Making Popcorn Balls with Your Grandkids

Here's an old-fashioned recipe for making popcorn balls. What a great activity to do with kids.(NOTE: this is a guest post by Alison Foster. Thank you Alison for writing a post for my blog!)

My grandkids and I love to cook together, especially when we make dessert. While the traditional cakes and cookies are great, around the holidays we like to get a little more creative.

We have a traditional recipe we use at our house but it is for the brave of heart only.

It is an old recipe for popcorn balls, not that they have changed much over the years. And anyone who has ever made candy knows how to get the candy to the soft ball or hard ball stage, and if they do not they can use a candy thermometer. Which even though I do know how to check I still use because it takes so much of the guess work out.

That sounds like the hard part but the hard part, which in some warped way is the fun part, is when you are making the balls. The candy hardens so quickly that you have to mix it quickly with the fresh popcorn and squeeze the balls together with overly buttered hands. Which only partially keeps them from burning, you have to be quick and kind of toss the ball back and forth between hands!

Somehow I have convinced my grandchildren over the years to make these with me and we end up saying we will never do it again but we do. They taste so good if you get them to the right stage. The little kids get hand me down balls to form, after the initial burning we older folks take. It is sort of like a game of hot potato! We always end up in tears, part from laughter and part from the hot candy! Sounds kind of dangerous and it can be so safety is utmost when pouring the hot candy.

Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
8 cups dry popped corn (no salt or butter)
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour popcorn into large buttered metal turkey pan or mixing bowl. Make sure to remove un-popped kernels.

In a heavy duty pot, melt butter on medium high heat. Add sugar and corn syrup. Boil to hard ball stage (around 250 degrees) — if you don’t have a candy thermometer, drop some of the mixture into cold water. It should form hard strings. Quickly remove from heat. Stir in baking soda, vanilla, and food coloring (optional). Pour the syrup over the popcorn and toss to coat it evenly. Spread the coated popcorn onto a lined cookie sheet and let it cool. This would be the safe method. What we usually do is coat our hands with butter and quickly press the coated popcorn into balls.

This recipe is a favorite in our house — the popcorn balls are a lot of fun to make and yummy to eat. Have a blast making them with your grandkids because it really does make for great memories later on.

Author Byline:
Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmailDOTcom.