Homemade food gifts to share for the holidays, birthdays, or just because

by Sarah Waldman

Photographs by Elizabeth Cecil

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn has the perfect addictive balance of sweet and salty. If making your own caramel sauce at home intimidates you (it can be tricky!), try this simplified technique using brown rice syrup. It is straightforward and packed with winter spice.


6 cups popcorn (you can pop your own, but I usually purchase plain salted popcorn to save time during the holiday season)

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

3 tablespoons peanut butter, smooth or chunky

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more to sprinkle


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Set popcorn aside in a large mixing bowl. Add rice syrup to a small pot, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for
    2 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  3. Remove from heat, and add peanut butter, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and mix until smooth. 
  4. Pour mixture over popcorn and mix well with a rubber spatula to coat the popcorn. 
  5. Spread the sticky popcorn onto the lined baking sheet and bake for six minutes. 
  6. Remove the popcorn from the oven and sprinkle with a few more pinches of cinnamon. Allow to cool completely before packing into small bags, tins, or boxes. Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn is best within three days of making.

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