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Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Recipe – Easy Kitchen Guide

Last Updated on December 18, 2023

Brenda Gantt, a renowned home cook and internet sensation, has charmed the world with her delightful recipes and hearty Southern cooking.

Among her most famous recipes is her caramel popcorn, a treat that has garnered acclaim for its perfect balance of sweetness and crunch. This isn’t your typical caramel popcorn; it’s evenly coated in a thin, crispy layer of homemade caramel, giving it an irresistible flavor that keeps you reaching for more.

Whether you’re planning a movie night or looking for a tasty snack to accompany game day, Brenda Gantt’s caramel popcorn recipe promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

So why not give it a try? After all, there’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly popped corn mingling with the sweet aroma of caramel in your kitchen

Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Recipe

What is Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn?

Brenda Gantt’s caramel popcorn is a unique and delicious twist on the classic movie theater snack. It consists of freshly popped corn coated in a homemade caramel sauce, creating a perfect balance of sweetness and crunch. Unlike store-bought versions, Brenda’s recipe produces evenly coated popcorn that is crispy and addictively tasty.

This recipe has gained popularity not only for its amazing taste but also for its simplicity and versatility. It can be made for any occasion, from a casual movie night to a fancy dinner party. Plus, it’s easy to customize with different add-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, or even sprinkles.

Why You’ll Love This Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn?

There are countless reasons why you’ll love this recipe. Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it’s also easy to make and requires minimal ingredients. Additionally, Brenda Gantt’s caramel popcorn is perfect for any occasion and can be customized to suit your taste preferences.

Moreover, making your homemade caramel sauce may seem intimidating, but Brenda’s recipe simplifies the process and produces perfect results every time. Plus, the aroma of freshly popped corn and caramel wafting through your kitchen is simply unbeatable.

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The Ingredients 

  1. Vegetable Oil: This is used as a medium for cooking and frying. It helps to evenly distribute heat and prevent food from sticking to the pan. In popcorn making, it’s essential to pop the kernels.
  2. Pecan Halves: Pecans add a rich, buttery flavor and a crunchy texture to the caramel popcorn. Their natural sweetness complements the caramel coating perfectly.
  3. Salt: Salt enhances the flavors of all the other ingredients. It creates a balance between the sweet caramel and the buttery pecans and also helps to enhance the natural flavor of the popcorn.
  4. Popcorn Kernels: without these, there wouldn’t be any popcorn. The kernels are what pop and expand when heated, creating the fluffy, crunchy base for this snack.
  5. Unsalted Butter: Butter adds a rich, creamy flavor to the caramel. Using unsalted allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  6. Karo Corn Syrup: This is a key ingredient in making the caramel. It prevents the sugar from crystallizing, resulting in a smooth and shiny caramel coating.
  7. Baking Soda: Adding baking soda to the caramel causes it to foam up and become lighter and smoother. This makes the caramel easier to work with and helps it coat the popcorn more evenly.
  8. Vanilla Extract: Vanilla adds depth to the flavor of the caramel. It brings out the sweetness of the sugar and balances the richness of the butter.
  9. Light Brown Sugar: This type of sugar has a deep, caramel-like flavor due to the presence of molasses. It’s used to make the caramel coating for the popcorn.
  10. Cooking Spray: This is used to prevent the caramel popcorn from sticking to the pan or whatever surface it’s left to cool on. It makes the process of making and serving the popcorn much easier.
How to Make Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Step by Step Instructions 

Step 1: Preheat Oven and Toast Pecans

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 225°F (107°C).
  • In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to pop a kernel when added.
  • Add the pecan halves and cook for about two minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re lightly toasted.

Step 2: Prepare Popcorn

  • Remove the toasted pecans from the pan and set them aside to cool.
  • In the same saucepan, add a pinch of salt and three popcorn kernels. Cover the pan with a lid or foil, leaving a small gap for steam to escape.
  • Once all three kernels have popped, remove them from the pan using tongs or a spoon.
  • Add in the rest of the popcorn kernels, cover the pan again, and let them pop, shaking occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Once all the kernels have popped, remove the pan from heat and set it aside.

Step 3: Prepare Caramel Mixture

  • In a separate saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat.
  • Add Karo corn syrup, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then let it simmer for about three minutes without stirring.
  • Remove the pan from heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will foam up; this is normal. Stir until everything is well combined and the foam subsides.

Step 4: Coat Popcorn and Pecans

  • Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the large saucepan, making sure to coat all the kernels evenly.
  • Gently stir in the toasted pecans until they’re evenly distributed throughout the popcorn and coated in caramel.

Step 5: Bake and Cool

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray.
  • Spread the caramel corn onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. If there are any clumps, gently separate them with a spoon or spatula.
  • Bake the caramel corn in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure even baking and coating.
  • Once done, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before breaking it into bite-sized clusters.

Notes 

  • You can use any type of corn syrup, but Karo is the best for making caramel.
  • If you don’t have baking soda, you can substitute it with cream of tartar or lemon juice. This will also help to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
  • For a twist on this classic recipe, try adding salted peanuts instead of pecans for a sweet and salty flavor combination.
  • If you don’t have parchment paper, you can use aluminum foil or a lightly greased baking sheet instead. Just be careful not to let the caramel corn stick to the pan.
  • You can also use this recipe for making caramel popcorn balls. Simply shape the coated popcorn into balls while it’s still warm, using lightly greased hands to prevent sticking.
Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Copycat Recipe

Nutrition Information

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How to store Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn?

Once completely cooled, store the caramel popcorn in an airtight container or resealable bag at room temperature for up to one week. If it lasts that long! The caramel may harden slightly over time, but you can easily reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it again. Plus, the longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld together for an even tastier snack.

Variations 

  • For a decadent treat, try drizzling melted chocolate or white chocolate over the cooled caramel popcorn.
  • Add in your favorite mix-ins like M&M’s, mini pretzels, or dried fruit for a more customizable snack.
  • Serve the caramel popcorn alongside other party snacks like chips, dips, and veggies for a fun and tasty spread.
  • Use the caramel popcorn as a topping for ice cream or yogurt for a unique and delicious dessert.
  • Package up the caramel popcorn in cute bags or jars tied with ribbon for great homemade gifts. Add in some festive sprinkles or candy pieces for a fun touch.
Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Copycat Recipe

Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Brenda Gantt, a renowned home cook and internet sensation, has charmed the world with her delightful recipes and hearty Southern cooking.
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 32
Calories: 542kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 4 cups Fisher Pecan Halves Recommended
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2.67 cups Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn Kernels Recommended
  • 4 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Karo Corn Syrup Recommended
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Light Brown Sugar
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C) and toast pecans in a saucepan with hot vegetable oil until lightly toasted. Set them aside.
  • Pop the rest of the popcorn kernels in the same saucepan with a pinch of salt, cover, and shake occasionally until all kernels have popped.
  • In a separate saucepan, melt unsalted butter over medium heat. Add Karo corn syrup, light brown sugar, and salt. Let it boil and simmer for 3 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and vanilla extract. Pour this caramel over the popped corn and pecans, coating them evenly.
  • Spread the caramel-coated mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 225°F for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Once done, cool completely before breaking it into clusters.

Notes

  • You can use any type of corn syrup, but Karo is the best for making caramel.
  • If you don’t have baking soda, you can substitute it with cream of tartar or lemon juice. This will also help to prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
  • For a twist on this classic recipe, try adding salted peanuts instead of pecans for a sweet and salty flavor combination.
  • If you don’t have parchment paper, you can use aluminum foil or a lightly greased baking sheet instead. Just be careful not to let the caramel corn stick to the pan.
  • You can also use this recipe for making caramel popcorn balls. Simply shape the coated popcorn into balls while it’s still warm, using lightly greased hands to prevent sticking.
Keyword: Brenda Gantt Caramel Popcorn Recipe

FAQs

Can I add other nuts to the recipe besides pecan halves?

Yes, you can certainly experiment with other nuts. Just ensure they complement the sweet and rich flavors of the caramel popcorn.

Can I use microwave popcorn instead of popcorn kernels?

It’s not recommended as microwave popcorn usually contains additional flavors and preservatives that may alter the taste of your caramel popcorn.

Can I use air-popped popcorn instead of oil-popped for this recipe?

Yes, you absolutely can use air-popped popcorn as a substitute for oil-popped popcorn in this caramel popcorn recipe. Air-popped popcorn is made by heating popcorn kernels with hot air which makes it a lower-calorie and healthier option compared to oil-popped popcorn.

Can I make this recipe vegan?

Absolutely! Making this caramel popcorn recipe vegan-friendly is quite simple with a few ingredient swaps. First, you can substitute the regular butter used in the recipe with a vegan butter substitute or coconut oil. Both alternatives will give your popcorn a nice, buttery flavor.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Brenda Gantt’s caramel popcorn is a must-try recipe for any popcorn lover. Its perfect balance of sweetness and crunch, along with its versatility and ease of preparation, make it a crowd favorite. So why not gather your ingredients and give this delicious treat a try? You won’t be disappointed.

Also, don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comments below, and let us know any variations you tried! Happy snacking!

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Author Profile

Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., is a board-certified Pediatrician in New Jersey and has been working at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000.
She also has a passion for culinary arts that extends beyond the medical realm. After completing culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, she started Global Palate, LLC, a catering firm, in 2007. She ran her own six-year-old catering company and served small group parties as an owner and executive chef.

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