Vegan Caramel Popcorn
This vegan caramel popcorn is crispy, buttery, and it has all the caramel flavour you love, minus the dairy. You won’t believe how easy it is to make!
If you’ve spent your life buying caramel popcorn, you’re going to be kicking yourself after reading this post. Why? Because making homemade caramel popcorn is so flippin’ easy—and it tastes miles better than the store-bought version. Plus, when you make caramel corn yourself, you can make it vegan with a few simple swaps. Yes!
We’ve been making this vegan caramel popcorn for years, and it’s one of our favourite snacks for a movie night in or when we’re craving a little sweet-and-salty goodness. You only need 7 ingredients to make it, and it comes together in 25 minutes—and most of that time is hands-off!
The key ingredient in this recipe might surprise you—nope, it’s not the vegan butter or the sugar, but baking soda! Baking soda completely changes the texture of the caramel as it’s bubbling and makes it much lighter, and much easier to coat the popcorn with.
Pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn, bake it to crispy-crunchy perfection, and then try to resist eating it all at once!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Freshly popped popcorn – Use my stovetop popcorn recipe, but don’t add salt, butter, or other seasonings.
- Vegan butter – Use store-bought or my homemade vegan butter.
- Salt – For extra crunch, you can use a flaky salt like Maldon or fleur del sel. If you go this route, add a little extra to account for the bigger flakes.
- Almond milk – Or another unflavoured plant milk you like or have on hand.
- Maple syrup – No corn syrup! This recipe is made with maple syrup instead.
- Coconut sugar or raw cane sugar – Granulated sugar is just fine too.
- Vanilla extract
- Baking soda
Is White or Yellow Popcorn Better for Caramel Corn?
You can use white popcorn, yellow popcorn, or even one of those fancy red, purple, or blue heirloom varieties of popcorn to make this vegan caramel corn recipe.
How to Make Vegan Caramel Popcorn
Get ready for the best caramel corn you’ve ever had! Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 300ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Pour the popcorn into a large metal bowl.
Start the caramel mixture. In a large pot set over medium-high heat, combine the vegan butter, half of the salt, the almond milk, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Stir the mixture as the butter melts.
Finish the caramel. Let the caramel mixture come to a boil, then add the rest of the salt. Add the baking soda; the mixture will change colour and it is more susceptible to burning at this point. Reduce the heat and stir for 1 minute.
Coat the popcorn. Remove the caramel from the heat and pour the mixture into the bowl with the popcorn. Working quickly, toss the popcorn with a spatula, making sure it’s evenly coated.
Bake. Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the popcorn to cool on a fresh sheet on parchment paper. The popcorn will get crispy as it cools.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for making perfect vegan caramel popcorn.
- Use big, fluffy popcorn. Avoid “ladyfinger” popcorn varieties, since these pop very small and won’t give you that satisfying caramel corn texture.
- Work quickly. As soon as the caramel is done, remove it from the stovetop, pour it over the popcorn, and then spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets. This isn’t the time to pause and answer a text from your BFF!
- Be patient. The popcorn really needs that cooling time to get the perfect crispy exterior. Warm caramel corn is not as good as it sounds!
This vegan caramel corn is delicious as-is, but I have a few ideas for taking it to the next level.
- Make a vegan caramel-and-cheese mix. If you’ve been missing those bags of caramel and cheese popcorn since going vegan, you can DIY it at home by making a batch of cheesy popcorn with nutritional yeast and a batch of caramel corn; let them cool, then toss them together for the ultimate sweet-and-savoury snack.
- Gift it. Package your popcorn in cellophane bags, tie them with pretty ribbons, and give friends and family homemade vegan caramel corn for the holidays.
- Make it decadent. Add pecans or peanuts to the bowl of popcorn and coat them with the caramel sauce too. Once the mixture bakes and cools, drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top. Let the chocolate harden before serving.
How to Store
If you don’t eat your vegan caramel corn immediately, you can store it in an airtight container to keep it crispy for up to 1 week at room temperature, or 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan caramel popcorn, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Caramel Popcorn
- 10 cups organic, freshly popped popcorn, unsalted
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons almond milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut sugar or raw cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Place popcorn into a large metal bowl. Set aside.
- In a pot over medium high heat, add the vegan butter, half the salt, the almond milk, maple syrup, coconut sugar and vanilla and stir to combine.
- Allow to come to a boil and then add in the rest of the salt. Add the baking soda and watch closely. The mixture will change colour and is more susceptible to burning now, so reduce heat and stir frequently for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and pour over popcorn. Working quickly, toss with a spatula to evenly distribute over all the popcorn.
- Spread popcorn onto the baking sheets until evenly distributed.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the popcorn to cool on a fresh sheet on parchment paper. They popcorn will crisp up.
- Eat immediately, or place in an airtight tupperware container to keep crispy. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
I just made this delicious popcorn ?! I did tweek the recipe a little. I left out the vegan butter and substituted the cane sugar for coconut sugar. It came out fabulous! Those looking for a no-fat recipe my want to try. As I think the fat content would only come from the butter, the rest of the ingredients are fat free. Thank you this is my new favorite snack.
Surely that’s too hot/too long? Mine burnt to a crisp 🙁
Hi Jay, We’re sorry to hear that, are you talking about the caramel sauce or the baking aspect?
I made your “Vegan Caramel Popcorn (Healthy)” and I just wanted to comment on how wonderfully delicious it was. I used the coconut sugar, as you suggested, the only thing I changed was the amount of ingredients. Since I have such a sweet tooth, I increased all the ingredients by half, except for the vegan butter (I used Earth Bound). Thank you so much Jessica for a wonderful recipe!
I thought when I went to a vegan or plant based diet, I would have to give up so much, but that’s not the case at all. Thanks to people like you who give us such delicious recipes it’s a dream come true. Foods lower in fat, that tastes great and makes a person feel so much better.
Thank You So Much,
Thank you so much for your absolutely sweet comment!! I’m so so happy that I’ve helped to make your plant based journey doable!! You’re so very welcome and thanks so much for your feedback!!
Just made this. No more 7-11 caramel corn
Hi Denise! We’re happy you like it!
Hi Jessica! This popcorn is amazing! I made it exactly as the recipe is written except I made way too much popcorn. I let it cool for a few minutes and it crisped up beautifully. This is going to be one of my new favorite snacks!
We’re so happy that you enjoyed this recipe Cindy! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment!