Restaurant Recipes

Garrett Popcorn Shops Crispy Caramel Corn

This is a clone recipe.

After placing a call to Caramel Crisp corporate headquarters in Chicago, we discovered that the popcorn chain (doing business as Garrett Popcorn Shops) was not willing to share the recipe that's responsible for the long lines at its shops.

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No problem. After studying the ingredient list on a Garrett canister, we went shopping. The components are ordinary, except for coconut oil. But we found that in the personal-care section at Whole Foods Market, where it was described as "suitable for high-heat cooking." We let the popping begin. After hours of research and sampling, we came up with this delicious, crisp mix.

No white popcorn we tried popped into kernels as large as those we sampled at Garrett. But our smaller kernels matched those from the shop for tenderness. And tasters rated it delicious. Some described it as "worth standing in line." And although most of us acknowledged that nothing could duplicate Garrett's buttery-sweet version, we think ours is the next best thing.

Yield: 13 cups


  • 1 heaping tablespoon solid coconut oil or peanut oil
  • 1 cup unpopped white popcorn
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over high heat. Add 6 kernels to pan as testers; cover. When at least 3 of the kernels pop, add remaining kernels. Shake pan occasionally as corn pops. Keep over high heat until popping slows to a few pops per second, about 5 minutes.
  2. Empty popped corn into a large brown paper bag. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Shake bag to distribute salt and drain excess oil; discard unpopped kernels.
  3. Measure 13 cups of fully popped kernels; spread on large roasting pan; set aside.
  4. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda in medium heavy saucepan; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
  6. Carefully pour caramel mixture over popcorn. Stir mixture with heat-resistant spatula or buttered wooden spoon to evenly coat popcorn, working quickly to coat kernels.
  7. Bake popcorn 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes to continue coating uniformly.
  8. Remove pan from oven; cool on wire rack.
  9. Break apart any clumps of corn with your hands.


Tips for success:

- Use white kernels for tender popcorn.

- Use coconut oil if you can find it. Though its saturated fat content is high, it makes a big flavor difference. Like shortening, it is solid at room temperature. If you can't find coconut oil, you can use peanut oil as a substitute. UPDATE: since this recipe was written, coconut oil is readily available in grocery stores.

- During baking, stir gently to avoid breaking kernels, but stir thoroughly to cover as many kernels as possible.


Per cup: 385 calories, 35% calories from fat, 16g fat, 10g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 400mg sodium, 63g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 1.9g fiber


Posted by GayleL at Recipe Goldmine 10:21:11pm 2/24/03.


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