makes 3 pints

1/2 pound bacon
1/3 cup organic popcorn kernels*
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 cup light and 1 cup dark just because)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Cut bacon into a fine dice and fry until crisp. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.

Heat the bacon fat in a large pot with a cover. Add 3 popcorn kernels and cover. Listen for all three kernels to pop, and add the rest of the popcorn kernels. Cover and shake until popping stops. Put popped corn in a non-stick roasting pan, making sure to remove the unpopped kernels.

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Heat butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat until it reaches 300°F on your candy thermometer.

Adding the bacon to caramel

Remove from heat, stir in baking soda and bacon (the caramel will explode in volume at this point so make sure you use a large enough saucepan) and pour this caramel mixture over the popcorn (do this quickly so that the caramel doesn’t cool and stiffen).

Adding the caramel to the popcorn

Stir the mixture with a couple wooden spoons and place in the oven for a total of an hour rearranging the popcorn to evenly distribute the caramel and bacon every 15 minutes. Add more salt (if necessary) during this process. Cool and break into bite-sized pieces.

Bacon Caramel Popcorn

*Popping 1/3 cup of organic popcorn kernels gave me ~6 cups popped corn plus quite a few unpopped kernels. I’d guess if you are using a gourmet popping corn you may need to use less than 1/3 cup of kernels to get 6 cups of popped corn, which is the amount you need for this recipe.

Popped corn and unpopped kernels

So I tried some of the bacon fat-popped corn before dousing it with the caramel, and while I could taste a whiff of bacon, I personally think butter pairs better with popcorn. Bacon and caramel, however, pair together wonderfully (a fact which I will devote the next post to). Do I really need to describe how awesome bacon, caramel, and popcorn taste together? It’s so good I had to hide this from some of my vegetarian friends for fear they’d give up their convictions just to try some. See what a good friend I am?

Bacon Caramel Popcorn