How to Make Popcorn Balls


Start to Finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 9

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Popcorn balls, a crunchy and sweet snack that can also be used for decorating, can be made with fresh or leftover popcorn. The glaze used to form the popcorn balls is primarily made up of sugar, corn syrup, water and butter. You will benefit from using a candy and deep fry thermometer to determine when the popcorn glaze is ready.


  • 9 cups popped popcorn 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 cup light corn syrup 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Put the popcorn in a large glass bowl and set aside. Use more than one bowl if you don't have one large enough for all the popcorn; ensure the bowl is heat-resistant.

Place a non-stick saucepan over a medium-high heat; add the brown sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.


  • You could add 1/4 cup of marshmallows to the saucepan, or 1/4 cup of red-hot candies for a cinnamon flavored popcorn.

Stir frequently for about 3 minutes or until all the ingredients have dissolved.

Bring the mixture to boil and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. If you are using a candy thermometer, cook until it reads 235 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • To determine the proper temperature without a thermometer, use a clean spoon to transfer some of the boiling syrup into a bowl of cold water. The syrup should form a soft ball -- this is known as the soft-ball stage.

Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.

Carefully pour the glaze over the popcorn until most of the popcorn is well coated; use a spatula to combine the popcorn and glaze. Let the popcorn cool slightly for about 30 seconds.

Butter your hands or wear oiled latex gloves to shape the glazed popcorn into balls. Place each popcorn ball on waxed paper to cool and solidify.


    • Stir in 2 to 3 drops of food coloring to the glaze when the ingredients have dissolved. 
    • Add candy, unsalted peanuts, seeds or chocolate chips when you combine the glaze and popcorn, if desired.
    • Substitute the sweet with savory seasoning, such as curry powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and chili powder, if you desire.

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