vegan cracker jack

I’m always blown away by the prices people are willing to pay for flavored popcorn. Seriously, popcorn is so easy to make, and it’s super cheap to boot! So when I found out that a friend was a big fan of Cracker Jack, I set out to make some comparable caramel peanut popcorn.

Honestly, I probably haven’t eaten Cracker Jack since I was 10, and — since we’re being honest here — I always kind of thought the best part was the tactility of the old-style packaging and the prize. Oh, and the peanuts, of which there were never enough. Yeah, okay, the prize always sucked, but it’s the anticipation that counts, right? In any case, I cobbled together this recipe from a few different “copycat” recipes on the ‘Net, and after experimenting with a few different sugar ratios, and I really do think this version really tastes like the original.

This is total novelty food. You can double the recipe to use it as a fun party snack, or wrap it up in cellophane bags and ribbon to make cheap and super cute gifts! Just don’t forget to hide something awesome inside.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegan Caramel Peanut Popcorn (Cracker Jack)
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
 
Ingredients
  • 8-10 c freshly popped popcorn
  • ¾ c roasted, salted peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter
  • ½ c sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1½ Tbsp molasses
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine peanuts and popcorn in a large bowl.
  4. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, mix together butter, sugar, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, molasses, and salt.
  5. Cook caramel until it reaches hard ball stage (260°F).
  6. Remove from heat and beat in baking soda.
  7. Working quickly, pour caramel over popcorn, and toss until popcorn is evenly coated.
  8. Spread popcorn on prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure nothing burns.
  10. Cool fully before serving.
  11. Store in an airtight container.
Notes
You'll notice that I've given an option of using 8 to 10 cups of popcorn. I typically make this recipe using 10 cups of popped popcorn; I find it plenty sweet that way. If you want your batch to be closer to the original, in which the popped kernels are bathed in candy coating, use the lesser amount of popcorn.

If you're new to popping your own popcorn kernels, check out my kettle corn recipe for tips: http://hellyeahitsvegan.com/cinnamon-kettle-corn