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Marshmallow Popcorn Balls are the EASIEST kind of popcorn balls to make. This simple recipe is done fast without any guesswork and they’re perfect for any occasion. Dress these up with sprinkles or holiday colors if you want! Our daughter loved these so much she couldn’t stop eating them.
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Old Fashioned Popcorn Ball Recipe
I have never made popcorn balls before and I’m kind of mad I never did it before now. They’re SO good! Not only are they delicious but they are also easy and fast with this marshmallow version.
I wavered between making a traditional popcorn ball and the marshmallow ones and decided to go the easier route because I hate using a candy thermometer. I feel like making candy is an art and I can do it, but it’s so temperamental.
If you’re like me and haven’t tried these before because you were worried they’d be difficult to make, then THIS is the recipe for you!
What are popcorn balls made of?
These just have a few ingredients and they’re similar to Rice Krispie treats, but the mixture is cooked instead of done in the microwave. To make the gooey mixture you’ll need:
- Challenge Unsalted Butter – When it comes to choosing ingredients, you’ll want to pick the best ones. Challenge Butter is my absolute favorite and it is the only butter I use, no matter what I’m making. I’ve eaten it my entire life so it’s natural this blog runs on Challenge.
- Light Corn Syrup – this helps create the sticky mixture to hold the pop corn balls together.
- Powdered Sugar – makes these perfectly sweet!
- Marshmallows – making popcorn balls with marshmallows ensures they’ll hold together! Be sure you use fresh marshmallows, otherwise they may not melt right in the mixture.
- Popcorn – you can use microwave popcorn or use kernels to make your favorite popcorn recipe.
The use of the marshmallows and powdered sugar adds sweetness and a gooey texture without having to cook the sugar to soft ball stage. This eliminates all guesswork and the need for a candy thermometer so this is a FOOLPROOF recipe.
Challenge Butter has no additives, hormones, or fillers and it comes from happy cows at family-owned dairies across California. It’s been churned fresh daily for over 100 years and is available nationally. Challenge Unsalted Butter was also selected as Cook’s Illustrated’s favorite among top-selling brands!
How to make popcorn balls with marshmallows
- Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the light corn syrup, powdered sugar, and marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are melted.
- Once the syrup mixture boils take it off the heat and add vanilla and salt. (This is also where you’ll add food coloring if you want, see below when I talk about variations.)
Forming Popcorn Balls
It’s important to put your popcorn in a very large pot or bowl. I used a large pasta pot and it was the perfect size.
- Pour your hot marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir. Be sure to get all the gooey mixture off the bottom of the pan so it coats all the popcorn. The mixture is HOT at this point so be careful!
- When it’s time for form the balls, remember that this is super sticky. I like to rub some extra Challenge Butter on my hands to grease them so the popcorn doesn’t stick. You can also spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
There are SO many different ways to make easy popcorn balls and to package them and decorate them.
- Food Coloring: add a few drops of food coloring into the mixture before pouring it over the popcorn. Red food coloring would make these fun for Christmas!
- Sprinkles: once you have the mixture all coated on the popcorn you can add some sprinkles then or add them to the top of the balls after they’re rolled.
- Size: make these as big or as small as you want! You could also press them into a 9×13-inch pan to make popcorn treats.
- Halloween Popcorn balls: Turn them into Jack O’ Lanterns by wrapping them in plastic wrap and drawing cutout faces on the front.
- Decorate them for a holiday by placing them in a cupcake liner, wrapping with plastic and using colorful ribbon. This would work for Christmas, Halloween, or even a birthday party!
- Extracts: Make flavored popcorn balls by swapping the vanilla extract with any other flavor! You could use peppermint extract, orange extract, rum – so many options.
FAQ & Tips
After pouring the hot mixture over the popcorn make sure to stir it to coat evenly. If the popcorn isn’t coated in the gooey mixture then it won’t stick together.
It can make up to 20 popcorn balls, depending on size.
Did you know you can FREEZE unpopped popcorn? This will help reduce the amount of unpopped kernels you get in your batch. When it comes to microwave popcorn, you can’t really avoid it. Just be sure to remove them all before making the balls.
This is most likely because they aren’t fresh. Be sure and use a new bag of marshmallows for best results.
If they’re sealed well, wrapped in plastic and placed in an airtight container, they’ll last close to a week but they’re best within 3 days of being made.
I don’t recommend freezing these as they might get soggy when they defrost.
Popcorn Ball Recipe
- ¾ cup (177ml) light corn syrup
- ¼ cup (57g) Challenge Unsalted Butter plus more for greasing your hands
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) water
- 2 ½ cups (283g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup (50g) mini marshmallows see note
- 20 cups (140g) plain popped popcorn see note
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Place popcorn in a large pot or bowl.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add corn syrup, water, powdered sugar and marshmallows. Heat and stir the mixture until it boils. Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.
- Pour the mixture carefully over the popcorn and stir to coat each kernel. Do this carefully – the mixture is very hot.
- Grease your hands with additional butter and shape coated popcorn into popcorn balls. Work quickly to make all the balls before they cool.
- Wrap each ball in plastic wrap. Decorate as desired. Store at room temperature.
Other favorite recipes to try:
Easy Marshmallow Popcorn Balls are a homemade recipe perfect for Halloween, Christmas, Fall or any occasion. Learn how to make easy Popcorn Balls and how to decorate them for the holidays!
This post was sponsored by Challenge Dairy in 2020, and all opinions are my own. I used their butter in the recipe so you know they must be good!
Last Updated on November 3, 2022
I haven’t made this recipe, I plan on it, but you know what is even easier, and better in my opinion, than popping your own corn, be it microwave or stove top? Buying the bag of smart pop popcorn from costco!!! It is always popped perfectly and salted lightly and there are rarely any unopposed kernels in the bag. Biting into an unpopped kernel is me just asking for a cracked tooth! The popcorn is often on sale for $4 a bag. I suck at making popcorn, so this is the way to go for me!