Heartbeet Kitchen
Healthier Homemade Caramel Corn with Walnuts
December 22, 2017 (last updated January 24, 2021) in Christmas · Dessert · Other Sweets · Winter · 12 Comments

Healthier Homemade Caramel Corn made with maple syrup and walnutsThis homemade caramel corn recipe is sponsored by California Walnuts, a year long partner of Heartbeet Kitchen. 

Last night I stood in a local store, struggling to come up with gifts for several people, last minute per usual. I’m not good at gift giving, especially when forced. Why do we do this? Gifting. To each other as adults, once a year. Spending hundreds of dollars even when you try to keep things modest.

I’m not a grinch, really…. I just believe there are so many other ways to show love and appreciation as adults. Like time together. Meals together. Experiences together. And giving to organizations that need the support much more than I need a bottle of wine or new shirt.

But. That’s me. And what I force myself to read every year around this time is the love language of gifts, and remember that this is why we spend money and energy during this time of year, finding things for others. It is how they absorb love, and that is so important to remember.

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.

Healthier Caramel Corn made with maple syrup and walnutsHealthier Caramel Corn made with maple syrup and walnuts

My love language is acts of service, likely why I love to cook for people so darn much. Seeing them enjoy something that I created with my own two hands, that will nourish them from the inside out. I seek to please by serving, expressing my love by doing. It fills me with so much joy.

Probably the reason I’ve made four batches of this healthier homemade caramel corn (made with maple syrup!) to give to friends, and what I’ll be bringing along to a few holiday celebrations. It’s a nice change from cookies and cheese plates.

Healthier Homemade Caramel Corn made with maple syrup and walnuts

I particularly love this recipe because it’s only six ingredients, easy to make, and has just the right amount of of buttery, salty, sweetness. All the nostalgia of your favorite oozy-gooey treat without using corn syrup or white sugar.

The maple syrup adds such incredible flavor, and the walnuts bring a toasty, savory crunch. And even a healthy does of good fats. They take well to the low temperature, slow bake alongside the popcorn, which really brings out their true flavor. Other nuts might burn because they are more delicate, so I wouldn’t substitute.

Yes, you’ll need a thermometer for this one, but the recipe has a lot more forgiveness. Look for an amber color and a 225ish degree F temperature and you’re golden. Literally. ☺️

One handful won’t be enough, trust me.

If you make this homemade caramel corn recipe, be sure to tag me on instagram, @heartbeetkitchen or with hashtag #heartbeetkitchen!

Healthier Caramel Corn made with maple syrup and walnuts

Healthier Caramel Corn with Maple Syrup

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Homemade caramel corn made with maple syrup instead of corn syrup.


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup walnuts


  1. In a dutch oven, heat coconut oil until hot. (Test by putting one kernel in, and should bubble around the edges.) Add popcorn and swirl to coat. 
  2. Cover and cook, shaking pot, until all popcorn is popped. While doing this, occasionally let a little peep of air out so that popcorn doesn't steam. 
  3. Set aside, and remove any unpopped kernels. Add walnuts.
  4. In a high sided saucepan, add maple syrup and butter. Boil until mixture reaches 225 degrees F on a thermometer. Remove and add salt and baking soda, stirring. Pour mixture on popcorn and stir to fully coat. 
  5. Bake at 225 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until dry. Store in a covered box or ziploc bag.

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12 thoughts on “Healthier Homemade Caramel Corn with Walnuts

  1. Sarah | Well and Full

    I love the love languages way of looking at relationships… it really helped me and my boyfriend to understand each other. Receiving gifts is actually one of mine, but it’s not this rampant materialism, like you said. Done properly, a gift is a symbol of how you’ve thought of someone, considered their desires and needs, and spent time choosing the something for them. Rarely does it have to be elaborate or expensive… just thoughtful :) Happy Holidays, Amanda!

  2. Laura

    This looks great! Can I substitute more coconut oil for the butter, or use a little coconut milk? We are dairy free, due to allergies. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    1. amandapaa Post author

      Hi Laura! I haven’t made the caramel without butter, so I’m not sure it would work. I would google vegan caramel corn and I bet you could find something that’s tried and true for dairy-free!

  3. Sara @ Cake Over Steak

    Gift giving isn’t my love language either! I really struggled with gifting this holiday season. Sometimes I’m all over it but this year I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. My love languages include quality time and words of affirmation. Thankfully Robert isn’t a gift giver either, so we actually rarely do gifts for each other. We figured buying a house this year was enough. ha! Happy Holidays to you! xoxo

  4. Becky Costello

    Thanks for this recipe! The Hubby & I are preparing to make a couple batches of this….both for ourselves & as gifts. I also LoVe the idea of using Walnuts. Yummy~~~Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas Season!!

  5. Mama Binger

    I made this tonight ! Its brilliant…and an easy to do recipe. Not too sweet or sticky. I used cashews instead as that is what I had on hand.
    Thank you for the recipe…I will share it.

  6. pk

    Made this for Halloween, it was delicious! Getting ready to make some more as a Christmas gift. Thanks for the recipe and it’s so easy.

    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Hi Sarah! Sugar free low calorie syrup has different ingredients therefore chemical properties than pure maple syrup, so it will not react the same in this recipe.


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