Yield: 12 popcorn balls

Popcorn Balls

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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!


  • 12-13 cups of popped popcorn* (1 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels)


  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (plus additional for buttering bowl, spatula and hands)
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Use my microwave popcorn method. Place ½ cup popcorn kernels in a glass microwave safe bowl. Cover bowl with microwave safe plate. Microwave for 2-5 minutes, or until there are 1-2 seconds between popping kernels. (*mine took exactly 5 minutes). Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. It will be hot.
  2. Pour popped popcorn into a very large buttered bowl and set aside. I like to use the top of a cake saver.  It’s deep enough to hold all the popcorn and makes it super easy to stir when adding the sauce. You'll need to make TWO batches of microwave popcorn, for a total of 1 cup kernels, and about 12 cups popped corn.
  3. In a medium saucepan, add water and butter and heat over medium low heat until the butter is melted.
  4. Add in the corn syrup, sugar and salt and continue heating over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a metal spoon, until the mixture starts to simmer. There will be tiny bubbles that begin to form around the edge of the pot. When the entire surface is covered with bubbles, the sauce is at a simmer. This will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Continue to heat, over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Continue to check the temperature of the sauce with a digital or candy thermometer until it reaches temperature of between 235- 240℉. This will take approximately 7-8 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Drizzle the sauce over the popped popcorn and stir with a buttered rubber spatula, until all the popcorn is coated. Make sure the sauce that has collected on the bottom of the bowl is evenly distributed. Let the popcorn mixture cool slightly and lay out a large piece of parchment paper or waxed paper on the countertop.  
  7. With buttered hands, cup the popcorn mixture, pressing together lightly, until it holds together and forms a ball, about the size of a baseball. Place on the parchment or waxed paper to set. Repeat until all the popcorn mixture has been formed into balls.
  8. Cool and transfer the popcorn balls into individual baggies that seal or use fold top baggies and tie with festive ribbon.


  • Each popcorn ball is about 1 cup.
  • If using bagged popcorn (or microwave bags of popcorn) be sure to choose unsalted and plain popcorn.
  • Right after the topping reaches the simmering point, the sauce will be very foamy and almost white in color. As it gets closer to the soft-ball stage, it will get thicker, become a golden color, and the bubbles will increase in size. The sauce will no longer flow like a liquid off the spoon but will make a syrupy thread that goes from the spoon to the sauce in the pot. (see photos) It will also coat the spoon and be more of a syrup consistency than a liquid.
  • I highly encourage using a candy thermometer if you are not familiar with candy making. If you don't own one, you could test the sauce by dropping a tiny bit of topping into a glass of cold water. The sauce will form a ball. When the ball of candy sauce is removed from the cold water, the candy instantly flattens and runs over your finger. 
  • Storage: Wrapped in plastic baggies or cellophane at room temperature. Will keep for about a week, but are best eaten within 3 days of making. And so good the day they’re made when slightly warm.
  • Uses: Makes great neighbor gifts, housewarming, treats for kids and parties. Can add festive sprinkles or candies and tie with coordinating ribbon.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 popcorn ball

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 698Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 10gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 896mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 10gSugar: 24gProtein: 8g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

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