Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Popcorn

Move over caramel popcorn because this soft and chewy peanut butter popcorn is the new kid in town, and wow, it is so good (and so easy to make!)

White bowl filled with soft and chewy peanut butter caramel popcorn.

My cousin-in-law, Tami, sent me this recipe for her famous peanut butter popcorn with the explanation: “we have replaced all caramel corn making at our house with this peanut butter popcorn.”

Um, do you guys realize you CANNOT SEND ME MESSAGES LIKE THAT and expect me to have any self-control? Like, I was in the kitchen making Tami’s popcorn within 3 1/2 minutes.

First of all, Tami is an ultimate trusted source of amazing recipes (she’s the originator of this epically delicious beef stroganoff and this favorite-ever southwest rice and bean salad). Who cares that I’ve never even heard of peanut butter popcorn? Instantly, I needed it in my life. And just like Tami promised: it is amazing. (Also, there is no second of all.)

Pulling off a piece of peanut butter caramel popcorn.

Straight up “peanut butter popcorn” is a bit misleading. That has me envisioning pouring melted peanut butter over popcorn. Could be interesting. Could be a little frightening. 

Instead, this is more like a soft and chewy peanut butter caramel popcorn. With vibes similar to this homemade chewy caramel corn recipe but with peanut butter (and a different ingredient lineup for the quick and easy homemade caramel mixture – no butter, baking soda, etc). 

You guys, it’s so good. I schlepped the enormous bowl of peanut butter popcorn up to my son’s soccer game on a busy Tuesday night a couple weeks ago and we ate it for dinner. Because apparently I felt like it was a good idea to make this when we were rushing out the door instead of maybe opting for a real, live meal? #priorities #copingskills 

Close up of soft and chewy peanut butter caramel popcorn.

How to make peanut butter popcorn

Yeah, let’s talk about that. Warning: it’s crazy easy. 

First of all, pop yourself some popcorn. I have a really old air popper that is kind of on its last leg, but I hear these microwave poppers {aff. link} are amazing (so amazing, I couldn’t stop myself and just now ordered a teal one).

Any way you can, get some nice, fluffy popcorn piled up in a bowl. I wouldn’t suggest using microwave bags of popcorn because you want this pure and unadulterated without any seasonings/butter/flavorings.

Air popper popping popcorn into glass bowl.

Next, combine the sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring it to a steady boil. No candy thermometer, no finicky timetables. Just bring it to a boil and pull it off the heat.

Pan with boiling karo syrup and sugar.

Next, stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. For peanut butter, I recommend good ol’ classic creamy peanut butter. Not crunchy. Not natural. Just grab some Jif or Skippy (I legit almost typed Jiffy or Skip) and be happy with that awesome choice. 

Pan with peanut butter and vanilla added to karo syrup.

Stir it all up until it’s smooth and creamy. 

Peanut butter caramel mixture stirred until smooth.

While the mixture is still warm (this is important), immediately pour it over the popcorn. I don’t actually recommend pouring it into one big pile like I’m showing you here (#badblogger).

Instead, drizzle it all across the popcorn…and better yet, have a helper there turning the bowl and starting to toss the popcorn while you pour on that divine peanut butter caramel mixture. 

Pouring peanut butter caramel mixture over popcorn.

Toss and stir the popcorn until it is evenly coated. Yes, this part is a bit annoying and kind of sticky and if you are going it alone without a handy sous chef around, you might be tempted to say a bad word, but please don’t waste your bad words on this stuff. 

It’s ok if the popcorn pieces break up a little, just do your best. I promise the reward will make all your irritation dissipate. 

Close up of soft and chewy peanut butter caramel popcorn.

What kind of popcorn kernels are best

I just grab every day popcorn kernels from the store usually (I’m guessing Jolly Time or Orville R. brand). Tami says this soft and chewy peanut butter popcorn is absolutely splendid with the larger mushroom-type popcorn, like this brand on Amazon {aff. link} or here at Orson Gygi. Apparently the round shape of the mushroom popcorn makes it much easier for caramel-type popcorns because it doesn’t break apart while stirring. 

No matter what popcorn you settle on using, I urge you to try this peanut butter popcorn as soon as you can. Brian, who is a serious, serious caramel popcorn…um…snob, went crazy for this stuff. Knowing him so well, I even gave him the disclaimer “don’t even try it, you’ll hate it.” But he disobeyed.

He tried it. And he absolutely loved it. I honestly felt like I hardly knew the man I married. I can’t say he’s turned his back on his beloved caramel popcorn forever, but his endorsement of the peanut butter variety speaks volumes. 

Pile of soft and chewy peanut butter caramel popcorn on was paper.  

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Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cups popped popcorn (see note)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch coarse, kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Add popcorn to large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and corn syrup. Over medium heat, stirring often, bring the mixture to a steady boil.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Immediately pour the warm mixture over the popcorn. Toss until the popcorn is evenly coated.
  4. Serve immediately.

Notes

Popcorn: 1/4 cup unpopped corn kernels equals about 7-8 cups popped popcorn.

Gooey Factor: If you want more caramel to popcorn ratio (or vice versa), you can adjust the recipe as needed, increasing the peanut butter caramel ingredients or adding more or less popcorn.

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Recipe Source: from my awesome cousin-in-law, Tami W.