Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Even if your favorite team isn’t in the Super Bowl this year (that’s right, Bears, I’m talking about you), it’s still fun to get together with friends to watch the big game – and the big commercials!

Always a great calorie fest with everything from guacamole to Lou Malnati’s pizzas, I try to have some fun with what I bring to the Super Bowl table. Last year it was these delicious Savory French Toast Bites and the year before it was the Homemade Hostess Cupcakes, which are always a huge hit. This year it’s Bourbon Caramel Popcorn, which I first made just over a month ago for a New Years Eve party and knew instantly it would need to make a game day reappearance.

The recipe is actually quite simple, it just takes a few steps to make individual parts before it all comes together. But in the end, you have a crunchy, sweet and salty treat with the subtle flavor of bourbon. Try it and you’ll see how addicting this popcorn is!

Tell me what you made for your game day celebration or your favorite snack to enjoy as you watch the new commercials!

Here’s the recipe for Bourbon Caramel Popcorn:

Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)

Pinch sea salt


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Begin by making the caramel sauce: Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy pot set over medium low heat. Let the sugar and water simmer without stirring until turns dark amber in color, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Being very careful not to touch or splatter the hot sugar, slowly stir in the butter, then the bourbon, vanilla bean paste (if using) and a pinch of salt until well combined. Note: the caramel sauce will bubble violently when the other ingredients are added but will quickly subside. Cool the caramel sauce to room temperature.

Make the popcorn while the caramel is cooking. Pour the oil into the bottom of a large sauce pot and set over medium heat until the oil is warm. Add the popcorn kernals and mix well. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Once the corn begins to pop, decrease the heat to low and gently shake the pot to prevent the popcorn from burning. Continue to gently shake the pot every 15 seconds until the popping slows down considerable or stops. Keep covered and set aside until the popcorn cools slightly.

Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Set aside.

Transfer the popcorn to a large metal or glass bowl, being careful to pick out any unpopped kernels. Toss with cinnamon and sea salt. Slowly drizzle in the bourbon caramel sauce, being sure to stir constantly (it helps to do this in small batches), until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer and place in the oven. Bake at 300°F until the popcorn becomes crisp but does not burn, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet from the oven and set aside. Melt the chopped dark chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave and pour over the popcorn. Chill the popcorn in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set, then break into small pieces.

  • Diane at posted: 06 Feb at 5:13 pm

    Looks delicious – I love the idea of adding Bourbon! Will be making this for my Kentucky friends.

  • Rebecca posted: 06 Feb at 11:32 pm

    Yay! A new recipe. It’s been too long. This looks delicious and I am going to make it while the weather is still cold. Keep the recipes coming, ok? I just made your white bean puree last week. Still delicious.

  • Marci posted: 07 Feb at 2:50 pm

    Those look amazing! Such a good idea! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Cursuri Engleza posted: 17 Feb at 11:59 am

    My favorite snack in the whole world is definitely popcorn. Mix them with caramel sauce and this is really my all time favorite. Thanks for sharing such an easy to prepare recipe. I bet you enjoyed them and the popcorn didn’t last long.

  • Tara posted: 17 Feb at 11:09 pm

    OK we’ve been chatting about this on FB but I wanted to give this recipe props in your comments section also! The caramel sauce is DELICIOUS!!!! I might need to make a second batch of the sauce and then eat it straight. I’m just sayin. MMMM bourbon-a-licious!! Its the perfect balance of caramel with the smooth bourbon warmth. Love it!!

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