Quick and Easy Popcorn Balls

Quick and Easy Popcorn Balls

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 18 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
123 Calories
6g Fat
19g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 123
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 120mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 3mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 7mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You may remember popcorn balls from your childhood, those sweet, crunchy, and slightly sticky treats enjoyed during the holidays or other special occasions. They are easy to put together and make fun gifts and party snacks.

All you need are popcorn kernels, oil, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and a large pot. The corn is popped on the stovetop in corn oil and then tossed and gently cooked in a mixture of dark corn syrup, white sugar, and salt, giving the popcorn balls their signature sweet and salty taste. Before forming into balls it is best to grease your hands with butter or cooking spray so the mixture doesn't stick.

There are two types of corn syrup: light and dark. Dark corn syrup is what is used in pecan pie and candied sweet potatoes and its darker color is due to the addition of a type of molasses. If you only have light corn syrup you can add molasses to it to achieve the same color and flavor as dark.

This recipe is a simple and tasty combination, but feel free to add candies, colors, or sprinkles to make the popcorn balls more festive. Wrap them individually in clear cellophane bags and place on the dessert table or give as presents. Both kids and adults will be happy to enjoy them.


  • 1/4 cup corn oil

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels, about 4 quarts popped

  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon butter, or cooking spray for hands

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Quick and Easy Popcorn Balls ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Heat the corn oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

    saucepan with oil

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot, leaving the cover just slightly ajar. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the popping stops.

    popcorn in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Meanwhile, mix together the dark corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a bowl.

    corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add the syrup mixture to the popped corn in the pan, stirring and tossing constantly over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the popcorn is evenly coated. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly so it is comfortable to handle.

    syrup poured over popcorn

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Using greased hands, gently shape the popcorn mixture into balls, making them whatever size you prefer. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

    popcorn and syrup formed into balls and placed on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Wrap each popcorn ball individually in plastic wrap or place them in cellophane bags. You can also store them in a zip-top bag or other airtight containers.

  8. Enjoy.


Make sure not to let the coated popcorn cool too much before forming into balls or else the mixture will lose some of its stickiness.

Recipe Variations

You can make these popcorn balls holiday- or party-ready by adding chocolate-coated candies, dried cranberries, colored sprinkles, nuts, or even colorful cereal to the mixture.