Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn

I’ve been waiting all year long for this.

Another edition of Sugar Rush! If you’ve been around for a few years, you’ll know that each December I pack in the best of the best holiday recipes. The first two years were strictly treats. Yummy, delicious, unique holiday treats. The third year I changed it up a bit and did appetizers and savory treats (still highlighting some sweet goods from years past) and the fourth year, well, it was back to the sugar. Big time. And it was a beautiful thing. Just in case you want to see them all in the same place, I added a little Sugar Rush link over there in the sidebar that will pull ’em all up on one page.

Now this year, I’m excited to do Sugar Rush with a new twist: all gift ideas! Perfectly packaged food gifts to give to friends, family and neighbors.

Food gifts. Seriously. What could be better?

Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn

So first up, today, I’m sharing with you the most addictive, most delicious sweet popcorn ever. I took my beloved Butter Toffee Popcorn and morphed it into a cinnamon roll version (thanks to my Aunt Marilyn for giving me the inspiration in the first place!). It is completely amazing: buttery, crunchy, caramel popcorn with a burst of cinnamon and a drizzle of white chocolate.

Actually, on second thought, I’m not sure it is a good idea to make this as a gift to others. You’ll probably end up resenting the people you gave it to which would kind of ruin the holiday spirit. Blast the Christmas music, channel all sorts of feelings of peace and love, make a quadruple batch and you’ll most likely be fine.

I used simple treat bags that I picked up from Hobby Lobby when I was in the big city; the Wilton treat bags that measure about 5 inches by 11 inches and tied it with some red and green ribbon from my ribbon-scrap tote. Most of the big box craft stores (like Hobby Lobby and Michaels) offer 40% coupons each week which are great options for buying ribbon (and even treat bags). This popcorn would also be perfect in a small brown paper sack (similar to this packaging technique I highlighted before).
Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn

One Year Ago:Β Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
Two Years Ago:Β Sesame Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Three Years Ago:Β Truffle Hot Chocolate Balls

Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn {Sugar Rush Gift Edition #1}

Yield: Makes a big bowl of popcorn, 18 cups or so

Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn {Sugar Rush Gift Edition #1}

If you like a bit of chewiness to your toffee-like caramel popcorn, bake it for about 40 minutes instead of the full hour.


  • 18 cups popped popcorn (about 3/4 cup kernels)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
  2. Place the popcorn in a really large bowl (or two separate large bowls if you don't have an extra big one).
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful.
  4. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix until the popcorn is evenly coated.
  5. Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer on each sheet. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets.
  6. When the popcorn comes out of the oven, scrape it onto an even layer of parchment or wax paper.
  7. Drizzle the white chocolate over the top (using the tines of a fork to drizzle it across or pour the melted chocolate into a freezer quart-size ziploc bag and snip a corner to drizzle).
  8. Let the popcorn sit until white chocolate is set, 30 minutes or so. Break into pieces. Try not to eat the entire batch. I'm not kidding.

Recipe Source: adapted from my glorious Butter Toffee Popcorn recipe

45 Responses to Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn

  1. Tiffany says:

    I’ve made this several times for my husband to take to work, everyone loves it! It has been requested again and i’m thinking of making it similar to the zebra popcorn I’ve seen at Costco. Do you think it would be similar if I just left the cinnamon out and then drizzled milk chocolate along with the white chocolate?

  2. […] Print Prep time 45 mins Cook time 35 mins Total time 1 hour 20 mins   Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Author: Morgan […]

  3. […] recipe originally from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  4. Jolene P says:

    I have made this recipe 3 times since you posted it and it turned out great every time! I initially made it for gifting, but my husband requested some for us, so today I finally found the time to make a batch just for our family πŸ™‚ I skipped the chocolate, though, as my DH prefers it without. Still very yummy!

  5. […] Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn […]

  6. Macy says:

    It’s not the cinnamon because the same bottle has tasted fine in other recipes. After searching ‘bitter caramel’ online, I found that I probably either put too much baking soda or burned the caramel on the stovetop. I’ll try again and be more careful next time. Thanks for your help!

  7. Carina says:

    Making this makes me feel like a rockstar! It is beautiful and delicious. Only problem, my chocolate is taking forever to set. I bought a bar of white chocolate and melted it. Should I have used baking white chocolate? Is there such a thing? I noticed you used bakers, is that different than a bar you’d grab to nibble on?

    • Mel says:

      Carina – not sure what you mean when you say a “bar of white chocolate” – like the kind you would eat as a candy bar? I’ve never tried melting those (if that’s what you used), I generally use the white baking chocolate near the chocolate chips. It does take longer to set than almond bark/white candy melts but eventually it will, I promise!

  8. Macy says:

    This turned out gorgeous. I felt like such a pro making my own caramel popcorn. Thank you so much for the recipe. My only problem is that it seems to have a slightly bitter aftertaste. I’m thinking I may have baked it too long, but I took it out after 40 minutes. Any guesses as to what else I could have done wrong?

    • Mel says:

      Macy – hmmm, I wonder if the bitter aftertaste has something to do with the cinnamon. I’ve tried some brands of cinnamon that are pretty bad (usually generic brands) – what brand did you use?

  9. Sheila says:

    Simply divine! Success, how sweet it is! Thanks so much for your advice in helping me to understand how to successfully melt white chocolate. This popcorn is the most delicious sweet popcorn ever. Rock stardom is so wonderful thanks to you and your over-the-top recipes. I’m finding that many of our favorites are the β€œMels original recipes” although I greatly appreciate all the others you diligently research and bring forth with your skillfully incorporated changes.

  10. Lindsay G says:

    If I double or triple the recipe do I need to bake all 2 or 3 batches separately or can they be combined and all baked at once? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Lindsay – it is important that the caramel corn be baked in somewhat of a single layer. I’m afraid if you double or triple and combine all of it on 2 baking sheets, it won’t get caramelized and golden. So I would suggest still baking it in several batches (you could try combining it all and tossing it every 15 minutes and adding some additional time, also, but I haven’t tried that personally so I can’t say for sure if it will work).

  11. Jill says:

    Over at yourhomebasedmom, Leigh Anne has a caramel popcorn recipe that sounds much like yours, but she finishes it in a brown paper bag in the microwave! It is the slickest thing. I literally dirtied 2 dishes and threw the paper bag away when I was done. I love to that she has done some other flavor combinations that are also yummy. Everything you do is yummy. Your site is one of my favorites. I just thought you might find the different technique fun and interesting….particularly with your children. Thanks for always sharing.

  12. Karen says:

    Mel, I love your website. What is your suggestion for popping the popcorn for this recipe? I do not have an air popper. I usually pop it on the stovetop using a small amount of oil.

    • Mel says:

      Karen – your stovetop method will work! I use a microwave air popper but it doesn’t necessarily matter as long as the popcorn is fluffy and not burned.

  13. Tiff says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I just finished making my second batch. It was a cheap, yet nice gift to give away. (It really is addicting, too. My neighbor asked if I put crack in it. haha)

  14. Lindsey says:

    I have made this three, three times since you posted six days ago. Yes I gave half away. Yes my kids are already asking when I will make it again. Crack corn is its new nickname at our house.

  15. Katherine says:

    Mel, this looks awesome. I love food blogs, your blog is my ALL TIME favorite. Your photography is gorgeous and your recipes even better. Your explanations and comments are so real and fun to read. Thanks.

  16. Lanni says:

    This looks amazing! Totally going to be my neighbor gift this year. Do you have any idea/estimate of how many of the bags you can fill with one batch? I use the same ones you do, but am trying to figure out if I need to make multiple rounds of this. Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Lanni – hmmm, good question. I haven’t put a full batch into bags but I’m guessing, depending on how full the bags are, of course, that you could get 6 bags (that would be about 3 cups per bag).

  17. Now this one is going on my “must make soon” list! And I would like to tell you it would be to give as gifts, but I have a feeling my family will eat it all ourselves before we have a chance to give it away.

  18. Cyd says:

    My daughter made this for our family last night…we couldn’t give out a gift we hadn’t tried first, right? Delish! You weren’t kidding when you warned about eating the whole batch yourself. Luckily we had some neighbors who were more than willing to be on receiving end of our trial run.

    Made the recipe exactly as written and it turned out beautiful. Another home run from mels…duh! All your recipes are home runs! Thanks!

  19. Mamalala says:

    As a teacher, I just love getting home made goodies which are creatively wrapped. What a fun post. I sure hope some of my student’s parents follow this blog. πŸ™‚

  20. Julianne says:

    Um. We just made a half batch of this. I really am, just like your last comment in the recipe said, trying not to eat the whole thing while dinner is cooking. This is delightful.

    As a little note, I think I overcooked my caramel in the saucepan, so I actually only baked it for about 21 minutes, then did the rest of the recipe as stated. It’s delightfully crunchy and sweet and really DOES taste like a cinnamon roll. Quite lovely – thank you!

  21. Cammee says:

    This is our family’s favorite popcorn. I look forward to sugar rush every year!

  22. Teresa R. says:

    I love sugar rush! Seriously! This recipe takes cinnamon rolls to a healthier level. My entire family loves popcorn and this will make a great treat/gift for everyone.

  23. Melanie says:

    Sugar Rush!! bring it on! I have been patiently waiting πŸ˜€

  24. Sheila says:

    First time to experience your sugar rush series . . .so excited! I made your Oreo Cheesecake Bites last week and received “rave” reviews sending out your link to those requesting the recipe. The semi sweet chocolate chips melted beautifully for me in the microwave but the 4 ozs. of Ghirardelli white chocolate blocks came out stiff and too hard to drizzle on top. Do you know why this happened? Should I use white chocolate chips for melting?I would love to make this popcorn for a Christmas party on the 13th where I have been assigned to bring a “finger food” appertizer. Since this experience, I am a little “melted white chocolate” shy. So thankful for your expertise!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Miss Sheila – white chocolate can be a real troublemaker sometimes! Usually it is the white chocolate chips that cause problems; the baking bars often melt better but they have to be melted at very low temperatures in order not to clump and seize. I always use the Baker’s brand of white chocolate bars (mostly because it is all I can find). If all else fails, you can always use the white almond bark for drizzling which is less fussy than white chocolate (but has kind of an artificial taste, in my opinion).

  25. Kerri says:

    All food gifts?! I’m so excited.
    I’ve been thinking about bottling little jars of salted caramel for gifts, since I was in a caramel-making frenzy this week.
    This popcorn looks great!

  26. Sharon says:

    I LOVE cinnamon rolls, but since I can’t eat wheat, I have to settle for cinnamon flavored things. Popcorn is a great gluten-free treat and I can’t wait to try this cinnamon roll flavored popcorn treat.

  27. Natasha says:

    This looks great and is totally on par with what I’ve been up too this last weekend making christmas cake and chutneys to get a start on my christmas gifts. For the first time in a long time my family will be close enough (physically) to be able to give food gifts to all of our family and I’m so excited about that! Anyway my question is – How far ahead can/should this be made for gifts?


  28. Jenn in AZ says:

    I was just about to start looking for a caramel popcorn to give as gifts! Thanks for the recipe it looks wonderful.

  29. Katie says:

    I look forward to your Sugar Rush every year!

  30. Food gifts are the best gifts!! Completely in love with this!!

  31. Beth W. says:

    I love your “resent them” comment. I make Christmas morning cinnamon rolls for all of our friends in our Life group and for our neighbors. By the end of the cooking day, the whole family resents it!!
    I am laughing so hard right now because I was going to post the fabulous recipe that I have used the last 2 years to share with you for a change…. but it is yours, of course. The Vanilla Pudding ones. I do use a different icing, but the only difference is the addition of Lemon extract in it. (I got it from here. This used to be my standby recipe, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to yours, but the lemon extract is a great addition.

  32. Andreya says:

    I love this idea!!! You are the biggest blessing and curse in my life!! Your recipes and ideas are always wonderful=blessing! My husband, friends and family all have very high expectations now = curse. πŸ™‚ It is not a bad curse though. πŸ™‚ (My husband will only eat any type of sandwich on your wonderful french bread roll recipe.)

  33. Love this idea for sugar rush!! I look forward to this every year πŸ™‚

  34. Heidi says:

    Wahoo for gift edition!!!! I will surely give food away this year to neighbors! Thanks, Mel!

  35. Kim in MD says:

    Yeah for Sugar Rush! This looks so delicious and the packing is so festive!

  36. Looks amazing. I think looking at the ingredients I make the same popcorn but I use honey instead of corn syrup. It never makes it past the oven in my house. It would make for great gifts! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Amy says:

    Looks amazing, Mel!! Thanks for the fun idea! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Sugar Rush brings. πŸ™‚

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