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Homemade Chicago Style Popcorn Mix

This shop featuring this recipe for homemade Chicago style popcorn has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MixMatchMunch #CollectiveBias
Super fun recipe for a homemade Chicago style popcorn mix for after school snacking. Delicious caramel corn mixed with Goldfish crackers for a perfect snack or movie treat.

The back to school season is sneaking up on us. In fact, today everyone headed out the door for the first day of school. Everyone now officially attends middle school. Someone slow down this train!

They’re getting older, and they’ve officially reached the stage where they’re eating me out of house and home. I measured my son, and he grew almost two inches this summer alone. I’m afraid to try on any of his pants, as I know they won’t fit. Needless to say, is it any great surprise that I’m constantly looking for a new snack to feed them?

In middle school, my daughter eats lunch at 11:08am. She’ll never last until dinnertime (especially on days she has lacrosse or cross country practice), so I’ve been searching around for some after school snack ideas as part of my back to school prep. That’s where this homemade Chicago style popcorn idea came in.

Ready to dig into a bowl of homemade chicago style snack mix

While at Walmart recently picking up school supplies, I grabbed some snacks I knew I could easily package up for her to eat on the go without making a huge mess. Goldfish® crackers made it into my cart. I picked up two big 30 ounce boxes, knowing we can easily portion out enough for after school snacks. Bonus that the bulk boxes cost just $5.98 on rollback, right? Even better, you can find an in-store offer that saves you $1.00 on any one Bolthouse Farms® 10 oz. Baby Carrots or Bolthouse Farms® 11 oz. juice when you buy any one Pepperidge Farm® Goldfish® crackers 30 oz. or larger.

Finding Goldfish crackers at Walmart

I’m a cheese lover, so the Goldfish crackers Xtra Cheddar variety was a no brainer. As I tried to decide what other flavor to pick up for a little more variety, I discovered the Xtreme Mix with Xtra Cheddar and Pretzel crackers mixed together. Living in Chicago, you know the brainstorm I had as soon as I saw that.

What to make with Goldfish snack mix

If you ever travel to Chicago, there are certain foods you have to eat. Chicago-style pizza. Chicago-style dog. And of course, Chicago popcorn mix. Fantastic caramel corn mixes beautifully with a cheesy cheddar popcorn for something that is indulgently all Chicago. It can be a challenge to make cheddar popcorn at home, but those Xtra Cheddar Goldfish crackers stand in perfectly.

Goldfish crackers extra cheddar flavor

That’s how this homemade Chicago style popcorn mix was born.

Enjoy a bite of cheesy caramel corn

I tested it out as an afternoon snack last week, and it simply disappeared. I love that I can whip up a batch of homemade Chicago style popcorn mix, then save it in a tightly sealed container for the wee ones to enjoy over the next week. A little bit of work pays off with huge dividends!

After school snacking on homemade chicago mix popcorn

Don’t tell them that I may or may not have been enjoying a little “after school snack” myself after they went to bed. A little of the homemade Chicago style popcorn plus some fresh fruit, and everyone is happy.

Popcorn and homemade Chicago style popcorn mix snack

[bctt tweet=”Make a little taste of Chicago in your kitchen with this easy homemade Chicago Style popcorn mix #recipe” username=”honestandtruly”]

Bowl of homemade chicago snack mix ready to eat

How to Make Homemade Chicago Style Popcorn Mix

Pop 10 cups of popcorn, which is about 5 ounces of unpopped kernels. While you could use microwave popcorn or buy prepopped popcorn, we prefer to go old school and make our popcorn on the stove. It’s easy to do, and it tastes amazing. And who can’t use a good arm workout? If you’ve never made popcorn on the stove before, check out this video that shares exactly how we do it.

Line a roasting pan with tin foil, and add the popcorn. Set this aside while you make the caramel. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Add popcorn to foil lined baking dish

In a heavy saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup. Turn the heat to medium, and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once it starts boiling, stop stirring. Let it boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the baking soda and vanilla. Stir until fully incorporated, then drizzle over the popcorn.

Pour hot caramel onto popcorn

Stir with a spatula to coat all the popcorn with the caramel, being sure to get any caramel scraped off the bottom of the roasting pan. Place in the 200 degree oven for 15 minutes, then stir to redistribute which popcorn is on top. Return to the oven for another fifteen minutes.

Stir the popcorn while baking

Stir again – go ahead, taste test to ensure the caramel is fully cooked. Just be careful to let a piece cool enough in the air so you don’t burn your tongue. Add the Goldfish crackers, and stir to distribute.

Add Goldfish crackers to caramel popcorn

Let cool fully, then gently break apart any large chunks. Serve immediately or place in a tightly sealed container on your counter for up to a week.

Have you ever tried a homemade Chicago style popcorn mix? What’s your go to after school snack?

Homemade Chicago Style Popcorn Mix

Homemade Chicago Style Popcorn Mix

Yield: 13 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Love Chicago style popcorn? Make your own version with Goldfish and a fun caramel corn. It's a perfect sweet and salty treat!


  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c corn syrup
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 3 c Goldfish crackers


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Line a roasting pan with tin foil, and add popcorn. Set aside.
  3. Place butter, brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan. Turn stove to medium and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and let boil for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add baking soda and vanilla. Stir until incorporated. Drizzle over popcorn. Use a spatula to gently stir popcorn to coat in caramel. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Stir, then return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  5. Add Goldfish crackers, and stir to distribute. Let cool fully, then break apart any large pieces. Serve immediately or place in a tightly sealed container and store at room temperature for up to a week.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 13 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 331mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition. If you need exact details, please calculate yourself.

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  1. Barbara Karr says:

    Are all of your recipes geared to small portions? Which I want to thank you for. Sometimes I just wander around the kitchen looking for something to snack on and go away empty handed. I don´t want to bake a whole cake or a large batch of cookies. You have given me some great recipes to make a small batch of some great desserts that I can make for me and not have all the waste. I can´t begin to tell you how many things I have thrown away. So, you have not only given me snacks you have also helped my food budget. Thank you ever so much! Barb Karr

    • Michelle says:

      Not everything is small portion, but I’m also big into making something and freezing whatever I have left over so I can pull things out for snacks or dinner or dessert when I don’t have time to cook!

  2. […] creative. The Goldfish® crackers I purchased a couple weeks ago and used to make this Chicago style popcorn mix […]

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