Transform plain popcorn into delicious treats! These Popcorn Balls are made from scratch with a soft, sweet taste. Give them as gifts or keep them all to yourself!
Why this Recipe is Best
Popcorn Balls are a favorite around the fall and winter holidays–but I love making them all year long. These classic treats were once a staple for families during the fall holidays.
Do you remember trick or treating on Halloween and getting some of these in your bag? While homemade treats are no longer the norm, who’s saying you can’t make these and share with family and friends!?
Let’s bring that tradition back with this soft and delicious popcorn ball recipe!
They make great gifts or party favors, too.
- Simple and inexpensive ingredients
- No marshmallows!
- Soft texture
- You can customize pop corn balls for any occasion!
Unlike many recipes, this one contains no marshmallows. Instead, the popcorn is held together by a sweet syrup that sets into a soft candy coating.
These Popcorn Balls hold their shape while staying perfectly soft! You can take a big bite without fear of breaking a tooth.
They stay soft for over a week if wrapped in baggies!!
Popped Popcorn – I use my microwave popcorn recipe for making popped corn. You can use bagged popcorn, too. Make sure it’s unsalted and plain.
Unsalted butter – You will also need extra butter for coating the mixing bowl, spatula and your hands. The prevents the mixture from sticking to everything when you roll it into balls.
Place the popped popcorn in an extra large mixing bowl. Make sure there are NO kernels!
Making the sauce:
Heat water and butter in a sauce pan on the stove. When the butter is melted, stir in sugar, corn syrup and kosher salt and bring it to a simmer.
Here you’ll start to see tiny bubbles appear in the mixture. Continue stirring as it simmers and use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.
Once the thermometer reaches 235 to 240 degrees F you can remove the pot from the stove. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Shaping the popcorn balls:
Pour the syrup over the bowl of popcorn. Use a buttered spatula to toss the popcorn, getting the sauce as evenly distributed as you can.
Use buttered hands to cup the syrup coated popcorn. Lightly press together to form a ball. Place your popcorn ball on a piece of wax paper or parchment and repeat until all the mixture has been shaped.
Tips and Tricks
- Storing: Store popcorn balls in plastic baggies or wrapped in cellophane at room temperature. If you’re giving them as a gift, tie bags with a festive ribbon too!
- Variations: Mix in colorful sprinkles or candies to dress up your popcorn balls for different holidays.
- Mixing the popcorn: I use the top of a cake saver for mixing the popcorn with the sauce. You will need a vessel large and deep enough to give you room to thoroughly toss the popcorn for even coating.
- The perfect holiday dessert. There’s nothing like finishing Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole and enjoying a sweet treat afterwards! Put one on everyone’s plate with a name card for seating!
If you are not familiar with candy making, I highly recommend investing in a candy thermometer. It takes the guess work out to get perfect results every time. If you absolutely need to make these Popcorn Balls now and don’t have a thermometer handy, here’s what you can do to test if the candy mixture is done.
Drop a tiny bit of the syrupy mixture into a glass of cold water. It will form a ball. When you remove it from the water it should instantly soften against your finger.
Popcorn Balls stay good for about 1 week. However, they are really BEST if enjoyed within 3 days.
Yes, you can use plain, unsalted bagged microwave popcorn. You will need 2 bags of popped popcorn for this recipe.
When I make these, each ball contains about 1 cup worth of popcorn.
More Easy Dessert Recipes
Celebrate any special occasion with this easy recipe. You’ll love these homemade Popcorn Balls just as they are or dressed up with all kinds of mix-ins!