Honey Popcorn Is the 3-Ingredient Sweet and Salty Snack of Your Dreams|Recipes Spots

  • on September 19, 2023
Honey Popcorn Is the 3-Ingredient Sweet and Salty Snack of Your Dreams

Close-up: honey popcorn (filling up the entire photo)
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Growing up, my dad would pull out the air popper every night at nine and make popcorn. I loved the crispy texture and always looked forward to the bedtime snack. Every once in a while, mom would make caramel popcorn instead and I would eat as much as I could get away with. 

This honey-coated popcorn reminds me of caramel corn. It has the same golden color, sweetness, and crispy texture, without requiring a candy thermometer or corn syrup. 

Instead of using an air popper, I make the popcorn on the stove and then use the same pot to make the honey and butter coating, which means I only have one pot to clean! It fills a sheet pan and is a great option for packaging up for a bake sale or piling it into a big bowl for movie night. Honey popcorn also lasts for five days, so go ahead and make it ahead of time. 

Close-up: honey popcorn (filling up the entire photo)
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Tips for Making Honey-Coated Popcorn

  • I found that a large 8-quart stock pot works the best for making a large batch of popcorn. 
  • Even though you have a big pot and only a little bit of oil, beware of splatters. Keep a little distance from the pot when it’s heating up and while it’s popping. Having the lid cracked makes the popcorn crispier but also allows for oil to splatter. Set the lid ajar at the handles so that the oil and steam releases left to right instead of towards you.  
  • Make sure to stir until all of the liquid is coating the popcorn and not sitting at the bottom of the pot. The popcorn will be glossy and pale yellow. 
  • Once the popcorn is out of the oven, let it cool completely. You’ll be rewarded with the crispiest bites.

Using Microwave or Bagged Popcorn

Making the popcorn on the stovetop resulted in the crispiest, tastiest popcorn. But if you have microwave, bagged, or air-popped popcorn, you can still make this recipe! Start with 10 cups of popped popcorn, which is one microwave bag or 1/2 cup popcorn kernels. Pop and pour it into a big bowl. Make the honey and butter mixture in a small pot. Pour it over the popcorn and stir until well coated. Continue with the recipe as directed.

Hand grabbing some of the honey popcorn from a bowl filled with honey popcorn, and in the surroundings, two glasses of pink lemonade and a pink table napkin
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Flavor Variations

  • Switch up your honey and use hot honey or infused honey for another dimension of flavor. 
  • Add fresh herbs, such as rosemary, lavender, or chamomile to the warm butter mixture and let it infuse off the heat for 5 minutes. Remove the herbs and then bring the mixture back to a simmer before mixing in the popcorn.

It’s Raining Popcorn!

  • Kettle Corn
  • Spicy Caramel Popcorn Clusters
  • Perfect Popcorn
  • Microwave Caramel Corn

Preheat the oven to 250°F. 

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pop the popcorn:

Heat the oil in a large stockpot on medium-high heat and add 3 popcorn kernels to the pot. Once the popcorn kernels pop, add the remaining kernels and cover. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 30 seconds.

Put the pot back on medium-high heat and set the lid ajar, preferably to the side so that the oil doesn’t splatter towards you. Step away from the pot while the popcorn is popping.

When the popping slows enough that you can hear individual kernels popping, remove the pot from the heat and let it finish popping off the heat, about 30 seconds longer.

Kernels poured into a large pot with melted butter for honey popcorn recipe
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
Popcorn in the large pot for honey popcorn recipe
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Discard any kernels:

Slowly pour the popcorn onto the baking sheet, keeping unpopped kernels in the pot. Look through the popped popcorn and remove any additional unpopped kernels.

Popcorn on a parchment paper lined tray next to a bowl with unpoped kernels for honey popcorn recipe
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Make the honey coating:

Wipe out the pot and set it back on the stove.

Add the honey and butter to the pot and heat on low. Stir with a flexible spatula and simmer for 1 minute.

Cubes of butter and honey in the large pot for honey popcorn recipe
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Coat the popcorn:

Use the parchment as a sling to pour the popcorn into the pot. Return the parchment paper to the baking sheet.

Using a flexible spatula, start at the bottom of the pot and scoop up use a folding motion to coat the popcorn with the honey mixture. Scrape the sides and continue stirring from the bottom to the top until the popcorn is evenly coated and no liquid is pooled at the bottom. The popcorn will be a glossy golden-yellow color.

Dump the coated popcorn back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly with a flexible spatula. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, if using.

Popcorn folded into the melted honey butter mixture in the large pot, using a rubber spatula for honey popcorn recipe
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
Pot of honey popcorn with a spatula
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
Honey popcorn spread onto the parchment paper lined baking tray (before baking)
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm


Bake until the popcorn has deepened to a caramel color and it feels dry and firm, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

The popcorn will end up chewy and soft if not baked long enough. You can tell the popcorn is done when you can smell the honey, the popcorn has darkened slightly, and it feels dry and firm to the touch. It becomes even crispier as it cools.

Let the popcorn cool for 15 minutes, then break the popcorn into bite-sized chunks or individual kernels. Once completely cool, about 30 minutes, serve or store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Baked honey popcorn stirred using a rubber spatula (still on the baking tray)
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
Baked honey popcorn on the parchment paper lined baking tray
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
Bowl of honey popcorn surrounded by glasses of pink lemonade, a pink table napkin, and a few pieces of popcorn on the counter
Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm
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