Healthy Honey Caramel Popcorn With Crunchy Sweet Pecans (dairy-free & gluten-free)
A movie night necessity! This healthy honey caramel popcorn is loaded with sweetness, crunch, and flavor! Likewise, A healthy caramel corn recipe that's simple to make, based on real-food ingredients, and perfect for indulgence. It's full of mouth-watering homemade caramel sauce and topped with crunchy nuts. Use is for movie night, Tuesday night (haha), or whip it up as a homemade gift.
A healthy movie night tradition if there ever was one! I adore popcorn (and so do my girls) but the same old sea salt can get pretty boring (especially in the winter months when we're having more movie nights!).
Thus, this healthy honey caramel popcorn is a nice flavor burst from the norm. It's sweet, sticky, and crunchy all in one. Likewise, it's the perfect way to indulge with a bit of mindless snacking but know that you're taking in some nutrients too.
Don't want to read? JUMP to the recipe!
Why You'll Love This Caramel Popcorn
While this recipe for caramel corn definitely contains sugars, the ingredients are far more natural than the store-bought versions!
This caramel popcorn recipe uses a combination of nut butter sweetened with maple syrup and honey to give it a sticky, caramel-like flavor. Likewise, this makes it delicious but these ingredients also give the recipe some nutritional value. Plus,
- it's a healthier version of the norm so far better for kids (wahoo healthy fats!)
- it can be customized depending on the nut butter and nuts you choose
- it makes a crazy-thoughtful homemade gift if you're craftsy
What Can I Use In Place Of Peanut Butter?
In order to make the caramel portion of the healthy honey caramel popcorn, you need nut butter. However, it is up to you which nut butter you opt for! This caramel popcorn uses crunchy (natural) peanut butter and almond butter. That said, any combination of nut butter will work. We like to switch it up and use either hazelnut butter or cashew butter when we have it.
It results in a slightly different flavor but a decadent one none the less!
Stovetop Versus Microwave Popcorn
This healthy caramel popcorn recipe uses stove-top popcorn for a few reasons. Particularly, it's a healthier option. Microwave popcorn is loaded with potential health risks and not something we keep on hand (I don't even have a microwave!).
In the same way, I'm sure you can grab unflavored microwave popcorn, it's a personal preference to me that stovetop just tastes better and fresh.
That said, in a pinch, you could use something like Boom Chick A Pop bagged popcorn which I'm sure would work. That said, we personally like the experience and lead up of making our own popcorn stovetop, listening to the kernels, and getting excited.
It makes for one hell of a movie night.
Can I Use Olive Oil To Pop The Popcorn In Place Of Coconut?
In short, no. The reason this healthy honey caramel popcorn uses coconut oil is that it has a high heat point. Olive oil can become toxic if heated to high soit's not a great alternative.
Further, since peanut, canola, sunflower, and safflower are all highly processed oils that have issues of their own, we opt for coconut oil. Though avocado oil has a high heat point as well.
When it comes to the crunch in this healthy caramel popcorn recipe the answer is the same as with nut butter: use what you've got! Indeed, any combination of nuts will work for this healthy honey caramel popcorn so no need to go rushing out.
- pecans (pecans and walnuts are our favorites!)
Using The Healthy Homemade Caramel Popcorn As A Gift
This honey caramel popcorn recipe has another perk also: it freezes well!
Thus, this recipe for caramel corn actually makes a killer Christmas or Valentine's gift. I do a lot of homemade gifts for friends and family (here are my favorite DIY spa gifts) and this homemade caramel popcorn fits in perfectly in something like a baking basket.
Whip up a big batch, portion out to gift baggies or cellophane, and toss in the freezer until gift-giving begins. It's thoughtful, delicious and I promise your neighbors will love you far more than if you just give them a coffee card!
Note: when I was making this homemade caramel corn for gifts, I cut squares of cellophane wrapping, rolled my hands into coconut oil and squished the popcorn into balls. Having your hands greased keeps the flavor on the popcorn and also helps hold it together. Place the ball into the cellophane wrapping and pull the ends up evenly. Tie with colored strong and add a homemade label if you need to.
Personally, I think that this plus a cute Christmas mug makes a wonderfully thoughtful gift!
Can I Make The Healthy Salted Caramel popcorn Vegan?
If you're looking to make this healthy caramel popcorn vegan there are two ways to do it. The best way would be to replace the raw honey with coconut syrup directly. Coconut syrup has a natural caramel flavor and it is thicker than maple syrup so it will help keep the caramel popcorn together, sticky, and delicious.
Alternatively, if you don't have that on hand (and don't want to grab it- though you should- it's freaking tasty on ice cream too haha), you could try a combo of brown rice syrup and maple syrup. However, you'd have play around with the amounts though to get the sweetness that you want as brown rice syrup isn't overly sweet.
- coconut oil
- popcorn kernels
- crunchy peanut butter
- almond butter
- maple syrup
- raw honey
- sea salt
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Healthy Caramel Popcorn (dairy & gluten-free)
Stuck on what to whip up for movie night? Rock this healthy honey caramel popcorn recipe and everyone will be one over! Indeed, this homemade caramel popcorn is the perfect blend of sweet and crunchy. Thus, it's a tasty indulgence or a wonderful gift.