Mommy’s Crack Corn


Spicy Pancetta Peanut Caramel Corn

Sometimes we ladies must gather with friends to discuss literature. Or Jon Hamm. Or how our children (or husbands) are driving us crazy. Or all three. Those events, which I find the excuse to attend with some regularity, require certain things…comfy clothes, a big soft couch, adult beverages, and snacks to accompany said adult beverages. Like this caramel corn that’s laced with chile and tossed with hunks of pancetta and salty peanuts.

I first heard of such a thing last weekend when I read Jonathan Gold’s review of Tar and Roses, yet another new gastropub in Los Angeles. There they serve chile and lardon caramel corn, which he describes as being like Cracker Jacks with bacon. It’s an elevated bar snack, he says,  presented first so that the diner may understand the purpose of the restaurant–drinking. And that generally is the purpose of book club, isn’t it? Ok, maybe not exactly, but I thought that a snack such as this would be a good fit anyway.

Gold mourned the lack of peanuts in Tar and Roses’ version. I would too…did you know bacon and peanuts are incredible together? Matt (my hubby) makes a killer bacon and peanut butter sandwich. But I digress. My version of the caramel corn has salty blistered peanuts, and brown sugar caramel infused with the subtle heat from the addition of dried chile flakes. I fried little cubes of pancetta and used the rendered fat to pop the popcorn for added depth of flavor.  I’m fairly certain that this concoction is the most addictive thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. I think the ladies at book club tonight will agree….that is, if there’s any left to bring them.

Chile & Bacon Laced Caramel Corn
Prep time
Cook time
Serve this crunchy, salty, sweet and utterly addictive bar snack at your next cocktail party, or give it away as a hostess gift.
Serves: 8 cups
  • 4 ounces of diced pancetta
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  1. Brown pancetta in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Remove pancetta from the pot using a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot and return to the heat. Add popcorn and cover with the lid, venting it slightly. Cook popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, until there are several seconds between popping kernels. Pour popcorn onto a cookie sheet that's been lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add corn syrup and brown sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, then add salt, baking soda, and chile flakes. Remove from heat.
  5. Sprinkle the reserved pancetta over the popcorn. Do the same with the peanuts. Carefully drizzle the hot caramel over the mixture and stir with a spatula to evenly coat the popcorn.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool on the pan, then break into chunks and store in an airtight container.


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  1. Mother’s Day gift 🙂 Yummy!!

  2. I didn’t think homemade caramel corn could get any better, but I was so wrong! Allison, your blog is beautiful and your recipes look beyond tasty! So glad I found your blog!

    I’m new to the gluten free blog community and would love for you to check out my recipes at Sarah Bakes Gluten Free Treats! Looking forward to trying this (sinful) caramel corn recipe and many others! Thanks!

  3. The way you explained about this yummylicious Crack Corn recipe dish is Awesome!! Looking for new Recipe….Thanks!

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