This Candied Vegetable Popcorn Mix is a creative and fun way to incorporate veggies into a sweet snack. Great for parties and holidays (especially Halloween)!
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Boy oh boy, do I have a fun one for you today! I actually need to give most of the credit for this recipe to my husband/sous chef Will. When I was brainstorming ideas for this month’s Recipe Redux theme, “Oscar Movie Inspiration,” Will gave me the great idea to do something with popcorn, a.k.a. the best movie and party snack ever.
We then started to think about how to “veg-ify” the popcorn (not a real word, but it’s real in the Veg World). Will mentioned candied veggies, and soon enough we were down an internet rabbit hole about how to make them. From there, this Candied Vegetable Popcorn Mix was born.
This snack mix is 1) SO delicious and 2) SO pretty! It would be perfect for an Oscars viewing party. I’m also getting major Halloween vibes from these photos, don’t ya think?! But first things first, let’s talk about how to make those colorful veggie strips!
How to Make Candied Vegetables
Making candied vegetables involves just a few ingredients: veggies of choice, water, and sugar. Root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, or parsnips, make the best candied vegetables since they already contain more natural sugars than other veggies.
Since we wanted this to be a colorful snack, we settled on carrots and golden beets. I chose golden beets instead of regular red/purple beets because I didn’t want the dish to inherit a faint pink color.
To make the candied vegetables, we loosely followed these instructions from Southern Living with a few of our own adjustments.
First, you need to scrub and peel the outer layer of the veggies. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel down the carrot to make wide, long strips. Press firmly to make the strips as long as possible, about 2-4 inches. I’d recommend getting the widest carrot you can find. You can also use a vegetable peeler for the beet, or slice it into thick pieces and then carefully use a mandoline to make strips.
Next, boil water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Add the veggie strips and bring everything to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Drain the veggie strips in a fine mesh sieve and carefully transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t overlap the strips. They will be tender, so use your fingers to gently pull them apart.
Bake them at low heat (225 degrees) for about a half hour and let them cool for five minutes. They will shrink as they bake, hence the tip to make the widest/longest strips you can, and crisp up as they cool. Add them to popcorn and drizzle melted dark chocolate on top. Voila!
Doesn’t that sound fun?! Remember to bookmark this recipe if you’re watching the Oscars this weekend. And be sure to check out the other Recipe Redux snacks this month :-).
Candied Vegetable Popcorn Mix
- 1 carrot - large and wide
- 1 golden beet
- 1.5 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips - divided
- Sea salt - to taste
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with nonstick spray.
- Trim, scrub, and peel off the outer layer of the carrot and golden beet. Using a vegetable peeler, peel down the carrot and beet. Press firmly into each vegetable to yield wide, long strips.
- In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the vegetable strips and lower heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the strips in a sieve.
- Carefully transfer the strips to the lined baking sheet. They will be tender, so use your fingers to gently pull them apart without breaking them. Make sure they do not overlap on the baking sheet. Transfer the sheet to the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool for ~5 minutes.
- While the veggie strips are baking, pop the popcorn kernels in an air popper. If you do not have one, use pre-popped/packaged popcorn.
- As the veggies are cooling, melt 1/4 cup of the dark chocolate chips in the microwave. Place them in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir and repeat in 15-second intervals until the chips are melted and smooth.
- Combine the popcorn and veggie strips in a large bowl. Add the other 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted dark chocolate on top of the mix.
- Let the chocolate cool and harden before serving (or else you'll have sticky fingers). You can also skip the melted chocolate and add more chocolate chips to the mix. Add a dash of sea salt to taste. Enjoy!