Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon

from 4 votes

Get ready to elevate your snacking game with a twist on classic caramel popcorn. Introducing Bacon Caramel Popcorn, where crispy bacon meets decadent caramel for the ultimate sweet and savory treat. It’s great for parties and gifting, too!

Caramel popcorn with bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

I made popcorn with bacon fat.

I was initially hesitant to divulge this information. But here we are, with a bowl full of bacon fat popcorn, a saucepan of caramel and a pile of crispy bacon pieces. There is only one logical next step: Mix it all together to make the most kick-butt, crunchy-chewy, salty-sweet Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon.

This is another one of those stick-in-your-teeth sweets, so I’d like to give a special shout-out to all the dentists for the small part I’m doing to keep the clientele a’flowing. And for all those who don’t share my candied bacon addiction, check out the pork fat-free recipe for Easy Homemade Caramel Corn.

For those who do love sweet, salty and bacony delights, try my Bacon Pancake Dippers or Easy Sticky Buns with Bacon (one of my favorite sweet and savory recipes!).

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Sweet, salty and incredibly delicious!
  • Make-ahead. 
  • Highly giftable. 
  • A crowd-pleasing treat.

Ingredients

  • Bacon: Ah yes, the star of the show! Thick-cut bacon will crisp up (of course) but still keep its shape, so you’ll get bursts of bacon with each bite.
  • Vegetable oil: To pop the popcorn, you’ll use just a bit of bacon fat and a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Fat = flavor! Instead of vegetable oil, you can use another high-heat option like canola, coconut or avocado oil.
  • Popcorn: It wouldn’t be the best homemade popcorn with bacon and caramel without popping your own popcorn (the store-bought stuff can taste stale!).
  • Unsalted butter: When melted with sugar, butter creates the signature caramel flavor and color. Opt for unsalted butter to control the saltiness of the sauce and ensure a balanced flavor profile.
  • Light brown sugar: Absolutely do not substitute granulated sugar here! It won’t have the depth of flavor you’re looking for and will give the caramel sauce a grittier texture. You can, however, use dark brown sugar.
  • Light corn syrup: Helps prevent crystallization in the caramel sauce for a silky-smooth texture. Plus, it helps the sauce stick perfectly to every kernel of popcorn, ensuring a deliciously even coating.
  • Salt: Enhances the flavor and balances the sweetness.
  • Baking soda: When you add the baking soda to the sauce, it’s gonna bubble up—don’t worry! This is normal and these bubbles help aerate the caramel sauce, creating a lighter and fluffier texture.
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Bacon Caramel Popcorn

  1. Preheat the oven to 250ºF. A low temperature will make sure the popcorn doesn’t burn. 
  2. Cook the bacon. Add the chopped bacon to a large pan (a sauté pan or cast iron skillet will work fine) and cook until the bacon is crisp, then use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Remember: Bacon will continue to crisp after you remove it from the heat, so don’t overdo it! Make sure to reserve the bacon drippings, too.
  3. Pop the popcorn. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat and the vegetable oil to a large, lidded pot like a stockpot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cover. Once you hear the first pop, take the pot off the heat for a minute (this will prevent things from burning before all of the kernels are popped). Then, put the pot back on the heat and shake the pot until all the popcorn is popped. It can be helpful to have oven mitts or thick kitchen towels on hand to protect your hands during this. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and add the bacon pieces.
  1. Make the caramel sauce. In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar, corn syrup and salt and stir constantly until this comes to a boil. Boil without stirring for four minutes (stirring at this stage can cause crystallization, which will make for grittier caramel sauce). Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. 
  2. Add the caramel to the popcorn-bacon mixture. Immediately pour on the popcorn.
Chopped, crispy bacon in caramel sauce.
  1. Mix. Quickly stir things together until thoroughly coated. 
  2. Bake. Divide the popcorn between two 9- x 13-inch baking dishes and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to make sure things are baking evenly and not burning.
  3. Remove and cool. Pour the baked popcorn onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let cool completely (it will clump and that’s okay!). Break into pieces and serve.

Kelly’s Recipe Tips

  • A Bacon Tip: For this recipe, you’ll need to cut the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces. An easy way to do this is to use sharp kitchen shears instead of a knife. 
  • Be Careful When Adding Baking Soda: When adding baking soda to the caramel sauce, be prepared for it to bubble up. Stir it in carefully to avoid any spills.
  • Work Quickly: Once the caramel sauce is ready, work quickly to coat the popcorn and bacon while the sauce is still warm and pliable.
  • Gift It: Buy food-safe goodie bags, add the cooled popcorn to them and you have just about the best homemade gift, housewarming present or even wedding favor.

Storage Tips

Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature to keep it fresh and crunchy. Ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent the popcorn from becoming stale or absorbing any moisture from the air. It’ll keep for 3-5 days.

Avoid storing the popcorn in the refrigerator, as it can become too cold and lose its crispiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make caramel corn without corn syrup? 

There are homemade caramel recipes that don’t use corn syrup, but it’s an easy, inexpensive ingredient that will ensure super-smooth caramel sauce. I recommend using it. 

Can I use microwave popcorn? 

You could microwave the popcorn, but it’s not going to be nearly as crisp or flavorful as popcorn popped in oil on the stovetop. 

Do I have to bake the caramel corn?

Baking the caramel corn will create the crisp exterior that the dessert is known for. 

Why is my caramel popcorn soggy?

If your caramel popcorn is soggy, you might not have baked it for long enough or it may still need time to cool (as it cools, the coating will further harden). 

Caramel sauce being poured onto popcorn in a large glass mixing bowl.

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Dessert

Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon

Sit back and snack on a sweet and savory treat with this recipe for Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon.
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 4 votes
Homemade Caramel Popcorn with Bacon #recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
  • In a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until a majority of the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve the bacon drippings.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved drippings, plus the vegetable oil, to a large stock pot over medium heat.
  • Add the popcorn to the pot and cover it. Once you hear the first kernel pop, remove the pot from the heat for 1 minute. Return the covered pot to the heat, shaking it over the flame until all of the kernels have popped. (It may take up to 5 minutes for all of the popcorn to pop.) Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl, sprinkle in the cooked bacon pieces, tossing to combine, and set the bowl aside.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Then allow the mixture to boil, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. (The caramel will bubbly vigorously once you add the vanilla.)
  • Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn, stirring to coat the popcorn and bacon.
  • Transfer the coated popcorn into two 9×13-inch shallow baking pans.
  • Bake the caramel corn for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove the caramel corn from the oven and spread it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to cool completely before breaking it into pieces and serving.

Kelly’s Notes

  • For this recipe, you’ll need to cut the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces. Bacon is kinda hard to cut raw! An easy way to do this is to use sharp kitchen shears instead of a knife. 
  • Buy food-safe goodie bags, add the cooled popcorn to them and you have just about the best homemade gift, housewarming present or even wedding favor.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 675kcal, Carbohydrates: 82g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 37g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 78mg, Sodium: 425mg, Potassium: 175mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 69g, Vitamin A: 720IU, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg

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Recipe inspired by AllRecipes.com.


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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Sooo good!! We had a beer and bacon party tonight and I got first place! Recipe was so easy, I was short on time and used microwave popcorn and it turned out great!! I sent the recipe to all my friends because everyone raved about it. Good thing I made 2 batches!

  2. This turned out great. The only tough part was mixing it in but only because I thought I was smarter than you and tried to mix it on a sheet pan. I quickly switched to a bowl and it was much easier. Thank you for the recipe! I’m sure this won’t be the last time I make it.

  3. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! Made bags of these to give away for Christmas, but only managed to bag 3/4 coz the kids (and husband) could not keep their hands off it. Have been instructed to make a batch “all for us, no sharing” tomorrow.

  4. Growing up in the 50’s- 60’s, our mom always popped corn that our Dad raised in bacon fat.. Reserved Bacon fat was a staple in the refrigerator..obviously we ate the bacon but never thought about mixing it with the popcorn …delicious..

  5. Not a healthy recipe – but you only live once! Might have to try this when my son has friends over!

  6. I would like to make this for a wedding popcorn table. Should I be concerned about the bacon not being refrigerated for a couple days? Thank you!

    1. Hi Tammy! You’ll want to make sure you store the caramel popcorn in airtight containers so it doesn’t get stale/soft, but it should keep (if packaged correctly), for up to 5 days. Enjoy!

    1. It’ll stay fresh for about 3 days, just as long as you keep it in an airtight container. Enjoy!

  7. You just won me over. Tomorrow the slow cooker pork w/hoisin, then caramel popcorn with bacon fat. OMG! Totally decadent!

  8. How much does this recipe make? I would like to make it for a party tomorrow and am wondering how many times I need to multiply the ingredients.

    1. Hi Mary! It’s hard to gauge the exact yield because some of the popcorn kernels don’t pop, but if I had to estimate, I’d say about 10 cups (10 to 12 servings). Hope that helps!

  9. What? I can’t even process all the amazingness going on in this recipe. Popcorn cooked in bacon fat?! My mind is blown.

  10. Seriously?!? My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures. This looks AH-mazing!

  11. I can’t even imagine how sticky your fingers get with this in the absolute BEST way possible.