When I was a kid all I did was go to the movies, and if I wasn’t at the movies, I was plopped onto the couch watching a movie. I also ALWAYS bought popcorn, always. Today I don’t go to the movies often, nor do I buy popcorn anymore, but sometimes when I want a nice movie-night date with Jeff, we make our own popcorn.
BUT sometimes, we want a little treat, and since growing up near Chicago as kids, we both loved Garrett’s popcorn, but since going vegan, we’ve cut caramel corn from our diets, until now! Using this little hack, its super easy to make vegan caramel corn at home, which is (do I dare say) even better than the non-vegan counterparts, yep I’m looking at you Garrett’s!
If you like this recipe and want some more delicious treat recipes, download my top 10 vegan recipes now!
Vegan caramel corn hack #1:
Buy already popped popcorn. I don’t usually buy bagged popcorn at the store, but when G. H. Cretors approached me with the opportunity to try out their popcorn I couldn’t refuse! The benefit of using pre-popped popcorn is: 1. less time in the kitchen, more time watching movies and 2. Fewer pesky kernels (a HUGE pet peeve of mine!). Plus, you don’t have to worry about those burnt kernels!
G.H. Cretors popcorn is large, fluffy, and made in traditional small batches, so its much better than any popcorn I’ve ever made at home! The vegan versions are sea salt and olive oil, which are both perfectly salty and the olive oil flavor is delicious, and they’re both vegan options! G.H. Cretors does have a caramel corn, but it’s not vegan, so make this recipe instead!
The sea salt and olive oil popcorn varieties from G.H. Cretors is organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO, making them a great, healthy snack! Plus they know what they’re doing, G.H. Cretors began back in 1885, so they’ve had quite some time to perfect their recipes! This is my favorite way to enjoy caramel corn or regular popcorn for that matter!
Vegan caramel corn hack #2:
Bake your caramel corn for a less messy, crunchier treat! If you can help yourself, don’t eat the caramel when it’s still in a liquid form, instead bake the caramel on the corn and it is much easier to eat and lasts longer! Plus it’s sort of like cracker jacks, homemade (in a good way).
But that’s what I love most about this caramel popcorn recipe, it’s not messy, it’s quick to make, and it’s the best caramel corn I’ve ever had! Seriously good.
This recipe also doesn’t use any corn syrup. Just vegan butter (I go for Earth Balance) and brown sugar as a base, so its super easy. It takes about 40 minutes to make total, 30 of which is baking time, so it’s really only 10 minutes of legwork and 30 of anticipation! This recipe is best for popcorn because it’s quite thin, so I wouldn’t use this for caramel apples or to make caramels, but you could try, but its best for popcorn because it clings to it easily without making it soggy!
For an additional treat, you could add in a few mixed nuts!
Tip for cooking the caramel: you don’t have to cook it very long. It just needs to all melt and thicken a bit, but if it’s getting super bubbly, make sure to lower the heat because you don’t want to run the risk of burning your beautiful vegan caramel!
- ¾ cup of Earth Balance or other vegan butter
- ¾ cup of packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼-½ tsp sea salt based on if your popcorn is pre-salted
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 4.4 oz bag of popcorn, I prefer G.H. Cretors brand
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a non-stick baking mat.
- Melt your butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in your brown sugar and keep stirring until it is completely dissolved. Be sure to keep stirring so that your sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and crystalize or burn. Lower heat if it’s cooking too quickly.
- Bring the mix to a soft boil, and keep stirring to thicken a bit. Add in your vanilla, salt, and baking soda and stir until it’s well combined. Continue stirring. Your mix might boil more, but its okay, just keep stirring for about a minute or so. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, drizzle your caramel mixture over your popcorn, and stir until the popcorn is coated in the caramel. It might look like you don’t have enough caramel sauce to cover all the popcorn, but just keep mixing it together and your popcorn will be coated evenly.
- Transfer the caramel corn to your prepared baking sheet and try to flatten out into a single layer. If you can resist eating it all, place into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until crunchy and the caramel creates an even coating.
- Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes (if you can!) and enjoy warm!
In the middle of writing this post, I went and made some more and now I’m munching away and it is delicious! Go make your own batch now!
P.S. Be sure to make this vegan caramel corn for a great treat or for a party, its a huge hit! If you want more recipes, be sure to download my top 10 vegan recipes here.
Full Disclosure: Although I received free samples for review , I am not affiliated with G. H. Cretors, nor did I feel obligated to write a review or positive review in exchange. I am just an exploring vegan excited to share all my vegan-y discoveries with whomever may want to read! Read more about my philosophy on product reviews here. Please note that if you buy a product through my links, I receive a small percentage from Amazon.