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Salted vanilla caramel popcorn

This is a Lorraine Pascal recipe that I have adapted. I have only changed the sugar, added more salt and also the vanilla element. It is insanely good. Last Friday, we decided to have a movie / popcorn / pyjamas night (Monsters University, in case you were wondering). It was a throwaway idea to bribe Arthur with that morning, probably to persuade him to get dressed / brush his teeth. I remembered this recipe and thought I’d give it a whirl instead of buying in popcorn, as we’ve had a packet of kernels lurking in the back of the cupboard for ages. The last time I made popcorn from scratch I remembered it being lots of fun but a bit disappointing as much of it either burned or didn’t pop. This time I just got it right, flukily. There were only a few kernels left unpopped and none burned. I think it’s down to heat control, i.e. don’t go too high.
The photo you can see is the leftovers, the recipe makes quite a bit. You can keep them in a jar for a couple of days in a jar to tempt you every time you walk past.
Obviously it’s too dangerous for kids so an adult must do the bulk of the work, but get the kids involved – Artie loved it when it started popping… I will SO be making this on a regular basis, and may try out a savoury recipe next time…
To make a large bowl’s worth for a group to share:
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
100g popcorn kernels
100g butter
100g vanilla-flavoured (I make my own) or regular caster sugar (if you don’t have vanilla sugar which is simply a jar of sugar that has been scented with vanilla pods, then either scrape a pod of vanilla out into the mixture, or add a teaspoon of vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons of sea salt or regular salt (if you can get vanilla flavoured salt use that – I used Halen Mon Vanilla flavoured salt)
  1. Get a little saucepan and measure all your caramel ingredients into it. Put it on a gentle heat and keep an eye, stirring regularly.
  2. Heat the oil a large pan (one with a lid). You want the heat to be pretty high but not on full. Add your kernels and put the lid on.
  3. Using a tea towel to hold the hot pan – and being VERY VERY careful – shake the pan every 20 seconds or so. It takes about 5 minutes until it starts popping. Don’t take the lid off, just be patient! If it’s not happening, increase your heat a little.
  4. Once the pops start, shake the pan more regularly. The amount of pops you can hear will increase and reach a hiatus, and then start to reduce as there are only a few kernels left to pop. Keep shaking to make sure all of them get popped – or as many as possible. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes or so.
  5. Once your sauce is gently bubbling and the sugar has dissolved, take it off the heat. Pour over the popcorn and stir well. It will all stick together and that is OK. Leave it to cool.
  6. Once it’s almost cooled give it another stir. Yes I know it is sticking together but it easily comes apart. Just keep leaving it to cool some more, and then returning to break it up. Eat once fully cooled.
  7. Try not to eat it all in one sitting as the next day it’s even better.


  1. November 13, 2013 / 2:00 pm

    This looks amazing, Rachel. I want to make some. David's in the supermarket right now – will text him to see if he's got to the till yet! I really love the way you write BTW – you've got such a natural, conversational style… X

  2. November 13, 2013 / 2:00 pm

    We often make popcorn but have never tried salted vanilla caramel – what a great idea, we will make this!

  3. November 21, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    Would love some of this with a film!

  4. February 13, 2014 / 5:03 pm

    Me too – think I will make some this weekend! X

  5. February 13, 2014 / 5:03 pm

    Hi Charlotte – thanks. Sorry for late reply! X

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