Homemade Cracker Jacks

“Take me out to the ball game. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. I don’t care if I ever come back…”

Do you like those Cracker Jack things that come in a box with a little prize? Or how about Fiddle Faddle? If those are something you enjoy, you will love this!


This is another adaptation from The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. The original recipe calls for corn syrup and brown sugar. This adaption uses honey, molasses and sucanat.  Sucant is an unrefined sweetener.  Another brand name would be Rapadura.  You could use regular brown sugar if you don’t have either the Sucanat or the Rapadura.

I pop my corn on the stove top in coconut oil. If you have not yet tried stove top pop corn, you must! It is wonderful. The first time I tried it I was a little intimidated by the heat and oil and popping but after the first time, it is easy. Need some guidance? Take a look at this video from GNOWFGLINS.  Wardeh’s son Mikah demonstrates the popping process. They use red palm oil which makes a lovely popcorn. You could certainly use the red palm oil for the Cracker Jack popcorn if you wish. No need to salt the popcorn for this recipe.  To make 8 cups of popcorn I used 1 cup unpopped kernals.  Update: a comment below states that 1 cup yielded almost 15 cups popped. Perhaps my corn doesn’t pop like it should. Maybe start with 1/2 cup and pop more if needed.

Cracker Jacks

1/2 cup Sucanat
1/4 cup butter
4 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 cups popped popcorn
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup almonds (optional)

In a large bowl, combine popcorn and optional nuts (you could use 1 full cup of either nut instead of 1/2 cup of each).

In a deep sauce pan, combine Sucanat, butter, honey and molasses over low heat. Stir until butter and, if needed, honey are both melted.  When melted, set your timer for 3 minutes and allow to cook over low heat without stirring.  When time is up, remove from heat. Add baking soda and then vanilla stirring to mix. Pour the hot mixture over the popcorn and stir to evenly coat. Put the wonderfully gooey popcorn in 2 9×13 baking dishes. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cool. Break popcorn into pieces and enjoy!

I’m sharing this recipe at Traditional Tuesdays , Simple Lives Thursday and Homestead Barn Hop.

12 comments to Homemade Cracker Jacks

  • Genet

    I make this with molasses too.
    MAKE SURE you are using 100 % REAL molasses.
    Much of what you see in the store here is called “molasses syrup” and is nothing more than flavored corn syrup.

    I know what’s in my molasses. I watch the neighbor make it every fall. :)

    • Millie

      Hi Genet,
      You are so right! Reading labels is essential. And not just one time but every time we pick up a product even if we’ve been getting the same thing for years. Ingredients/formulas change. I usually get blackstrap molasses from Azure Standard since I don’t have a neighbor who makes it :-)

  • Love this recipe! My family loves popcorn and my husband would LOVE this recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Genet, thanks so much for your point about molasses. It’s not something that I typically buy and I think that I would have assumed that it was pure…
    Julie recently posted..Food Adventure Friday: "The Green Feast"My Profile

    • Millie

      Hi Julie,
      You could leave out the molasses. I’ve done that before and it is still yummy. If you are using Sucanat or Rapadura either of those already have a molasses flavor to them. The additional molasses justs adds a richness (I guess that would be how I would describe it).

  • I have made this several times now- it’s a huge hit at our house. I used maple sugar instead of Sucanat. I also added sunflower seeds one time, so so good! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Linda

    I got almost 15 cups popped from 1 cup of kernels.

  • kathy

    do you have a good source for non-gmo, organic popcorn?

    • Millie

      Hi Kathy,

      I recently learned, to my surprise, that gmo popcorn is not on the market. Here is a blog post that talks about it. And I believe that this podcast also discusses that popcorn is not gmo. I haven’t had time to listen to the podcast to confirm this. That said, it could be another situation with the recent gmo wheat find in Oregon… :( I do usually buy organic popcorn from Azure Standard. I’m not entirely happy with it though. I don’t think it pops as well as it should.

  • Rebecca G.

    I found this on pinterest and had to try it! I used coconut sugar instead of sucanat and coconut oil instead of butter, added lots of unsalted peanuts and this was addicting! So good to find a healthier version of such an iconic snack, thank you for this wonderful recipe!

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