Give Caramel Popcorn A Savory Twist For The Best Of Both Worlds

Caramel corn isn't just for carnivals and county fairs. Easy to make at home and even easier to elevate, the snacking classic becomes incredibly complex when you add a sprinkle of something savory to the mix. That's right, just when you thought the sweet and salty combination of caramel and popcorn couldn't get any better, there's another way to make a batch even harder to resist.

While they might not look like a blank canvas for flavor, these caramel-coated kernels definitely have the potential to be more than just sweet. Including a savory element can both balance the popcorn's sugary profile and add another dimension of flavor. While there are endless ways you could impart a bit of umami into a caramel corn recipe, the easiest way to do so is by looking to spice blends, bold sauces, and unique condiments for inspiration.

Draw from our global pantry and consider working with an ingredient like chili powder or finely ground Szechuan peppercorns. Alternatively, you could amplify complexity and lean on a spice blend like fragrantly warm garam masala, vibrant berbere, or fiery jerk seasoning. As for condiments, anything from fish sauce to miso can contribute an earthy funk to popcorn. Then again, a generous dusting of furikake or crumbled bacon bits isn't a bad idea either.

How to make the best sweet and savory caramel corn

There are multiple ways to go about crafting a batch of umami-laced caramel popcorn. Although you could scatter seasonings or sauces over ready-made caramel corn and toss to coat, this method proves ineffective at evenly distributing flavor. Plus, it can be a little messy, especially when it comes to enjoying the kernels. Instead, we recommend starting from scratch.

After combining butter, sugar, and cream to make a basic caramel sauce, it's best to remove the sauce from the heat source and stir in a spoonful or two of your desired spices or sauces. Doing this will infuse the caramel, guaranteeing deliciousness in every bite. Once savory ingredients have been well-integrated and the caramel has thickened, all that's left to do is pour the mixture over pre-popped popcorn and bake. However, depending on what savory ingredient you're planning to include, it might be wise to skip infusion, opting to sprinkle something like smoked sea salt flakes as soon as the popcorn is pulled from the oven.

Sure to intrigue even the biggest caramel corn skeptics, this tailored-to-your-taste treat will boast the same incredible texture of traditional versions, but with layers of nuanced flavor. A testament to opposites attracting, marrying sweetness with savoriness is the ultimate way to make caramel corn interesting again.