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.

Bourbon caramel corn in a small brown paper bag.
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About This Homemade Caramel Corn Recipe

  • No candy thermometer: Similar to my rum spiked caramel corn, this homemade caramel corn requires no candy thermometer and no time in the oven.
  • Salty Sweet Deliciousness: Popcorn + bacon + bourbon + caramel. I’m clearly in the business of making dreams come true.

Tips for Success

Preheat your popcorn popper: You’ll want to let your air popper preheat so it’s nice and hot (I usually let it go 3-4 minutes). This reduces the number of un-popped kernels.

Watch it closely: 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. 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.

Get a good air popper: This is the air popper I have. It’s super reliable, I’ve had it for years and years and I eat popcorn, ummmm….at least 3 nights a week?

Removed the unpopped kernels: 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. Once they’re covered in caramel, you’ll only find them the painful way.

Bacon and caramel popcorn.

More Popcorn Recipes

Okay, I’ve admitted I eat tons of popcorn. You won’t be surprised that I have more recipes that star popcorn. I love them all and I think you will too!


Homemade Caramel Corn with Bourbon and Bacon

4.25 from 4 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
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.
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  • 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 or two sheet pans with parchment paper (I used two pans).
  • 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.


Serving: 1cup, Calories: 202kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 261mg, Sugar: 38g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.25 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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  1. Altie Metcalf says:

    You are NOT a bad person for your actions at the grocery store. Sheesh. I’m 70 and my husband is 77. We would never expect someone to give us their place. What the two of us have noticed (we are in a community with a high number of retirees) is that many people, as they get older, get a sense of entitlement. It’s ridiculous.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Ahhh thank you so much for that encouragement. :)

  2. Shalisha McKoy says:

    I just found this recipe and am ready to get home to try it! Can you taste the alcohol? I sure hope so

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Haha! Yes, you can!

  3. Patti says:

    This looks wonderful!! I have a bourbon liqueur, do you think that would work ok? I couldn’t find where you added the bacon, did you just sprinkle it on after spreading on the pan?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      That should work! And yeah – sorry about the bacon omission! I updated the recipe, but you can sprinkle it in before adding the caramel so that the caramel sticks to both the popcorn and bacon.

  4. Tony | Simple Awesome Cooking says:

    There are 2 kids in my house that love popcorn and bacon….

    And 2 adults that love popcorn, bacon and bourbon….

    We have a winner here.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks! Sounds like my kind of family! :-P

  5. Caribbean Food says:

    Caramel; the secret ingredient to anything I would love. Caramel Latte, sauce, I believe I can eat a caramel beef recipe as well one day :)
    Nice website by the way, keep it up!