Crunchy maple bacon popcorn

Crunchy maple bacon popcorn

Salted Caramel Dreams
about 500 g
River Thompson

I made this popcorn for Meatopia, a festival of meat held in London once a year. By the end of the weekend people were requesting straight-up boxes of the stuff. Like any popcorn, it’s totally moreish, but the candied bacon really takes it to another level. For a spicy twist, I like to add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper when whisking in the bicarbonate of soda.

Throw together a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, a big spoonful of Bananas Foster Caramel Sauce, some Salted Caramel Peanut Butter and a handful of this popcorn and you’ve got yourself a Fatties Elvis Sundae.


Quantity Ingredient
400g smoked bacon or pancetta lardons, chopped
150g unpopped popcorn kernels
225g salted butter
450g soft light brown sugar
125g golden syrup
50ml maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 120°C.
  2. In a very large, cold pan, render the bacon over a low heat until the fat has melted and is beginning to foam and the bacon is dark and golden. This should take about 10–15 minutes.
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, reserving the bacon fat, and set to one side in a small bowl.
  4. Add a few popcorn kernels to the pan with the bacon fat and place the pan over a medium-high heat. Once they start popping, add the rest of the kernels, fit the pan with a lid and shake well to coat the popcorn kernels in the fat. Return to the heat and cook until the kernels begin to pop rapidly. Once they do, adjust the lid a little to allow the steam to escape but not the popping corn. As the popping sounds subside to a few seconds apart, remove the pan from the heat and allow the heat of the pan to finish the job.
  5. Pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels. Toss the bacon into the popcorn and divide between 2 large, non-stick, rimmed baking sheets.
  6. In a clean, medium saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and maple syrup over a low heat, stirring continuously. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 2 minutes, remove from the heat and whisk in the bicarbonate of soda.
  7. Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn, dividing it between the 2 baking sheets. Stir the popcorn to coat in the hot caramel, but don’t worry if every kernel isn’t covered – it will all be incorporated as you continue to stir through the baking process.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes–1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. To check the development, take out a piece of popcorn at the 45 minute stage and leave it to cool, then taste it to see if it is crunchy enough. If not, continue cooking, repeating the process every 5 minutes.
  9. Once you are happy, remove the popcorn from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes. Spread a large sheet of baking parchment over a flat work surface, then use a large spatula to transfer the popcorn to the paper and leave to cool.
  10. Popcorn can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature.
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