Bacon Cheddar Caramel Popcorn

By Sandra B – Toronto, ON
Bacon Cheddar Caramel Popcorn
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40
  • Servings: 4-6

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About this Recipe

A tasty smoked bacon and cheese version of caramel corn,
this version of caramel corn is pretty much a meal, disguised as a tasty snack or confection.
Great for movie night at home.


1 Pkg 375 g. Maple Leaf® Bacon
.5 cup premium popping corn kernels (this should yield about 10+ cups of popped corn)
.75 cup diced or shredded smoked old cheddar cheese
.75 cup whole or pieces of roasted salted cashew nuts (optional)
3 tbsp olive or coconut oil
.25 cup cup unsalted butter
1 cup golden sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (do not use if using the RedHot Sauce option)
.25 tbsp salt (use fancy or large crystal salt, if you wish)
.25 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Original Sauce (optional)
.25 tsp cayenne powder (optional)


Cooking the Bacon

In a large skillet, cook the whole package of bacon at a medium high, until it's cooked. I prefer my bacon to be a bit softer, but you may want yours to be crispy.
Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. (reserve a tablespoon of fat - optional).

Chop or tear your cooked bacon strips into bit sized pieces.

Popping the Corn

In a large heavy pot, place the oil (and bacon fat - optional) on the bottom and heat at medium high.
Test with two kernels of popping corn to see whether it's hot enough.
If the kernels spin, add the rest of the popping corn and cover with a lid.

The corn should start popping in about 3 minutes. Shake the pot from time to time, while on the hot element, to ensure all the un-popped kernels drop to the bottom - and to help prevent burning.
Once the corn is popped (the popping will slow down), remove from heat and let cool. Remove the lid once all the kernels have stopped popping. Remove any burnt and unpopped corn.

Mixing the Main Ingredients

Add the bacon pieces, the chopped/shredded cheese, salt and the nuts (optional) to the popped corn, in the big pot. Fold everything very gently, taking care that all the heavier ingredients do not all fall to the bottom of the pot.

Making the Caramel Sauce

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the golden sugar and stir gently until the sugar absorbs the melted butter.
Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture is boiling. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring vigorously for about 3 - 4 minutes. Take care to scrape the bottom and move the mixture around constantly to prevent burning and to ensure smooth mixing.
I like my caramel to be crunchy and the longer it cooks, the crunchier it will be when it cools.
When the caramel sauce is smooth and clumping together in a whole lump, it should be done.
At this point, all the work will have to be done quickly:
Remove from heat and, add:
- the vanilla extract,
- the cayenne powder (optional)
- the Frank's Red Hot Original Sauce (optional - if using this option, do not add the vanilla)
- the baking soda (it will bubble up),
stirring vigorously as you add each ingredient.

Mixing Magic

Immediately drizzle the very hot sauce over the pop corn mixture, stirring the popped corn mixture as you pour, to coat as much of the corn as possible. It may help to have another person stirring the mixture in the pot, as you pour the caramel.
When all the caramel has been poured over top of the mixture and well distributed, you may wish to form the corn into large balls.

I serve it in loose balls/chunks - right away while it's still warm.


I understand some people place their finished caramel corn mixture into the oven at a medium low heat to cook on a pan for an hour or so, because this allows the caramel to melt more (stir please) for better distribution.

Our first several test batches disappeared so quickly that the oven was not an option.

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