How to Make Nutty Caramel Mini Popcorn Balls

Fall means hay rides, fuzzy sweaters, mugs of warm drinks and pumpkin carving, but one must-have that can get overlooked is the classic popcorn ball. And, really, that's too bad: no festivity is complete without offering up this simple treat that's beloved by kids and adults alike. Take all of 30 minutes to recreate this recipe — the delectable caramel coating is nothing but a few ingredients over a flame — and then serve up the salty-sweet dessert in miniature balls. You'll have an addictive pop-in-your-mouth confection that will surely become an autumn mainstay.

(Image: April Anderson)

Things You'll Need

  • 8-10 cups plain popcorn
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts

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Step 1: Make Caramel Popcorn

First, spread the popcorn out evenly on a baking sheet.

(Image: April Anderson)


  • 8 to 10 cups of popcorn is approximately a half cup of un-popped popcorn, or about 1 bag of microwave popcorn.

Step 2: Add Peanuts to the Bowl

Sprinkle the peanuts over the top of the popcorn.

(Image: April Anderson)

Step 3: Make the Caramel Coating

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Then, pour in the brown sugar and stir until it's incorporated. Next, raise the heat and bring the sugar and butter to a boil. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Let the mixture boil lightly for 2 to 3 minutes, and then remove it from the heat. Carefully pour the caramel coating over the top of the popcorn and peanuts. Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gently stir the popcorn on the sheet pan to get all of it coated evenly.

(Image: April Anderson)

Step 4: Make the Popcorn Balls

Rub your hands with butter (to prevent sticking) and form a small handful of the caramel corn into a ball. You may need to give it a good squeeze to ensure the popcorn ball holds its shape. Place the popcorn balls on a baking sheet. The recipe makes approximately 30 mini popcorn balls. Store them in an airtight container until ready to serve.

(Image: April Anderson)
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