Homemade Caramel Corn with Bourbon and Bacon
Take your caramel corn game to the next level with this homemade caramel corn with bourbon and bacon. You’ll love the salty sweet combination of this irresistible snack.
This post is in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. I buy massive amounts of their popcorn with my own money. Thank you for supporting my blog by reading about brands I love.
Today, I went to HomeGoods. Their checkout line is always ridiculous and I was cutting it close with E’s pickup from school. The line was massive already and I was walking up to it at the same time an elderly (I’m guessing 70’s) woman and her daughter walked up to the line. Normally, hands-down, no questions asked, I would let them go first. Normally I’d let anyone go first, but especially an elderly person.
But today, I was rushing, and I got to the line first (I think), so I went ahead and took my spot in line.
Then I heard her start talking about me. And how “young people” don’t respect their elders. I turned around (I couldn’t not) and said, “I’m so sorry, normally I’d let you go first but I don’t want to be late to pick up my daughter from school.”
I felt like the worst person in the world and literally teared up because I felt so badly about it. But here’s the thing, I will never be late to pick up E from school. I don’t ever want her to experience the feeling of me not being there when I’m supposed to be. I just won’t. I can’t. I can’t do it to her.
Am I an awful person? Should I have let this woman go first? I don’t think she expected me to turn around and say something so she also apologized and said she shouldn’t have said anything. Ugh, it was so awful. I just wanted to go on and on about how I’m usually the person giving up my seat or place in line or holding a door but it’s my daughter…and my kids are my world.
Speaking of kids, I think it totally helped that I had N with me. His big brown eyes and dimples work wonders on grumpiness.
It just made me feel like the worst person.
Should we eat bourbon bacon homemade caramel corn and just forget about the whole thing?
Okay, sounds good to me too.
About This Homemade Caramel Corn Recipe
Similar to my rum spiked caramel corn, this homemade caramel corn requires no candy thermometer and no time in the oven. You do need to keep a close eye on things as the sugar mixture goes from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds. Trust your gut with this one and you’ll be fine.
I started with my favorite yellow popcorn, Bob’s Red Mill. You’ll want to let your air popper preheat so it’s nice and hot (I usually let it go 3-4 minutes). This reduced the number of un-popped kernels.
PS: The air popper I have is currently 50% off. It’s super reliable, I’ve had it for years and years and I eat popcorn, ummmm….at least 3 nights a week?
Once you have the popcorn popped, you’ll want to remove the un-popped kernels. It’s pretty easy, just shake the bowl to let them settle to the bottom and then transfer the popcorn to a different bowl or to your sheet pans. Dump out the hard kernels and return the rest of the popcorn to the bowl.
Then you get to making your caramel! Once it reaches the perfect light golden brown color and it is no longer grainy, work quickly to pour it over the popcorn and bacon and stir to incorporate. Spread it out on parchment paper lined sheet pans, let it cool, and dig in.
- Popcorn + bacon + bourbon + caramel. I’m clearly in the business of making dreams come true.
- Don’t go to HomeGoods when you’re in a hurry.
Homemade Caramel Corn with Bourbon and Bacon
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Take your caramel corn game to the next level with this homemade caramel corn with bourbon and bacon. You'll love the salty sweet combination of this irresistible snack.
- 1/2 cup unpopped Bob’s Red Mill yellow popcorn kernels
- 3 cups granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup bourbon or whiskey
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 slices thick-sliced bacon, cooked until crispy and cut or crumbled into pieces
- Pop the popcorn using an air popper (or on the stove with oil if you don’t have an air popper). Place popped popcorn in a large bowl. You’ll want enough room for stirring after you pour the caramel over it. I had to separate the popcorn into two bowls. Sprinkle cooked bacon over popcorn.
- Cover one to two (I used two) sheet pans with parchment paper
- In a large saucepan, combine sugar, bourbon, butter, vanilla, and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring very often (I stir nearly continuously). Continue to cook until sugar melts and caramel becomes a pretty brown (caramel) color. If you’ve never made caramel, you’ll think you screwed this up. It gets sort of dry-ish before it melts. This will be super confusing if you’ve never done anything like this before. It might even freak you out. Just keep stirring. Good things will happen. It takes about 15-20 minutes. Once it melts and turns a dark caramel color and is no longer grainy, trust your gut and act fast because it scorches quickly.
- Remove from the heat, add the baking soda (I measured it first and put it in a little bowl so I could add it all at once) and keep stirring. Be careful as it bubbles up quickly and almost doubles in quantity. Quickly pour over the popcorn and stir quickly to coat all the corn.
- Spread the caramel corn out on parchment paper lined sheet pans and allow to cool at least ten minutes before digging in.
Verdict: Addicting stuff.
Husband’s take: He kept coming back for more of this homemade caramel corn.
Changes I would make: None are necessary.
Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Bob’s Red Mill as a brand ambassador to bring you this post. They compensated me for my time but all opinions are, as always, my own. If you opened my cupboards and fridge, you’d find a wealth of Bob’s Red Mill products that I purchased myself. Thanks for supporting Rachel Cooks by reading about brands I use and love!