Food & dining

Bar Bites

Recipe for spicy caramel popcorn

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

Makes about 8 cups

This caramel popcorn has a sweet crunch and subtle heat. Pop the popcorn and toss with salt and spices before you make the caramel. Pour the caramel over the popcorn while very hot and bubbling to ensure even coating.

1/4  cup canola oil 

3/4  cup unpopped popcorn kernels 


3  teaspoons kosher salt 

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2  teaspoons chipotle powder 

1  teaspoon smoked paprika 

1  teaspoon ground cumin 

1 1/2  cups sugar 


1/4  cup cold water 

4  tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter, cut up 

1. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add 3 kernels of popcorn. Cover the pot and heat until you hear the kernels pop. When the 3 kernels have popped, remove the pan from the heat and wait for 30 seconds before adding the rest of the popcorn (the oil will be at the perfect temperature for popping). Return the pan to the heat, and cover the pan. Shake the pot occasionally to prevent scorching. Cook for 5 minutes or until all the corn is popped.

3. Add the salt, chipotle, smoked paprika, and cumin.


4. In a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Cook without stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue cooking without stirring until the mixture turns a rich amber color.

5. Turn off heat and whisk in butter.

6. Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn (do not touch it) and stir with a wooden spoon to toss the popcorn with the caramel. Transfer popcorn to the baking sheets. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes or until the caramel has hardened.

7. Break popcorn apart and serve. Catherine Smart. Adapted from backbar