Laura The Gastronaut > Recipes > Fall > Popcorn Balls
October 14, 2021 | Jump to Recipe
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Popcorn balls laying around definitely says that the cooler weather and holidays are coming! These popcorn balls are quick and easy and so so tasty with the perfect crunch.
31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN
These popcorn balls are a part of my 31 Days of Halloween. For each day in October, I come up with a cocktail recipe and snack recipe that perfectly matches a scary movie, Halloween movie, or a fun spooky activity. Check it out for all of your Halloween snack and drinking desires!
SWEET, CRUNCHY, & ALL THE FALL VIBES
A popcorn ball sitting on your counter means that cooler weather and all the holiday vibes are here! These popcorn balls have the perfect crunch to them and the exact amount of sea salt to get that lovely sweet and salty combo. Wrap these popcorn balls up and give them out to your friends or eat them all by yourself while watching spooky movies. I won't judge!
This popcorn ball recipe is paired with my Children of the Corn movie night for hopefully obvious reasons. We enjoyed them with these really cute and tasty candy corn Jell-O shots that actually taste like candy corns!
POPCORN BALL INGREDIENTS
• Popcorn Kernels: I always find that I like freshly popped corn so much better than bagged, and it's pretty easy to make too! I use yellow popcorn kernels.
• Brown Sugar: You could substitute brown sugar with white sugar, but I personally like the extra molasses flavor in these popcorn balls from the brown sugar!
• Light Corn Syrup: This gives the caramel its perfect consistency and stickiness!
• Butter: Adds a buttery flavor to the caramel and makes it soft!
• Sea Salt: What's better than caramel? Salted caramel. Give me that sweet and salty!
• Vanilla Extract: Adds great flavor to the caramel sauce.
HOW TO MAKE POPCORN BALLS
Begin by making your popcorn. How much popped corn you end up with depends on what kind of kernels you are using and how many of your kernels pop before taking it off the heat. I used yellow popcorn kernels, and 1/2 cup of kernels gave me about 10 cups of popped corn.
Pour two tablespoons of oil into a large saucepan. I find that a 5.5 quart saucepan is the perfect size for popping 1/2 cup of kernels. Put the pan with oil on medium heat and add 2 kernels. Wait until both kernels pop. As soon as they pop, remove from heat and add the rest of the kernels. Allow to cool for one minute off heat, and then move back on the medium heat. Loosely place lid on top of pan so that steam can escape and wait until the popping stops. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet.
For the caramel sauce, put 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 3/4 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup butter, and 3/4 teaspoon sea salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and sprinkles, if using. As soon as it is cool enough to handle, spray hands with cooking oil or dip hands in cold water. Mix all together and start to form 2"-3" balls. You should get 8-10 popcorn balls. Cool completely.
WHAT TO EAT WITH POPCORN BALLS
• Candy Corn Jell-O Shots; If you want to keep up with the Children of the Corn theme, try out these candy corn Jell-O shots that actually taste like candy corn!
• Candy & Nuts; A great way to make these popcorn balls extra fun is to add in nuts or chocolate candies after pouring on the caramel sauce!
POPCORN BALLS INFO
Baking Soda and Popcorn Balls You may see some popcorn ball recipes include baking soda in the ingredient list. The purpose of baking soda in the caramel sauce is to create a softer caramel. The baking soda reacts with the brown sugar and corn syrup which are both acidic and creates carbon dioxide bubbles. This is why your caramel will foam up when you pour in the baking soda. Once the caramel cools down, those little bubbles will make the caramel soft! So, here's the deal. I tried these popcorn balls with and without baking soda. The ones with baking soda were a lot chewier and softer. The caramel definitely was more difficult than the popcorn to get down as it got stuck in all my teeth. The popcorn balls without the baking soda were crunchy and a lot easier to eat. And because the caramel was only cooked for a couple minutes, the caramel isn't too hard to bite through when they cool. Overall, I didn't find baking soda necessary here and enjoyed the popcorn balls without baking soda a lot more! How many kernels do I need to get 10 cups of popped corn? This is a tricky questions as how much popcorn you end up with depends on what kind of kernel you have and how many kernels actually pop. Most sources on the internet and on back of popcorn bags will say that 1/2 cup of kernels will give you anywhere from 15-17 cups of popcorn. However, I've made 1/2 cup of kernels multiple times, and I always end up with about 10 cups of popcorn. This recipe is for 10 cups of popcorn so I would say cook up 1/2 cup of kernels and measure out 10 cups. Then butter and salt the rest, if you have leftovers, and enjoy on its own!
For this recipe:
By Laura Bullock | Laura The Gastronaut
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 8-10 popcorn balls
• 2 Tablespoons oil • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels • 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar • 3/4 cup (240 grams) light corn syrup • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) butter • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • Sprinkles, optional
1. Make the popcorn: In a large saucepan, pour in the oil and 2 kernels. Place over medium heat until both of the kernels pop. 2. Remove the pan from the heat, add in the rest of the kernels, and let sit off-heat for one minute. Put back onto medium heat. Loosely place lid on top of pan so that steam can escape. Cook until the popping stops. Remove from heat and transfer popcorn to a large rimmed baking sheet. 3. Make caramel sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, add brown sugar, light corn syrup, butter, and sea salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Off heat, stir in vanilla extract. 4. Make popcorn balls: Pour caramel sauce over popcorn in large rimmed baking sheet. If using, add sprinkles. Let sit until cool enough to handle. When ready, spray hands with cooking spray or dip into cold water. Mix the popcorn and caramel sauce together, and form the popcorn into 2"-3" balls. You should get 8-10 popcorn balls. Let cool completely.
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Category: Sweets, Fall, Halloween Cuisine: American
Keywords: popcorn balls, fall recipe, caramel popcorn balls
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October 14, 2021 by Laura Bullock