Oh Cracker Jacks! Recipe for Caramel Popcorn

homemadecaramelcorn Oh Cracker Jacks! Recipe for Caramel Popcorn [donotprint]
Saturday night I had a special “Mommy-Daughter Night” with my 6yr old daughter. Her older sister was at a friend’s house and I took the rare opportunity to just have one on one time with my youngest daughter who also happens to be the “middle child”. She was so excited for special date night with mom! But if truth be known, I think I was even more excited to spend time with her. What I love about my daughter is her enthusiasm to bake and cook. She loves to just jump in and take ownership of any type of baking/cooking project and Saturday night was no different. We rented a movie and instead of the usual buttered popcorn we usually make, together we decided to make caramel popcorn similar to Cracker Jacks. This was so much fun to make and even better to eat. Although caramel corn isn’t necessarily a Fall type of snack, I think its a great and fun to kick off the autumn leaves falling, don’t you? Enjoy! [/donotprint]

Cracker Jacks Caramel Corn Recipe


1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

1-12oz can of Spanish Peanuts

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 large cookie sheet, greased


In an air popper, pop the kernels according to your machine’s manual. My machine only allows you to pop 1/3 cups at a time, so make sure you follow your machine’s capacity instructions. You should have almost 4 quarts of popped popcorn using 1/2 cup of kernels. Dump the popcorn and the Spanish peanuts in a clean tall paper grocery bag. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a medium sauce pan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter,and salt over medium heat and allow to gently boil for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Carefully and immediately pour caramel sauce into the paper grocery bag and stir the sauce, popcorn, and nuts with a wooden spoon until the sauce is evenly distributed. Take the popcorn mixture and evenly scatter it between both greased cookie sheets. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes. Allow to cool and break up the pieces (if desired). Store in zip lock bags or airtight containers. Enjoy! *

*Side note, I changed the recipe to be for 1/2 cup of kernel from the original of 1 cup. I found 1/2 a cup to be ideal.  But for a lighter recipe, use a whole cup of kernels and it will not be as sweet.

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  1. says

    Really well done recipe (and NICE pics!). I look forward to giving it a try. 3 quick thoughts –

    If you’re going to use a hot air popper, make sure to turn it on and let it heat up for a minute before adding your popcorn. Also, during the warm up, don’t put your popcorn in the little temporary holding cup that many poppers have at the top – it removes small amounts of moisture from the popcorn and reduces it’s “POP”. No one likes wimpy, teeny popcorn!

    Try using Mushroom Popcorn http://bit.ly/gGnne – it really steps up your gourmet game and adds a lot to homemade caramel corn. You get big, fluffy caramel corn and not a lot of broken pieces from mixing with the caramel.

    For folks concerned about the glycemic impact of the sugar but still a caramel corn lover, try using coconut sugar (find it at Asian markets) as it has about 1/3 the GI as regular sugar.

  2. says

    I came across this post when I googled “caramel popcorn recipe”. I’m making it right now (it’s in the oven) but from what I’ve already sampled (how could I not?) I know it’s going to be super yummy!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Isaiah says

    just made this tonight – so good! Used a full cup of unpopped kernels to keep it a little lighter and get more out of it.

  4. Nika says

    Hi! This looks indecently delicious. But, I’m just wondering–why would you need the baking soda? Thanks…

  5. Suzette says

    I have made this delicious stuff for over 50 years but I have never tried it using a paper bag. I just pour the syrup over the popcorn in a very large bowl. It works for me and is not messy.

  6. Sandra Maye from Baltimore, Md says

    OMG – I loved this recipe. I substituted spanish peanuts with fresh picked pecans from Farmville, NC. Best Cracker Jack recipe ever.

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