Chicago Mix Popcorn

A popcorn lover’s dream, a sweet and salty snack known as Chicago Mix Popcorn! This gourmet popcorn mix is a cheesy and sweet combination that’s great for movie nights, super bowl parties, family gatherings, or showers. Separate into small batches for gifts for family, friends, or co-workers.

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Chicago mix popcorn in a bowl stacked in another bowl.

If there’s one thing you should know about the city of Chicago and its inhabitants, it’s that they don’t play with their popcorn. Since 1949, when Garrett Popcorn Shops stepped onto the scene, Chicago-style kernels have been an integral part of the city’s food culture, like deep-dish pizza.

Garrett’s founders, Claude and Gladys Garrett, started their business slinging fresh, warm caramel and cheddar cheese popcorn. Noticing that their customers were mixing the two flavors together, the Garrett’s made the ingenious choice to sell the mixture themselves. The original Chicago style popcorn was born & the rest is history! 

Why you’ll love this Recipe

  • Perfect gift-giving snack.
  • Satisfy those sweet & salty cravings!
  • The feeling of nostalgia.
  • Customizable! Add peanuts, chocolate morsels, etc.

What Is Chicago Mix Popcorn?

Chicago Mix popcorn is a snack that combines caramel popcorn, a sweet, buttery flavor and a crunchy texture, and cheese popcorn, a tangy, salty taste and a vibrant yellow or orange color. When the cheese and caramel popcorn mix, you get Chicago Mix Popcorn, offering a delicious blend of contrasting flavors and textures in each bite.

Ingredients for Cheddar Cheese Popcorn

Neutral flavored oil – Any high smoke point neutral oil like coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, etc. If all you have is olive oil that’s okay, just make sure to keep an eye on the popcorn as it could burn quickly.

Popcorn kernels – Use either yellow or white popcorn kernels, both can be found at your local store.

Unsalted butter – High-quality melted butter will offer a delicious buttery flavor.

Kosher salt – Salt is great for added flavor and will help to elevate the cheddar cheese flavor. If you’ve needed to use salted butter, then just omit the salt.

Cheddar cheese powder – Cheddar cheese powder can be found online for a very reasonable price. You’ll have plenty enough left over for future cheese popcorn.

cheddar popcorn ingredients.

Ingredients for Caramel Corn

Light brown sugar – Contains molasses which imparts a deep, robust flavor. Dark brown sugar can also be used. 

Unsalted butter – Helps to create a smooth, luxurious caramel. Salted butter will also work, just omit the added salt. 

Light corn syrup – Adds sweetness, while also preventing the sugar from crystallizing before the caramel forms. If corn syrup is not available to you, glucose is a perfect substitute. 

Salt – Balances out flavor. If desired, sprinkle on extra sea salt before baking for a Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn. 

Pure vanilla extract – Enhances flavor and adds aroma. The better the quality of vanilla, the better your popcorn will be! 

Baking soda – Baking soda is the secret to an even, thin coating of caramel on popcorn. When added to the caramel, baking soda creates a reaction and increases the volume of the mixture, making it easier to coat the numerous kernels. 

Popcorn kernels – Use either yellow or white popcorn kernels, both can be found at your local store.

Neutral flavored oil – Any high smoke point neutral oil like coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, etc. If all you have is olive oil that’s okay, just make sure to keep an eye on the popcorn as it could burn quickly.

caramel popcorn ingredients.

How To Make Chicago Mix Popcorn

Cheddar Popcorn

Heat oil over medium heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.

Once the oil is hot and rippling, add the popcorn kernels and cover immediately. Gently shake the pot over the burner as kernels begin to pop. (Be careful of escaping steam.)

Continue cooking the popcorn kernels until popping slows and you hear one-two seconds between pops, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour popped popcorn into a large bowl.

While gently tossing, immediately add butter, salt, and cheese powder, evenly distributing all of the ingredients together. Set aside while you prepare the caramel popcorn.

Caramel Corn

Heat oil over medium heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.

Once the oil is hot and rippling, add the popcorn kernels and cover immediately. Gently shake the pot over the burner as kernels begin to pop. (Be careful of escaping steam.)

Continue cooking the popcorn kernels until popping slows and you hear one-two seconds between pops, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour popped popcorn into a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt and stir together in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add vanilla and baking soda and stir until foamy.

Pour over popped corn and continue stirring until well coated.

Spread the caramel popcorn on the baking sheets and bake for 1 hour until set and crisp.

WARNING: Handle the caramel with extreme caution and care; it is very hot and quite dangerous! Do not attempt to eat/taste the caramel straight out of the saucepan.

Chicago Mix Popcorn

Mix both the cheddar popcorn and caramel corn into a large bowl and serve.

Storing Chicago Mix Popcorn

Before storing your leftover homemade popcorn, let it cool completely. Warm popcorn will create condensation in the container it’s stored in. No one likes soggy popcorn.

Store in a cool dry place in a properly sealed airtight container. Glass, plastic, or a resealable bag are all great options. Homemade cheese popcorn will be it’s freshest for up to 5 days.

Chicago mix popcorn in a bowl stacked in another bowl.

Expert Tips And FAQs

  • Refreshing Popcorn: Spread onto a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes at 275 F, tossing halfway through.
Why do they call it Chicago style popcorn?

Chicago Mix popcorn is a gourmet popcorn snack that combines caramel popcorn, known for its sweet and buttery flavor, with cheese popcorn, which has a tangy and salty taste. When you mix these two popcorn flavors, you get Chicago Mix popcorn, a delicious blend of contrasting flavors and textures in each bite.

Close up of chicago mix popcorn.

More delicious snack recipes

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Chicago mix popcorn in a bowl stacked in another bowl.

Chicago Mix Popcorn

A popcorn lover's dream, a sweet and salty snack known as Chicago Mix Popcorn that combines caramel corn and cheddar popcorn!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course: Snack
Servings: 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients

Cheddar Popcorn

  • 2 tablespoons Neutral flavored oil vegetable, grapeseed, etc.
  • 1/2 cup Popcorn kernels
  • 3 tablespoons Unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons Cheddar cheese powder

Caramel Popcorn

  • 2 cups Light brown sugar packed
  • 1 cup Unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Pure vanialla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons Neutral flavored oil vegetable, grapeseed, etc.

Instructions

Cheddar Popcorn

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Once the oil is hot and rippling, add the popcorn kernels and cover immediately. Gently shake the pot over the burner as kernels begin to pop. (Be careful of escaping steam.)
  • Continue cooking the popcorn kernels until popping slows and you hear one-two seconds between pops, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour popped popcorn into a large bowl.
  • While gently tossing, immediately add butter, salt, and cheese powder, evenly distributing all of the ingredients together. Set aside while you prepare the caramel popcorn.

Caramel Popcorn

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Once the oil is hot and rippling, add the popcorn kernels and cover immediately. Gently shake the pot over the burner as kernels begin to pop. (Be careful of escaping steam.)
  • Continue cooking the popcorn kernels until popping slows and you hear one-two seconds between pops, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour popped popcorn into a large bowl.
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Add brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, and salt and stir together in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and baking soda and stir until foamy.
  • Pour over popped corn and continue stirring until well coated.
  • Spread the caramel popcorn on the baking sheets and bake for 1 hour until set and crisp.

Chicago Mix Popcorn

  • Mix both the cheddar popcorn and caramel corn into a large bowl and serve.

Notes

  • If using salted butter, skip the kosher salt-Cheddar powder can be found online.
  • The ratio of caramel to popcorn will determine how saturated each kernel is. The fewer kernels used, the more caramel coverage you’ll get. The popcorn you see pictured in the photos has medium caramel coverage, meaning there are visible white splotches studded throughout. Medium to light coverage caramel popcorn is definitely still as sweet and indulgent as ever.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 461mg | Potassium: 138mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 70g | Vitamin A: 840IU | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg
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Filed Under:  Snacks, Super Bowl and Game Day Party

Comments

  1. This is a simple and addictive blend of sweet caramel and savory cheese. Perfect movie night snack – that I may or may not share!

  2. This popcorn combo is crazy addictive! Perfect for movie night! (Thanks for the tip on refreshing the popcorn, too – very helpful.)

  3. Chicago mix popcorn is one of my favorite all time snacks but I had no idea it was so easy to make at home! I’m never going back to store bought again!

  4. I had no idea there was a name for this fabulous flavor combination of popcorn. I truly can’t wait to make this myself. Yummy!

5 from 4 votes

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