Homemade Cracker Jack

Learn how to make Homemade Cracker Jack popcorn that’s even better than the original. Sweet and crunchy, this addictive caramel corn is just what your next movie night needs!

Love popcorn desserts? Try our homemade popcorn balls next!

Making Homemade Cracker Jack popcorn is super easy and delicious! Sweet and crunchy, this addictive caramel corn is better than the original!
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What is Cracker Jack

Cracker Jack is a sweet and salty combo of caramel covered popcorn and crunchy peanuts!

The packaged version of this snack has been around for over a century–popular at ball games and as an inexpensive treat for families to share. When I was a kid, the most important part of Cracker Jack was the prize that came inside the box. These days, what matters most to me is the TASTE!

This Homemade Cracker Jack may not come with a plastic ring or sticker, but it is full of rich buttery caramel flavor and a satisfying crunch. Made with real brown sugar, vanilla extract and Spanish peanuts, it’s more cost effective by the pound than buying a bag at the store, too.

I love Homemade Caramel Corn of all kinds and Cracker Jack is no exception. Take it along to the ball game, munch on it by the handful during your family movie night or put it in a shiny tin to give as a gift!

Making Homemade Cracker Jack popcorn is super easy and delicious! Sweet and crunchy, this addictive caramel corn is better than the original!

Ingredient Notes

  • Popped Popcorn – Bags of microwave popcorn are fine. Or make yours fresh using my favorite homemade microwave popcorn method!
  • Light corn syrup – Karo light syrup is my preference for achieving authentic cracker jack flavor.
  • Peanuts – Use Spanish red skinned peanuts if possible. If you don’t have those, regular roasted peanuts will work in a pinch.
  • Vanilla – My homemade cracker jack has an irresistible hint of vanilla thanks to using homemade vanilla extract. Store bought works perfectly well too!

Easy Instructions

First, pop your popcorn kernels in the microwave, the popcorn popper or on the stove top.

Make the caramel coating by melting butter and combining it with brown sugar and corn syrup on the stove. Mix in vanilla and baking soda, then pour the caramel over the popped corn and peanuts.

Divide the coated popcorn into broiler pans, and bake for 1 hour. Stir the popcorn ever 15 minutes or so.

Take the pans out of the oven and let the popcorn cool completely before enjoying or storing!

Recipe FAQ

Do you use roasted and salted peanuts?

Yes, I use roasted and salted peanuts in this recipe. The Spanish redskinned variety are my favorite for appearance and taste but any salted peanut will do!

Can you make this without nuts?

You can make this without the peanuts. It won’t quite be Cracker Jack but it’ll be delicious classic caramel corn!

Can I substitute honey or maple syrup for the corn syrup?

No, I haven’t found any substitutes that deliver the same caramel-y results that light corn syrup does. This is meant to be a sweet treat, not a health food, so I encourage you to try the recipe as written. It’s delicious and well worth it for an occasional indulgence!

Tips & Tricks

  • Storing. Transfer the cooled Cracker Jack to an airtight container or ziploc bag immediately after it cools to ensure freshness and crunch. Store at room temperature for up to a week. Mine never lasts that long because we can’t stop eating it!
  • Easy cleanup:.Disposable lasagna pans are perfect for baking this popcorn without having to scrub a broiler pan clean. If eating right away, you can even serve your cracker jack right from the pans.
  • Gift idea. Put the Cracker Jack in mason jars or decorative tins for an easy holiday gift or token of appreciation for a friend. Everyone loves Cracker Jack!

Take me out to the ballgame. . . but let me bring my own Cracker Jack! This candy-coated sweet and salty popcorn treat is perfect for snacking and sharing with friends.

Making Homemade Cracker Jack popcorn is super easy and delicious! Sweet and crunchy, this addictive caramel corn is better than the original!

Easy Snack Recipes

Yield: 16 cups

Homemade Cracker Jack

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Making Homemade Cracker Jack popcorn is super easy and delicious! Sweet and crunchy, this addictive caramel corn is better than the original!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 cups popped popcorn (about 2 ½ bags of microwave popcorn)**
  • 1 ½ cups spanish redskin peanuts


  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Once boiling, remove from heat.
  3. Add in baking soda and vanilla.
  4. Gradually pour over popped corn. Mix well. Add in peanuts.
  5. Using two large pans (I use broiler pans, but large lasagna foil pans work too, and easy cleanup), divide popcorn evenly. Place one pan on top rack (middle of oven) and one on bottom rack.
  6. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes (and rotating in the oven). Remove after an hour and allow to cool. Store in airtight containers or ziploc bags. ENJOY.


**make sure ALL seeds have been removed!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on June 1, 2016

Comments & Reviews

  1. This is so simple to make , thank you. I’m not one for cooking anything that is time consuming, this is not.. thank you. Can’t wait for it to cool to try it.. looks delicious 😋. Planning on. Giving my neighbors some…

  2. I’ve always loved crackerjacks..a girlfriend of mine made some but hers was not easy like this one., but was very good also..I can’t wait to try it…hope I can find g/f nuts. Thks so much…

  3. Better then the original. Thanks!😊
    I loved it just for the surprise inside when I was a kid.

  4. Being from the south there was nothing like a box of stale kracker jacks at the ballgame. I made these and all I can say is Hell Yeah! Can’t stop eating this stuff, way better than the original. Thx

    1. Not sure what recipe you’re looking at or what you are seeing, but all ingredients are dealt with in the recipe and accounted for in the list

  5. How long does this stay fresh? I’d love to include it in my Christmas goodie bags. Wonderful recipe!!!

  6. Lol, so there is hope for the arguing at the dinner table to get better, or more tolerable!!!  I too recently had cracker jacks and they definitely aren’t as good as they used to be!  Love this and would be great for movie night!

    1. I don’t know if it gets better, but definitely more entertaining 🙂 And yes, it’s great for movie night!

      1. Better then the original. Thanks!😊
        I loved it just for the surprise inside when I was a kid.

  7. Aimee, I’m in the exact same boat. I grew up with brothers who ate EVERYTHING, so I hid my food. I remember hiding pumpkin pie in the egg bin where my bro wouldn’t think to look! And I had a lot stashed in my room, too.
    And like you, I have daughters in addition to my son. I know nothing about sister relationships, so I’m watching them and trying to learn. I’m a little jealous of them!
    This is the best snack. I love Cracker Jack, and I’m sure homemade is so much better!

    1. I love that we have so much in common!!! I too am a little jealous of that sister relationship my girls have 🙂

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