Popcorn balls are sweet, crunchy treats that are perfect for the holidays! Child-friendly snacks with salted popcorn, butter, corn syrup, vanilla and sugar.

Childhood favorites like Popcorn Balls and Rice Krispies Treats are fast and easy Desserts which you can enjoy at any age and for any occasion!

Popcorn balls on the table


Whether it’s a fun treat on the weekend or a festive snack for the holidays, this recipe for Popcorn Balls is the winner! These old-fashioned Halloween favorites of crispy popcorn covered with a sweet, buttery candy coating are great on their own or with any mix you can think of. Try them with sweets, nuts or even dried fruit – the sky is the limit.

This traditional Popcorn Balls recipe uses corn syrup instead of marshmallows for a sweet and crispy consistency. It looks like a candy coating instead of the sticky marshmallow texture of a Rice Krispie Treat. The candy coating holds the popcorn together better, so you get perfect Popcorn balls that do not fall apart.

Popcorn balls collage of prep steps

Popcorn balls are a great party snack because you can make them in advance and they are usually hypoallergenic. There are no nuts, the popcorn is gluten free and you can even swap the butter for vegetable shortening to make them vegan! You can make festive popcorn balls, wrapped in colored cellophane, during the holidays for gifts. Make them golf ball size instead of softball size for treats!

The easiest way to make these popcorn balls is to simply use 2-3 bags of popcorn from the store, either buttered or plain flavored. If you want to use microwave popcorn or make your own fresh popcorn, we have tips to make sure they come perfect every time.


Tips for making fresh popcorn

  • You do not need to pop popcorn in oil, just heat a large pan (with a lid) and when it is hot reduce it to low heat. Add popcorn kernels and cover with lid. Shake the pan every few seconds until the time between popping is about 3 seconds.
  • Freeze popcorn kernels before popping your own corn to reduce the number of unopened kernels. You can freeze kernels for up to 6 months and pop them from frozen.
  • Make popcorn in batches to prevent the kernels from burning or penetrating into the pan and reducing the heat.

Popcorn balls stacked in serving bowl


  • Halloween popcorn balls: Mix 1 cup of candy corn or candy pumpkin in your popcorn mix for fun Halloween Popcorn Balls. Make them even more fun with a few drops of orange food coloring when you add vanilla.
  • Birthday Cake Popcorn Balls: Add 1 cup white cake mixture with butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Shape popcorn as usual and then roll in rainbow colored sprinkles or add sprinkles while tossing popcorn.
  • Chocolate popcorn balls: Pour the butter-sugar mixture over the popcorn and allow to cool for a few minutes before stirring in 1 cup of cocoa nibs or mini chocolate chips. Shape into balls.
  • Caramel: To make caramel popcorn balls, add 1 cup of brown sugar to the sugar-syrup mixture. When the hot mixture reaches the right temperature, add a can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces), butter and vanilla extract and cook for 1 minute. Pour pans in and shape popcorn into balls as usual.
  • Skumfidus: Reduce corn syrup to ½ cup and add 1 cup mini marshmallows to the sugar mixture for extra sticky popcorn balls. For no corn syrup, use 10 ounces of marshmallows, ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of sugar.

Popcorn balls on the table broken up

How to use popcorn in the microwave

To use microwave popcorn, use 3-4 bags depending on how many cups of cooked popcorn each bag provides. Use a regular butter flavored microwave popcorn, as opposed to the extra butter or kettle corn. Leave the salt in this recipe because microwave popcorn tends to be plenty of salt alone.



  • Serve: Popcorn balls can be stored in a closed container or packed in plastic wrap for up to 1 week at room temperature. They are freshest and best eaten within the first 3 days.
  • Store: You can store Popcorn Balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, but they are best the first week. Bring to room temperature to soften Popcorn Balls.
  • Freeze: Wrap each popcorn ball tightly in plastic wrap, and store the balls in a freeze-proof zipper bag. Freeze popcorn balls for up to 1 month and thaw at room temperature for serving.

Popcorn balls stacked in serving bowl

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  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

  • Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.

  • Add popcorn to 2 disposable molds with foil and put in the oven to get hot.

  • Add sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a large saucepan, stirring well.

  • Boil to 235 degrees, whisking every few minutes.

  • Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla extract.

  • Remove the popcorn from the oven and spread the sugar mixture over the two pans.

  • Throw popcorn well into fur.

  • Allow to cool 2-3 minutes (or until it is not too hot to handle) then shape into 3-4 inch thick balls with your hands.

  • Place them on baking sheets to cool completely before storing in airtight containers.

Note: Wearing food-safe plastic gloves and keeping them wet between each ball helps prevent them from sticking.

Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 84mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 138IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Popcorn balls collage