysbakeblog. 

You have to try my peanut butter caramel corn!

peanut butter caramel corn in a teal bowl

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. OH MY GOD this looks like a must-try! Can the corn syrup, however, be substituted for anything else? It’s not easy to find in-store around here. 

  2. I made this last night and it was delicious! I did a little experiment though. When I took it out of the oven to stir it at 40 mins I tossed it with graham cracker crumbs and cooked it at 300 for the last 20 mins. Then I took it out of the oven and sprinkled it with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Then broiled it for a few mins. Smores caramel corn! It’s seriously so good! Everyone loves it!! This was my first time making caramel corn. I knew I could count on you sally for a great recipe! (Oh I omitted the cinnamon and white chocolate in the original recipe) 

  3. Hi Sally!  I’m planning on making several batches of this popcorn this weekend but I don’t have a popcorn maker.  I saw your tips for the microwave but wondered if I could do it the old-fashioned way – in a heavy bottomed pot with canola oil and a tight fitting lid.  Any difference in the final outcome?

  4. Sally, I love your recipes and have not been disappointed by any of them so far (I also love that you use grams which makes life so much easier for us Europeans). I can’t wait to make your crack popcorn for our next girls night and wondered if there is a good substitute for corn syrup as it is not readily available in the UK.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Sarah, it’s imperative in the caramel unfortunately! Making candy is so particular and you need its chemical properties for the caramel to set properly.

    2. The substitute for corn syrup is golden syrup in the UK; it should work the same.  I am American but went to school in England and remember the lack of corn syrup and we always substituted golden syrup (the one in the green can).  GOod luck!

      1. Thank you for this comment. I was just getting ready to order some golden syrup and wondered if it would work.

  5. I have to say that stirring sticky caramel corn on a cookie sheet might just be my least favorite cooking activity, but I’ve done it twice in 2 days because this recipe is just TOO good! I made a batch last night for a party and realized that I had none to snack on or share with my family, so batch number 2 just came out of the oven. This one is a winner! Thanks!

  6. Hi Sally! 
    Love this recipe and caramel corn in general but I continue to have problems with the texture of my caramel corn. Although I’ve made it and it’s come out perfectly, the last few times I’ve made caramel corn the caramel has hardened and become quite grainy? I followed this recipe to a T, even timing exactly how long to boil the caramel. Do you think I may have had the heat too high and this caused it to cook more? Thank you! 

    1. That *could* be the issue. Honestly, weather has a lot to do with cooking caramel as well. Turn down the heat a bit and try constantly whisking as it heats.

  7. I’ve made this several times am done it is wonderful! It’s fairly simple, but has that magic “I’ve just made something really special for the ones I love” kind of taste! I follow the recipe, other than I decided to add more cinnamon, which I do in every recipe I make that contains cinnamon. If I’m out of unsalted butter, I use regular butter and cut the salt in half. Turns out fine. I strongly suggest using parchment paper on the baking sheets. Our local dollar stores carry it now, so I keep it and use a lot. I ran out and used greased pans, of what a mistake! Use parchment paper ( NOT WAX PAPER, incase you’re a kitchen newbie! ) This is really good and worth the effort! Thx for the recipe!

  8. Hi Sally, I LOVE this recipe and have made 5 batches of it so far this holiday season! I would like to tweak the recipe a bit to do a dark chocolate salted caramel popcorn. Would you suggest adding more salt to the caramel itself or just sprinkling some fleur de sel over the dark chocolate after I drizzle it on? I would appreciate your input! Thanks in advance!

    1. I’m so happy you love this recipe so much, Stephanie! I would suggest simply sprinkling your corse salt on top of the chocolate drizzle – it will add an extra crunch and you can more easily adjust the amount. Enjoy!

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