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Cheddar-Caramel Chicago Mix Cupcakes 1

So, Chicago Mix. You sweet, salty, sultry little vixen, you.

I think you might very well be the one and only trashy snack from the junk food aisle that tempts me.

But you tempt me so badly I avoid that aisle like the plague.

Cheddar-Caramel Chicago Mix Cupcakes 2

That is, until I give in and buy a bag. Only to get it home and have inspiration hit on how I can drag that single bag out as long as possible (because after that bag is gone, you know I’m cut off for another month).

If you just get me when it comes to Chicago Mix popcorn, you’ll want to run right out and buy a bag to make these cupcakes. Unless of course, you already have a bag in your pantry…in which case, can we be besties? ;)

Chicago Mix Popcorn

And if you’ve never had Chicago Mix before, I know how it sounds…ewww! But there’s just something about it that’s so wrong its right. The complex bite of sharp Cheddar paired with sweet caramel is strangely addictive. These cupcakes capitalize on that genius flavor combo.

Cheddar-Caramel Chicago Mix Cupcakes 3

Plus, bonus (because I heart you), this recipe only makes six cupcakes, so even if you want to indulge in one (or one today and one tomorrow), you won’t have a ton of cupcakes left on hand to contend with. Send the rest packing with hubs to work and he’ll be sure to make new friends.

Or you can easily double this batch and take these beauties to a summer picnic or potluck because you know they’ll make you the star of the party.

Cheddar-Caramel Chicago Mix Cupcakes 4

Cheddar-Caramel Chicago Mix Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 6 cupcakes
These cupcakes take full advantage of the genius Cheddar/caramel combo that is Chicago Mix popcorn.
Cheddar Cupcakes:
  • 2 oz (60 g) sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
Caramel Buttercream:
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) salted butter (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (175 g) powdered sugar
  • ½ to 2 teaspoons milk (more or less to reach desired consistency)
  • ¾ cup Chicago Mix popcorn (I used G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix)
  • 6 teaspoons caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  1. For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F; line a cupcake tray with paper liners.
  2. Add the shredded cheddar, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor; pulse a few times to get it going, then turn it on and let it process until it forms a ball (sort-of like dough), stopping to scrape the sides down as necessary. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and process to combine.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine, being careful not over-mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared tray and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
  5. Once the cupcakes are cool, make the buttercream. Use a handheld electric beater to mix the butter, caramel sauce, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating while gradually adding milk until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. (You may need a little more milk or powdered sugar to achieve the right consistency.)
  6. Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream; top each with 2 tablespoons Chicago Mix popcorn and 1 teaspoon caramel sauce.
Salted Butter for the Caramel Buttercream: If you only have unsalted butter, use that and add a pinch of fine salt.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. Girl, CHICAGO MIX. How is it so good?! I can’t figure it out, but it is. It really is. These cupcakes are like…my kryptonite!

  2. Whoa, Faith! I can always count on you to come up with knock-out combinations that never would have entered my mind. These are stunning!! I love the play of sweet and savory.

  3. KatheenTheLavenderBouquet says:

    WOW—-I am so excited about this recipe! I’ve shared it on my Facebook page, The Lavender Bouquet. My daughter lives in Chicago so I am very familiar with the Cheddar-Caramel popcorn. This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. What a fun recipe! I love popcorn and when I lived in Chicago we went to Garrett’s a lot to get it. So good!

  5. Yum! These look great. We are HUGE fans of this popcorn too, I think I have 3 bags in my cupboard! Haha. My favorite is the cheddar pieces that have the slightest hint of sweetness from being next to the caramel ones.

  6. Wait, why have I never heard of Chicago mix before?!?! I need this in my life!!!!!! I also need these cupcakes in my life because what’s better than a cupcake topped with popcorn?

  7. Wow, these are so original. I’m trying to wrap my mind around the cheese and caramel. I make a pear pie with a cheddar crust so why not a cupcake. They look amazing and would be a huge it at my daughter’s birthday party.

  8. When we got tins of mixed popcorn my favorite was always at the bottom when all the kinds were mixed together – but I didn’t know there was a name for it! These look amazing.

  9. Wow, how original! Those cupcakes are intriguing and I bet they taste terrific.



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