Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr
Total Time
20 Mins
6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

For a more kid-friendly version, omit the ground red pepper. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat canola oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. While saucepan heats, line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set prepared pan aside. Add popcorn to oil in saucepan; cover and cook 2 minutes or until kernels begin to pop, shaking pan frequently. Continue cooking 2 minutes, shaking pan constantly. When popping slows down, remove pan from heat. Let stand 1 minute or until all popping stops. Stir in cashews.

Step 2

Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool 1 minute.

Step 3

Pour hot syrup mixture over popcorn mixture; toss well to coat. Immediately spread popcorn mixture out onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Cool 3 minutes.

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Ratings & Reviews

2Cookie's Review

November 27, 2011
Love this. Have made repeatedly. Do not add as much red pepper as suggested, just enough for everyone to love and then say, oh there was a kick in that. It is sticky to eat, but so tasty. I always make a double batch. Thanks for the recipe.

CeNesPaMoi's Review

November 10, 2011
It's a great start to fabulous popcorn. I cheat and just pop a bag of popcorn. I use some nuts if I have them, if not it's not a big deal. When I make the sauce, I cut the sugar to 1/4c. Finally, to get that yummy, crunchy caramel corn texture, I toss the gooy mess in the oven on parchment paper for 5 min at 375. Let cool and yummmm...I'm scraping the crispy sugar off the paper :) Enjoy!

jmeleeS's Review

August 11, 2011
I made this recipe for a holiday party and everyone loved it! The only drawback was that the popcorn was very gooey / sticky so it made it hard to serve. I snacked on it all week and the sweet / spicy combo is awesome. One of the best snacks I've ever made from C.L. recipes. I definitely plan on making this recipe again around Halloween, and turning them into popcorn balls; can't wait!

tleningt's Review

February 05, 2011
Admittedly, I made a number of adjustments, but this turned out to be DELICIOUS. I wanted to cut back on the sugar a bit and so reduced both the white and maple to 1/4 cup. Also, I wanted to make more popcorn so the "calories would go farther" (if you know what I mean), so I doubled the amount of kernels to a little over a 1/2c (I made the popcorn in 2 batches). I like spicy things quite a bit, especially spicy/sweet, but I'd say you could cut back the cayenne to 1/8tsp and still have plenty of kick. Also, I left out the nuts. This will definitely be a keeper recipe--great for entertaining.

skspillman's Review

December 20, 2010
I made this for a holiday party this weekend. I doubled the recipe. I had seen a similar recipe elsewhere that included bacon, so I cooked 6 slices of center-cut bacon and crumbled them on top of the popcorn after I'd poured on the syrup, then tossed everything together. I think the popcorn would be delicious with or without the bacon, though. The flavors are definitely complex and unique. I found the popcorn was sticky for quite a while, but I served it on a tray, and after an hour or so it wasn't sticky at all. I will definitely try this interesting recipe again.

KLicK126's Review

December 18, 2010
I was worried about the "spicy" in this recipe, but made it exactly as directed. I'm glad I did! The spicy-tickle in my throat perfectly compliments the sweet popcorn. I'll be making this to give as gifts next year. I agree with the previous comment about the slight stickiness and will try her tip.

sgpinson's Review

December 17, 2010
I don't know if it's fair for me to rate this since I didn't make this exact recipe, but I made it into maple bacon by frying and crumbling six slices of bacon, popping the popcorn in a tablespoon of the bacon fat, and omitting the red pepper. Delicious, but needed a few minutes in the oven to crisp it up.

smottet7's Review

December 11, 2010
Very easy to make and a great snack. The portion size is quite small though which I always think is a dirty trick.

poopoobutts's Review

December 01, 2010
I just made this popcorn, and it is outstanding. Instead of sugar I used Truvia ( an all natural sugar substitute) it worked amazingly. And Truvia has no calories so I threw in a couple more cashews. I do agree with Sarah that it was a little gooey. But yummy - gooey.

sarastallryan's Review

November 29, 2010
This is a really yummy snack to serve to guests! I made it without the cayenne since I was serving it to children too. The only problem is that my popcorn was still gooey after tossing it with the maple-caramel. I solved this by popping it in the oven at 325 for 12 minutes, stirring three times during the baking time. Better than Kettle Corn!