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Popcorn Balls


Popcorn Balls

Popcorn Balls

Photo © Molly Watson
Freshly popped corn and some sugar syrup make delicious Popcorn Balls easy enough for kids to help make them. Add a drop or two of food coloring to the sugar mixture for colored Popcorn Balls - just be sure to wear latex gloves when you form them to avoid several days of dyed hands!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. vegetable, canola, or other neutral tasting oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Up to 1 cup nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, red hots, little candies, or other tiny items of tastiness you’d like to add to your popcorn balls
  • Butter or spray oil


  1. Heat a large pot over high heat. Add the oil and let that heat up for about 30 seconds. Add the popcorn, shake pot to coat the corn with oil, cover, and shake the pot every few seconds until you hear that first kernel pop. Reduce the heat to medium and shake intermittently as the corn pops. When the kernels slow down and there are a few seconds between each pop, take off the heat and set the lid ajar. Let sit until corn stops popping.
  2. Heat the corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves completely. (Add a drop or two of food coloring at this point if you want colored balls.) Pour the syrup over the popcorn, add nuts or raisins or whatever if that’s your style, and stir to coat popcorn as completely as possible.
  3. Coat your hands with butter or spray oil, grab a handful of popcorn and press it into a ball. This will be more difficult than you may think. You will need to squish it much more and much harder than you think you should. Once you have a ball, you can add more popcorn, again pressing it on much firmer than seems right, to make a bigger popcorn ball, if you like. There is a sweet spot, when the popcorn has cooled just a bit but isn't quite room temperature yet when they stick together the easiest.

Makes 10 – 12 handful-size Popcorn Balls.

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