This unique treat is the best of both worlds; sweet and salty! Think classic caramel popcorn, but with bits of vegan bacon tossed in. Doesn’t that sound amazing!? Then, I form them into balls, which makes eating them way more fun and perfect for get-togethers. If you’re bored of your everyday snack, give these vegan caramel popcorn balls with bacon a try!
This caramel is easier to make than you may think!
I know making caramel seems intimidating. However, my recipe is quite simple as long as you follow my instructions to a T! First, I let sugar rest in a saucepan until about 50% melted. Then, I shake and swirl the pan around to help redistribute any unmelted sugar. Once the sugar is roughly 75% melted, I turn the heat down to the lowest temperature and cook it until it is completely dissolved and has turned into a beautiful amber color. Lastly, I swirl in vegan butter with a pinch of salt and whisk in water until it’s perfectly smooth.
The rest of the recipe is even easier!
I pour the hot caramel over the popcorn and bacon, stir it quickly, and form it into balls while still warm. The result is perfectly crunchy, slightly chewy, sweet, and salty snacks of pure deliciousness. They are even somewhat savory and smoky from the bacon. If these vegan caramel popcorn balls with bacon sound at all odd to you, you have to trust me that they’re delicious! The flavors pair together in a perfect mouthwatering way, and it hits all of my cravings in one bite!
If you’re a fan of caramel, you must check out these other recipes!
If you make my vegan bacon caramel popcorn balls recipe, don’t forget to post a picture to Instagram, tag me @chefsummerstorm, and #gardengrub so I can see your recreation!
Vegan Caramel Popcorn Balls with Bacon
- 6 ounces vegan bacon (I use a whole package of Sweet Earth's Hickory & Sage Benevelont Bacon)
- 4 cups lightly salted popcorn
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cold vegan butter, cut into tiny cubes (PLEASE measure this accurately. If you use more than 1 tbsp, it will make the popcorn too greasy, and then you won't be able to form them into balls.)
- 2 tsp water
- Cook the bacon according to its package instructions. Then lay them on a few sheets of paper towel and press out all of the excess grease. This is VERY important because otherwise, the fat will make it very difficult to mold the popcorn into balls. Chop the bacon into small pieces that are about 1/2 inch in size.
- Place the popcorn and bacon pieces into a large mixing bowl. Grease the end of a rubber spatula with vegan butter and place it in the bowl.
- Line a large sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and set it aside. Measure out the rest of the ingredients and set them near the stove.
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat and pour in the sugar. Do not touch or stir the sugar. Once about 50% of the sugar has melted, you can shake and swirl the pan around to help distribute the unmelted sugar. DO NOT stir the sugar with any utensils. Once the sugar is about 75% melted and a nice amber color, turn the heat down to low. Continue letting the sugar cook until it is all melted, swirling the pan around every now and then. Again, DO NOT stir the sugar with any utensils yet.
- Once the sugar has completely melted, remove it from the heat. Add in the salt and vegan butter. Immediately swirl the pan around quickly until all of the butter has melted. Then, pour in the water and quickly and constantly whisk the caramel together with a fork until it is extremely smooth. If the caramel isn't completely smooth after about a minute, you can place it back over very low heat, and the warmth should loosen any clumps. You can also whisk in another 1/2 tsp of water over low heat if necessary.
- Quickly drizzle the caramel over the bacon popcorn, scraping every last bit of it out of the pan with the greased rubber spatula. Then, immediately stir everything together until well combined.
- As soon as you can handle touching the popcorn, lightly grease your hands with butter, grab a small handful(about 1/4 cup), and firmly but gently give it a couple of good squeezes to create a ball. Try not to squeeze it too tight or too many times, as this will make the ball chewier and less airy. Also, the popcorn needs to be molded while it is still hot/warm; otherwise, it will not stick together. Place it on the prepared sheet pan and repeat this step until all popcorn has been formed into balls. You should have about 12 balls, but this will vary depending on how small or large you make yours.
- Allow them to completely cool at room temperature, and then eat sooner than later. The longer these sit, the less crunchy they will be.
SAVE THIS RECIPE ON PINTEREST!