Homemade Cracker Jack Recipe

Does a box of Cracker Jack bring back a lot of childhood memories for you?  It sure does for us!  We would often take Cracker Jacks camping, to the 4th of July parade and fireworks, and drive-in movie.  We have so many fond memories of this “All American” treat that we all grew up with.  But the best part was the peanuts at the bottom and of course the amazing prize.  We tweaked this recipe so it has a little more caramel glaze and added more peanuts.  The downside is that you will have to furnish your own fun prize!  Your family will love this recipe.  And remember the old Cracker Jack jingle that was on TV forever….Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize….that’s what you get with Cracker Jacks!!

Serves: 8

Homemade Cracker Jack Recipe

5 minPrep Time

9 minCook Time

14 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels (about 13 cups popped popcorn)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/8 cup corn syrup
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly salted peanuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and put the popped popcorn and peanuts in it.  Mix them together gently.
  4. In a small saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and water.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or about 4 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.  Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn/peanut mixture until all is coated.
  6. Transfer all to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out evenly.
  7. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees F, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.  
  8. Gently break up the popcorn. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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7 Responses to “Homemade Cracker Jack Recipe”

  1. Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
    Wow, I'm sure I'm not the only one having a trip down memory lane when they check out this recipe. Like Pavlov's dog - every time I see a Cracker Jack box I immediately think of that "prize" of a plastic toy soldier with parachute. I gotta say, your version looks much better than the original Cracker Jack. Thanks for sharing the recipe and for the nostalgia :)
    • We eat is so fast it doesn't last long. But it should be fine for a week or two in an airtight container. What a cute idea with the baseball themed care package! We have mailed the troops cookies and brownies and they seemed to arrive ok. We packaged them in plastic wrap and then in an airtight container taped shut. This homemade cracker jack would have a much better life than cookies and bars. You should be just fine!! Hope this helps!

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