One of the best things about living in Oregon is having the opportunity to visit the beach. One of the best things about visiting the beach with my parents when our boys were younger was the tradition of bringing homemade cashew caramel corn to munch on. This delicious recipe was handed down from my maternal grandmother, but it’s my dad who has made the recipe his specialty. He still makes it and brings it to family gatherings, even though our boys are grown. The cashew caramel corn isn’t just for beach trips. It’s a fabulous thing to bring on camping trips and for picnics. It also makes a fantastic gift to give for the holidays. How do you make this delicious, easy homemade caramel corn with cashews from scratch? Read on, friends!
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6 quarts popped corn (2 bags of microwave popcorn) with the kernels picked out
3 cups cashews (optional)
1 ½ cup butter
3 cups brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Pop the corn, pick out the unpopped kernels and set aside in a large bowl. Add the cashews to the bowl, if using. On the stovetop in a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt, cream of tartar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 4-5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will foam up. Add the mixture to the popcorn and cashews. Stir to coat the popcorn and cashews thoroughly. Spread onto rimmed baking sheets or large broiler pans and place in the oven for 1 hour.
Stir the cashew caramel corn every 15 minutes. When the hour has passed, spread the caramel corn on wax paper or foil to cool. When the cashew caramel corn is cool, break it apart. You can serve it or store it in plastic zipped storage bags.
Easy Homemade Caramel Corn with Cashews
- 2 baking sheets
- 6 quarts popped corn 2 bags microwave popcorn, kernels removed
- 3 cups cashews optional
- 3 cups brown sugar
- 1½ cups butter 2½ sticks
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Pop the corn, pick out the unpopped kernels and set aside in a large bowl.
- Add the cashews to the bowl, if using.
- On the stovetop in a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, salt, cream of tartar, and corn syrup.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 4-5 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will foam up.
- Add the mixture to the popcorn and cashews.
- Stir to coat the popcorn and cashews thoroughly.
- Spread onto rimmed baking sheets or large broiler pans and place in the oven for 1 hour.
- Stir the cashew caramel corn every 15 minutes.
- When the hour has passed, spread the caramel corn on wax paper or foil to cool.
- When the cashew caramel corn is cool, break it apart.
- You can serve it or store it in plastic zipped storage bags.
Tip for Mixing in the Cashews
On the day I was making this, we had a snow day. It was a perfect day for making cashew caramel corn. It was also the day my principal called and let me know I would be teaching kindergarten for a few days while the regular kindergarten teacher was recovering from an illness. I kept having to replenish the cashew supply, as I was stress-eating the cashews. I wasn’t actually very stressed, but it was a good excuse. The cashews were in a separate bowl, not yet mixed in with the popcorn. I’ve found that if I mix the cashews and the popcorn together before adding the caramel mixture, the cashews end up at the bottom of the bowl. They don’t get spread out very well throughout the batch. I like to sprinkle the cashews in a few at a time (see video) when I mix in the caramel so the cashews don’t get all lumped together.
How do You Fix Sticky Homemade Caramel Corn?
The secret to making homemade caramel corn that’s not sticky is to bake it at a low temperature, as in this recipe. Stirring the homemade caramel corn every fifteen minutes helps to cover each piece of popcorn and the cashews with the caramel mixture. When baking, the heat makes the caramel coating more crispy and helps it to stay fresh for a longer period of time.
Tip for Spreading the Cashew Caramel Corn onto the Foil to Cool
After I took the caramel corn out of the oven, I got distracted. When I returned to the pans of cooling caramel corn, they had solidified into one gigantic mass on each baking sheet. Oh no! What did I do? I turned the oven back on to 200 degrees and stuck the baking sheets back in the oven for 5 minutes. When I pulled the baking sheets out, the caramel corn was once again soft and pliable. I easily transferred the cooling mixture onto the foil to cool. I did not make the mistake of getting distracted a second time!
How do You Make Homemade Caramel Popcorn Crispy Again?
If you have a problem with caramel corn losing its crispness, try the same method I used above. Try placing the caramel corn on a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes. Remove the warmed caramel corn from the oven, let it cool, then enjoy your crispy homemade caramel corn.
How Long Does Homemade Caramel Corn Last?
When we make caramel corn, it doesn’t usually last very long. But according to my dad, this homemade caramel corn is best when eaten within 5 days. I seriously doubt we will ever be able to test this out, but it’s good to know.
Can you Freeze Caramel Corn?
If you use an airtight container, like a zipped freezer bag, you should be able to freeze your homemade caramel corn. It might lose some of its crispiness, but you could always follow the re-crisping steps above. I’m going to test this out to confirm whether the homemade caramel corn retains its quality after freezing.
Are You Excited to Make Easy Homemade Caramel Corn?
This delicious snack is calling my name. If you decide to try this easy homemade caramel corn recipe, I’d love to see pictures. Take a picture and tag me on Instagram! I’ll feature the photo in my Instagram story.
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