I’ve been holding out on you.
This recipe? These pictures? They’re from last summer! I did a bunch of work ahead so I could spend time with my family in New Mexico, which was a good idea, in theory. The trouble is, I forgot to write down the finished recipe, so I had to wait until I had a spare moment to re-test it…and that didn’t happen until about two weeks ago.
What can I say? I’m busy.
Please believe me when I tell you this one was worth the wait though. I mean, it’s Peanut Butter Caramel Corn. How could it possibly be anything but wonderful?!
Oh yes, all the crispy, crunchy, sweet and glossy deliciousness you love about traditional caramel corn is here, but with a big punch of peanut butter. Roasted peanuts optional, but recommended.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of making your own caramel corn, fear not! The caramel coating is made with my go-to no-stir method—just toss all the ingredients together and let them do their thing. Trust me!
When it’s ready, toss the peanut butter caramel with a whole bunch of plain popcorn (and peanuts!) and bake it low and slow until it’s super glossy and your kitchen smells amazing.
This recipe for Peanut Butter Caramel Corn makes a huge batch and keeps for two weeks, which is a good thing because you’re going to want to bring it everywhere. It’s a positively dreamy addition to just about any occasion. Family vacations, movie nights, picnics, beach days, cookouts, sitting around in your pajama—whatever you’ve got going on, this is *the* thing to bring. Just promise me you won’t wait a year to make it.
Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
makes about 12 cups
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups peanuts (optional)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
3 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
Pour oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4-5 popcorn kernels. Heat over medium heat until kernels begin to pop. Add remaining kernels and cover with lid, leaving it a little bit ajar. Jostle constantly while popcorn pops, until pops are 2-3 seconds apart. Do not burn.
Remove pot from heat and pour popcorn into a bowl. Measure popcorn to ensure there are 12 cups. Set aside excess or pop more, as needed to meet the 12-cup requirement for this recipe. Add roasted peanuts, if using.
Preheat oven to 250F. Heavily grease two rimmed sheet pans, your largest mixing bowl, and 2 silicone spatulas with oil or non-stick spray. Put popped popcorn in the bowl. Set aside.
Without stirring or jostling, combine sugar, light corn syrup, honey, salt, butter and water in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda; be careful, mixture will bubble up violently. Whisk in peanut butter.
Pour peanut butter caramel over popcorn and use greased spatulas to toss together. Do not touch any coated pieces that fly out of the bowl—the molten sugar will burn you. Wait til they cool a bit before picking them up.
Divide coated popcorn among sheet pans. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Line a sheet pan or a surface with parchment. Pour baked popcorn on top. Let cool to room temperature. Serve.
Leftover Peanut Butter Caramel Corn will keep in a ziptop bag for up to 2 weeks. It may soften slightly on humid days.