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Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

4.9 stars (49 ratings)

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Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts. 

Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.
Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

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Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

I love caramel in the way that many women love chocolate, especially in the form of bourbon caramel popcorn. It’s crunchy and chewy at the same time, with a subtle oaky-vanilla flavor from the bourbon that pairs so well with the toffee flavors of the caramel.

To me, bourbon caramel is the essence of fall and this recipe definitely hits that mark. It’s a sweet treat that makes family movie night more fun and holiday parties more magical.

As much as I love to eat this popcorn, my favorite thing to do with it is to bag it up and give it away to friends. With the help of my sister, we made and bagged enough of this popcorn to place in the welcome bags of all of my wedding guests. The reviews were awesome!!

Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

Making the caramel for this popcorn with the easy part to master, but getting the caramel onto the popcorn was tricky and took some effort to get just right. After stumbling through a few very messy methods, it dawned on my to skip the middle step of mixing the popcorn with the caramel and take the caramel straight to the baking sheets. It took a bit of trial and error to master the technique, but the results are worth it!

Making the bourbon caramel for this popcorn is different than making the bourbon caramel sauce that I use for cookies, an ice cream topping, or for homemade gifts. While that sauce is still soft when it cools, this one gets crunchy.

For this recipe you’ll need a few special kitchen tools: parchment paper, 2 – 12″ x 17″ rimmed baking sheets, a popcorn popper or a paper lunch bag and microwave, a 3 quart sauce pan, a long handled spoon that can handle the heat, a cooking spatula or slotted turner, and wax paper.

Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. It’s okay if it doesn’t cover every inch of the pan, but it should cover most of it. The parchment paper will keep the caramel from sticking and burning, and it saves A LOT on clean up. Don’t skip this step unless you like soaking your bourbon caramel popcorn in soapy water to remove it from the pan.

Popcorn on parchment lined sheet pans for bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

Pop 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels. I prefer to use an air popper because they are inexpensive, require no additional oil, and with popcorn being my favorite snack we use ours often. Warm it up for 2 minutes, then pop the popcorn in 2 batches placing no more than 1/2 a cup of corn in the chamber at a time.

If popcorn is only an occasional treat in your home, you can opt to pop the kernels in the microwave. Place 1/4 cup of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the top over two times and crease to secure. Place in the microwave on high for 2 – 4 minutes. Stop the microwave when you hear about 2 -3 seconds between popping sounds. You’ll have to repeat this three times to pop all of your popcorn.

The 3/4 cup of kernels should make about 7 – 8 cups of popped popcorn. Spread the popcorn as evenly as possible between your two parchment lined pans. Turn your oven to 250 degrees, making sure that the two racks inside are in set in the middle and top positions. We are going to rotate the pans and every oven is different, but placing the racks too low can cause the caramel to burn.

Thick, foamy caramel ready to be drizzled over popcorn for bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

For the bourbon caramel sauce you need a 3 quart or larger saucepan. The caramel will expand, easily tripling in size and you don’t want that mess all over your stovetop. Add the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup into the saucepan and place over a medium high flame. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture starts to bubble. Stop stirring and set the timer for 2 minutes. The caramel will bubble up and expand.

After two minutes turn off the heat. I leave my pan on the gas burner, but if you are using electric or a glass stovetop move the pan to a cooler part of the stove. Do not place the pan onto a granite or marble surface as it will cool it too quickly. Add in the baking soda and the bourbon. The sauce will bubble up even more! Grab your long handled spoon and stir to incorporate the soda and bourbon. The mixture will lighten in color and the texture will become foamier.

Popcorn drizzled with bourbon caramel sauce for bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

Once mixed, use the spoon to drizzle the bourbon caramel onto the popcorn. I find that dipping the spoon into the caramel and then slowly drizzling it back and forth over the popcorn works best. If you dip up too much caramel you’ll end up with chunks of it, while too little will take forever to coat. You’ll find a rhythm with practice, but remember it doesn’t have to be perfect to taste good!

Once all of the caramel is drizzled on, place the sheets in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove one pan from the oven and stir the popcorn. I tried a spoon, a mixing spatula, and tongs before I realized that a silicone cooking spatula is the easiest way to do this. Slide the spatula between the popcorn and the parchment paper and gently flip it over. Make sure you are scraping the settled caramel off the parchment paper and turning it back onto the popcorn.

Pull the second tray of popcorn out and replace it with the batch you just stirred. Stir the second pan in the same way you stirred the first then place that pan back in the oven. The pan that was on top should now be on bottom and vice versa. Rotating the pans will help the popcorn cook more evenly. Set the timer for 15 minutes, then line your work space with wax paper.

Popcorn turned out from parchment paper onto wax paper for bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

You will need a large work space to separate and cool the popcorn when it’s done. I use a 2′ by 3′ section of my kitchen peninsula, but a large table works well too. I recommend using three pieces of wax paper that are about 24″ long, placing them one next to the other slightly overlapping.

When the timer goes off, remove the first pan from the oven. Carefully grab the parchment paper by one corner of the pan and gently roll the whole sheet, popcorn and all, upside down onto one end of the the wax paper. Use the spatula to scrape off any bits remaining in the corner of the pan, then peel the parchment paper off of the popcorn. Do not scrape the caramel off the parchment, instead lay the paper flat to cool. Repeat the process with the second pan of popcorn, dumping it next to but not on top of the first batch.

By this point the first batch will have cooled enough to touch. Gently break apart any large clumps of popcorn so that you have small clusters of yummy goodness. Repeat with the second batch, then leave the whole thing to cool for at least 30 minutes. This popcorn can be stored for up to two weeks at room temperature in an airtight container, not that it has ever lasted that long at our house!

Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

By now, the caramel on the parchment paper should be cooled and will peel off in thin toffee like pieces. It makes a great topping for ice cream, coffee drinks, and most seasonal desserts. It should also keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.

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 Bourbon Caramel Popcorn Recipe

Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.

Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Bourbon caramel popcorn. Crunchy popcorn coated with a special bourbon caramel sauce, great for movie night, holiday parties, and homemade gifts.
4.9 stars (49 ratings)
prep: 15 minutes
cook: 40 minutes
total: 55 minutes
servings: 9 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3/4 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  • Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Pop 3/4 cup of popcorn kernels using an air popper* or the microwave.**
  • Spread the popcorn as evenly as possible between your two parchment lined pans.
  • Turn your oven to 250 degrees, making sure that the two racks inside are in set in the middle and top positions.
  • Add the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup into a 3 quart or larger saucepan. Place over a medium high flame. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture starts to bubble. Stop stirring and set the timer for 2 minutes. The caramel will bubble up and expand.
  • After two minutes turn off the heat.***
  • Add in the baking soda and the bourbon. Grab your long handled spoon and stir to incorporate the soda and bourbon. The mixture will bubble up, lighten in color, and the texture will become foamier.
  • Use the spoon to drizzle the bourbon caramel onto the popcorn.****
  • Once all of the caramel is drizzled on, place the sheets in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes remove one pan from the oven and stir the popcorn using a silicone cooking spatula. Slide the spatula between the popcorn and the parchment paper and gently flip it over. Make sure you are scraping the settled caramel off the parchment paper and turning it back onto the popcorn.
  • Pull the second tray of popcorn out and replace it with the batch you just stirred. Stir the second pan in the same way you stirred the first then place that pan back in the oven. The pan that was on top should now be on bottom and vice versa.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes, then line a 2' by 3' work space with wax paper.
  • When the timer goes off, remove the first pan from the oven. Carefully grab the parchment paper by one corner of the pan and gently roll the whole sheet, popcorn and all, upside down onto one end of the the wax paper. Use the spatula to scrape off any bits remaining in the corner of the pan, then peel the parchment paper off of the popcorn.
  • Repeat the process with the second pan of popcorn, dumping it next to but not on top of the first batch.
  • By this point the first batch will have cooled enough to touch. Gently break apart any large clumps of popcorn so that you have small clusters of yummy goodness.
  • Repeat with the second batch, then leave the whole thing to cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • This popcorn can be stored for up to two weeks at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Notes

Required kitchen tools: parchment paper, 2 - 11" x 17" rimmed baking sheets, a popcorn popper or a paper lunch bag and microwave, a 3 quart sauce pan, a long handled spoon that can handle the heat, a cooking spatula, and wax paper.
*To use an air popper warm it up for 2 minutes, then pop the popcorn in 2 batches placing no more than 1/2 a cup of corn in the chamber at a time.
**To use the microwave place 1/4 cup of kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold the top over two times and crease to secure. Place in the microwave on high for 2 - 4 minutes. Stop the microwave when you hear about 2 -3 seconds between popping sounds. You'll have to repeat this three times to pop all of your popcorn.
***I leave my pan on the gas burner, but if you are using electric or a glass stovetop move the pan to a cooler part of the stove. Do not place the pan onto a granite or marble surface as it will cool it too quickly.
****I find that dipping the spoon into the caramel and then slowly drizzling it back and forth over the popcorn works best. If you dip up too much caramel you'll end up with chunks of it, while too little will take forever to coat. You'll find a rhythm with practice, but remember it doesn't have to be perfect to taste good!

Nutrition

Serving: 1Calories: 356kcalCarbohydrates: 57gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 294mgSugar: 56g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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5 Comments on “Bourbon Caramel Popcorn”

  1. Thanks to this it makes my popcorn more special, I love the flavor I tried different flavors before like strawberry and chocolates but this one makes my popcorn more special the kids and my husband love it. Thanks for sharing highly recommend your recipe.

    Reply

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