Traditional Popcorn Balls
Total TimePrep/Total Time: 20 min.
- 7 quarts popped popcorn
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring, optional
- Place popcorn in a large baking pan; keep warm in a 200° oven.
- In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 235° (soft-ball stage).
- Remove from the heat. Add the butter, vanilla and food coloring if desired; stir until butter is melted. Immediately pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated.
- When mixture is cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3-in. balls, dipping hands in cold water to prevent sticking.
Test Kitchen Tips
Editor's NoteWe recommend that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
Nutrition Facts1 each: 177 calories, 6g fat (2g saturated fat), 5mg cholesterol, 203mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (18g sugars, 2g fiber), 1g protein.
Dec 15, 2019
Great recipe! And, they stay soft like I remember as a kid, not hard and crackly like the ones you see in stores. I'm sorry people rate you down because they don't have a candy thermometer and don't know how to use ice water and figure it out the old-fashion way.
Mar 11, 2019
This recipe is perfect. Delicious popcorn balls. To those complaining about not having a candy thermometer....how bout using your common sense to google making popcorn balls without a candy thermometer???? Cooking sugar is a chemical process so you cant sit here and complain about an easy and calculated recipe not giving you the the more complex version of a chemical process and its detailed steps. Some people use thermometers to avoid burning a batch of sugar and some can do without (which takes practuce and if youre here complaining about not having a tool needed in this particular recipe then ill guarantee you Will bitch and leave negative comments when you burn your sugar without a thermometer no matter how detailed the instructions are.) Candy making is VERY tempremental. But do yourself a favor and learn how to search for a recipe that calls for the tools you have (or in your case dont) before leaving bad comments and reviews on a perfectly good recipe. Good grief
Mar 9, 2019
Easy and delicious. Great treat!
Dec 15, 2018
To those of you with no candy thermometer, it's not really necessary. Cook to the "soft ball" stage--the stage where the coating, when you drop a small bit into a cup of cold water, forms a soft ball. Not a hard ball--over cooked--and if it doesn't make a ball, you need to cook the syrup longer. Google it for pictures and examples.
Oct 25, 2017
The recipe is great but i do not own a candy thermometer and dont know if the mixture was ready or not
Feb 16, 2016
Oct 26, 2015
I do not own a candy thermometer? How can i judge when ready?
Sep 2, 2015
When I was a kid back in the 60's and 70's the lunch ladies would make these treats for us on holidays or special fairs and they would flavor them with Kool-aid (the unsweetened envelopes)--usually orange or raspberry!
Jun 23, 2015
The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the popcorn to cool! I think my teenagers ate half of the hot popcorn mix before we could even form them into the classic popcorn ball. As a volunteer food editor for Taste of Home, I love re-discovering old classic recipes!
Nov 2, 2014
I haven't had a home-made popcorn ball in 50 years. My mother use to make them and they seemed so difficult. I just made this recipe and it was so easy and tasted wonderful.