This Popcorn Balls Recipe is great for the holidays, a party or family get together.  There are tons of ways to switch up this recipe to make it work for anytime of the year!

Close up of a popcorn balls with another popcorn balls behind it
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If you love easy desserts, this recipe for Popcorn Balls is a must try. The sweet and salty combination is delicious. We love making these and it’s a really budget friendly recipe with only 6 ingredients.

I have been making Popcorn Balls for years. Our family also loves Homemade Caramel Popcorn Recipe, Caramel Apple Popcorn and White Chocolate Popcorn. We also love Kettle Corn Popcorn.

What are Popcorn Balls?

Popcorn balls are a sticky, chewy treat that combines the flavors of popcorn, sugar and corn syrup. These ingredients combined make a holiday treat that is loved by all.

We love making these along with Cotton Candy Popcorn.


  • Popped Popcorn. I usually use microwave popcorn, but you can use store bought or anything you prefer.
  • Karo Light Corn Syrup. I prefer to use light corn syrup but you can use dark.

Scroll to the bottom of the post for the complete ingredients.

Variations and Additions

My favorite part of this recipe is that you can easily add in many items. This recipe will work for any holiday or family event.

  • Add your favorite type of candy. I love mixing in candy to fit with whatever holiday is coming up.  Mix these items in with the popcorn once the corn syrup mixture is added to the popped corn.
  • Stir in Sprinkles. Also, multi-colored sprinkles work great to make popcorn balls. Perfect for birthday parties for the kids.
  • Add food coloring to the corn syrup mixture to create colored popcorn balls.  I like to make orange ones for Halloween and red and green ones for Christmas
  • Make marshmallow popcorn balls by add in 2-3 cups of mini marshmallows to the corn syrup mixture. Then pour this marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and form the popcorn balls.

Step By Step Instructions

Popped popcorn in a large roasting pan.

Step 1. First spray a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Then add popcorn to the pan. Don’t forget to remove any unpopped kernels. Place in the oven at 200 degrees until the popcorn is warm.

The corn syrup mixture being heated in a sauce pan on the stove top

Step 2. Next, stir together sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring these ingredients to a boil over medium heat stir consistently. Continue stirring and boil for 2 minutes.

The corn syrup mixture being poured over the popped popcorn

Step 3. After this cooking time, remove from heat.  Next slowly stir in vanilla.  After the vanilla has been combined with the other ingredients, pour the syrup mixture over the warm popcorn stirring to coat popcorn mixture well.

Close up of a prepared popcorn balls

Step 4. Then allow the mixture to cool slightly so that it’s able to be touched. Then spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and use your hands to quickly shape the mixture into twelve popcorn balls. Work quickly to form the balls because the syrup mixture will harden. Finally, after the forming ball stage, place them on parchment paper and allow the popcorn balls to cool completely. 


Why won’t my popcorn balls stick together?

The Karo® Light Corn Syrup is the key ingredient to this popcorn balls recipe to get them to stay together.  I have tried using other ingredients and have found that they don’t hold the popcorn together as well.

Based on my experience, I don’t recommend skipping this ingredient or replacing it with something else.

Also, once you pour the corn syrup mixture over the popcorn, allow the syrup to cool slightly before forming the popcorn into balls.  If the corn syrup is still too watery, it will be difficult to form the popcorn balls.

How long do they stay fresh?

These are best to be served the day or the day after they are made.  However, they will keep for a week in an air tight container.  So you definitely can make these a few days ahead of time for your next party or family get together!

How to store?

Wrap them individually with saran wrap and place in an airtight container. We recommend placing in a single layer. They will last up to one week at room temperature.

More easy popcorn recipes

I’m so excited for you to make Popcorn Balls. Once you make them, leave a comment and star recipe rating! It always brightens my day to hear from you.

Close up of a prepared popcorn balls

Popcorn Balls

4.73 from 68 votes
This Popcorn Balls Recipe is great for the holidays, a party or family get together.  There are tons of ways to switch up this recipe to make it work for anytime of the year!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 People
Cuisine American
Course Appetizer
Calories 141


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  • Spray large roasting pan sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray; add popcorn and place in 200ºF oven until warm.
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to boil over medium heat. Continue stirring and boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove syrup mixture from heat; stir in vanilla.
  • Pour syrup mixture over warm popcorn stirring to coat well. Add in sprinkles or add ins (all optional) and mix to combine.
  • Once mixture has cooled slightly and is able to be touched, spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray. Working quickly to shape twelve 3-inch popcorn balls. Cool completely. Wrap individually in plastic wrap.

Recipe Notes

You can mix in sprinkles, m&ms, chocolate chips, food coloring, or anything fun you want to add in.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 141kcal, Carbohydrates 28g, Protein 1g, Fat 3g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 8mg, Sodium 132mg, Potassium 36mg, Fiber 2g, Sugar 19g, Vitamin A 109IU, Calcium 3mg, Iron 1mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Desserts on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you create delicious desserts on a budget and do not require a ton of time. Together, we are going to make something sweet that the entire family will love!

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