Sweet & Spicy Popcorn Crunch or Balls

"I actually combined two recipes I had seen and wanted to try. This is a joint effort of a Martha Stewart Recipe and a Food Network Recipe - that I mixed together. It turned out VERY good!"
photo by free-free photo by free-free
photo by free-free
Ready In:




  • Preheat oven to 250°F Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick baking mats; set aside.
  • Pop popcorn according to package directions, get rid of unpopped kernels; set aside.
  • Make caramel: Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook, without stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes, swirling pot occasionally.
  • Remove mixture from heat and quickly stir in salt, vanilla, cinnamon & cayenne with a heatproof spatula or spoon. Immediately pour over popcorn mixture and stir to incorporate. Divide popcorn mixture evenly between baking sheets. Transfer to oven and bake, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Let cool on sheet pans before breaking apart into clusters. Store popcorn in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • *Note: If you opt for the ‘pepitas’ the pumpkin seeds instead of nuts (use one or the other not both) ~ you will need to toast the pumpkin seeds in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until browned and popping, tossing and stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. (Do this in batches, if needed.) Then, add to the popcorn.
  • *If making popcorn balls, use following directions: When the popcorn is cool enough to handle, coat your hands with some butter and shape into 4-inch balls. Wrap in waxed paper and tie with a string, if desired. Serve or store covered at room temperature for up to a week.

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  1. Love it, can't stop eating it.
  2. Made for "My 3 Chefs" event...my theme was POPcorn and I was so glad that I included this little gem of a recipe...I air popped my own kernels and used the pumpkin seeds this time because I was going with a Fall/Halloweeny theme snack but will try the nuts for Christmas gifts and package it in cute tins to ship to peeps...I did not make the balls, rather prefer chucks of it to pick up and munch on...the caramel sauce is the best I have ever tasted the cinnamon and cayenne pepper really take it to a different level...mixed a bit of chocolate in too...so YUMMY...THANKS for a great recipe...LOVED IT...mr. free~free said it is addicting!!!! :)


I am the Director of Sales for the Embassy Suites Hotel in Brunswick, GA ~ which has currently undergone major renovations (now we are the BEST Hotel in Brunswick & the Golden Isles of Georgia - MOST definitely!) I LOVE to cook / bake - create recipes - using great starter recipes where my creative juices flow into other areas - I am really surprising myself how good a cook I am becoming - (as well as my hubby) :-)
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