Homemade Cracker Jacks

Easy Homemade Cracker Jacks

Homemade Cracker Jacks are a classic childhood treat! Popcorn, peanuts, and pretzel bits covered in caramel make a perfect snack!

Original Cracker Jacks

Oh, how this recipe takes me back to my childhood!

Flavors and smells have the ability to bring back memories so vividly, it seems like not even a day has passed. People associate certain scents and tastes with events, and people and time periods and locations they have been.

Caramel corn, or more specifically Cracker Jacks, take me back to my Grandpa’s house, where we spent Saturday mornings when I was little.

My Grandpa always had Whoppers and Cracker Jacks for us to snack on.

The Whoppers would be in his shirt pocket and every time that I ran across the room and gave him a hug or a kiss, he would tell me I get another Whopper. This was a game that I was happy to play all day!

Later in the day, after Grandpa made both breakfast AND lunch, the boxes of Cracker Jacks would come out!

Easy Homemade Caramel Popcorn

Easy Homemade Cracker Jacks

I never realized that making Homemade Cracker Jacks at home could be sooo easy!

When I started baking, I stayed away from making any type of caramel. I thought it was hard.

But let me tell you, caramel is not hard to make! With a little practice and your dedicated attention, caramel is easy!

The top tip to making caramel that stays smooth and creamy is to add a bit of corn syrup. Corn syrup is an invert sugar and it will help keep the sugar from crystallizing in the caramel.

There is only one tablespoon of corn syrup in this recipe and, trust me, corn syrup is not your enemy!

Once I started making caramel, I couldn’t stop. Home caramel is always better than store bought. There is usually a jar of caramel sauce in my refrigerator and I often make hard caramel decorations for cakes and other desserts.

Read my post HERE on how to make Creamy Caramel Sauce.

The science behind Caramel Corn

The caramel coating on caramel corn is soft and aerated. A Caramel Sauce would not work for Caramel Corn or Cracker Jacks because it is too soft and runny.

Dry caramel would not work either because it dries hard and would crack your teeth!

The trick to the perfect coating for your popcorn is the baking soda.

When the baking soda is added to the caramel, it reacts to the acid in the brown sugar. This creates tiny carbon dioxide bubbles that aerates the caramel, keeping it light and soft as it coats the popcorn.

Caramel Corn Recipe

Caramel Corn as a snack or a topping

I made this Homemade Cracker Jack recipe as a topping for my Ballpark Sundae and also to go into the Cracker Jack Cookies that I served on top of this Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae.

The cookie is the perfect scoop for the buttered popcorn ice cream!

Check out my Ballpark Sundae in THIS POST!

Popcorn Ice Cream

Give this recipe a try and you will never go back to store bought! Keep it on hand for movie night, sleep overs or just general snacking!

Easy Homemade Cracker Jacks

Recipe by Tanya Ott


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 4 cups popped popcorn, freshly popped or microwave is fine

  • 1 cup pretzel pieces

  • 1 cup salted roasted peanuts

  • 113 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut in small chunks to melt faster

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon corn syrup

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the popcorn, pretzel bits and peanuts.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes or until the caramel reaches a deep golden color. Be careful not to allow the mixture to burn.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and carefully add the salt and baking soda. The mixture will bubble up so make sure to stir with a long handled whisk.
  • Pour the caramel over the popcorn mixture, mixing as you pour. Toss the mixture until everything is evenly coated.
  • Spread out the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and allow to cool then break up any large clumps. Store air tight for up to a week.

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