Toffee Popcorn

🎄☃️✨ Welcome to Day 20 of Blogmas At Home! It’s 5 days until Christmas and I’ve brought some corn for popping! ✨☃️🎄

Today’s post is a recipe for homemade toffee popcorn. It would be perfect as a last minute gift or just as a super tasty snack to get you through the stresses of the build up to Christmas Day!

I used to have a go-to recipe for toffee popcorn that was SO reliable- it was great! However, I think there’s been some sort of toffee popcorn apocalypse- over the last year or so, all the recipes online seem to have been updated to include baking soda, which I am sure the recipe that I initially used did not contain. To make matters worse, I just can’t get the baking soda recipes to work for me, so there’s been a toffee popcorn-shaped hole in my life for a while now. I know, I know, why didn’t I write down the recipe I used at the time? All I can say is that I was a fool. Nevertheless, we must move forward, so, of course, I have spent the last month or so trying to figure out how I made that original recipe. After multiple failed attempts, I think I might just have cracked it. In fact, I think it might be even better than the original…

Table of Contents

Some Thoughts on Baking Soda

As I mentioned in the introduction, I haven’t been able to make any of the online recipes I have tried for toffee/caramel popcorn work. The finished popcorn always ends up super matte and grainy, which is not at all what I wanted- I wanted my toffee popcorn to be shiny, smooth and crunchy.

The updated recipes all seem to include baking soda in their popcorn recipes- apparently, this is to help the toffee coat the popcorn, but I have seen other people say it helps the popcorn to forma fine, crispy coating, and even that it actually helps it to become shiny and glossy. I… disagree. After a good number of attempts using it, I just feel that the texture it creates (the toffee bubbles up like honeycomb when it is added) is not what I’m looking for- in all of my attempts, it has reduced that shiny look and smooth mouthfeel significantly. Perhaps it is a sacrilegious thing to do in this day and age, but I have not included any baking soda in this recipe and, honestly, I think it’s better for it!


  • A large, heavy-bottomed pan (with a lid!).

In the spirit of honesty (because at Christmas you tell the truth), I always use two large heavy-bottomed pans for this recipe, because I am much too lazy to be washing and drying up the pan mid-bake. You can totally get away with one though- just make the popcorn in it first, then allow the pan to cool before washing it out. Dry the pan thoroughly, then make the toffee in it. Heavy-bottomed pans are best for sugar work, because they help everything to melt evenly.

  • Silicone spatula

For stirring the toffee and tossing the popcorn (though at the stage, I actually find it using a fish slice as well, for maximum tossing action!). I like to use a silicone spatula, because they can withstand the high heat of the toffee AND they make it super easy to scrape the toffee out of the pan.

  • A large, rimmed baking tray (fully lined with foil and greased!)

You need to bake the toffee popcorn to help cover it in the toffee and so that it get crispy, so you need to have a prepped baking tray at the ready for this. Because the toffee popcorn is so sugary (read: sticky), I like to line the tray completely with foil, then grease it generously with oil, to stop the popcorn from sticking. Make sure to use a rimmed baking tray to prevent any sticky sugar spillages in your oven!


  • Popcorn kernels

I make homemade popcorn on the stove for this recipe. All you need for this is popcorn kernels and oil- it’s really simple!

  • Oil

You need oil to make popcorn on the stovetop. Use a light, flavourless oil like sunflower oil or groudnut oil for best results (though, obviously, do not give this popcorn to anyone with a nut allergy, if you opt for groundnut oil!). You’ll also need a little extra oil to grease the foil-lined baking tray.

  • Unsalted butter

I prefer to use unsalted butter to make the toffee coating, because then I can control the level of salt in the finished popcorn. If you only have salted butter, just leave out the sea salt.

  • Light brown soft sugar

Using brown sugar gives you that caramel-y, toffee-y taste with much less effort. I wouldn’t substitute caster sugar/granulated sugar for this, because it will affect both the texture and the taste.

  • Golden syrup

Toffee typically contains some form of inverted sugar, which helps to give it the right texture and to prevent the sugar from crystallising. I’ve used golden syrup here, because it’s readily accessible in the UK and really adds to the caramel-y flavour of the popcorn, but you could use glucose syrup or corn syrup (if you’re in the US), if you prefer. Just be aware that your toffee popcorn will probably end up a little paler in colour if you use one of these substitutions.

  • Flaky sea salt

I like to use flaky sea salt for this recipe because I think it has a better flavour. After measuring the salt, I crush it between my fingers before adding it to the hot toffee- that way, it disperses more evenly throughout the popcorn. If you would prefer to use regular table salt, I would halve the amount of salt listed.

  • Vanilla extract

Just to flavour the toffee- it doesn’t necessarily end up tasting of vanilla, but the extract really helps to draw out all of the other flavours and make this popcorn super moreish.

Making the Toffee Popcorn

Start by preheating the oven to 150°C. Set the foil-lined, greased baking tray nearby, for later.

Start by making the popcorn. Add the oil to a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Drop a few kernels of popcorn in and cover with the lid.

Gently shake the pan as you wait for those kernels to pop. Once they do, lift the lid and tip in the rest of the kernels. Cover with the lid immediately and shake the pan every now and then to coat all of the kernels in the oil and stop them from burning.

Once the popcorn starts popping, shake the pan more vigorously, to prevent the popped kernels from burning. Keep the pan over the heat, shaking frequently, until the popping slows to a few seconds between pops. At this point, remove the pan from the heat and tip the popcorn out onto the greased and foil-lined baking tray.

Once the popcorn has cooled slightly, go through and pick out any un-popped kernels now to save your teeth later on! These can be discarded.

Now you can make the toffee. Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, then put the pan over medium heat.

Stir frequently while the butter melts into the sugar.

Once melted, increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to the boil. Once the mixture has come to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow to bubble, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

When the toffee has 3 minutes of cooking time remaining, place the baking tray (with the popcorn) into the preheated oven to warm up. This will prevent the toffee from cooling too quickly, making it easier to cover the popcorn.

After 10 minutes, the toffee should be a deep amber colour. At this point, remove the pan from the heat and stir through the flaky sea salt and vanilla extract.

Remove the tray with the popcorn from the oven, and pour over all of the toffee mixture. Working quickly, use two spatulas (or, in my case, a spatula and a fish slice) to toss the popcorn and toffee together- try to coat the kernels as much as possible, but don’t worry too much- you will be tossing the popcorn more later. The toffee will start to cool down very quickly, so, when it gets difficult to toss, stop and put the tray back into the oven.

Bake the popcorn for 20 minutes, removing the tray from the oven to toss the popcorn in the toffee every 5 minutes or so. The warmth of the oven will remelt the toffee, making it easier to toss it together with the kernels.

Once the toffee popcorn has finished baking, it should be a deep golden colour with an even coating of toffee. Allow it cool slightly on the tray before eating/storing. I find it easier to break the popcorn up when it is still ever so slightly warm. As it cools, it will start to stick to the foil- you can still get it off, but it requires a bit more prising!

Storing the Toffee Popcorn

Toffee popcorn keeps for much longer than regular popcorn, because the outer layer toffee protects the popcorn underneath. You still need to store it in an airtight container though, to keep it fresh for as long as possible. Stored in a cool, dry place, the popcorn will last for about a week.

If you want to give the popcorn as a gift, I would recommend packaging it up into bags on the same day that you plan to give it and making sure the bags are tightly sealed with a twist tie. Alternatively, you could fill an old jam jar with some of the popcorn, which would keep it fresher for longer.

Final Thoughts

It was a bit of a trial working out the recipe, but I’m so glad I put in the work- I really think it’s perfect now! The finished popcorn is so moreish- it has the perfect balance of sweet and salty and it looks jsut how I wanted: shiny andgolden sheen makes it feel so festive.

Let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below- I’d love to hear about it!





Toffee Popcorn

Sweet and salty, this homemade toffee popcorn makes a perfect last-minute Christmas gift, but it is also great as a tasty snack, alongside a Christmas film!
Course Snack
Keyword Caramel, Popcorn, Toffee
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10


For the popcorn:

  • 1 tbsp flavourless oil, such as sunflower or groundnut, plus extra for greasing.
  • 80 g popcorn kernels

For the toffee:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 220 g brown sugar
  • 160 g golden syrup
  • 1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract


  • Line a large, rimmed baking tray with foil and grease well with oil. Preheat the oven to 150°C.

Make the popcorn:

  • Place the 1 tbsp of oil into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 popcorn kernels, then cover with a lid and wait, shaking gently every now and then, until all three of the kernels have popped. At this point, quickly add the rest of the kernels, replace the lid and shake frequently as the popcorn begins to pop. When the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat. Tip the popcorn onto the baking tray and spread out into an even layer. Once cool, pick out and discard any un-popped kernels, then set the tray aside while you make the toffee.

Make the toffee:

  • Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the butter has melted, then increase the heat and bring the mixture up to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow the toffee to simmer undisturbed for 10 minutes, until it is a deep golden colour.
  • When the toffee has 3 minutes left of cooking time, place the baking tray, with the popcorn still on it, into the oven to warm up. This will make tossing the popcorn and the toffee together easier.
  • When the toffee is ready, remove the pan from the heat and add the flaky sea salt and vanilla, stirring to incorporate. Be careful, because the mixture will bubble up a little- keep stirring until the bubbles subside and a smooth mixture forms. Remove the tray of popcorn from the oven and pour the toffee over the top. Toss quickly with two spatulas to coat the popcorn.
  • Place the popcorn into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to ensure the popcorn is evenly coated. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before breaking up the popcorn with your hands (this is easiest when the popcorn is still ever so slightly warm). Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the toffee popcorn will keep for about a week.

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