Spicy-Salty-Sweet Caramel Corn

I’m not very good at keeping my sweet tooth under control. Pretty much the only way I can avoid inhaling far too much junk is to just keep it out of the house, which is why I try to give away everything I bake as soon as possible. Running marathons helps counteract some of the junk I eat, but I know it would be far healthier to eat way less of it in the first place. I’ll just add that to my lengthening list of goals for the near future…

I’m not sure what possessed me to make caramel corn the other day. It’s definitely one of those foods that is really hard to walk away from once you start in on it, but I was so intrigued by a recipe for Spicy Caramel Popcorn on The Runner’s Kitchen I had to give it a try.

I made some changes to the recipe, most notably using half the caramel the recipe called for. 3 cups of sugar just seemed like a LOT, and I’m glad I cut it in half because the popcorn was nicely coated and probably would have been just too much if I’d made the full amount. I was a little disappointed in the lack of spiciness, so I think next time I’ll add a few pinches of cayenne along with the chili powder. It was still a really great treat and of course Mike and I devoured all of it within a few hours (I should probably stop admitting things like this!)

Recipe:
(adapted from The Craft Of Baking via The Runner’s Kitchen

2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp chili powder
a few pinches cayenne (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot every few seconds until all the kernels are popped (or you can skip the oil and pop the popcorn in an air popper).
Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine the sugar, salt, butter and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture is golden brown. While it’s boiling, spray two spatulas or wooden spoons and a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

When the caramel is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chili powder, baking soda, and cayenne (if using), and toss it with the popped popcorn so the kernels are evenly coated, then spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

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10 Responses to “Spicy-Salty-Sweet Caramel Corn”


  1. 1 Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) February 22, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Glad you liked the recipe 🙂 I think cutting down on the sugar is a smart idea – when I saw that the original ingredient list called for 3 cups of sugar I knew that this recipe wasn’t going to be my healthiest creation, heh.

  2. 2 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction February 22, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I love caramel corn, and lately I have been on a sweet and spicy kick, so this sounds perfect! Definitely a recipe that I’d have to pre-portion or give away, because I have trouble keeping my sweet tooth under control, as well!

  3. 3 Maria February 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I like the added kick in there!

  4. 4 Rob February 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Hey there, we did a version of this with chipotle and it works really well. Your looks great!

  5. 5 Moodles February 22, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I’d better never make this–unless it’s Christmas and I serve it or give it all away.

  6. 6 Camille February 23, 2010 at 6:41 am

    Sounds good. What is the baking soda for? I did not see it used in the recipe but it is listed as an ingredient.

    • 7 Cate February 23, 2010 at 6:50 am

      Oops thanks for catching that…I just fixed the recipe. It’s stirred into the caramel after it comes off the heat to make it foam up.

  7. 8 Megan February 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Yum, this looks like a perfect party or game-time snack!


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