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From the Kitchen: Spicy Caramel Popcorn

May 17, 2013




When I was little, one of my favorite mommy and me excursions was shopping at Nordstrom…but it wasn’t because I’d get new clothes, or my favorite Capezio dance shoes, or because I was spending time with my mom (although all of those we’re awesome) – no, I loved going to Nordstrom with my mom because she’d always buy me caramel popcorn at the cafe. It was like a ritual for me, and she was happy to oblige.

Today, caramel popcorn is still a really special treat for me, and just recently, I started making it at home… which is really dangerous!! But It’s so much better than any store-bought version.

A dash of cayenne pepper gives this classic sweet treat a swift kick to the taste buds that leaves you wanting more. This is caramel popcorn, all grown up. Pairs well with ice cold beers and an evening of good conversation on the front porch. Enjoy!! -xo


Spicy Caramel Popcorn (adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook)

Makes about 4 cups

For the popcorn:
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup corn kernels

For the caramel:
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp course sea salt


Before you start:
Line two baking sheets with parchment and spray a rubber spatula and large bowl with cooking spray. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F

Heat oil in a deep pot over medium heat for 5 minutes, add kernels and cover leaving the lid a bit cracked to allow steam to escape. Kernels will pop within 8-10 minutes. Once popping is done, transfer popcorn to prepared large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix cayenne pepper, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, combine butter, sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Boil for 5-6 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and stir in cayenne mixture. Caramel will become bubbly, airy and light brown in color.

With prepped spatula, pour caramel over popcorn, stirring to coat evenly. Divide coated popcorn between baking sheets in one even layer. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring and rotating every 15 minutes.


22 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2013 9:02 am

    This look fantastic! I love caramel popcorn and have never made it! This looks fairly easy. I’m so puzzled by the baking soda in the recipe…

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      May 17, 2013 9:38 am

      Thanks!! I totally agree about the baking soda, sounded so odd at first. It makes the caramel light and airy, and easier to fully coat all of the popcorn. Whatever Joy the Baker says, goes! Trust me, she knows her caramel popcorn ;)

  2. doughmydear permalink
    May 17, 2013 10:38 am

    Hi! I feel like creating my own popcorn recipe now! Inspired! I just have a doubt though. Why bake the popcorns? Considering they are already done. Also isn’t there a possibility that the caramel coating will melt in the heat?

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      May 17, 2013 11:00 am

      Great question! Coating popped corn with hot caramel will most likely make your popcorn a bit soggy and the caramel will remain sticky. Baking at a low temp ensures that the caramel dries and the popcorn stays crunchy. If you still have doubts, I suggest baking 1 sheet according to directions, and leaving one as is to compare!! In fact, if you do this, I’d love to know the results!!

  3. May 17, 2013 1:01 pm

    Great idea! I love spicy foods. And this pairing of sweet with spicy is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing!

  4. May 17, 2013 1:24 pm

    Looks really delicious, I like the addition of cayenne pepper :-)

  5. May 18, 2013 3:32 am

    so good- I usually do not spend a lot of time making things–this I just might make an exception for

  6. May 18, 2013 9:02 am

    Love caramel popcorn and love your twist by using cayenne pepper! Nothing better than sweet and spicy!

  7. May 19, 2013 5:28 am

    I’ve gotta try making this! Do you think it will work with coconut oil instead of butter(dairy allergy)???

  8. May 19, 2013 11:14 am

    What a FUN recipe! Definitely a perfect one for a sleepover with my girlfriends. :-) { }

  9. May 19, 2013 9:06 pm

    YUM. Chocolate and chilli I can go either way on, but CARAMEL and chilli is a match made in heaven. This sounds addictilicous.

  10. May 20, 2013 3:30 am

    This looks incredible! I’m definitely going to try this one! Thanks for sharing.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      May 20, 2013 10:37 am

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy! This recipe is dangerous…fair warning!

  11. May 22, 2013 5:20 pm

    Yum! Never tried this before, I am going to make some with my daughter she will love it!

  12. May 22, 2013 7:32 pm

    I love the look of this popcorn. I just have to get good corn kernels – my last lot just burnt and didn’t pop. Grrr.
    Beautiful pictures too, I love the little cups.

  13. June 7, 2013 7:15 pm

    Your eye for color is just great :) And though I hate cooking, your writing and photos do make me at least want to TRY.

    • love and cupcakes permalink*
      June 8, 2013 9:50 am

      Awe, thanks Kacia!! Let me know if you ever try a recipe :)

  14. July 15, 2013 12:39 pm

    looks AMAZING


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