Mastering the Art of Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn: A Flavorful Symphony

Indulging in the world of popcorn flavors, Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn stands as a testament to the delightful marriage of contrasting tastes. This iconic blend, made famous by Garrett Popcorn, brings together the bittersweet allure of caramel with the salty, cheesy goodness of cheddar. In this ode to Garrett, we explore a delectable recipe that elevates this classic snack to new heights.


Ingredients for the Culinary Symphony

Chicago Style Popcorn – Pop Central Popcorn

Caramel Popcorn

  • 1 (3.3-oz.) bag unsalted or lightly salted microwave popcorn, popped (approximately 10 cups)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (packed; 200 g)
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt

Cheddar Popcorn and Assembly

  • 1 (3.3-oz.) bag unsalted or lightly salted microwave popcorn, popped (approximately 10 cups)
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 1 tsp. English mustard powder (such as Colman’s)
  • ¾ cup cheddar cheese powder, divided
  • 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton Kosher salt

Special equipment: A candy thermometer

Crafting the Symphony: Step by Step

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Caramel Popcorn

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F and position racks in the upper and lower thirds.
  2. Place the popped popcorn in a large heatproof bowl, ensuring to remove any unpopped kernels.

Caramelization Process

  1. In a saucepan, combine honey, dark brown sugar, unsalted butter, baking soda, and kosher salt.
  2. Use a candy thermometer to heat the mixture to 275°F, creating a luscious caramel.

Harmony of Flavors

  1. Pour the caramel over the popcorn, ensuring an even coat.
  2. Toss the mixture gently, coating each popcorn kernel with the tantalizing caramel.

Cheddar Popcorn

  1. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, English mustard powder, and half of the cheddar cheese powder.
  2. Drizzle this cheesy blend over the second batch of popped popcorn, ensuring an even distribution.


  1. Combine the caramel-coated and cheddar-coated popcorns for the ultimate Chicago-style fusion.
  2. Gently toss the ensemble, allowing the sweet and salty notes to harmonize perfectly.

Notes for a Perfect Culinary Performance

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  • When popping the popcorn initially, be diligent in removing any unpopped kernels.
  • Opt for a high-sided bowl during the final mixing for maximum convenience and minimal spills.

In this culinary symphony, the Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn captivates taste buds with its yin-yang dance of sweet and salty. A perfect balance of contrasting flavors awaits, inviting you to savor every delightful bite. Embrace the legacy of Garrett Popcorn and elevate your snacking experience with this iconic treat.

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What is Chicago Style Popcorn?

Chicago Style popcorn, also known as Windy City Mix, Chicago Mix, or Chi-Town Mix, is a delightful fusion of caramel popcorn and cheese popcorn. This iconic blend offers a harmonious marriage of sweet and savory flavors, creating a snack that’s both indulgent and satisfying. If you’re eager to experience this delectable combination, here are some recommended sources for procuring this tantalizing mix of cheese and caramel corn. Conveniently, each option allows online ordering with doorstep delivery, making it a perfect treat for yourself or a delightful gift for friends and family across the country.

Are Cheddar Popcorn and Caramel Popcorn the Same?

The individual allure of Cheddar Popcorn and Caramel Popcorn is undeniable, each boasting its own deliciousness. However, it’s the magical combination of these two distinct flavors that has transformed a Chicago, IL hometown treat into a sensation dominating popcorn aisles nationwide! Known as Chicago Mix popcorn, this enticing blend has gained popularity through renowned companies such as Garrett’s, Popcornopolis, and the personal favorite, G.H. Cretors. The fusion of sweet and savory creates a flavor synergy that elevates the popcorn experience to a whole new level.

How do You Make Cheddar Cheese Popcorn & Caramel Corn?

To craft the perfect Cheddar Cheese Popcorn and Caramel Corn blend, follow these simple steps:

  1. Butter Coating:
  • Pour melted butter or ghee over the popcorn.
  • Seal the grocery bag and shake vigorously to ensure all popcorn is thoroughly coated in butter.
  1. Cheese Powder Addition:
  • Sprinkle the cheese powder mixture into the bag.
  • Close the bag again and shake until every kernel of popcorn is coated with the savory cheese flavor.
  1. Equal Fusion:
  • Combine equal amounts of the Cheddar Cheese Popcorn and the Caramel Corn, achieving a harmonious blend of sweet and savory.

Enjoy the delightful result of this process, where the contrasting flavors unite to create a popcorn sensation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Do You Need Cheese Powder to Make Chicago Popcorn?

To achieve the authentic Chicago popcorn experience, the crucial ingredient is cheddar cheese powder. This unique element is essential for creating a perfectly crisp, cheese-coated popcorn. While you can source cheese powder from specialty grocery stores or online retailers, here’s a playful tip: if you’re feeling creative, you could even repurpose the contents of mac and cheese packets to achieve that distinctive flavor. wink

What are the Essential Ingredients for Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn?

To craft the perfect Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn, you’ll need the following essential ingredients:

  • Plain Popcorn:

  • 3 quarts (12 cups) popped popcorn, derived from approximately 1/2 cup kernels.

  • Cheddar Cheese Powder:

  • 1/2 cup of savory cheddar cheese powder.

  • Fine Salt:

  • A dash of 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt.

  • Melted Butter:

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted.

These carefully measured ingredients form the foundation of the iconic blend, ensuring a delightful harmony of sweet and savory flavors in every batch of Chicago-style goodness.

How do You Make Chicago Popcorn?

Creating the iconic blend of flavors known as Chicago Popcorn is a delightful experience, and now you can craft it in the comfort of your home. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare Popped Popcorn:
  • Place the popped popcorn into two large baking pans.
  1. Preheat the Oven:
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  1. Prepare the Caramel Mixture:
  • In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt.
  1. Bake to Perfection:
  • Drizzle the prepared caramel mixture over the popcorn in the baking pans.
  • Bake in the preheated oven, allowing the flavors to meld and the popcorn to achieve a perfect crunch.

Indulge in the authentic taste of Chicago Popcorn, whether you’ve admired it in stores or in pre-made bags – now, it’s a culinary adventure awaiting you at home!

How do You Make Caramel Popcorn?

To create delicious caramel popcorn, follow these straightforward steps:

  1. Prepare the Popcorn:
  • Make the popcorn and set it aside in a large buttered roaster pan.
  1. Caramel Mixture Preparation:
  • In a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt.
  1. Boil the Caramel:
  • Boil the caramel ingredients over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Stir as needed to ensure proper blending.
  1. Remove from Heat:
  • Once the caramel is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  1. Coat the Popcorn:
  • Drizzle the prepared caramel over the popcorn in the roaster pan, ensuring each kernel is coated evenly.

With these simple steps, you’ll have a delectable batch of caramel popcorn ready to be enjoyed. Remember, this is just the first step towards creating the iconic Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn blend.

How do You Make Cheddar Popcorn?

To craft savory Cheddar Popcorn, follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare the Mixing Bowl:
  • While the caramel popcorn is in the oven, get a mixing bowl ready.
  1. Whisk Cheddar Mixture:
  • In the mixing bowl, whisk together Cheddar and mustard powders along with salt.
  1. Coat Popcorn:
  • Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour melted butter over the popcorn and toss thoroughly to combine.
  1. Add Cheddar Mixture:
  • Sprinkle the prepared Cheddar mixture over the popcorn.
  • Toss the popcorn well, ensuring an even coating using a rubber spatula.

With these easy steps, you’ll have a batch of delicious Cheddar Popcorn ready to complement the sweet notes of caramel popcorn in your Chicago-Style Caramel-Cheddar Popcorn blend.

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