Air Fryer Cracker Jacks — Who doesn’t love Cracker Jacks? The sweet and salty combination is hard to resist, but it’s not always the healthiest snack.

This recipe for Air Fryer Cracker Jacks gives you all of the flavors with a fraction of the calories. Plus, it’s so easy to make that you can enjoy this treat any time you want!

Air Fryer cracker jacks copycat recipe
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This recipe is easy, and my kids went crazy for it today; my project was to recreate a copycat version of the Air Fryer Cracker Jacks.

Making this was extremely easy, and it is fabulous. Sweet and crunchy simultaneously, the air fryer does a great job of making this caramel corn.

What Are Cracker Jacks?

If you’re like most people, the name Cracker Jacks probably brings to mind a delicious, caramel-coated popcorn snack. But what are Cracker Jacks? And where did they come from? Keep reading to learn more about this iconic American treat.

Last week, I made my first batch of Air Fryer Caramel Corn, and it was so easy that my son asked me if I could do Homemade Cracker Jacks. I went to the internet and figured out what the original was made from and thought it seemed simple enough. So, I created this batch for their mid-day snack and wanted to share it with you all.

While I am not a fan of making popcorn in the air fryer, there are too many chances of the loose kernels getting caught in the heating element. But I am a huge fan of using my air fryer to its total capacity, which means making homemade baked popcorn.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Why You Will Love Homemade Air-Fried Cracker Jacks

Homemade Air-Fried Cracker Jacks are a delightful twist on the classic American snack, blending the nostalgic flavors you love with the benefits of modern cooking techniques. Here’s why you’ll fall in love with making Cracker Jacks in your air fryer:

  • Healthier Option: Air frying reduces the need for excess oil, making your homemade Cracker Jacks a healthier alternative to traditional deep-fried snacks. Enjoy the same great taste with fewer calories and less guilt.
  • Crispier Texture: The air fryer circulates hot air around the Cracker Jacks, ensuring each piece is evenly cooked and crisply caramelized. This method brings out the best texture in the popcorn and peanuts, making them irresistibly crunchy.
  • Convenience: Making Cracker Jacks at home allows you to enjoy this iconic treat anytime you crave it. The air fryer simplifies caramelization, making it more accessible and less time-consuming than oven baking.
  • Customizable Flavors: When you make Cracker Jacks at home, you can adjust the sweetness, saltiness, and types of nuts used according to your preferences. Add a personal touch with spices or additional flavors like vanilla or cinnamon for a unique twist.
  • Fun DIY Project: Preparing Cracker Jacks in your air fryer can be a fun DIY project to do with family or friends, offering an enjoyable way to create and share homemade treats.
  • Perfect for Gatherings: Homemade Air-Fried Cracker Jacks are perfect for movie nights, parties, or as a special treat during games. They’re sure to impress guests with their fresh taste and homemade quality.

Embracing the air fryer for making Cracker Jacks at home brings a classic snack into the modern age, offering a perfect blend of flavor, health, and convenience.

Check Out How To Make Cracker Jacks In Air Fryer

YouTube video

Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

With only a few simple ingredients, you can make your Cracker Jacks in the air fryer, both easy and delicious!

Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.

  • Popcorn Kernels: The base of your Cracker Jacks, these kernels will pop up light and fluffy in the air fryer, providing the perfect canvas for your sweet and sticky coating.
  • Spanish Peanuts: Adding a crunchy, nutty element, unsalted peanuts balance the sweetness of the caramel and give your Cracker Jacks that authentic, satisfying crunch.
  • Brown Sugar: The key to the caramel’s sweet, molasses-like flavor, brown sugar melts down beautifully with butter to form the perfect sticky glaze.
  • Corn Syrup: Provides the glossy, sticky consistency characteristic of Cracker Jacks, ensuring the caramel coats evenly and clings to the popcorn and peanuts.
  • Butter: Essential for creating a rich, velvety caramel sauce, butter adds depth of flavor and helps bind the sweet coating to the popcorn and peanuts.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt is crucial to balance the sweetness of the caramel, highlighting the snack’s addictive salty-sweet contrast.

How To Make Cracker Jacks In Your Air Fryer

Making Cracker Jacks in your air fryer is a simple and fun process that yields a deliciously nostalgic treat with a modern twist. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating this classic snack:

Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Set the timer for 30-second intervals and stir until a slight simmer happens. (mine took 1:30 minutes)

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Then mix with the popped popcorn, add the peanuts, and ensure that the popcorn and peanuts are covered with the syrup.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Spread on an air fryer safe tray or in your air fryer basket, and line it with aluminum foil. Set the temperature to 275 degrees F for about 6-8 minutes. If you have an air fryer basket model, spread the popcorn on a parchment-lined basket.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Let it cool, as it will harden as it cools. Season it with salt.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Recipe Variations

Exploring recipe variations for Air Fryer Cracker Jacks allows you to customize this classic snack to match your taste preferences or to try something new. Here are some creative twists to enhance your homemade Cracker Jacks:

  • Spicy Kick: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika to the caramel mixture before coating for a sweet and spicy version that adds an unexpected warmth to each bite.
  • Chocolate Drizzle: Once the Cracker Jacks have cooled, drizzle them with melted dark, milk, or white chocolate. Let the chocolate set before serving for a decadent treat.
  • Mixed Nuts: Swap out or complement the peanuts with a mixture of nuts such as almonds, cashews, or pecans for a varied texture and richer nutty flavor.
  • Maple Syrup Twist: Substitute the corn syrup with maple syrup for a deeper, autumnal sweetness that pairs beautifully with the caramel.
  • Sea Salt Finish: After air frying, while the Cracker Jacks are still warm, sprinkle a light dusting of flaky sea salt over the top for a gourmet salty-sweet contrast.
  • Cinnamon Sugar: Mix in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon with the brown sugar for a cozy, spiced version. You can also sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the Cracker Jacks before they cool.
  • Holiday Spice: During the holidays, add a mixture of ground nutmeg, cloves, and ginger to the caramel sauce for a festive flavor reminiscent of the season.
  • Coconut Delight: Add a cup of sweetened shredded coconut to the popcorn and peanuts before coating them with caramel for a tropical twist.
  • S’mores Variation: Mix mini marshmallows and graham cracker pieces with the popcorn and peanuts after coating them with caramel. The residual heat will slightly soften the marshmallows, mimicking the flavor of s’mores.
  • Mocha Madness: Stir a tablespoon of instant coffee or espresso powder into the caramel mixture for a mocha-flavored Cracker Jacks, perfect for coffee lovers.

Each of these variations brings a unique flavor profile to the traditional Air Fryer Cracker Jacks, making them adaptable to different occasions, seasons, or personal cravings. Experimenting with these ideas can turn snack time into an exciting culinary adventure.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Pro Tips

Making Air Fryer Cracker Jacks is not only a fun culinary experiment but also a great way to enjoy a classic snack with a homemade touch. Here are some professional tips to ensure your Cracker Jacks turn out perfectly every time:

  • Use Fresh Popcorn: For the best texture and flavor, use freshly popped popcorn rather than pre-packaged or microwave popcorn. This will give you a cleaner taste and better control over the salt and butter content.
  • Even Coating: Make sure the caramel sauce evenly coats all the popcorn and peanuts for a consistent flavor in every bite. A gentle toss with a spatula or spoon works well.
  • Watch the Caramel Closely: When making the caramel sauce, keep a close eye on it to prevent it from burning. Removing it from the heat at the right time ensures a smooth, rich caramel without any bitter taste.
  • Stir Gently in the Air Fryer: Stirring the mixture gently while air frying helps to evenly crisp the Cracker Jacks without breaking the popcorn into small pieces.
  • Let It Cool Completely: Allowing the Cracker Jacks to cool completely after air frying is crucial. As they cool, the caramel hardens, creating that signature crunchy texture.
  • Adjust Sweetness: Feel free to adjust the amount of brown sugar based on your sweetness preference. You can also experiment with adding a bit of honey or maple syrup for a different flavor profile.
  • Add a Pinch of Spice: For a unique twist, add a pinch of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to the caramel sauce for a subtle spicy or warm note that contrasts beautifully with the sweetness.
  • Storage: Store your air fryer Cracker Jacks in an airtight container at room temperature to maintain their crispness. They’re best enjoyed within a few days.
  • Serving Suggestion: For an extra special treat, serve your Cracker Jacks in individual paper cones or small bowls during movie nights, parties, or as a nostalgic snack.

Following these pro tips will help you master the art of making Cracker Jacks in your air fryer, offering a delightful snack that’s both satisfying and reminiscent of childhood joy.

air fryer cracker jacks


Can I use microwave popcorn for this recipe? While you can use microwave popcorn, it’s recommended to use air-popped or stovetop popcorn for the best flavor and control over the oil and salt content. Microwave popcorn often comes with added flavors that might not pair well with the caramel.

How do I prevent the caramel from hardening too quickly? To prevent the caramel from hardening before it coats the popcorn and peanuts, work quickly and efficiently after removing it from the heat. Adding baking soda will help keep it workable for longer by introducing air into the caramel.

Can I make Cracker Jacks without peanuts? You can easily omit the peanuts if you have allergies or prefer not to include them. Alternatively, you can substitute with other nuts like almonds or cashews.

Why do my Cracker Jacks feel chewy instead of crunchy? Chewiness often results from not cooking the caramel long enough or the air fryer not being set to the correct temperature. Ensure the caramel reaches a hard crack stage, and air fry until the Cracker Jacks are fully dried and crispy.

How long can I store Air Fryer Cracker Jacks? Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, Air Fryer Cracker Jacks can last up to a week, though they’re best enjoyed within the first few days for maximum crispness.

Can I double the recipe in the air fryer? It’s best to cook in batches to ensure even airflow and cooking. Overcrowding the air fryer can lead to unevenly cooked Cracker Jacks.

Is it possible to burn the Cracker Jacks in the air fryer? Yes, due to the sugar content in the caramel, it’s possible to burn them if cooked at too high a temperature or for too long. Keep an eye on them and use a lower temperature if necessary.

Can I add other ingredients to the mix? Absolutely! Feel free to add dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, or even chocolate chips (after air frying) to customize your Cracker Jacks.

What do I do if my air fryer doesn’t have a low enough temperature setting? If your air fryer runs hot, try cooking the Cracker Jacks at the lowest setting for a shorter time and keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. Opening the air fryer periodically can also help lower the temperature.

Why is stirring halfway through cooking important? Stirring ensures that the Cracker Jacks cook evenly, preventing the pieces at the edges from burning and allowing the hot air to circulate all sides of the popcorn and nuts.

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

More Easy Air Fryer Recipes

If you love this Air Fried Homemade Cracker Jacks recipe, you will love some other Air Fryer Appetizer Recipes!

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Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

Air Fryer Cracker Jacks

5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings


Air Fryer Cracker Jacks — Who doesn't love Cracker Jacks? The sweet and salty combination is hard to resist, but it's not always the healthiest snack. This recipe for Air Fryer Cracker Jacks gives you all of the flavors with a fraction of the calories. Plus, it's so easy to make that you'll be able to enjoy this treat any time you want!
YouTube video


  • 4 cups popcorn, popped
  • 1/2 cup Spanish Peanuts
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • In a microwave-safe bowl, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Set the timer for 30-second intervals, and stir in between until a small simmer happens. (mine took 1:30 minutes)
  • Then mix with the popped popcorn, add the peanuts, make sure that the popcorn and peanuts are covered with the syrup.
  • Spread out on an air fryer safe tray or in your basket, line it with aluminum foil. If you have a basket air fryer, then line your basket with parhcment paper and then pour hte popcron mixture in.
  • Set the temperature to 275 degrees F, for about 6-8 minutes.
  • Let cool, as it will harden as it cools.
  • Season with salt, right before serving.


  • Air Fryer, Basket or Oven Model
  • Cooking Spray
  • Parchment Paper, optional


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 1034kcalCarbohydrates: 200gProtein: 23gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 652mgPotassium: 660mgFiber: 23gSugar: 77gVitamin A: 87IUCalcium: 78mgIron: 6mg

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