How to Make Popcorn Balls Without Marshmallows

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cups water

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 9 cups popped corn

  • Candy thermometer

  • Large mixing bowl

  • Medium saucepan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Waxed paper

  • Vegetable oil

Popcorn balls are simple to make – even without marshmallows.

The first popcorn dates back to 5,600 years ago and was found in New Mexican bat caves in the late 1940s. Popcorn balls are supposedly a Midwestern invention. Wherever they came from , they are a treat for any celebration. This simple recipe does not use marshmallows but uses corn syrup and sugar to harden the popcorn into balls.


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Step 1

Combine sugar, water, syrup, vinegar and salt in a medium-sized saucepan.

Step 2

Cook the ingredients over high heat until it reaches 255 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. This is called the hard-ball stage, meaning a spoonful of the candy dropped into cold water would form a hard ball.


Step 3

Mix in the vanilla, making sure to incorporate.

Step 4

Pour mixture onto the popcorn in a large bowl, tossing gently with a wooden spoon to completely coat all popcorn.

Step 5

Cool enough to touch, and form popcorn into 3-inch balls onto waxed paper. Use oil on your hands to keep the popcorn from sticking. Balls are ready to eat when they're completely cooled.


Experiment with different additions to your popcorn balls, such as raisins and chocolate chips.


Use caution when working with hot candy.


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