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The most wonderful time of the year includes popcorn balls! I’ll show you how to make the easiest popcorn balls ever! This old fashioned popcorn ball recipe will become a new favorite tradition for your family!
What is a traditional popcorn ball?
Popcorn balls were a huge hit back in the 50’s where they would share them as part of Halloween. They were homemade from molasses or corn syrup, butter, and sugar. However; as people starting handing out less and less homemade treats they became less common. In fact, I don’t ever remember having a popcorn ball until I was asked to pick them up for my son’s pre-k class! As a result, I set out to make old fashioned popcorn balls – and have come up with a super easy recipe!
Interested in learning about a little popcorn ball history and the myth that goes with them? Take a look at this article!
Popcorn balls today
Nowadays you can find pre-made popcorn balls individually packaged in the grocery stores around the holidays. Making your own, however; is much more fun! I’ve started the tradition after trying to find them for a class party. To make our popcorn balls more festive we’ll dip them in chocolate, add candy to our recipes, or push a small candy cane into the top for a “hook”. Let your child’s imagination go crazy!
If you’re using a popcorn balls as a snack to pair with adult drink, use dark chocolate chips, nuts, even alcohol soaked dried fruits!
How do I store popcorn balls?
Wrap each of your popcorn balls in a clear cellophane candy bag. This will help to keep the popcorn balls fresh!
So here it is – my Old Fashioned Popcorn Ball Recipe:
- 3/4 cup popcorn kernels popped
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tbsp butter
- 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- Place oil in a 6-8 qt pot and warm on medium-high heat.
- Add popcorn kernals and cover the pot. Shake the pot occassionally to move the kernals around and cook. The popcorn is done when you can count to two between pops. Remove from heat and place into a large baking dish in the oven set to 200 to keep warm.
- Use a heavy saucepan to combine water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt together. Heat on medium high. A candy thermometer should read 235 degrees.
- Take the pan off of the heat and add in the vanilla and the butter. Pour the mixture over the popcorn immediately and stir around until all of the popcorn is coated.
- Let the mixture cool for just a short time until you are able to use your hands to form the popcorn into 2.5" balls. Just like you do when making meatballs, damp hands are your best tool!
Use red and green food coloring to bring the festivities up a level! Add a drop into your mixture when you take the pot off of the heat. Divide the mixture into two bowls if you want to use different colors.
Think about how you can "fancy" these easy popcorn balls up! Add mini colored marshmallows, bits of chocolate, and candies.
Turn a mini candy cane into a "hook" by pushing it down into the top of the popcorn ball!
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- Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract
- Pyrex Basics 4.8-qt (10” x 15”) Oblong Baking Dish
- Wilton Shaped Treat Bags 4-1/2x7-1/4 100/Pkg-Clear
- Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow, 8 Lb
- Calphalon Classic Nonstick Dutch Oven with Cover, 7 quart, Grey
- Polder Candy/Jelly/Deep Fry Thermometer Stainless Steel with Pot Clip
Popcorn balls are absolutely one of the easiest holiday treats to make! For adults, popcorn balls are a surprising treat! Try making mini popcorn balls and adding them to a bowl full of salty treats like pretzel tidbits and sesame crackers.
Need an easy hostess gift for a holiday party? Whip up a dozen of these popcorn balls, wrap them up in pretty packages and hand them to your host when you arrive for a holiday party. They’ll be happy to share them with their family the next day!
I’d love to see photos when you make pocorn balls, it’s always interesting to see the creative ideas our readers come up with!
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