Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars

Let me introduce you to Rice Krispies treats on crack. Or steroids. Pick your poison. These are insanely, dangerously addictive. There aren’t even any Rice Krispies in them. Instead, we have a mixture of popcorn, pretzels and peanuts. And you know the whole butter and marshmallow mixture that traditionally binds everything together? Forget about it. How about marshmallows mixed with salted caramel? It’s the ultimate sweet and salty snack bar. It’s Rice Krispies treats meet Cracker Jacks. And this hybrid beats them both. I think I’m still in awe of how delicious this creation is. Also,  have I mentioned how much I adore salted caramel? I currently want to put it on everything.

Here you go, the sweet and salty lineup.

We have salted caramel, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, and another healthy dose of kosher salt. Sweet and salty heaven. I could bathe in this stuff!

Now, for the popcorn you’re going to want to either pop your own or use a “homestyle” version – absolutely no added butter or flavorings, or it would just taste weird. I was planning on popping my own and then happened to see this while perusing the chip and pretzel aisle. If you can find something similar, then I would totally rock the microwave. One bag of this stuffed popped up almost exactly 12 cups of popcorn. Score!

The bars are pretty much made exactly like typical Rice Krispies treats. Only instead of melting butter, you make a salted caramel sauce, then stir in the marshmallows until melted. Pour it over all of the salted goodies (popcorn, pretzels and peanuts), mix it up, and press it into your pan. Let it cool and set up, cut it into bars, and then dive right into heaven.

One year ago: Pumpkin Pie Bars
Two years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread
Three years ago: Challah

Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars

Yield: 32 bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

12 cups plain popped popcorn
4 cups coarsely chopped salted pretzels
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions:

1. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Toss together the popcorn, pretzels and peanuts in a large bowl; set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches an amber color, about 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream (the mixture will bubble up and sputter). Immediately add the marshmallows and stir until melted.

4. Pour the salted caramel mixture over the popcorn, pretzel and peanut mixture and quickly stir together with a rubber spatula (I find that spraying the spatula with nonstick cooking spray makes this easier) until all of the popcorn, pretzels and peanuts are coated with the caramel mixture.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared 9x13-inch pan. Spray a small piece of wax paper with nonstick cooking spray and use to press mixture evenly into pan. Sprinkle with some additional kosher. Cool completely and then cut into bars. These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Shutterbean, originally from Everyday Food)

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88 Responses to “Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars”

  1. Jen of My Tiny Oven on October 19, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Are you serious?? These are crazy insane, in the best possible way!!! LOVE IT!!

    Reply

  2. CouponClippingCook on October 19, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Wow, LOVE the salt and sweet! and the crunch too! Seriously, these flavors are all my faves. The combination sounds delicious!

    Reply

  3. Choc Chip Uru on October 19, 2011 at 3:50 am

    The flavour combination is the best for my taste USA! Salty, ooey gooey caramel with peanut butter? How anyone can resist this temptation is beyond me :)

    Reply

  4. Kathryn on October 19, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Oh wow, these look so dangerous! Just about the perfect combination of textures and flavours.

    Reply

  5. Katrina on October 19, 2011 at 6:22 am

    These are lovely! Nothing like a good salted caramel treat :)

    Reply

  6. beth on October 19, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Oh.My.God. I cannot wait to make these!!!

    Reply

  7. Jennifer@Peanut Butter and Peppers on October 19, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I died and gone to heaven. I love sweet and salty! I am so making this!! Ok, I need to pick up some popcorn!! Right now!!!! Screw going to work, this comes first!!

    Reply

  8. Maria on October 19, 2011 at 9:08 am

    These look very dangerous:)

    Reply

  9. Lori @ RecipeGirl on October 19, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Love the idea! So yummy!

    Reply

  10. Jennifer Plank on October 19, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Off to the store! Must. Get. Supplies! How can you not feel guilty posting a recipe like this so early in the morning???

    Reply

  11. Robyn {Planet Byn} on October 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

    dentists everywhere are shedding a tear right now! haha

    Reply

    • Nancy on September 2nd, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Actually Robyn…I’ll bet they are checking out an addition for their office…

      Reply

  12. gretchen on October 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Can these be made without peanuts. We have nut allergies in our house. Could we maybe substitue chococlet chips for the peanuts?

    Reply

  13. Lindsay @Eat, Knit, Grow on October 19, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Oh Wow! Those look so amazing! I need them now!

    Reply

  14. The Doll Baker on October 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Eyes are bulging! Stomach is growling!! Drooling!!! Need to make now!!!! ♥

    Reply

  15. Jen Kim on October 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Yummy!! Can’t wait to make them on the weekend~

    Reply

  16. Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray on October 19, 2011 at 9:47 am

    As a food bloggy friend of mine told me this past weekend, “You could put salted caramel on a *shoe* and it would taste good.” So, so true.

    These bars look delish!

    Reply

  17. Karen on October 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I was going to try these with cashews cuz of peanut allergies but the thought of chocolate chips??? YUM!! …maybe BOTH?!?!

    Reply

  18. Liz on October 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Woah! These look AWESOME!

    Reply

  19. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on October 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Oohh, this looks good!! Anything described as rice krispies on crack gets my vote :D

    Reply

  20. Jenn@Baking Jenn's Blog on October 19, 2011 at 10:46 am

    YUM! These look awesome!

    Reply

  21. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on October 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Love the combo of sweet and salty! It’s my downfall…

    Reply

  22. Melissa on October 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Dear God, these look incredible!!! Just made the pumpkin pie bars AND the apple pumpkin soup–both were fabulous. Thinking you’re on a roll, so I’ll make these next! :)

    Reply

  23. natalie (the sweets life) on October 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I will be making these very soon! I made samoa popcorn balls recently and now I’m popcorn obsessed! These actually remind me of some bars I saw in Midwest Living magazine awhile ago, except they used kettle corn. GREAT recipe! :)

    Reply

  24. Cookin' Cowgirl on October 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Holy Crap! You kill me! I want a baker’s dozen of these right NOW!

    Reply

  25. Kristin on October 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    Holy shiznit (sorry, my homemade non-swear)! These look addictive! My twin sister and I are planning on making them this weekend. Of course, since I always have to go over and beyond the top, I was thinking of making a chocolate glaze to pour on top and then let it set up and harden a bit in the fridge. How do you think that would go?

    Thanks,
    Kristin C.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 20th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Kristin, My sister actually told me this morning that she ate one drizzled with chocolate sundae syrup and it was amazing – “just what it needed”, she said :) So I say go for it!

      Reply

      • Kristin on October 20th, 2011 at 5:02 pm

        Awesome, thanks for letting me know! I really don’t think adding chocolate to anything could actually be bad but it’s still good to be reassured :)

        I’ll keep you posted on how mine come out and thanks again for the genius recipe.

        Kristin

        Reply

  26. Mara on October 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    *Faint*

    I’m totally going to make these. However, I am hopelessly caramel challenged. I can never seem to get it right and usually end up cooking it too long or too hot. Is there a particular temperature that I can try and achieve on this? Just eyeballing it will probably result in failure for me.

    TIA!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 20th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

      Hi Mara, I didn’t use a thermometer, so I don’t have a temperature to advise you with. I will say that I just cooked it until the edges started to get sort of a copper color and I could smell the caramel. It had just a faint burnt smell, and it turned out to be the perfect amount of time, it was around 10 minutes or so. I hope this helps!

      Reply

  27. Cristina on October 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    This is so NOT nice. The day I promised myself I’ll be good till Christmas so I can shed a few pounds… you come up with this… You KNOW I will make it this weekend, right???

    Reply

    • Joy on November 13th, 2011 at 6:59 am

      I use the free fitbit site…I eat anything and everything that I like and I have lost 10.4 pounds since October 23, 2011. Oh yeah, I can do it!

      Love the recipe…way better than the prepackaged sweet and salty from Nature Valley. Will make enough to give to everyone at Christmas!!! Fruitcake out Sweet & Salty IN.

      Reply

  28. Priyanka on October 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Wow…thats such an awesome recipe..
    Love your creations

    Reply

  29. sherri lynn @ life of a wife on October 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    These look so yummy! I love making granola bars and other snack bars from home. Much healthier!

    Reply

  30. Chip on October 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Cowabunga!! I’m thinking these will make a great addition to my annual Christmas goodie bags. I can’t wait to give this a try! Thanks for posting.

    Reply

  31. Rachel @ Bakerita on October 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Oh.
    My.
    Goodness.
    This is one of few posts that makes me want to run to the store to get all the ingredients…and I literally mean run, because I don’t have a car.
    But…homework calls, so these will have to be made tomorrow. But they will be made. ASAP. Because anything with salt, caramel, popcorn, and pretzels would be a sin NOT to make.

    Reply

  32. Sarah-Jane on October 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    that’s going to do NOTHING (good) for my diet. Goodness – I could munch the lot !

    Reply

  33. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) on October 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Wow! Off the charts!

    Reply

  34. Happy When Not Hungry on October 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    These look so delicious and simple too. Love it!

    Reply

  35. Jen on October 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Those look a million times better than boring old Rice Krisies treats!

    Reply

  36. Ann on October 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Okay – it’s official….you are now the coolest person I know! Buzzed!

    Reply

  37. Gayle215 on October 20, 2011 at 1:44 am

    These look insane. I’m throwing in some peanut butter chips too!

    Reply

  38. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on October 20, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I really need to make these! Love all the different components.

    Reply

  39. Alice on October 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    These look amazing! We just got word at work about a last-minute lunch tomorrow and they’re asking some of us to bring dessert. I’ve made my grocery list to pick up everything I need to make these :)

    Reply

  40. Ally on October 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    These would make the perfect party treat!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  41. Lindsey on October 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I thought these were good but I might have done something wrong like not cooking my Carmel long enough because they seem to fall apart fairly easy. But the family liked anyway.

    Reply

  42. April on October 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    These have been on my list for a few weeks now! They look amazing, does it get any better than salty sweet goodness? I’m going to add in M&M’s and candy corn, mmm!

    Reply

  43. Roxana GreenGirl on October 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Holy cow, I could eat caramel popcorn all day! These bars would create a serious addiction! they sound amazing!!!

    Reply

  44. Amanda V on October 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    This is simply inspired!! Must make these soon!

    Reply

  45. Emily on October 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Wow, these sound so good!

    Reply

  46. Sarah on October 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    SAD!! :( I think I burned the caramel…and it was barely 8 minutes. Hate seeing all this goodness wasted! Just wanted to warn everyone to really WATCH that carmel! On the plus side my waistline will be happy ;)

    Reply

  47. Kristin on October 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Hi Michelle,

    I bought all of the ingredients to make these tonight but I have a quick question regarding the amount of popcorn. The recipe calls for 12 cups (of already popped, I am assuming), is that correct? It just seems like a lot of popcorn compared to all of the other ingredients, so I figured better safe than sorry and just double check.

    Thanks,
    Kristin C.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 21st, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Kristin, Yes, 12 cups popped. It does seem like a lot, but I promise it all works :)

      Reply

      • Kristin on October 21st, 2011 at 4:04 pm

        Hi Michelle,

        Ok then, I trust you! Thanks for getting back to me :)

        Have a great weekend!
        Kristin

        Reply

  48. Alice on October 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Just wanted to follow up and say that these are AMAZING! They are the perfect combo of salty and sweet and I could hardly stop sneaking bites when I was slicing them up to bring to the office.

    Not sure if I should thank you for bringing these into my life or hate you :)

    Reply

  49. DavetteB on October 22, 2011 at 3:17 am

    There is a local woman in North Pole, AK that makes insanely delicious caramels, plain and with sea salt. this would be good to try with them – if I could save enough to try it ;o)

    Reply

  50. Claire on October 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Oh, my goodness… These look seriously easy to make and dangerously addicting! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  51. Tracy on October 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I just LOVE the sweet and salty combo in these bars!!

    Reply

  52. fridge repair on October 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    These are absolutely yummy the savory and sweet combo is so different… I once tried pickled mango same palette of flavors sweet and sour…..Yum

    Reply

  53. Michelle on October 25, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Seriously drooling. You’re an evil genius, peddling salted caramel. I need to find me a reason to make these babies. Aside from, you know, just because. I’d be tempted to add just a drizzle of some semi sweet chocolate but that may be gilding the lily a bit.

    Reply

  54. Kevin (Closet Cooking) on October 25, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Those bars look so good!

    Reply

  55. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on October 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Oh, these look good! Too good! Going to be giving this a try very, very soon. :)

    Reply

  56. Lauren on October 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Michelle!
    I just made these last night, and they turned out completely soggy. I measured it all and followed the recipe to a T. I let them sit overnight, and in the morning all of the caramel-marshmallow stuff was on the bottom of the pan. What do you suggest I try to fix this?
    The flavors were delicious, but they were not servable.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 28th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Lauren, I’m so sorry to hear that! I wonder if either the mixture wasn’t mixed completely (not all of the caramel mixture was distributed) and/or it was a little too warm and a stint in the refrigerator would help next time to get them to set up faster?

      Reply

  57. Sandra on October 28, 2011 at 7:13 am

    These sound really delicious! Got to try them!

    Reply

  58. Maria on October 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Just made these and they are AMAZING!! I made these for a big party and doubled the recipe so it took me about twice the amount of time for the sugar mixture to turn amber, but once it began to turn color it went really quickly. The caramel mixture spelled unbelievably good. Mine were extra sticky, maybe I went a little overboard with the caramel mixture, so the bars aren’t very pretty but they taste amazing. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  59. Kate on November 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I am NEVER making these again. I can’t – I’ve just eaten a good quarter of the batch.

    These are SOOOOO good. They’re a little salty for my taste, but that could just be that I consumed about 80 times the reasonable service size.

    Delicious and easy. Thank you!!

    Reply

  60. Patty on November 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    A very yummy snack! Made it with homemade popcorn and it turned out great. Kids are loving having it as an after school snack. We are popcorn junkies making it old style on the stove. Love to see more popcorn creations.

    Reply

  61. Megan on November 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Made this today and it is delicious! Taste like a way better version of Crunch n Munch. But, I couldn’t get them to set up enough to cut them into bars. They were too gooey Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2011 at 8:23 pm

      Hmm, if it was too soft the caramel may not have been hot enough or been cooked long enough. However, you could try putting the pan in the refrigerator to help them set up.

      Reply

      • Megan on November 22nd, 2011 at 10:15 pm

        I think I didn’t let the caramel cook long enough. However, as an update, I took the pan to work and they were hit with my coworkers! When I mentioend that they didn’t set up right, everyone said they liked it gooey and not to change anything. So, maybe next time I’ll make them into balls or bits and pieces. Thanks for once again making me a star with the sweet tooths in my life!

        Reply

  62. tyson on February 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    My caramel just isn’t getting dark. Its been 14 minutes, I’m so worried about burning it though.

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 21st, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      Hi Tyson, Just stick with it. It depends on the heat level, “medium” can vary from stove to stove. You will definitely notice when it darkens and you’ll certainly smell it before it burns.

      Reply

  63. Sara on July 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Can I just sub melted caramel candies for this recipe? If so, how much? Can I just add some salt to the melted caramels?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 28th, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Sara, You could use melted/salted caramel candies, but I would also add some heavy cream to make an actual sauce. Unfortunately, I don’t have the measurement for the amount of caramel that is actually used here, so I might need to do some trial and error if you go that route.

      Reply

  64. Monica on August 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    After making your Salted caramel ice cream topping several times, I NEEDED to try this. So far, I’m feel a little disappointed.

    I boiled the sugar mixture for at least 15 minutes. I am talking crazy rolling boil. The sugar mixture never got that rich color like the caramel topping. The sugar started to smell scorchy so, I added the cream and mallows. It got big and fluffy. The mixture tastes OK but, it doesn’t look like caramel at all. Also, I used 14 cups of popped plain popcorn, because I was worried it would be soggy like others described.

    The mixture is cooling now but, it’s going to be soggy and mostly not edible, I’m sure. I wish there were instructions to use the regular caramel sauce for this recipe. I really wanted that rich caramel and this just didn’t bring it.

    Reply

    • Mary Ellen on February 25th, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Which kind of pot did you boil the mixture in? It is difficult to tell what color using nonstick. I haven’t made this, but sugar mixtures always eventually turn amber before they burn/scorch and this made me wonder about your pot.

      Reply

  65. Toya | The Limerick Lane on August 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I made this recipe this morning and I had to stop myself from licking the bowl. I did eliminate the pretzels (I don’t like them) and added butterscotch chips. Thanks for such a great recipe!

    Reply

  66. Yael on August 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Okay, Newbie type of question here…when you say “heavy cream” is that like a whipped non whipped? I don’t know how they call it where I live (different language) but I do know they sell Rich’s Whip. Would it work?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 27th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Yael, I am not familiar with Rich’s Whip. Heavy cream is basically just all the stuff that floats to the top when milk is produced. It’s a step above whole milk – much thicker. It is not whipped, but if you have something called heavy whipping cream, that would work too.

      Reply

  67. Yael on August 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    OH, and how many cups of unpopped kernels would I need to make 12 cups? Would you know that?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 27th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Yael, I am not sure how many cups of unpopped kernels you would need. I would check the package of kernels – it should tell you how much popped popcorn you’ll get for each measurement of kernels.

      Reply

  68. Mary Ellen on February 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    8-12 minutes is a wide range. Can you provide a temperature? A candy thermometer would be so much more accurate when trying to replicate the recipe.

    Reply

    • Mary Ellen on February 19th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Sorry!!! Finally found the comment about the temperature.

      Reply

  69. Melissa on September 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Michelle, firstly congrats on your baby news

    Reply

    • Melissa on September 13th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Oops, that didn’t work for me! What I was going to ask was, how much salted caramel sauce (made from your own recipe ) would I need for this recipe?

      Reply

      • Michelle on September 15th, 2014 at 10:15 am

        Hi Melissa, Thank you! Looking at the two recipes, you would need the whole recipe of the salted caramel, although my salted caramel calls for butter, and this one does not. I’m not sure if that would affect the final consistency since you are melting marshmallows into it.

        Reply

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