Cracker Jacks Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts is a sweet and savory treat that has become a tradition at our house. If you follow my keys to success, you’ll have a new favorite recipe to make and to share. Be sure to check out my tip for sharing these Cracker Jacks with friends and family.
Disclosure – I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.
I’ve been making this Cracker Jacks Caramel Popcorn Recipe for Thanksgiving for the last 20 years or so and it’s a family favorite for sure.
I look forward to making this special treat for the family to enjoy and I’m excited to share the recipe with you.
Key to Success #1 – Proper Popcorn Proportions
Obviously, the popcorn is a key ingredient to Cracker Jacks.
This recipe doesn’t require any particular type of popcorn.
If you use this method, you’ll need about 3/4 cup of kernels.
You can also use microwave popcorn in this recipe.
I’d suggest using unflavored popcorn but I’ve also used butter-flavored popcorn and it worked just fine.
You’ll want to use about 2 standard-sized bags of microwave popcorn for this recipe.
If you want to get super-fancy with your Caramel Popcorn, check out Gourmet Mushroom Popcorn.
It has the perfect shape, just like Cracker Jacks.
JustPoppin.com has a great selection of gourmet popcorn that you can try.
Key to Success #2 – Keep the Kernels Out
Nothing will ruin your Caramel Popcorn faster than biting into an unpopped popcorn kernel.
The easy way to get rid of hard kernels is to lift your popped popcorn by loose handfuls and transfer it to another bowl.
The unpopped kernels will be left in the bottom and can easily be discarded.
Key to Success #3 – Perfect Peanuts
The perfect peanuts for these Cracker Jacks are raw red-skinned Spanish peanuts.
A lot of times you can find these in the snack section of your local store or sometimes in the produce area or sometimes in the baking aisle.
If you can’t find the raw Spanish peanuts, you can substitute roasted Spanish peanuts but watch the salt.
You may want to reduce or eliminate the salt in your caramel topping.
Key to Success #4 – Let’s Get Caramel Crazy
It takes a gentle approach to make a crunchy caramel glaze.
You’ll want to cook your butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup over medium to medium-low heat until it’s boiling.
Once it’s at a full boil, set the timer for 5 minutes. No more, no less.
Take the pot of caramel off the stove and add the baking soda and vanilla extract, and salt (Optional.)
The caramel will start to foam and change colors.
Keep stirring until it stops changing colors then pour over the popcorn and peanuts.
Key to Success #5 – Mix ‘n Bake
I like to put my popcorn and peanuts into two large bowls or pots.
I put about 1/3 of the popcorn into one bowl then pour all the peanuts over the popcorn.
In the other bowl, I put the rest of the popcorn.
This method makes it much easier to ensure the peanuts get covered with caramel.
The caramel will start to cool and harden pretty quickly so you’ll need to work fast to get the popcorn covered.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly even though.
Pour all the popcorn and peanuts into one large roasting pan then stick it in a 250 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove the popcorn from the oven and stir well then cook another 15 minutes.
Continue cooking and stirring until your Cracker Jacks have baked for 1 hour.
Key to Success #6 – Wait for the Singing
Pour your Popcorn out onto a heat-proof surface to cool.
While your popcorn is cooling, it’ll start “singing” or making a crispy crackling sound. (That’s the official term for it, I’m sure.)
If you hear the singing, you know you’re going to have a great batch of popcorn!
Let your Cracker Jacks Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
Key to Success #7 – Perfect for Sharing
I’ll bet you can name off a dozen people who’d love to take a bag of Caramel Popcorn home with them.
Well, it’s a lot easier than you think.
You can put some Caramel Popcorn into a tall treat bag and tie it with a pretty ribbon and you’re all set.
Or if you want to get fancy, you can put your Cracker Jacks into a festive tin or a Chinese take out box.
Last year, I made some Homemade Cracker Jacks for some of my co-workers.
I put them in some large, cone-shaped treat bags that I got on Amazon and packed them into a shipping box.
They traveled all the way across the country and arrived in perfect shape.
With just a little planning and the right supplies, you can make the perfect treat to take and share!
Save this Homemade Cracker Jacks recipe to your favorite Snack Food board or your Popcorn recipes board.
- 6 quarts popped popcorn
- 2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Add baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture stops foaming and changing colors.
- Pour over popcorn and peanuts, stirring well to coat. (Be careful - mixture will be hot!)
- Pour popcorn into a large roasting pan. Bake at 250 degrees F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and pour caramel corn out onto heat-proof surface covered with wax paper to cool.
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Orville Redenbacher’s Original Gourmet White Popcorn Kernels, 30 Ounce, Pack of 6
Presto 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Hot Air Popper
Cone-Shaped Treat Bags (200 Bags + 200 Twist Fastens); Clear Cellophane Goody, Treat & Popcorn Bags (15-Inch x 7 Inch)
Green Direct Chinese Take Out Food Boxes with Metal Wire Handle White Pack of 50 Containers, (16 oz. 1 Pint)
Reynolds Kitchens Heavy Duty Aluminum Pans for Roasting, 16x13 Inch, Pack of 3
Nutrition Information:Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 194mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 2gSugar: 21gProtein: 4g
Nutrition Information Provided For Educational and Informational Purposes Only.