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Paper Bag Microwave Caramel Corn

This simple, fool-proof caramel corn is so crispy and sweet! The microwave method ensures that every kernel is lightly coated. So pop up the corn, grab a brown paper bag, and let’s make this easy Paper Bag Microwave Caramel Corn!

It’s the time of year where I want to curl up with Teddy, a good movie and my bowl of this delicious snack. I can’t seem to keep Teddy away from the bowl.

teddy bear gazing into a tall bowl of caramel corn
looking down on bowl of caramel corn. Some kernels scattered on table

Other recipes

In a traditional caramel corn recipe, the caramel is prepared on the stove and cooked to 250 degrees. Baking soda and vanilla is added and your mixture becomes even more sticky. The sticky mixture is quicky stirred into the caramel corn. Good luck with that step. It can really form clumps. Then the caramel corn gets turned out onto a cookie sheet and baked some more. For about 45 minutes of your life.

The paper bag

Did I mention that you need a brown paper bag for this recipe? There are really no substitutes. You obviously can’t use plastic. And you can’t shake the popcorn well enough in a bowl. So you’re just going to have to bring one of these home from the super market. Bag your groceries in paper this time. Or just ask them for a paper sack and any good Midwestern grocery store will just pack it in with your groceries for free.

The Microwave Method

With this recipe, you stir the caramel ingredients and let them cook together in the microwave. This recipe is tested on a 1000 watt microwave oven, but you can adjust the timing for yours using this guide. It’s important to get the timing right so that your caramel is cooked perfectly.

It’s in the bag

After the caramel sauce is ready, pour it into your paper bag filled with popcorn, baking soda and vanilla. You can add the baking soda and vanilla to your caramel sauce and stir this together before adding to the bag. But I prefer adding the baking soda and vanilla to the corn for a few reasons. Reason 1: Even though the vanilla appears to dissolve some of your popcorn kernels, you’ll never notice it later. Reason 2: As soon as you add that baking soda, the caramel begins to thicken and harden. Which makes it more difficult to add into your bag. Instead of the caramel beginning to harden in your bowl, it begins to harden on your popcorn.

Shake, shake, shake

After you’ve added the caramel sauce to the popcorn in the paper bag, it’s time to shake it. Curl down the end of your paper bag, hold it shut and shake vigorously! Microwave, thirty seconds at a time, shaking again after each minute, until your corn is fully cooked. The better you shake it, the more evenly it will be coated.

Cool and enjoy

After you’ve completed the cooking time, simply rip open the bag and pour the contents out onto wax paper or a lined baking sheet. Spread out your popcorn and let it cool and harden. Then you can dig in with Teddy.

bowl of caramel corn beside teddy bear and Christmas movies
looking down into a single serving bowl of caramel corn set beside the big bucket of caramel corn
closeup of caramel popcorn scattered on a table

Paper Bag Microwave Caramel Corn

Yield: 14 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Delicious Caramel Corn couldn't be easier with this microwave recipe. This method results in evenly-coated, lightly sweet, crunchy caramel popcorn. Be sure you have the brown paper grocery sack/bag needed before beginning this recipe.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12-16 cups popped corn
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Stir together brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in large microwaveable bowl. Heat for 1 minute at a time, stirring after each minute, until mixture begins to boil (about 3 minutes). Continue cooking for 3 more minutes, stirring after each minute.
  2. Place unseasoned popcorn, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon vanilla into a paper grocery bag. (I like to use 14 cups of popcorn.)* Pour caramel over the top. Fold down edges of the bag and shake to coat. Microwave for 3 minutes, shaking vigorously after each 30 seconds. Pour out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to cool.


* I prefer adding the baking soda and the vanilla to my popcorn bag. The vanilla will absorb into the popcorn, but this isn't a problem.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 753Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 508mgCarbohydrates: 137gFiber: 10gSugar: 68gProtein: 14g

I’d love to hear how you and your teddy enjoyed this recipe! Hopefully you had enough to share with friends and family. If not, you can always share the recipe instead.

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