Holiday Party Guides: Candied Vanilla Popcorn

Posted by Basia Padlo

All this month, we're cracking open Quirk Throws You Five Awesome Parties for how-tos to help your holiday party by THE GREATEST. This week, Candied Vanilla Popcorn is on the menu. You can find this recipe in Pure Vanilla

This sweet and salty treat may disappear moments after you set it out for your guests! For an edible party decoration, add a few drops of food coloring to the sugar syrup and then pile the popcorn in tall glass jars.

You'll need:

  1. 12 cups popped popcorn (from about ½ cup unpopped kernels)*
  2. Salt, to taste, plus 1⁄8 teaspoon salt, for the syrup
  3. 1 cup roasted salted peanuts
  4. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  5. ½ cup light corn syrup
  6. 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  7. ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  8. 4 ounces white chocolate, melted

* Any type of popcorn will do: oil-popped in a pot on the stove, air-popped, or even good-quality microwave popcorn works fine.


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, or line with foil and coat foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Season popcorn with salt to taste and discard any unpopped kernels. Combine popcorn with peanuts on prepared baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven while you prepare the syrup.
  3. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and ½ cup water and stir gently. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and boil mixture, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 300°F.
  4. Remove pan from heat; set thermometer aside. Stir in vanilla bean paste, almond extract, and the 1⁄8 teaspoon salt.
  5. Remove baking sheet from oven and quickly pour syrup over popcorn and peanuts in a thin, steady stream. Wearing heatproof gloves or using two wooden spoons, immediately toss popcorn to coat.
  6. Pat everything into an even layer and drizzle white chocolate over top. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
  7. When white chocolate has set, break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


This recipe makes about 4 quarts of popcorn.