Make Snack Time Count with Homemade Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Popcorn

When it comes to snacking, I firmly believe that it is an art form. Whether it is a handful of nuts, some pita chips and hummus, or popcorn, it’s important to give snack time its proper due.

Vertical image of a white ramekin of peanut butter caramel corn, with more scattered on a red, orange, and white checkered tablecloth, against an aqua background, printed with orange and white text.

I mean, it’s the one thing that we all cling to in order to make it to dinner, am I right?

A lot of people reach for processed snacks more often than not, in an effort to avoid the hassle of preparing something for themselves, but I am here to tell you that this is not the way to snack time bliss.

Now, I happen to be fortunate enough to work from home, so my snacking options widen up significantly in comparison to what’s commonly available office workers. Having access to your full pantry and refrigerator changes everything.

Top-down shot of a white dish of caramel corn, with more popcorn and peanuts scattered on a red, orange, and white checkered tablecloth.

Of course, there are times when I am on site for a client, and it’s then that I have to think ahead to make sure I have my snacks for the week prepared ahead of time.

It’s just like meal planning for the week, except it’s snack planning, and it’s a whole lot less work than prepping your lunches for the week.

When I look for a snack, I want one that is not only easy to make, but also one that has layers of flavors and textures. I want something that will keep my interest handful after handful, that never gets old.

I consistently turn to recipes like this peanut butter popcorn. The recipe itself takes 15 minutes of active cooking/prep time, and it’s so easy to pack up into little zipper bags to grab and go throughout the week.

Top-down shot of a white dish of peanut butter caramel popcorn, with more scattered around it on a red, white, and orange checkered tablecloth.

The peanut butter caramel that coats the homemade popcorn is full of rich peanut flavor, with a touch of sweetness and a dash of salt to make it a sweet and salty snack. This is the kind of caramel corn that is chewy with a hint of crunch from the dry roasted peanuts that you add to the mix.

Then you get that pumpkin pie spice… The spice mixture is what takes this popcorn from incredible to absolutely divine.

The richness of the flavors the warming spices are natural partners with the peanut butter and honey, making it a fall treat that is downright addictive. Forget those pumpkin spice lattes – this snack is what you should be obsessing over this fall!

Closeup of a white ramekin overflowing with peanut butter caramel corn, on a red, orange, and white checkered fabric tablecloth.

Some of you might be a little intimidated by the idea of making a caramel sauce, but this sauce is so much easier to make than a lot of more traditional versions. If you follow the instructions below exactly, I swear it is completely foolproof.

When you mix in the peanut butter you will see just how delightful the caramel sauce tastes, because you get the sweetness from the caramel with an added layer of saltiness and savory flavor.

A white ramekin of peanut butter popcorn, with more scattered on a red and white checkered tablecloth.

I love how the rich peanut butter pairs with the sweet caramel and the salty popcorn because it not only tastes delicious, it helps curb your hunger as you move through the afternoon towards the end of the day. Healthy dietary fiber, fat, and protein – it’s all there!

Plus, you don’t have to feel too bad about the calorie count since this incredible sauce is being drizzled over low-calorie popcorn. It’s the best of all of the snacking possibilities that I can come up with, combined in a single handful.

Just be sure to break up the pieces when you pack them into your little snack packs or airtight container. If you don’t, it will end up being one giant clump that you will never be able to easily break apart. The magic of all that sticky, sweet peanut butter caramel sauce, you know?

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A white ramekin of peanut butter popcorn, with more scattered on a red and white checkered tablecloth.

Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Popcorn


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: Snacks
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Fall

Description

Snacking is an art, and with the best peanut butter popcorn recipe, you will have a masterpiece on your hands. It will be your new favorite afternoon snack.


Ingredients

For the Popcorn:

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts

For the Caramel:


Instructions

  1. Place a large, heavy pan over medium heat and coat the bottom with vegetable oil. Add the popcorn kernels, shaking to distribute. Cover the pan and leave a small crack for steam to escape.
  2. When the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels pop evenly. When popping slows, remove from heat and pour the popcorn into an oversized mixing bowl to cool. Leave any unpopped kernels in the pan.
  3. Top with 1/2 tsp salt and toss with peanuts.
  4. Heat honey and sugar over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture begins to bubble, bring it to a boil for about 3 minutes without stirring. Stir in peanut butter, 1/4 tsp salt, and pumpkin spice until smooth. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the popcorn and nuts. Toss gently to coat the kernels evenly. Spread popcorn onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
  6. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days, making sure to break up the popcorn so it doesn’t all stick together in a giant glob.

Keywords: Halloween, caramel popcorn, pumpkin spice, popcorn

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Make Pumpkin Spice Mix and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Closeup of a small glass bowl of pumpkin pie spice on a brown wood surface.

If you haven’t already, make your own pumpkin spice mix and measure what you will need for the recipe.

Three round glass dishes of sugar, peanut butter, and honey, in a row behind a small square glass dish of salt, on a striped brown wood surface.

Store the rest of the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dry area like your spice rack.

Top-down shot of small glass bowls of peanuts and popcorn kernels, on a striped tan and brown wood surface.

Measure the remaining ingredients as listed.

Step 2 – Make Popcorn

Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of a large, heavy pan with a thin layer. I used 2 tablespoons to coat my large Dutch oven.

Add the popcorn kernels, shaking to distribute. Cover the pan, leaving a small crack for steam to escape.

Closeup of an enameled pot full of popcorn, on a brown wood surface.

Once the popcorn starts popping, shake the pan vigorously so the kernels pop evenly. As the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat and place the popped kernels into an oversized mixing bowl. Be sure to leave all of the unpopped kernels behind.

For an even lower calorie version that’s made without oil, use your air popper instead.

A large stainless steel bowl of popcorn and peanuts, on a wood background.

Top with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and toss with the peanuts. Set aside.

Step 3 – Make Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Combine the honey and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

A copper pot of melted honey and sugar for making caramel, on a wood surface.

Stir it occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.

A wooden spatula stirs a peanut butter caramel mixture in a copper pot.

Stir in the peanut butter, 1/4 tsp salt, and the pumpkin spice until the mixture is smooth. Remove immediately from heat.

Step 4 – Coat and Cool

Pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and peanuts. Toss gently with a large spatula to coat the kernels evenly. Spread the popcorn onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Closeup of homemade peanut butter caramel popcorn on a Silpat silicone pan liner, filling the frame.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Break up the popcorn into small pieces so it doesn’t all clump together.

Just Be Careful, Because Caramel Is Hot!

Whenever I make a recipe involving a caramel element, I always like to include a disclosure about how working with caramel needs to be approached with a hint of caution.

Caramel is HOT when you make it, and you need to be very careful not to touch it with your bare hands. When you pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn, be sure to use a couple of spatulas to get the popcorn coated evenly.

An overflowing white ramekin of pumpkin spice peanut butter caramel corn, on a partially smooth, partially gathered and folded red, orange, and white checkered cloth, against a mottled aqua-colored background.

Be sure to note that the caramel corn will not be cooled for at least 15 minutes, so dumping it out on the lined baking sheet needs to be done without touching the popcorn itself.

Once you let it cool, then you can dive in, face first.

For all you caramel lovers out there, try our candy recipe next!

What’s your favorite snack for the afternoon? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate this delicious recipe as well.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on September 9, 2008. Last updated: September 24, 2018 at 15:25 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

6 thoughts on “Make Snack Time Count with Homemade Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter Popcorn”

  1. I have never heard of peanut butter popcorn before this. My hubby would love this. We are popcorn crazy people at our house, we love our whirley pop maker. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. that looks so amazingly decadent!
    i buy my spices at some large indian stores – they are SO much cheaper! see if you can find one in your area…

  3. Sounds good. Thanks for rubbing it in that I have no fall. I love fall; I tried explaining it to people down here but they just don’t get it because it is essentially between 80 and 100 all year long with no trees to change color except for brown when they die because it only rains here in late August and September. 🙁 So I burn a pumpkin candle in my house and try to pretend like it feels like fall.

  4. i looove warm apple cider! i especially love it with some spicy rum! 🙂 i bought a thermos last year for the express purpose of having hot cider by me on the couch all evening so i wouldn’t have to go into the kitchen to refill my mug. yes i am a bum. a lazy one at that. 🙂

    i have to say that i am not a fan of popcorn, having worked at a movie theater for some time in college, i’ve had my fill. however, flavored popcorn, once i start, i can’t seem to stop. you popcorn looks delicious and i just know it would make my orthodontist pissed at me. i love it!

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