Popcorn Balls

6 Comments 31 October 2011

popcorn balls in orange cellophane

Happy Halloween!

Want a quintessential American Halloween party food? Fed up with the trick to get us to eat fresh food by disguising it under toffee? (That’s how I perceived the toffee apples when I was a child.) Like the idea of something a bit different? Want a treat that looks fun in a display? I’ve got just the thing for you!

Popcorn balls are pretty easy to make and you can cover them in orange cellophane as I did here to make them look like little pumpkins. I was looking for green curling ribbon but only found the black–although at first disappointed I couldn’t get the exact ‘look’ I was going for, I was quite happy with the black and orange look too!

Display these on a little log pile near the front door for guests to take home with them, or in a bowl on the party table (or a cauldron, of course), or tucked in a basket amongst autumn leaves in your entrance hall. They’re such a fun little treat to be used as both decoration and party food.

Popcorn balls also work at Christmas–you can add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg if you like but try wrapping them in red cellophane with gold or silver curling ribbon and displaying in a glass or crystal bowl at your Christmas party–really festive and eye catching (watch the kids eyes when you offer them on, they’ll love these!).

I use a reliable recipe from Paula Deen. One note about the recipe: you really should try to use a candy thermometer because if the mixture isn’t at the right temp you’ll just end up with a soggy, sticky (but very tasty!) mess.


400g sugar

300ml water

100ml golden syrup (I noticed some shops are selling maple syrup flavoured golden syrup–thatmight be a nice thing to try for this!)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

About 16 mugs of popped corn (best if you use fresh popcorn made in an air popper or in a pan–the microwave popcorn may make it taste funny if it has been pre-seasoned)


Combine sugar, water, syrup, vinegar, and salt in a medium sized pan.

Cook over high heat until mixture reaches 255 degrees F (the hard ball stage–use a candy thermometer to check).*

Now, stir in vanilla.

Pour the mixture over popped corn, tossing gently to coat. I usually use a large roasting pan for this.

When mixture is cool enough to handle, press popcorn into 3-inch balls with lightly greased hands.

Cool completely before wrapping in cellophane. Or serve just as they are! A bowl of these on a party table will look very inviting!

*If you want to do this without a candy thermometer, try the hard ball method:

  1. Drop a small spoon of the mixture into a bowl of very cold water.
  2. Make the cooled syrup into a ball with your fingers underwater.
  3. If the mixture holds the ball shape (it will remain very sticky) you’ve reached the hard ball stage.

Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. So SO SO cute! Urgh … wish I’d seen this earlier – kiddies arriving in an hour and I’m not even sure what costume I’m going to “create”!

    ‘Appy ‘Alloween from France :)

    • Michelloui says:

      If I had been better organised I would have posted it last week… oops! Actually, I must admit Halloween kind of snuck up on me. Hope you had a fun French ‘alloween!

  2. I love popcorn balls and have such great memories of making them and eating them. I showed them to my British husband and he had never had one in his life! I think I’ll make them this weekend and bring them into work.

    Thanks for the fun post :)

    • Michelloui says:

      Yay! I’m glad it brought back good memories for you Rhea! I’m curious what your British husband and colleagues will think of them… (how can they not love them?!)

  3. Lisa Casto says:

    I was just telling Sonia that I remember getting homemade treats for Halloween including popcorn balls, yum!

    • Michelloui says:

      I can still remember the days when people made candy and popcorn balls to give out for trick or treating!

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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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