Peanuts and Caramel Corn (Cracker Jacks Improved)

My husband and I are both big baseball fans. It was the first thing we connected on when we met, and most of our first dates involved baseball games or baseball conversations. I remember wondering at some point if we'd ever have something else to talk about. Luckily for us, we eventually found more in common or it would have been a pretty boring marriage from the end of the World Series until Spring Training every year.

My husband grew up in Minnesota and I grew up in Vermont, so we each have different "home" teams that we root for, but it hasn't been a point of contention in our house. Over the years we've both developed a level of respect for each other's team and I'd say we probably like them more than we would readily admit. I made sure to bring my husband to some games at Fenway so he could experience some of what I loved about my team, and after living in Minnesota and going to so many games there I definitely do some secret rooting for the Twins. (Also, some secret oogling over Joe Mauer.)

When you're a baseball fan, the stretch between the end of the World Series and the start of a new season can feel really long, especially as spring approaches. If you are true nerd, like me and my husband, you get a little jump on the season by watching some of the spring training games. As far back as I can remember, the first official spring training game every year has been between the Red Sox and Twins, and it's become a little tradition in our house to watch both our teams as they gear up for the regular season. I definitely make more of a deal of this than my husband, but we both feel a little bit of celebration in the air as the first game approaches.

This year, to celebrate the occasion, I decided to make homemade Cracker Jacks. The problem that I found when taste testing the first results with my husband was that we aren't all that fond of Cracker Jacks. Caramel popcorn with peanuts? Big fans. Strongly molasses-flavored caramel popcorn with peanuts? Not as much. The recipe I'm sharing, then, is the perfect caramel popcorn/peanut treat according to us. It has nice crunch, great buttery, caramel flavor and salty roasted peanuts. I have honestly made four batches of it in the past week and it disappears within a day every time. I'm fairly certain my husband has eaten nothing else for days. (Remind me to schedule his next dentist appointment soon.) If you are celebrating the start of baseball season, need a gift for a neighbor, a treat to share with friends or just want to relax with a treat at the end of a long day, this caramel popcorn is the perfect special treat.

Peanuts and Caramel Corn (Cracker Jacks Improved)


  • 7 quarts plain popped popcorn (This is about 2 large mixing bowls full. Do not use buttered popcorn or any kind of salted microwave popcorn)
  • 2 cups dry roasted peanuts (use spanish peanuts if you want a more Cracker-Jack-like treat)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 T molasses (ONLY if you want the treat to taste more like Cracker Jacks. I prefer the caramel corn without it.)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans.
  2. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Combine the brown sugar, molasses (if using), corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Quickly stir in the nuts and immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
  4. Bake for 45 min - 1 hour, removing the pans, rotating them, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Test a cooled piece of popcorn after 45 minutes and if it is crunchy you can stop baking. If it is still chewy, bake for another 15 minutes.
  5. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 1 hour 10 min Serves: 20 

Recipe Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

17 Click For Comments:

Baseball. Blech. Peanuts. Blech. Caramel corn... YUM! :) I love caramel corn. I think I may try this recipe minus the peanuts. Or maybe I'll ask Brant if he wants peanuts and if he does, I can just pick them out. :) I love that you try recreating your favorites. :) 

The caramel corn alone would be delicious even without the peanuts. You can let Brant know they were in the original recipe or keep that to yourself. :)

My husband and I are huge baseball fans too - in fact it was one of the first things we asked each other since we are from Chicago - Cubs Fan or White Sox Fan?  Thankfully the stars aligned and we are both Sox fans. :D  I'll have to make this for the first game - looks delicious Nicole!

This recipe looks great, but I just have to say, your photography is beautiful!  Great attention to detail with your use of props :)  I could learn a lesson from you!

I love that you both are baseball fans, too, and how lucky that you both liked the same team. Are you going to miss having Ozzie quotes this year now that he's with the Marlins?

Oh, thank you Courtney! My husband has a lot of baseball stuff around the house since he played for so long, so it wasn't hard to find things for this. :)

This looks delicious, Nicole.  And, as always, your photography is stunning.  By the way - I, too, have experienced many-a'-game with the Big Green Monster.  :-)

Awww, I love this Nicole.  I wish my husband was a sports fan, it'd be awesome to have that in common.  I've caught one of the Sox-Twins games so far this spring, and I definitely wish I'd had some of your Cracker Jacks to snack on :)

adding these to my MUST MAKE list! yum!!

I loooove Caramel Corn. I have a recipe that's really similar to this except you can make the caramel in the microwave. You just need to cook the sugar, corn syrup and butter until everything is melted (Cook 1 minute, stir and then cook for 1-2 minutes more) and then you stir in the baking soda and vanilla. It's actually bad how easy it is because I wind up eating caramel corn way more than I should. :)

Oooh, I wish you hadn't told me about that microwave trick. You're right, it does make it almost TOO easy. :)

Mmmm, I love caramel corn! I have to say I like cracker jacks too, but I think your recipe is probably way tastier :) Putting it in paper bags is such a cute idea too!

I always assumed your husband was a big sports fan, too. I'm sure you'll win him over some day if you keep trying. :)

LOVE these, such a cute idea with the bags!

i love homemade versions of things. this is awesome... caramel corn is sooo addicting!

This looks fabulous, Nicole! Caramel corn is one of my favorite snacks and yours is just perfect. I adore the baseball backdrop, too. Very cute!

Love this!  I might have to make this with my nieces.

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover