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Caramel Corn Popcorn Balls

Caramel Corn Popcorn Balls

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These cute, packable treats need to be formed when the caramel is still warm and malleable. For this popcorn balls recipe, after coating them with caramel, wait just long enough for them to be cool enough to handle.


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 8 cups popped popcorn (from ½ cup kernels)
  • ⅔ cup coarsely chopped smoked almonds
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Recipe Preparation

  • Lightly coat a large nonreactive bowl with nonstick spray. Add popcorn and almonds and toss to combine.

  • Combine sugar, butter, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to completely dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear, cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to caramelize in spots, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula to ensure even caramelization, until caramel is light amber, about 4 minutes.

  • Using heatproof spatula, stir in marshmallows, rosemary, salt, and cayenne, if using. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel is smooth, about 1 minute.

  • Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will bubble). Immediately pour over popcorn mixture and toss with 2 heatproof spatulas (the caramel will become very stretchy, with lots of thin webs of sticky stuff). Spray hands with nonstick spray and form popcorn mixture into 2" balls (you should have about 14 balls). Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

  • Do Ahead: Popcorn balls can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.

Related Video

Caramel Corn Popcorn Balls

Reviews Section

  • 6 heaping cups popped corn
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup reduced-calorie light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped raisins

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Prepare a medium bowl of ice water. Put popcorn in large bowl.

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the syrup starts to lightly bubble, cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is melted and the mixture darkens, about 2 minutes.

Immediately pour the mixture evenly over the popcorn gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until well coated. Gently stir in raisins.

Dip both hands in the ice water. Working quickly, press small handfuls (heaping 1/4 cup each) of the popcorn mixture firmly into 2-inch balls. (Make sure each ball gets a little bit of the raisins.) Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. If they seem too fragile, rinse hands with cold water and press and squeeze each ball again to help keep it together.

Let cool completely before storing. To store, individually wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Make Ahead Tip: Wrap airtight for up to 2 days, but best the day they are made.


Grease a large mixing bowl with butter or cooking spray.

In a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir in butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently until light golden brown, about 3 minutes, stirring often, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Put popped corn into the large mixing bowl. Pour syrup mixture over the popcorn and stir with a spatula until popcorn is evenly coated. As soon as the mixture is cool enough to handle, butter your hands and shape the popcorn into 2- to 3-inch balls. When the balls are cool, wrap them in plastic or waxed paper.

Caramel Corn Craze: 9 Caramel Popcorn Recipes

Cracker Jacks have nothing on these caramel corn balls. Salty peanuts are mixed throughout (protein!), so you can almost convince yourself that these count as dinner.

In pursuit of the perfectly easy holiday gift, we dreamed up this rich caramel-covered snack of salted peanuts and fresh-popped corn. Buy a few pretty tins to serve up this gift in style.

A smart update for popcorn balls: chipotle-spiked caramel.

Coconut, caramel, and nuts elevate plain popcorn into a special party snack.

More suited to a cocktail party than a baseball game, this riff on Cracker Jack by Atlanta pastry chef Taria Camerino is sweetened with agave nectar and spiked with tequila. Slow baking turns the popcorn-nut mix fabulously crunchy.

This milk-chocolate-and-caramel-covered popcorn treat is a hit with customers at Riverside Sweets in St. Charles, MO, along the Missouri Wine Trail.

A classic carnival-style snack, these gooey, sugary popcorn balls are packed with crunchy pecans, almonds, and sweet flaked coconut.

Here's a great crunchy, munchy accompaniment for your favorite DVD. If you have to wear glasses while you watch the movie, avoid touching them with greasy popcorn fingers!

How to Make Caramel Popcorn

CARAMEL. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Then add in the brown sugar and mix everything together really well. Continue stirring while you bring the mixture to a boil.

Boil the mixture for 5 minutes without stirring it. Once the 5 minutes are over, add in the vanilla and baking soda. Mix to combine everything.

TOSS. Take the caramel off the heat. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the prepared popcorn in the large bowl. Toss it all together lightly to evenly coat the popcorn.

COOL. Pour out the popcorn onto the wax paper lined cookie sheet. Spread it out and let the popcorn cool completely.

Break apart and store it in airtight plastic bags or containers. Keep it at room temperature and it should stay fresh and crunchy for up to 5 days.

Caramel corn variations + tips

Chewy or Crispy? This caramel corn is meant to be a little more on the crisp side, but if you want your caramel popcorn to be more chewy, boil your caramel sauce for less time.

Add-ins: You could always add chopped nuts (of any kind) when you combine the popcorn and caramel sauce. Drizzling chocolate or white chocolate over the caramel popcorn while it’s cooling on the cookie sheet is another great idea!

Nonstick utensils: I recommend using a nonstick saucepan, and a silicone spatula if you have one! A nonstick pan will be a lot easier to clean after making the caramel sauce, and so will the silicone spatula which is also naturally tolerant to high heat.

Grandma’s Soft & Chewy Caramel Corn

Grandma&rsquos Soft & Chewy Caramel Corn is what I grew up eating. This is a classic caramel corn recipe that is a true Malad, Idaho treat! This no bake caramel corn popcorn is my favorite!

If you&rsquove ever wondered how to make caramel corn, then I have the recipe for you!

My grandmother, Donna Bowen, was an amazing cook.

That woman would show her love for you through her cooking.

If you came to visit her, you knew you&rsquod be fed and fed well.

There was no possible way to get around a meal with grandma.

Not that you&rsquod want to really, since she knew how to cook.

After she passed away a few years ago, several of us grandchildren sat around and read her journals.

Perhaps that seemed morbid or an invasion of privacy.

However I felt that it was a way to get to know my grandmother better.

A way for her to live on and to understand her and her trials.

In on of her journals, she wrote about how her daughter and her daughter&rsquos family were coming to lunch one day.

She then wrote about what she made for lunch.

I don&rsquot remember the exact details but it was something close to this:

A ham, homemade rolls, jello, carrots, mashed potatoes, a green salad and 2 pies for dessert with homemade whipped cream.

This was LUNCH for a total of 6 people at most (as some of the daughters children didn&rsquot come).

As I said, my grandmother showed her love by cooking and baking for you.

If you had a favorite dessert or meal, you were guaranteed to get it again!

One of the things I&rsquove tried to do (slowly) is to accumulate some of my grandmothers best recipes, and put them here on Num&rsquos the Word.

This is a way to pay tribute to her as well as share her recipes with the world.

This is my Grandma&rsquos Soft & Chewy Caramel Corn popcorn recipe.

It is this recipe that I grew up on, loved and craved.

It wasn&rsquot until my 20&rsquos that I had even heard of crunchy caramel corn.

The idea was so foreign to me that I instantly rejected it because it wasn&rsquot soft and chewy.

Over time I came to like it, but this recipe for soft caramel corn popcorn has always been my favorite.

The problem with this recipe is that I&rsquom not really sure it&rsquos my grandmothers.

Perhaps it is. Well, it will always be my Grandma&rsquos Soft & Chewy Caramel Corn recipe.

But it&rsquos also an entire towns recipe too.

My grandmother was born in, raised in, and lived most of her life in, and then died in, a small town on the boarder of Idaho called Malad, Iadaho.

Also known as Malad City, Idaho it is 13 miles from the Utah boarder.

I am what I refer to as Malad Stock.

I was born there, my dad was born there, my grandparents were born there, my great grandparents were born there &ndash you get the picture.

Though I have no proof, I claim that at least half town town is a cousin of some sort.

The other half moved there at one point and stayed &ndash though they too may be a cousin of mine through marriage somehow.

Despite being born there, we moved when I was a toddler and so I technically claim Washington State as my &ldquohome&rdquo.

So this recipe for my Grandmother&rsquos Soft & Chewy Caramel Corn is in a family cookbook with her name attached &ndash as well as a cousin of sorts.

They both claimed it as their recipe.

However I suspect the relative got it from my grandmother so really we&rsquoll say it&rsquos hers.

All is well, it&rsquos grandma&rsquos recipe, no argument there.

Well that was until this summer I was flipping through a new-to-me cookbook that I nabbed for inspiration.

The cookbook was old and had recipes submitted by people all over the country.

As I was flipping through the candy section there were several caramel popcorn recipes.

As I was reading through them, one of them was the exact same recipe as this.

Though not submitted by my grandmother, it was submitted by someone from Malad, Idaho.

I then grabbed a cookbook my grandmother had given me almost 20 years ago that her town had put together.

In that cookbook there were 6 recipes for caramel popcorn &ndash all spread out in the candy section and all different people who submitted the recipes.

5 of those had the same ingredients as my grandmothers &ndash all submitted by different women.

So now we are up to 7 people plus a relative who all claim this recipe to be their&rsquos.

All of those people lived in Malad, Idaho.

I&rsquom sure if another cookbook from Malad, Idaho were to be found, there would be even more of this recipe in them.

And so my friends, though I call this my Grandmother&rsquos Recipe, it is in the sense that it&rsquos the only caramel corn recipe I can recall her ever making.

She may or may not have invented the recipe. We&rsquoll never know.

But what I do know, is that the people of Malad, Idaho sure do know how to make a tasty batch of caramel corn!

If you are ever in town and find a local who has lived there their entire life, ask them to make you a batch of caramel corn.

We’ve tried a lot of recipes looking for good, Easy Homemade Caramel Corn that doesn’t use corn syrup. We’ve finally found one that we love. This popcorn tastes amazing … buttery and caramel-y just the way it should. And no corn syrup required! And it could not be easier to make. It has quickly risen up the list of most requested family treats!

Start with approximately 10 cups of popcorn. Make sure you get out all of the un-popped kernels. You don’t want to bite down on one of those! We pop our popcorn on the stove (you can find our directions on How to Make Perfect Popcorn here) but you can use air-popped or microwave.

Melt 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add 1 cup of light brown sugar and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Stirring continuously, bring the butter and sugar mixture up to a boil on medium heat. When it reaches a boil allow it to cook for 5 minutes without stirring on medium heat. Add the 2 tsp. of vanilla at the 4 minute mark and mix.

At the 5 minute mark, add the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. This will cause the caramel to change colors and foam up a bit. This is the chemical reaction that you want. The bubbling effect of the baking soda will aerate the caramel and make it lighter and smoother and therefore easier to coat the popcorn.

Drizzle the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use a spoon to gently fold the popcorn with the mixture until the kernels are all covered.

Pour the popcorn out onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil or a silpat liner.

Allow the Easy Homemade Caramel Corn to cool prior to serving.

Our family loves this popcorn so it has never lasted longer than a day at our house. This popcorn definitely tastes best right after it is made but will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

This Easy Homemade Caramel Corn is super delicious – buttery with a distinct yummy caramel taste. And it could not be easier to make. Make up a batch for your family, you won’t be sorry!

Homemade Caramel Corn


10 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped)

Don't use microwave popcorn! Use an air popper or a WhirleyPop.

1 cup packed brown sugar (extra credit if it's homemade)


Put the popcorn in a large bowl and preheat the oven to 250F.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Increase heat to medium-high and boil the mixture for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. It will change from grainy to smooth and then will begin to thicken and look like. well. caramel!

Note: Don't leave the stove while the caramel is boiling. It takes about .05 seconds for the mixture to overcook and turn brown instead of caramel-colored. This is too dark:

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla, salt, and baking soda. The caramel will foam up when you add the baking soda, which is why you want to use a big saucepan.

Carefully pour the hot caramel over the popcorn (grab a friend to help) and stir gently to combine. Add the peanuts here if you're making Cracker Jacks.

Pour the caramel corn onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake at 250F for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Recipe Summary

  • 14 cups popped popcorn
  • 2 cups whole almonds and/or roasted, salted cashews (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup light-colored corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Remove all unpopped kernels from popped popcorn. Put popcorn and, if desired, nuts into a 17x12x2-inch roasting pan. Keep popcorn warm in the oven while making the caramel mixture.

Butter a large piece of foil set aside. For caramel, in a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, without stirring, for 5 minutes more.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour caramel over popcorn stir gently to coat. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir mixture bake for 5 minutes more. Spread caramel corn on prepared foil cool. Place caramel corn in gift container cover with plastic wrap.

How To Make Caramel Popcorn Recipe On the Stove With White Sugar - Popcorn Without Corn Syrup/ Brown Sugar

Caramel popcorn is our favorite go to snacks in theater and malls. Usually I buy and make readymade salted popcorn at home. But caramel popcorn and masala popcorn were in my try list for long time. Recently I tried this homemade caramel popcorn on the stove with white sugar using few packets of Act 2 popcorn. I have always thought making caramel popcorn at home is difficult as it needs brown sugar, corn syrup and its mandatory to be baked in an oven.

But all my thoughts went wrong when I came across this recipe in Cooking Shooking YouTube channel. This is one of the best caramel popcorn recipe. Its an easy to make, stove top caramel popcorn recipe without using brown sugar, corn syrup and oven. All you need is sugar, butter and vanilla essence. Its a 3 ingredient caramel popcorn recipe. Though its my first attempt, it came out so well, crunchy and perfectly sweet in taste. My house was completely filled with the aroma of caramelized sugar mixed with vanilla flavor which was so good.

Above all, this recipe doesn’t need baking. Friends, do try this yummy caramel popcorn at home easily and share your feedback with me. Ok, lets see how to make caramel popcorn recipe without oven, corn syrup and brown sugar with step by step pictures and video.