This stout caramel popcorn recipe is a delicious treat for St. Patrick’s Day or any other day of the year. It’s buttery and crispy with undertones of stout. This treat pairs well with a pint (or two, I’m not judging) of Guinness.
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What Is Stout Beer?
Stout is a dark, full-flavored beer with intense flavors of coffee, chocolate, along with some hoppy bitterness. Some stouts have low levels of carbonation which gives them a creamy texture.
There are many different types of stout, including dry Irish stout (think Guinness), milk stout, oatmeal stout, oyster stout, pastry stout, coffee stout and imperial stout. Each different type of stout has its own unique flavor profile.
One of my favorite stouts is the campfire stout from High Water Brewing. It has notes of smores and a bit of smokiness.
For this recipe I’ll be using Guinness, but feel free to experiment with different types of stout, or even different types of beer!
A Brief History of Stout
Stouts originated from porters. The name porter was first used in 1721 to describe a dark brown beer made from roasted malts. It was named after the street porters (delivery drivers and couriers), who drank this beer because it was strong and inexpensive.
The strongest porters were called “stout” porters. Eventually the meaning of stout changed from denoting a stronger beer, to its own separate style of dark beer.
Guinness is arguably the most well-known stout. Guinness was founded by Arthur Guinness in Dublin in 1759. At first the brewery produced ales and other beers, but in 1799 they decided to focus solely on a porter which later became known as stout.
Is Guinness High in Alcohol?
The dark color of Guinness is quite deceptive, leading many to believe that it has a high alcohol content. Actually, the opposite is true. Guinness contains less alcohol per volume than other beers. The average beer contains 5% ABV (alcohol by volume), while Guinness weighs in at just 4.2%.
Is Guinness Good For You?
In the early-mid 20th century, Guinness created the advertising campaign “Guinness Is Good for You”. The notion that Guinness is healthy started to spread by word of mouth leading many to believe this idea as fact. But is it true?
Guinness contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants which help protect against free radicals. It also has B vitamins fiber, and prebiotics.
It’s also low in calories. A 12-ounce serving of Guinness has 125 calories, while the same amount of Budweiser has 145 calories. And, as I mentioned above, it has one of the lowest alcohol contents of most beers.
That being said, it’s still an alcoholic beverage and should be consumed with caution. Excessive drinking is linked to depression, heart disease, cancer and other serious illnesses.
- Popcorn: You can use air-popped, unflavored microwave popcorn, or stovetop popcorn (see here for how to make perfect stovetop popcorn).
- Stout: I use Guinness in this recipe, but feel free to experiment with out stouts or beers.
- Butter: This recipe calls for unsalted butter. If you’re using salted butter, omit the salt from this recipe.
- Brown Sugar: I use dark brown sugar because I like its deeper, more caramel-like flavor, but you can use light brown sugar as well.
- Light corn syrup: Prevents the sugar from crystalizing and becoming grainy.
- Baking soda: Gives the caramel a soft and airy texture.
- Salt: Salt, in small amounts, enhances the taste and flavor of sweetness.
PREPARE THE POPCORN
Step 1: Prepare 10 cups of popcorn. I prefer stovetop popcorn (see my recipe for perfect stovetop popcorn here), but you can use air-popped or unseasoned microwave popcorn. Use 1/3 cup popcorn kernels to make 10 cups of popcorn.
Step 2: Make sure to remove all un-popped kernels. Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Optional – You can put the popped popcorn on the baking sheet in the oven to keep it warm while you’re making the caramel.
REDUCE THE STOUT
Step 5: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the stout to a simmer. Continue simmering until liquid is reduced by half – to 1/4 cup. This will take about 5-6 minutes. (You can pour the liquid into a glass measuring cup to measure). Add back to saucepan.
MAKE THE CARAMEL
Step 6: Add in butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves, and mixture begins to boil.
Step 7: Let boil for 4 minutes. Do not stir! Stirring can cause sugar crystals to stick to the sides of the pan. If those sugar crystals get into the caramel mixture, it will cause the whole thing to crystallize.
Step 8: Remove from heat and carefully stir in remaining 2Tbsp of stout and baking soda. The mixture will foam up and become lighter in color.
Click here for my caramel popcorn recipe where I go more in-depth into how to make caramel popcorn.
COMBINE POPCORN AND CARAMEL
Step 9: Put the popped popcorn into a large bowl.
Step 10: Pour stout caramel over popcorn. Use a spatula to gently mix together until popcorn is well coated. Do not use your hands! The caramel is screaming hot. Hot sugar can stick to your skin and cause 2nd or 3rd degree burns.
Step 11: Spread stout caramel popcorn mixture in an even layer on baking sheets. Don’t worry if popcorn isn’t completely coated with caramel. The warmth of the oven will remelt the caramel, making it easier to coat the popcorn.
Step 12: Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to get the caramel to evenly coat the popcorn.
Step 13: Remove from oven. Let cool.
What Does Reducing Liquid Do?
When liquid is reduced, it’s simmered until some of the water in the liquid evaporates. The outcome is a thicker liquid with more concentrated and intense flavors.
Reducing the stout works well in this recipe for two reasons:
- Intensified flavor – Caramel is a strong flavor on its own, so reducing the stout concentrates its flavor and allows the stout flavor to come through the caramel.
- Less liquid – We want the popcorn to stay crispy, so we need to limit the amount of liquid we introduce into the caramel. Reducing the stout will provide lots of flavor without adding too much extra liquid.
How Long Does Stout Caramel Popcorn Last?
If stored properly, homemade caramel popcorn can stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. For the best results, make sure the caramel popcorn has completely cooled, store it in an air-tight container and keep it in a cool, dry place. There’s not usually much left to store when I make this, but when there is, I put it in a Ziploc bag. I make sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag, and then I store it in my pantry.
Can You Freeze Stout Caramel Popcorn?
Yes! You can freeze stout caramel popcorn in an airtight container (I use Ziploc bags) for up to a year. Make sure to let the popcorn cool completely before packing it up to store in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it just leave it out to bring it to room temperature.
If it has lost some of its crispiness, you can crisp it up in the oven. Put the caramel popcorn on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake the caramel corn at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, tossing every 10 minutes. You can bake it for up to 60 minutes, depending on how crispy you’d like it.
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OTHER POPCORN RECIPIES YOU’LL LOVE
- 10 cups popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup stout beer, plus 2 Tbsp, divided
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Prepare popcorn, put in bowl and set aside (see my recipe for the perfect stovetop popcorn here).
- Preheat oven to 250°F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- In a medium saucepan, bring stout beer to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer until liquid is reduced by half (1/4 cup). It takes about 6 minutes.
- Add in butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.
- Let boil over medium heat for 4 minutes. Do not stir!
- Remove from heat and carefully stir in remaining 2 Tbsp stout and baking soda. The mixture will get foamy and bubble up.
- Carefully (it's very hot!) pour stout caramel mixture over popcorn and gently stir together until popcorn is evenly coated.
- Using a spatula, spread stout caramel popcorn in an even layer on baking sheet.
- Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to get the caramel to evenly coat the popcorn.
- Remove from oven and let popcorn cool completely before breaking apart.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
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