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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Or you can just ignore the calorie count all together and use this as a crunchy garnish on top of our pumpkin cinnamon ice cream for a fall-themed dessert!
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?Print
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.
For the Popcorn:
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
- Vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
For the Caramel:
- 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.
- 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.
- Top with 1/2 tsp salt and toss with peanuts.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Fall
Keywords: Halloween, caramel popcorn, pumpkin spice, popcorn
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Make Pumpkin Spice Mix and Measure Remaining Ingredients
If you haven’t already, make your own pumpkin spice mix and measure what you will need for the recipe.
Store the rest of the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dry area like your spice rack.
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.
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.
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.
Stir it occasionally, until it starts bubbling. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.
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.
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.
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!
Love that crunch? Those sweet and salty flavors? We have more popcorn recipes for you:
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: October 7, 2020 at 0:51 am.
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.
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.