These Spicy Caramel Popcorn Clusters can go from football party to holiday party without missing a beat. Just mix chili powder into an EASY caramel sauce, pour over popped popcorn, and you're ready to go!
- 1 cup roasted peanuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup popcorn
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Get everything ready: Add roasted peanuts to a large bowl (you'll add the popcorn later). In a separate, small bowl, mix together the spice mixture (salt, chili powder, sugar, and cayenne). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
2 Pop the popcorn: Add canola oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add one kernel of popcorn to the pot and cover the lid. When that kernel pops, it means your oil is at the right temperature.
Remove the single kernel and pour in all the popcorn. Off the heat, cover the pot and wait 30 seconds to bring all the kernels up to temperature. Return the pot to heat and shake vigorously while the popcorn pops to prevent burning.
When the popping slows to a few seconds between pops, remove from heat and pour into the large bowl with the peanuts. There may be some unpopped kernels, but that’s better than burned popcorn.
- For more detailed instructions on how to pop popcorn, see HERE
3 Make the caramel: Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and stir well to combine. Cook over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a rubber spatula.
Add half of the spice mixture to the caramel sauce along with the baking powder. Stir well to combine.
4 Coat the popcorn with caramel: Immediately after making the caramel (don't let it get cold), pour it into the popcorn and peanut mixture. Work quickly and stir to combine and coat popcorn.
5 Cool the popcorn: Spread popcorn out on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to press the popcorn down into an even layer. Sprinkle popcorn with the remaining spice mixture.
When the popcorn has cooled slightly, you can shape the popcorn into balls if you want, but I prefer it in freeform clusters. These popcorn clusters keep perfectly at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days, or probably up to a week.