Recipe Spotlight

Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar Cheese Cookies 

It’s time we turned this sweet and savory flavor combo into the form of a cookie. 

Published Sept. 2, 2022.

If you’ve never tried caramel cheddar popcorn, you are missing out. This brilliant Chicago popcorn treat is equal parts sweet, savory, and delicious.

I bought my first bag of caramel cheddar popcorn a few weeks ago. I shoved a fistful in my mouth and was immediately wowed. The way the caramel and cheddar dance with one another is a flavorful masterpiece. I wanted more.

Ever since that first bite, I knew I had to re-create this dynamic duo of flavors into another tasty treat. Something handheld. Like a cookie!

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These cookies are so easy to make. It starts as your basic sugar cookie base: butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder . . .

And then comes the fun part. Stir in crushed caramel popcorn and shredded cheddar cheese. The cheese melts throughout the cookie, balancing the crunchy caramel with salty savoriness.

When it comes to cheddar, the more aged the better. At least a year old. Older cheddars have less moisture, so it won’t interfere with the cookie’s structure.

Aged cheddar also tastes better.

If you’re a fan of salty and sweet, you’ve gotta make these cookies.

Caramel Cheddar Popcorn Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Total Time: 45 minutes

Use a cheddar that’s been aged for at least 12 months. 

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces) 
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (2½ ounces) crushed caramel popcorn
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or with hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add egg and vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Fold in popcorn and shredded cheddar with rubber spatula until well combined.

3. Roll heaping tablespoon dough into 1½-inch ball between palm, then place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheet (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). 

4. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and just set and very lightly colored in center, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through cooking. Cool cookies on baking sheet about 3 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely. Serve.

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