Spicy Caramel Popcorn (Sweet, Salty, Spicy, & Perfect)

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Spicy, sweet, and salty meld together to perfectly balance each other in this amazing Spicy Caramel Popcorn. This dessert is a holiday hit with everyone!

This post is sponsored by Tony Chachere’s.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

You know how some recipes have an unexpected balance of flavors that just knocks your socks off? This combination of sweet, salty, and spicy does just that. Caramel corn has always been one of my favorite Christmas treats, and this is officially our new go-to recipe.

Also, how had I never made homemade caramel popcorn before testing this recipe!? It really is so much better than store bought caramel popcorn, and it’s so easy to make. The popcorn and caramel dehydrate a bit in the oven which makes everything just melt in your mouth.

Spicy caramel popcorn in a small white and gold rimmed bowl.

I’m really excited to partner with Tony Chachere’s for this recipe because I love adding their seasoning to my dinner pretty much every night, but adding it to dessert was new for me. Needless to say, I’m definitely converted and think it’s the perfect addition to this classic recipe.

I love partnering with companies whose products I use regularly, and Tony Chachere’s is definitely one of them. Their different spice blends make such a great flavor addition to pretty much any dish and take care of making my lazy weeknight dinners feel like real recipes (as in it makes even the simplest meal full of flavor and super delicious).

You can find out where to buy the full range of Tony Chachere’s products here.

Spicy caramel popcorn next to a can of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.

Caramel Popcorn Ingredients

This simple recipe only needs a handful ingredients, and I’ll bet you have most of them already!

  • Popcorn (I like to use freshly popped stovetop popcorn, but air popped works as well.)
  • Salted Roasted Peanuts (You can make this with nuts other than peanuts, too! If you’re feeling really extra you could even make this chopped up bacon.)
  • Dark Brown Sugar (Light brown sugar also works. This gives the caramel flavor.)
  • Butter (This keeps the caramel softer than it would be if it wasn’t made with fat.)
  • Light Corn Syrup (This helps stop the caramel from crystalizing, which would give it a grainy texture.)
  • Baking Soda (For a light and fluffy texture.)
  • Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (The perfect salt to balance out the sweetness.)
  • Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend (The perfect spice to add a little heat to this sweet and salty dish.)
A sheet pan of spicy caramel popcorn.

Why Add Baking Soda to Caramel Corn?

The baking soda is added to react with the acids in this recipe (the brown sugar and the corn syrup), which causes the caramel to foam and bubble. The tiny bubbles of air that get trapped in the caramel make it much lighter and airier after it’s finished baking. 

Carmel popcorn in various bowls on green and red napkins.

How to Make Caramel Corn Gluten Free

This recipe is naturally gluten free as it’s written and doesn’t need any substitutions!

A close up of a caramel, popcorn, and peanut cluster.

How to Make Caramel Popcorn Vegan

To make this recipe vegan, you’d need to substitute the butter with vegan butter sticks.

I haven’t tested this, but in my experience the vegan butter sticks work much better in this type of recipe than the vegan butter in tubs (due to the water content in each).

A side shot of caramel popcorn in a plain white bowl.

Holiday Recipes

If you love this recipe, you may also like some of my other holiday inspired dessert recipes.

Some of my favorites are:

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

A Pinterest pin image showing two images of caramel popcorn separated by title text.
Yield: 7 cups

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

A close up image of spicy caramel popcorn in a simple white bowl.

Spicy, sweet, and salty meld together to perfectly balance each other in this amazing Spicy Caramel Popcorn. This dessert is a holiday hit with everyone!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 heaping cups popcorn (freshly popped)
  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (plus more for sprinkling)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 F (93 C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Spread the popcorn evenly over the lined baking sheet, then sprinkle the peanuts evenly over top of the popcorn.
  3. To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and ¼ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted and the ingredients are fully mixed. Let the mixture come to a light boil, then boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. Depending on your stove, you may have to turn the temperature down as the 5 minutes goes on to keep the temperature at the same steady temperature (like with a glass stove top).
  4. When the 5 minutes are up, add the baking soda and the Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will puff up, and it’s important that you move very quickly. Pour the caramel over the popcorn, and use two wooden spoons to evenly coat the popcorn with the caramel.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the popcorn every 20 minutes. When it’s finished baking, remove the caramel corn from the oven and immediately sprinkle it with Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning to taste.
  6. Let cool, then break into bite sized pieces and enjoy!

Notes

If you prefer a spicier flavor over a saltier flavor, you can opt to top the popcorn with Tony Chachere’s More Spice Creole Seasoning.

I prefer my caramel corn with a combination of coated and uncoated popcorn. If you want all of your popcorn to be fully coated, I’d recommend doubling the topping and adding an additional cup of popcorn to get the correct ratios.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1/7

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 17.3gCarbohydrates: 28.3gNet Carbohydrates: 25.6gFiber: 2.7gSugar: 19.6gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

Try the most magical combination of spicy, salty, and sweet and make this Spicy Caramel Popcorn!

A close up image of spicy caramel popcorn in a simple white bowl.

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