Spicy Caramel Bacon Popcorn

in Appetizers, Snacks

On Monday morning I did something totally crazy.

I reached for my cell, dialed Time Warner and cancelled my cable. This was a desperate measure to take my life back. Sound dramatic? Probably. But last week I called my mom to discuss Bethenny and Jason’s marriage, which sort of seems on the rocks (right?!!?). And on Sunday night I was all like, “Whoa Cythia! That orphan comment you said about Kim was craaaazy messed up. KIM, DON’T FORGIVE HER!”

I have to draw the line sometimes, you know? Being invested in TV relationships is just too much for me right now. I can’t deal. I’d rather spend my life thinking about other things…like bacon and popcorn, and cookies with brown butter in them.

Also, this means I have more money to spend on shoes. Shoes > Cable. DUH!

I woke up thinking about popcorn, literally. I dreamed this popcorn situation while laying in bed before my alarm went off.

My first brain-thought when I get up is always coffee. Always.

So, coffee lead to breakfast foods. Breakfast foods lead to bacon. Bacon lead to something sweet…like maple syrup.

Maple syrup lead to sugar, which then transformed into slightly browned, creamy caramel. And caramel usually leads to salt. And THEN salt lead to popcorn.

(And then I thought to make it spicy while in the shower.)

And then BOOM! Spicy Caramel Bacon Popcorn.

A fun lesson I learned: boiling sugar, checking Instagram, checking Twitter, texting AND taking pictures is totally an accident waiting to happen.

I have a blister on two of my fingers now. No biggie! Just don’t do what I did.

This caramel cooks up like a champ–nothing too scary. All you gotta do is work swiftly, so make sure you have all your stuff set-up and ready to go, beforehand.

What I love about this popcorn recipe is that the bacon bits are added to the caramel, so they’re coated, too! That mixture is poured over the popcorn. This means the bacon is, like, stuck to the popcorn. AWESOME.

This caramel popcorn has a good punch of heat and the salty bacon works wonders with the caramel.

P.S. Is it bad that I already sorta miss my cable?! The OC Housewives are gonna be on tomorrow and I’m gonna miss it. SADFACE!

Spicy Caramel Bacon Popcorn

Print this recipe!

5-6 slices of bacon
Nonstick cooking spray
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups white granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lay bacon side-by-side. Transfer baking sheet to hot oven and cook bacon for 15 minutes, and until crispy and brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. When cool, cut into dice-sized pieces.

2. Lightly coat two large heatproof rubber spatulas and a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 4 minutes. Transfer the popped popcorn to the large prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up). Quickly fold in bacon bits. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss, like a salad, until all of the popcorn is evenly coated with the caramel.

4. Pour the popcorn onto a large baking pan and quickly flatten and separate it into small pieces while it is still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once it is cool, store it in a well-sealed airtight container.

5. Caramel popcorn will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Adapted from The Craft of Baking

{ 113 comments… read them below or add one }

Baking Serendipity April 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm

You have more self-control than me. I cancelled HD last year in a save money effort…but it’s about as far as I’ll go. I’ve been all over fancy popcorns lately, but this is the absolute best ever. Bacon?! I love it.


anna b. April 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

that looks freakin amazing


Hannah April 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Oh boy! Oh boy! A flavor combination after my own heart. A neighbor got locked out of her flat and was forced to wait with me and my student-friends for hours until the locksmith came. Later that day she dropped a popcorn maker at our door and it has changed my life! Salty snacks, whenever!


Laura April 4, 2012 at 2:18 am

WOW bacon and popcorn! Ok caramel pop corn I get. French toast with Bacon I get. But Popcorn and caramel AND bacon… has to be tried.

I have just made the most utterly decadent desert… The Filthy Brownie.

Think cookie dough, rolos and brownie mix. Layered. Baked. Served warm with Vanilla Ice Cream!


Laura x


Andrea April 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Hi! So I tried this twice without success :/ I make the caramel and everything seems right then when I pour it over the popcorn it gets grainy and yucky… Any suggestions on how to stop this from happening?!


Laura J September 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Same thing happened to me. :-( What a waste


Tammy January 19, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I put the popcorn in a brown paper bag, poured caramel over it, shook bag like a crazy woman, spread it on cookie sheet. It worked great.


Adrianna Adarme January 20, 2015 at 9:15 am

I like your crazy woman ways!


Laura Dembowski April 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

I just found this on Pinterest. I can’t wait to make it, as it sounds fabulous. Don’t think I’d make it without cable (I’m a TV junkie), but I totally understand the blisters and burns. Baking and cooking as much as I do, injuries just happen.


Lori @ RecipeGirl April 9, 2012 at 6:39 am

Cancelled your cable?! No way. Couldn’t do. I could do this popcorn though. Drool big time!


gloria April 10, 2012 at 7:43 am

wow, this looks awesome!


Leonie April 13, 2012 at 1:13 am

I made this tonight, it’s delicious, but it melted our spatulas! Next time we’ll be making it with metal spoons :)


Adrianna April 13, 2012 at 1:25 am

Oh man bummer! Silicon spatulas won’t melt! They’re the way to go. :)


Lauren April 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

For true bacon afficiondos…..don’t throw away the bacon grease. Store it in the fridge and horde it for delicous fried fish and…..popcorn. Sub the bacon grease for the oil and you will be in heaven!!


Alex June 2, 2012 at 11:03 am

Not to disagree with Lauren– but do NOT store that bacon grease.

Why? As a full-time bacon-loving dude, I suggest the following:

Cook the bacon first. Put the grease in the pot you’re going to make popcorn in and use it in lieu of the cooking oil. Trust me, with absolutely no other preparation, your popcorn is going to be approximately 150% more awesome. Seriously, try it. Just try the popcorn before you put the caramel over it. It’s still AMAZING.

Also, as the aforementioned fully-qualified bacon dude…thanks. This recipe just made my weekend.


Tina Berry July 14, 2012 at 2:55 am

My family and I are going on a picnic today and I made this recipe as a salty-sweet snack. It turned out great! I used an air popper for the popcorn and nice, thick sliced bacon. the caramel is just spicy enough and cools extra crunchy. Definitely a repeat recipe and a real crowd pleaser! I’d love a caramel variation with maple syrup in it!


Adrianna July 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm

YES! So glad you enjoyed.


Emma August 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

Any way to make this last longer than 4 days? I want to make it as a gift for someone, but I won’t be seeing them for at least 7 days and very little time to make it within the 4 day time span before seeing them.


Adrianna August 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

Hmm…in theory the bacon should last in the fridge for up to 7 days, I just personally wouldn’t chance it. You can always make this and leave the bacon out. I’d recommend making this and simply leaving the bacon out. :)


Emma August 17, 2012 at 8:56 am

thanks for the response, i was able to postpone making it for a few days. made it. its delicious!


David Perlmutter August 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

Just made this for a party last night, everyone loved it! Maybe go a little easy on the cayenne pepper


Jodi September 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I just made this and I’m still shaking from fear! When I added the soda mixture it literally exploded out of my pan, I barely got it to the sink without it getting on me! It is all over my kitchen floor and sink! What the heck? I have made so many candy recipes, and know that it puffs up with the soda, but this was unbelievable! I am seriously lucky that I’m not in the ER!

I honestly thought this was some practical joke, that is definitely not funny! Are you sure you have the measurements right on the soda?


Adrianna September 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

OH MY! That’s awful. It definitely didn’t explode with me and a various people have made it with success so I’m not really sure. The 1 1/2 teaspoons should be just fine. You didn’t add 1 1/2 tablespoons, right? :/


Ezekiel September 28, 2012 at 5:49 am

I just made this but it didn’t work out. The caramel never turned brown. And it was all super bubbly with white foam on top before i even added the baking soda. I poured it over the popcorn and it was almost clear, when it set it was all chalky and grainy and WAY too sweet, like eating straight sugar. The bacon didn’t stick either. Any idea what I may have done wrong or how that could have happened?


Kyle December 17, 2012 at 5:06 am

It takes a while for sugar to carmamelize and once it starts the process goes quickly. most of the water must evaporate before the carmelization process even starts. if you ve never made caramel before you’re almost guaranteed to burn sugar at least once.


Hannah November 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Just wanted to let you know we used this recipe for a ham-themed first birthday party, and it was a huge hit. We blogged about the party here (http://everybodysinvited.in/2012/11/08/our-events-hattie-hams-1st-birthday/), and devoted special attention to your recipe here (http://everybodysinvited.in/2012/11/12/spicy-caramel-bacon-popcorn/). Thanks for the inspiration!


Adrianna November 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm

YAY! Awesome. Love it. The birthday looked super cute, too!


Daniah December 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

So I saw the recipe and pictures and instantly became inspired to go in the kitchen and make this. Everything was going awesome until the caramel burned in an instant. It hadn’t been 10 minutes yet and the color changed so quickly i missed the hint to take it off the heat! I have made caramel before but not like this (not that there is anything wrong with this recipe… it was me…i admit it!). I am going to attempt it again tomorrow after I get more sugar! Heehee. I was so hoping to chow down on this while watching The X Factor ;) It looks great but unfortunately mine is burnt :(


Adrianna December 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Hi Daniah, sorry this caramel gave you trouble. Hopefully it’ll work out great tomorrow. xo


Daniah December 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!! I took it off too soon!!!!! I was so paranoid of burning it that it came out a gritty, sandy texture. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I usually rock my kitchen!!! I also had a 1,3, and 4 year old running around the house which may have contributed to the lack of focus. I tried :)


Angela December 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

Sounds AMAZING–and I will try it! But–why not use the fat from cooking the bacon to pop the popcorn kernels in????


Lisa Callow February 10, 2013 at 5:54 am

OMG!! It’s like you and I are twins separated at birth!!! The first paragraph of this blog sounded EXACTLY like me!! My husband tells me “Bethenny isn’t your friend, you don’t know her or have lunch with her, she’s on TV!!” Whatever!! I’m gonna totally make this amaze popcorn today!! Love your site!!


miss*mason February 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

oh, crap. it’s so delicious. and now I have a tub of it.

I hadda to cut down the caramel cooking time to *right* when it starts to turn (took about 5-6 min on high heat), as I had a “first batch incident” with over cooked caramel.

but… no really. crap! SoDamnGood!


Adrianna February 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Caramel is tricky BUT AM SO GLAD you like it!


Kaity February 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I made this for a movie night with my boyfriend and it was delish. He loved it! and except for a few burns on my fingers (from mixing the caramel and popcorn) it turned out perfectly! thanks!


Annette March 18, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Just made it!!!!! AMAZING! Spray your bowl with non-stick spray, the Carmel is hard to get off!!


Adrianna March 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Awesome! YAY! And good tip.


Liz March 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hi! I just made this recipe and I have to tell you, we can NOT stop eating it! This popcorn is utterly AMAZING! Kudos to you! Perfect combination of spicy, salty, smokey and sweet! You have managed to cover all the craving bases! I’ll be making this over and over and this coming from someone who has never attempted to make caramel anything and have always been a bit intimidated by it. Turned out perfectly. Thanks for a terrific recipe!


Patti April 9, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I’m trying this recipe this weekend! Question: does the popcorn crisp like most caramel popcorn or does it stay gooey/sticky? Thanks! Love your blog!


Adrianna April 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm

It ends up being a little soggy when you add the caramel but it hardens so it ends up being crisp!


Lee-Anne April 19, 2013 at 6:15 am

How much does this recipe make?


seal a meal vacuum food sealer vs230 May 20, 2013 at 8:47 pm

It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people for this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re
talking about! Thanks


John January 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I had to laugh when I read step #5. Do you really believe this will last four days?


Adrianna Adarme January 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm

If it’s in the fridge, yes.


John January 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm

It still will not last four days. If fact it may not last through the evening. Sounds too good.


Adrianna Adarme January 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

I see where you’re going with this! :)


Jeremy February 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm

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Jeremy February 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Click the link. I guarantee you’ll love it.


Ashlae March 2, 2014 at 8:56 am

I think I’m developing a belly pooch from eating this every other night while Thom and I sit on the couch and watch reruns of The Office. UGH.

In other news, I omit the bacon (GASP!) and substitute equal parts coconut oil/coconut milk fat for the butter. SO GOOD. But so bad when consumed on a regular basis.


Adrianna Adarme March 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Oooooo…I love the vegan changes you made. So cool! xo


Melissa December 21, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I just made this! It is so good! I was worried about making the caramel since I had never done it before, but I just watched it like a hawk….even though my kids kept asking me for things while it was boiling!!! I am proud…many of my cooking endeavors end up in the trash! This is going to be a new Christmas tradition!!! Thanks!


Adrianna Adarme December 21, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Oh yayyy!!! Love this.


Sam Torres May 3, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Just made this last night for a party and was a huge hit! I reduced the cayenne since I was putting it together for a huge group and doubled the recipe. Now my friends are demanding i have this made every time they see me. Thanks for sharing this recipe!


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