More Bacon Makes Everything Better: Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I tried out quite a few caramel popcorn recipes to decide which variety I would serve at our holiday party. In the end, the choice was easy -- Colt & Gray's recipe for Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn earned rave reviews, and I love the fact that it offers something different from a standard caramel corn recipe.

To make this caramel corn, you cook some chopped bacon, drain and cool it, and toss the bacon along with the popcorn, cashews, salt, and cayenne pepper. You then pour on some caramel that is made from sugar, water, corn syrup, cream, and oolong tea (you basically steep an oolong tea bag in the cream before adding the cream to the caramel). After a little time in the oven and some stirring to make sure that all of the popcorn is nicely coated, you cool the caramel corn and break it up into chunks.

I've made this caramel corn a few times, with several minor adjustments to the recipe. First, based on comments in several of the recipe reviews, I doubled the amounts of both the bacon and the cashews, and I also used toasted cashews instead of raw nuts. The first time I made the caramel corn, I decided that there wasn't enough caramel to coat all of the popcorn, and for subsequent batches I made 150% of the caramel recipe. Finally, through all of my caramel corn making experiences, I have discovered that no matter which recipe I'm working with, it's much easier to put the popcorn (and whatever other ingredients are required) directly into my large nonstick turkey roasting pan, and to pour the caramel over the popcorn in the pan. The high sides of the roasting pan make it easy to deal with a lot of popcorn (I can make double batches of this recipe, for instance), and the nonstick surface makes it unnecessary to line the pan with parchment or foil.

This caramel corn is awesome. The cayenne gives it a strong spicy kick, and the bacon and cashews contribute loads of flavor and texture. In particular, when the bacon is coated with the caramel, it is a crunchy bit of candied salty-sweet heaven. I seriously considered skipping the popcorn and just serving candied bacon at our party, because it is so tasty. Founding Farmers restaurant in D.C. offers cinnamon-brown sugar glazed "bacon lollies" as an appetizer; I think the caramel-covered bacon in this popcorn is even better.

This caramel corn definitely has a more adult flavor profile than the run-of-the-mill variety, especially because of the spice from the cayenne. I know some people feel that bacon is becoming overly trendy these days, but its contribution to this caramel corn is nothing short of inspired.

Recipe: "Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn," from Colt & Gray, available on

Previous Post: "Break Out the Holiday Tins: Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts and Chocolate," December 10, 2011.


Grace said…
I was looking for a caramel corn recipe for a Superbowl party, and now I know! I agree with you that though a chocolate coating like the one you have in your previous recipe seems delectable, on a practical level, it would be messy with kids. Any suggestions for a nut-free version? Would you miss the cashews?
Hi Grace! I actually think that this popcorn is so flavorful that you wouldn't miss the cashews at all. Also, I have been surprised at how much children like this as well, even with the bit of spice.