Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn

Today Matt Swaim, Sonrise Morning Show/Sacred Heart Radio, chatted about Jesus’ first miracle for the wedding of Cana. That’s where He turned water into wine for lots of folks.

With Halloween right around the corner I wanted to share yet another caramel corn recipe, this time a big batch recipe with pumpkin pie spice. Now if you don’t have/want the spice, check out the tips after the recipe.

Big batch pumpkin pie spice caramel corn 

First, spray everything you use: spatula,  pan, bowl, measuring spoon, etc. That keeps the syrup from sticking. Use your favorite nuts, salted or not, one kind or a combo. This recipe can be divided in half.


14 – 16 cups or so popped plain popcorn ( 2 bags of microwave popcorn)

3-4 cups mixed nuts – I used salted deluxe mix

8 oz butter

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/2  cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 generous tablespoon vanilla

1-1/2 – 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Pour popcorn into big bowl and stir in nuts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 225.

In 2-3 quart pan over medium heat, add butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt.

Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

You’ll notice the change in texture as it cooks and expands. 

After 5 minutes, the syrup will have reached the hard crack stage (see tip below).

Stir in vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and baking soda. Mixture will foam up and then smooth out.

Baking soda creates teeny air bubbles which aerates the caramel.

Immediately pour caramel over popcorn and nuts, stirring to coat as best as you can.

Pour in single layer onto sprayed large cookie sheets with sides.

Bake, stirring every 15 minutes from the outside in, for 1 hour. 

Caramel continues to coat popcorn and nuts as they bake.

Let cool. Coating hardens as it cools. 

Store, covered, for a week or so.


For years, I’ve made this popcorn by cooking caramel syrup on the stove sans a candy thermometer.

Today, just for fun, I used a thermometer and after boiling 5 minutes, the syrup reached hard crack stage, 300 degrees. (When a little is dropped into cold water, it forms a brittle thread which can be broken.) 

So is a thermometer necessary? I would not buy it for this recipe alone, but if you have one, it’s interesting to watch temperature changes.  

Rita’s classic caramel popcorn:

Use dark brown sugar and don’t use pumpkin pie spice.

Cracker Jacks:

Easy – just sub in peanuts for the mixed nuts. 

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