By Cassie Johnston
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There is something about hosting houseguests that makes me want to go junk-food crazy. I guess I like to use other people kicking around my kitchen as an excuse to whip out all the foods I wouldn’t normally eat. I like to live by the 80/20 rule of nutrition—80% of the time, you’re eating healthy, fresh foods and 20% of the time, you can eat non-nutritive junk food like this. And it seems like that 20% always happens to fall when I have friends and family in my home. I swear I eat healthy most of the time, friends. It just doesn’t look like I do when you come visit my house.
We hosted my husband’s parents this past week, and there was a lot of delicious food (junky and not-so-junky). So much so that I actually totally forgot to bring out this party mix that I made for snacking on. I had put it all in a big zip-top bag and stashed it behind a bunch of other food, and by the time I remembered it was there, my in-laws were already on their way back to Canada. C’est la vie. Honestly, I kinda think Craig isn’t too sad that we have a whole bag of this stuff to ourselves. He called it “incredibly dangerous” as he shoveled handfuls in his mouth.
The inspiration for this mix comes from my favorite movie theatre treat. I like to mix together buttered movie theatre popcorn with Reese’s Pieces while taking in a flick. It is the absolute best combination of sweet and salty! So to make this Halloween snack mix, I took that flavor profile to the next level—mixing together popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, salted peanuts, pretzels, and everyone’s favorite fall candy—candy corn. And then I slathered it all in a peanut butter caramel coating, and topped it with an orange candy drizzle and sprinkles—just in case you didn’t quite get the idea that this wasn’t health food (well, it’s healthy for your soul—but probably not your body).
When it comes to the texture of the final mix, you have a bit of a flexibility with this recipe. If you want it to be crunchy and crispy like standard caramel corn, you can cook the peanut butter caramel coating a bit longer to the hard crack stage (about 300°, but I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just use the ole water glass trick). If you want it a bit fudgier, just cook it until the soft crack stage (about 280°). I like it this way because a lot of the elements are still crunchy—the peanuts, pretzels, Reese’s pieces—but the whole mix is a bit creamier. It’s a bit like a candy bark that way. Both ways work (although I would say the hard crack would be best for putting in cute little baggies and distributing as gifts). Whatever bakes your cookie. Or caramels your corn.
I went with the standard Halloween candy add-ins, but as I was browsing the candy displays, I saw so many fun additions that would work. You could throw in candy eyes for a really spooky treat. Or even those candy pumpkins (those were always a little bit too much for my tastes). You could also drizzle on some different candy melts—black and green would be fun and festive, too!
I promise I’ll post something with some vegetables later on. Now that my houseguests have left, it’s time for me to get back to my normal, kale-heavy diet.
Enjoy! Happy Halloween!
4 from 5 reviews
PLEASE NOTE: After feedback from readers, we have reworked this recipe and rewritten it to be more consistently successful in your kitchen. The following is the updated recipe.
Keywords: snacks, dessert, Halloween, popcorn
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This is so fun! And I’m with you – whenever I have houseguests, I go crazy with the junk food!
Looks yummy and so Halloween healthy!! I mean it has peanuts :) My coworkers are going get some of this treat for sure. Thank you for sharing :) What is little JuneBug planning on dressing up to be for her 1st Halloween?
I can definitely see myself devouring a whole bunch of this candy snack mix.. need to get my hands on the ingredients so I can recreate it. Thanks for sharing!
I would like to try this HALLOWEEN SNACK MIX.How do I get the recipe?
I tried this recipe this weekend and it didn’t work for me at all. The first batch burned so fast (less than a minute after putting the ingredients in the pan, at the “medium-high” heat you suggest) and so badly that I almost had to throw the pan out. The second batch I cooked over very low heat, stirring constantly, and it still scorched a bit, but never got to soft crack stage because of the low heat. It looked dark brown and gloppy, not smooth and caramelly, and tasted slightly burned. Any idea what happened? Could it have been the brand of peanut butter I used? (Trader Joe’s, the kind you have to stir.)
Oh no! I’m so sorry it didn’t work for you. It’s possible it was the peanut butter, but I don’t really have any idea why that would be. My only thought on the second batch, it that there was water that got into it, but that’s just a wild guess. Sorry I’m not more help!
That’s okay! Try, try again :)
The issue here is with the method, not the ingredients. You cannot boil peanut butter. I made this work by following the boiling instructions, but only with the sugar, honey & the butter. After you remove the caramel from the stovetop, then stir in salt and peanut butter. I also added a splash of vanilla at this point. I also traded out the granulated sugar for brown sugar, just as a matter of taste. Very yummy stuff but I also found the caramel wasn’t quite enough to cover all the popcorn. Will adjust next time. ?
Agreed – learned this the hard way! My “caramel” (peanut butter included) started burning like a minute in on the medium-high heat suggested. I was tired (and honestly, slightly tipsy) and decided to just pour it over the dry ingredients as-is, but it wasn’t enough to cover it. My coworkers will just have to deal with it at our potluck tomorrow. Oh well. Thanks for the recipe!
Thanks, Kathleen. Clearly this “Chrissy” person doesn’t test her own recipes in her rush to be a “blogger”. I, also, had a hard time with this recipe and wasted a bunch of food.
Same thing with me. Waiting now for my pan to cool, after only 1 minute of boiling my house is smelly and airing out and my pan, with lots of work, is hopefully salvageable. Wonder if once it comes to a boil heat should be turned down but your remarks said that didn’t work either!
Like some of the other comments I too burned the caramel the first time and it was a dark gloppy mess. You cannot boil it without stirring the mixture. That’s the problem. You have to constantly stir it. I should have listened to my gut! I stirred constantly for almost 5 minutes the second time and reduced the heat to medium. Take it off the heat if you notice the mixture crystaling because that means it is burning. Worked perfectly the second time. Also I have no idea what candy melts are. Couldn’t fine them in the grocery store so I eliminated that part.
I tried it this way the 2nd time around and it turned out perfect !!
1st time — followed instructions and the caramel had somewhat of a scorched smell/taste — but it all got eaten.
2nd time — cooked the honey, sugar and butter, boiling approx 2-3 mins, stirring, removed from heat and added peanut butter. put back on heat, stirring constantly until melted. Perfect!
So hopefully everyone will see the notes to how to mix the caramel to enjoy this wonderful munchie!
I made the mix for the first time and it tastes delicious but would prefer it to be crispier. Any advice on how to do this after the fact?
You could bake it @ 350 for 10 min in the oven on a cookie sheet.
i made this for a halloween party in 2015, doubling the recipe. it was GONE! people loved it and asked me for the recipe. super easy, huge hit. thank you!
This looks so good. I want to try it and somehow combine it with this recipe for muddy buddies from lemon tree dwellings. Thinking if I shake the excess powdered sugar off and make them separately and then combine that might work.
This is a great fall recipe if you haven’t tried it
I don’t believe for a single second that the food pictured was produced from the recipe provided. Like others have said, do NOT try this dishonest recipe. I’m sure it was photographed “wet” and/or the burnt bits were fished out before the “pour.” I, too, nearly wasted time and $15 in ingredients the night before a get-together with no other food options for taking. Luckily, I still have “naked” snack mix I can contribute.
Now that bees are considered endangered, I’m SO very disappointed to waste half a cup of honey on a disaster. My bad for not reading the comments first, YOUR bad for not publishing honest content in favor of cutesy pictures and website traffic.
I’ve very sorry it didn’t turn out for you. I understand your frustration, however, I do think if you stuck around, you’d see that I’m not the kind of person to fake-out anyone with dishonest representations of my recipes.
This recipe has worked for me multiple times, but I can’t argue that other folks seem to have issues with it. I’m honestly not sure where the disconnect is coming from in the recipe, but I do know it’s not from the fact that I’m trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes—and I’m brokenhearted that anyone would assume that about me.
Again, I’m very sorry it didn’t turn out for you. My hope is to be able to retest this recipe (again) this Fall and try to figure out what is going on, but in the mean time, I’m leaving it up as is for the folks who have been successful and would like it to refer back to. Thank you for your feedback.
I thank you for your response and truly appreciate your taking time to reply. My main concern at this point is that this recipe is still widely circulating on Pinterest with no notes or edits to the original content. In my opinion, it needs a major overhaul or it needs taken down. It’s not working. In my household, we only have the cookware we were given for our wedding and that came with two saucepans. The jury is still out on whether one of those saucepans is ruined for good from making this recipe.
That’s a great suggestion! I can’t do anything about it circulating (that’s out of my control), and like I said, some folks have had success and use this recipe frequently—so taking it down completely would alienate them. But I did add a note to the recipe marking that folks struggle with it.
Also: I sent you an email!
If a recipe doesn’t work for me, I move on. I may perhaps leave a comment about what did or didn’t work, or figure out how to make it work.
I don’t think any person posting recipes on a blog has evil intentions. Silliness.
It would really help if you could post a how to video. just a suggestion.
Made this tonight for my family for movie night. Pretty fan flippin tastic if you ask me. I read the comments (wow, super nasty I might add) and, despite the disclaimer, felt we NEEDED to have this! I cooked my “caramel” at a lower heat I guess. Just to be safe. We are in love!! We used slightly less popcorn because 24 servings was a lot! :) Thanks for the recipe! Fall staple going forward!!
I agree regarding comments. It’s a recipe…not a claim to cure cancer! I am gonna try this recipe today!
If everyone would just keep their aprons on for a moment, the issue discussed below is very easily solved. As others have mentioned, just make your caramel (honey, sugar, and salt) and remove it from the heat when at your desired temperature. Then stir in the peanut butter and you’re all set! I made it tonight and it’s amazing. My littles are going to be so excited about their road snacks tomorrow!!!
Haaaaa! Love it. I’m making it today, adding peanut butter after making caramel.
After reading all the comments I wasn’t sure which way to go in making your dish, but as you said you left it up to us the reader to try it I our own if we wish, so that’s why I did and I’m SO glad I did. Turned out great and of course taste wonderful. Thanks for the recipe will make again. Your not to blame for others issues with this. Keep up the good work.
Just made this for a trunk or treat party and it looks AWESOME! I did make a few changes based on the comments, I only boiled the sugar, butter and honey for 2 minutes while stirring the entire time and added peanut butter and salt after. I made sure to use regular peanut butter, not natural since it’s oily and does tend to separate. I couldn’t find any candy melts around here so I also added some sprinkles when I was pouring the PB caramel mixture over the mix. Will definitely be making again for another Halloween party later this month?
Worked for me. Great recipe! I cooked it at a lower heat just to be safe and did stir it a couple of times. Thanks for sharing.
Wish I had read the comments about the mixture , a whole batch wasted and it’s not cheap! IF I make it again I will try Kathleen’s method. I did not see any note talking about issues with recipe, it would be helpful if you could put it right above or below recipe, of course all stove temperatures vary and user errors happen also. I tend to follow recipes exactly but I thought it was starting to burn and should have listened to my gut, oh well!
There is a note right above the recipe. Sorry it didn’t work for you!
It’s ok, not your fault and you’re not dishonest or bad, I can’t believe some of the comments some people have put! I’m going to try again and I’m sure it will come out fine!! :)
After reading the suggestions of waiting to addd the peanut butter after boiling the caramel, I decided to give this recipe a try with that change. Needless to say I was not disappointed! Super quick and tasty! Mine wasn’t as well coated as the pictures (and I omitted the candy melts) but there was plenty to ensure that every bite was great!
I found a solution to the peanut butter sauce issue. Melt 6 tbsp of butter with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of honey until over medium low heat until it begins to bubble up. Whisk constantly, but allow to bubble for 1 minute. Microwave 3/4 cup of peanut butter until soft and able to be drizzled. Remove the butter mixture from the heat and then, while constantly stirring, pour in the melted peanut butter. It will be the consistency of caramel. Half the popcorn mixture and then pour half the peanut sauce over it, stir until combined. Repeat with the other half. I also found that adding the reeses pieces at the same time as the chocolate melts/sprinkles makes them not sink to the bottom.
Made this recipe this morning with the modifications in the previous comments…making the caramel before adding the peanut butter. Turned out perfectly.
Be nice people (looking at you S). Recipes often have to be tested and tweaked several times before they’re perfected. If you’re concerned about bees and honey, don’t make this recipe or make caramel without it. If you’re concerned about the circulation on Pinterest, don’t pin it. Cassie has gone out of her way to respond, tweak the recipe and make other suggestions. Most of all, don’t sit behind your keyboard and say things to someone that you would never say to their face.
Thank you, Julie!! Very well said!!
I just made this recipe. First batch burned and was no good. Then I read the comments. The second batch I cooked between. 3 and 4 on the stove. It took a long time but when it finally started to simmer, I started the 5 min timer. I let it simmer 5 min stiring constantly. It turned out great
I made this and was nervous because of previous comments. When making the Carmel sauce I waited to add the peanut butter until after the other ingredients started boiling. I left it on long enough for the peanut butter to melt into the sauce. It worked great!
Just tried this, I followed the recipe exactly…sorry to say the caramel didn’t work, it burned so I am sending my husband to the grocery store to buy the individual wrapped caramel squares to melt for a quick save because I have to ship these today for my grandkids in Texas….
Did anyone make this in advance, and if so how long would you say it lasted before it started to loose it’s crunchiness and freshness? I’m debating if I make it 5 days before Halloween, if it will still taste just as delicious. I’d like to bag it up for Halloween gifts to give the kids teachers and cousins.
Thanks for posting on the top of the recipe that it’s at your own risk. forced me to review the comments.
Peanut butter that is all-natural or generic can be a game changer and drastically effect the outcome. cold or hot recipes. Have learned using both.
Cooked sug./but./hon. for 3 min. boiled med. heat. constantly stirring. removed. added peanut butter & salt. was perfect.
We followed the advice of adding the peanut butter after removing the sauce from the heat and it worked perfectly! This recipe is wonderful and tastes amazing! Thank you!
I had to make a double batch, so I did this two ways. The first batch I made pretty much as written, except I felt like I had to continuously stir because the peanut butter was starting to scorch. I turned the heat down to med-low, and continued for a couple more minutes before removing it, and pouring over the popcorn mixture. The second way, I just heated the honey, sugar, and butter in a pan over medium heat. Boiled for 5 minutes, removed it, and added the peanut butter. Poured it over the popcorn mixture. It was definitely a “softer” caramel mixture, but still good. My kids are taking this to their Halloween parties tomorrow. Thank you for this recipe! I will make this again!
Read this for perfect peanut butter sauce!
Anyone made scotcheroos? They are my go-to dessert. Same concept with the sauce, here. Bring sugar, honey, salt & butter to a boil, right when it boils, remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, you’re done. I can’t imagine boiling anything like this for 5 minutes, let along not stirring. I made a double batch this weekend and it is amazing – still gooy and soft 2 days later.
I just made it more like rice crispie treats. Cooked slower on medium heat and stirred the whole time. Skipped the bowl and went straight to baking sheet with wax paper. Less popcorn, pretzels etc to help ratio and it was delicious!!! Could eat the whole pan!
Pretty darn tasty! Used the directions to boil all & add peanutbutter last though. ??
I love trying new things. I’m giving it a try.
I love autumns suggestions. sounds totally accurate. I would not stir in bowl either until cool. that should break it up. will give it a try. also like the idea of prepared caramel,,heat slowly, then add peanut butter and stir bvery quickly,cool slightly. absolutely will try. my daughter will love it!
I haven’t tried this yet, but it looks amazing! I also wanted to comment because I feel terrible that people are being flat out nasty to you in the comments. Sometimes recipes work out perfectly, other times they don’t; either way it’s not the end of the world. I can’t wait to try it!
Could you make a video tutorial on how you make this?
I’ve never posted a comment on a blog recipe, but seeing some of the nasty comments above made me want to speak out. This recipe worked perfectly for me (I added the peanut butter after the butter, sugar, and honey). This goes perfectly with some sweatpants, a glass of wine, and some halloween movies! Thanks so much for sharing Cassie!
I don’t know if anyone has tried this but, having made chex-mix in the past, I didn’t even use my stove. In a large, glass measuring cup, I combined the honey, sugar and butter and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stirred it and re-microwaved it for 2 minutes. While its all very hot, I stirred in the PB and continued as the recipe states. It was amazing and not a hint of an issue. Thank you so much for the recipe, its a keeper.
I also had the burning problem! A minute or two after it started boiling, it began burning nonstop! I took it off heat and tried to stir. That became a problem, so I just let it sit for a bit while I got our parchment paper and baking sheets. I spread the dry ingredients out and just used the remaining/salvageable caramel combo to drizzle overtop instead of fully coating. Never fear, candy melts are here! I’ll just make extra candy melts and do lots of drizzling with that to stick it all together ?
The only thing I did differently was double the caramel mixture and added the peanut butter after I took the caramel off the heat. I think your instructions are fine. You do say to keep stirring it but I’m already familiar with making just a sugar caramel. I don’t know why people leave mean comments. This recipe is pretty delicious and easy. Thanks!!!
Having our first hallloween party tomorrow! Making this recipe!! Looks wonderful, thank u for sharing. Read all the positive comments!;) I will let you know how well it goes and try to take a picture or two! Happy Halloween!!
My caramel sauce scorched due to not being able to stir it. I think my pan is ruined. What is the reason behind not stirring it for 5 minutes? Next time I think I’ll continually stir. It also made my popcorn soggy but that could be my fault as I used bagged popcorn not air popped. I’ll give it another try. It does have good flavor.
Doubled the recipe. Cooked the honey, butter, one HALF the sugar, no salt for 4 minutes. Removed from heat. Added the peanut butter. FABULOUS,!!! We had to hide it in the garage until the rest of family arrived or it would have been eaten. GREAT recipe. I did not use the candy melts….didn’t need them.
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