Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate {AKA Cinnamon Bun Popcorn!}

So it’s Thursday, but I thought it was only fair to post this recipe today since people in Utah get to see me cook it on TV! If you want to catch it, my (very short-really, don’t blink or you’ll miss it) segment will air Thursday Sept. 17th some time between 11am-12. I’ll do my best to avoid being a gigantic disappointment. If any of you imagine me in your head to look like Heidi Klum with spatula in hand, then do me a favor and don’t watch. I’d like to preserve at least some of those mental images. However, if you’d like a good laugh, there’s an extremely high chance that I’ll do something ridiculously klutzy on live television (like spill boiling sugar on my already burnt hand or drop a cuss word in Zion or something).

 

For everyone else–here’s what we’re cookin’ up today.

Oh yeah, it’s really good. It’s a variation of this regular caramel corn, but with all of the warm cinnamon-y goodness of fall. (Hmm…warm cinnamon-y goodness appears to be our theme this week). When it bakes, the pecans get toasted and the creamy white chocolate just makes it food-gasmic. Whip this up for all of the fall TV premiers this week (by the way, it’s not even funny how excited I am for those). (Hey, do you think I could use any more parenthesis in this post??)

*note: there are a few minor changes to this recipe as compared to the recipe on KSL. They’re both fine, I just removed the salt and added a bit more white chocolate in this version. The full recipe is typed in a printer-friendly version below!

Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate

{AKA Cinnamon Bun Popcorn!}
Recipe by Our Best Bites

12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels)*
1 C roughly chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 C Karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares almond bark

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn. If using microwave, anything works, but I prefer a “natural” flavor that’s low in butter and salt.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside. And by large bowl, I mean like, twice as big as you think you really need. If you don’t believe me, then maybe you will believe the scorching hot caramel goo that’s splattered all over your hands while you’re stirring in your not-so-big bowl. Just a thought.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Again, use a bowl larger than you think you need to avoid scorching hot caramel goo accidents. It’s really important to incorporate the cinnamon into the brown sugar at this point. For some reason, if you don’t it does crazy things. I don’t know why. Try it and then email Alton Brown and ask him if you really want to know.

Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything.


Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine.

Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

By this point it should be nice and bubbly like this.


If it doesn’t quite look like that you can microwave it a little longer, but just beware that if you over cook it, it will reach the hard candy stage and you’ll end up with a giant clump of tasty concrete-like substance with little popcorn pieces stuck to it. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda.

This is where you can justify making this every day. Adding vanilla and baking soda to boiling sugar totally counts as a science project so you can check it off as a teaching moment with your children. Really. It’s about the children. Here at Our Best Bites we’re all about educating America’s youth. So you should also know that if you count how many pizza rolls or toffee chip cookies you eat it qualifies as math class. Count in Spanish and you get extra credit. And heck, if you’re doing Spanish, you should just go ahead and make taquitos to go with it. And you can’t have taquitos without guacamole. And something to wash it down with. Like I said; it’s all about the kids. If you give a mouse a cookie…

Okay, back to caramel goodness. See what happens? The vanilla makes it bubble and pop and the baking soda makes it foam up, like this:

Now take that foamy science project and pour it right over the popcorn and pecans. Stir right away, and stir lots. Take too long and the caramel will harden on you. Keep stirring until everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan.


And yeah, go ahead and pop some in your mouth, you know you want to. It will be kinda chewy and stick-to-your-teeth-like. But we’re gonna change that. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. “Sample.” If it’s not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes. “Sample” again. This will not be the end of “sampling.”

When it’s done, give it a final stir and let it cool off for a bit while you melt your almond bark (just nuke it in the microwave according to the package directions) If you want, you can spread out your caramel corn on a clean piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. I always do this because sometimes it sticks to the hot foil if I leave it on the original pan. I’m kind of a clean control freak and I like to have it on a nice, fresh surface.

Now, just use a fork and drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture.


When it’s hardened (pop it in the fridge to speed that process along) break into chunks and enjoy!


This stuff is so awesome for packaging. Put it in cute bags like shown in this Halloween popcorn post, or in little tin pails, or cellophane bags with a ribbon. It’s great for bake sales and party favors too. Or just to EAT! It’s so stinkin’ addictive.


People always tell me I should sell it. I did once, at the only garage sale I’ve ever had. People apparently thought the well-packaged bags next to the “Gourmet Popcorn for $1” sign were samples. But they DID disappear real fast.

Cinnamon Caramel Corn with Pecans & White Chocolate AKA Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

5 from 1 vote
A delicious twist on our regular caramel corn, this Cinnamon Bun popcorn embodies all that is heavenly about fall! When it bakes, the pecans get toasted and the creamy white chocolate puts it out of this world.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 cups popped popcorn about 1/2 C kernels *see notes below
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Karo syrup or honey makes a good substitution
  • 1/2 cup real butter 1 stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 squares almond bark

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a very large bowl and set aside.
  • Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a big, microwave-safe bowl. Like a 2-quart bowl or Pyrex measuring bowl. Use a bowl larger than you think you need.
  • Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup (or honey) over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds (just to soften the butter a bit) and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.
  • Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. When combined, pour over popcorn and stir until it's coated. Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.**(See baking note at end of post.)
  • After 30 minutes, take a piece out and let it cool. Sample. If it's not crunchy enough, bake for another 5 minutes. When it's done, give it a final stir and let it cool off for a bit while you melt your almond bark (just nuke it in the microwave according to the package directions). If you want, you can spread out your caramel corn on a clean piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. I always do this because sometimes it sticks to the hot foil if I leave it on the original pan. Use a fork and drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn mixture.
  • When it's hardened (pop it in the fridge to speed that process along) break into chunks and enjoy!

Notes

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn. If using microwave, anything works, but I prefer a "natural" flavor that's low in butter and salt.
**I've experimented a lot with baking, and found that baking at 300 degrees for about 13-15 minutes works just great as well. Much faster!
Keyword: caramel corn, cinnamon, fall treats, popcorn
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Questions & Reviews

  1. Sara you did great! You may have a career in tv. Remember me when you are famous. Scott will be at the game. Give him a hard time if you see him. Have a fab time and a safe return.

  2. This was delicious and my house smells like Christmas so thanks for that! The only think I noticed was that salt was left out of the original recipe. I accidentally added the soda instead of salt because I thought that's what you meant and saw that soda was added later. It still turned out delicious. Thanks!

  3. Looks delish—but I'm in the middle of making it and don't see how much salt to mix with the brown sugar and cinnamon. We'll see how 1 tsp does.

  4. Wow!! This looks so amazing! I love all things popcorn – it's kind of crazy just how much I love it – and I am sooo excited to try this amazing looking recipe!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. I just tried this, and it is SO GOOD. It's supposed to be for a function tonight, and I'm not sure it is going to make it there.

    It also made my house smell very yummy.

  6. You are SO cute!! I loved the TV bit! I want that popcorn, too! Too bad I can't have any! 🙁 Darned tooth! It doesn't get fixed for 2 weeks!! *cries*

  7. christina- yes, over a thousand today! Thanks for your nice words too, so sweet of you 🙂

    Torri- I like gooey popcorn too, but this one works best crunchy. You can certainly give a shot though, I would just toast the nuts first so they taste better and you may want to skip the chocolate. But hey, you may not! I actually have been munching on the leftover un-baked batch from tv today and it's not bad! It's a little different (texture wise) than the regular gooey caramel corn, but still tasty.

    Megan- you can totally do it on the stove top instead of the microwave. Follow the same instructions and just let it boil for about 4 minutes or so before adding the vanilla and baking soda.

    Laura- funny you should mention the popcorn. Ready for this? Walmart brand! As I popped it last night to prep for the show my family and I were staring at it wondering how on earth it got so big- largest popcorn I've ever seen!

    Ingrid- thanks, got it all fixed.

    Whoever asked- (can't remember and can't find it!) you can absolutely substitute white chocolate for almond bark. Both work. I just always have big blocks of almond bark around and it melts and drizzles so nicely. Either one works great.

    Thanks to everyone else for your nice comments!

  8. Sara, I wanted to tell you that I thought you rocked your TV spot. You were witty and funny and you kept a great banter with the host. Good for you!
    By the way I am Stephanie Jones's sister in-law on the Evenson side. I love your blog, keep up the good work.

  9. Hey, Sara! When you print your recipe the vanilla and baking soda are not on the ingredient list. Just a heads up. I'm making this as we speak!
    ~ingrid

  10. It is a STICK of butter. What kind of geometry classes were YOU taking in Seattle Sara?

    😉

  11. I must find out from Sara what kind of popcorn she uses. The kind in the picture looks like it pops up fabulously. The kind I buy doesn't tend to be as nice and fluffy.

  12. I make regular caramel corn for the kids, and can't wait to fancy it all up (on special occasions) with cinnamon, pecans, and white chocolate…yum!! What a great gift idea!!

    Thanks for the great recipe!!
    Lisa B.
    (Colorado)

  13. Is there any way to make this without a microwave?? We try to steer clear of one and currently don't own one…is it possible to do this on the stove top without too much trouble? It sounds divine and I would love to try it!
    [email protected]

  14. Yum. Loved the TV appearance. Too bad Kate wasn't able to make it too. 🙁 You guys rock.

  15. I love this! So Fall-y and Christmas-y. I'll definitely have to try this recipe out soon.

    And, by the way, I regularly burn myself in my kitchen. I know and feel your clutzy pain.

  16. I really, really want to make this, it looks divine! But I'm wondering if you don't like crunchy popcorn, and like it gooey, can you just not bake it?

  17. What a wonderful Caramel Corn recipe! I agree, you should sell this! I'd be the first in line! 😛

  18. Talk about Timing! Our local gourmet popcorn shop (what, don't all neighborhoods have one?) recently went out of business and we've been trying to make do with butterfingers melted over popcorn. This looks just like their cinnamon corn. YAY!

  19. Hey– I just noticed you are SOOOO close to the thousand mark on followers!! Yeah! You knock the socks off every other food blog out there and should have won those luxe awards.

    Anyway…this looks amazing!! I can't decided if I'll make this or your poppyseed bread for a baby shower this weekend. Hmmmm.

  20. WOW! We already call the other Caramel Corn "Crack" Corn because we can't stop eating it(burned my finger so bad the last time I made it. That stuff loves to fly sometimes when you are mixing it..lol) but I can see that I will be making this one aswell!!

  21. Oh my word really?? Why haven't you given me this recipe before? You know my love affair with caramel corn!! The only way you can make it up to me is to bring me some 🙂 ILY!! Congrats on your television appearance!

  22. Holy mackerel! I want this…no, I NEED it!! I might just have to make a trip to the store this afternoon so I can make some tonight…Oh, and don't feel too bad about your screamin hot pan handle accident – I've done it too! I felt like an idiot for weeks. I hope it heals quickly!

  23. So basically this is like a "Harvest Moose Munch" – totally something you would see at Harry & David this time of the year! Yum, yum, yum. I have never attempted making caramel corn (doesn't help that our air popper sucks) so I'll have to get over that fear and try this! And I still want to try your Peppermint Bark popcorn. 🙂