Crispy Salted Caramel Popcorn (Homemade Cracker Jacks!)

Caramel popcorn is pretty much my ultimate weakness. And we don’t really have a shortage of caramel popcorn recipes on Our Best Bites–there’s regular caramel popcorn and there’s cinnamon bun popcorn that is always a HUGE hit, plus a whole bunch of things like Jello popcorn (it’s a thing and it’s delicious) and candy coated popcorns, so if popcorn is your thing, just head over here for a little while.

I love, love, love Sara’s caramel popcorn recipe–it’s so easy and ooey-gooey and amazingly delicious. But. This is the popcorn I grew up on–dark corn syrup, dark brown sugar, crispy texture, and some honey roasted peanuts thrown in for good measure. Kind of like homemade Cracker Jacks.

I originally got this recipe years ago from my friend Lisa and have since tweaked things a little (added vanilla, baking soda, a little more salt, and the honey roasted peanuts) because I’m incapable of leaving recipes alone. It’s a favorite at our house, a staple of family movie and game nights.

You’re going to need 2 bags of microwave popcorn (or 8 cups of popped popcorn), 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup dark Karo syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. You’re also going to need baking soda, kosher salt, and honey roasted peanuts, but they were late to the photoshoot.

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Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl and set aside.

If you want peanuts in your popcorn, toss them in with the popcorn.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, dark brown sugar, and dark Karo syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly and adjusting the heat as necessary to keep it from boiling over. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn

and stir quickly to coat the popcorn evenly.

If you didn’t add your peanuts before, add them now. Also, don’t be like me and almost forget the peanuts.

Spread the popcorn evenly over the baking sheet

and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to cool completely, then break it apart and serve.

 

 

19 comments

  1. Can’t wait to try this! My 4-year-old is peering over my shoulder right now saying”make that mommy” ok honey. Seriously, this popcorn looks the best. And I just read store bought popcorn in the bags is one of the worst foods you can eat for being overly processed. Bleh.

  2. I love love love that you add honey roasted peanuts to your caramel corn! we all love those little guys so much and I’ve never thought of that before! Great job Kate!

  3. Love your popcorn recipes…I make the chewy caramel whenever I can get away with it, and the peppermint popcorn was especially great the years my daughter had gluten-free teachers. I have found the easiest way to make this stuff without mixing the kernels in is by dumping the bags onto the countertop (I line mine with waxed paper for the recipes I use anyway, so I know it’s good and clean). Then just pick up the popcorn in loose handfuls, and the kernels will stay on the counter. I am always looking for a shortcut and thought this might help someone.

  4. I’m not a novice cook or baker, but I cannot make caramel corn to save my life…good thing I’ll never have to make it to save my life 🙂 I can’t wait to give this a try! I feel like I’ll be more successful because of the stirring.

    Anyway, I love the title picture and how the text looks like it’s on the caramel corn box…very cool!

  5. Quick question: Do you have any idea if I could make the caramel with coconut oil, or even margarine? My dd has a dairy allergy, so can’t use butter. But caramel corn is a FAVORITE! Just wondering if you (or any other readers) know if it would work or not before committing all the ingredients.

  6. Love popcorn and giving it as gifts…the box is soooo super cute! Is there anyway I can get a download for it? Would like to try your recipe for Christmas this year!

  7. Yum. Waiting for this to finish in the oven. I love quick recipes that have my cravings satisfied quicker than driving to the store to buy it.

  8. How far in advance can you make this? If I make like 10 batches of the stuff now, and eat half 😉 can I store the rest until Thanksgiving week and let the houseguests have some?

  9. I love all your recipes and refer to your blog several times a week! You are my favorite recipe blog! I laugh out loud at some of your posts – truly. 🙂 How did you do the totally cute popcorn container? I have no idea how I would put cute letters onto the popcorn container, even if I had the cute font. Thanks!

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