If you want a delicious snack idea you can make at home, this caramel popcorn balls recipe will be right up your alley.
Staying in is the new going out, and if you’re looking for fun ideas how about hosting your own movie night?
It's hard to beat curling up on the sofa in your PJs, switching on the TV, dimming the lights, and putting on a good movie or two.
With that said, that long-standing icon of movie snacks is fairly cheap and tasty: popcorn!
In reality, you can enjoy popcorn at any time, for any occasion, and best of all is the fact that it is so versatile and can be used to make everything from flavored popcorn to popcorn balls like those we’re looking at today.
What are caramel popcorn balls?
Popcorn is a very simple and versatile snack that can be used to make a variety of different snack foods using various ingredients, seasonings, and toppings.
Whereas regular popcorn is typically enjoyed loose, out of a bag, bucket, or bowl, if you combine popcorn with gooey and sticky ingredients you can shape and mold it to turn it into individual balls.
This caramel popcorn balls recipe, for example, is so popular because it is sweet, sticky, convenient, and delicious.
Made by combining freshly popped popcorn with soft melted caramel and other amazing ingredients which we’ll learn more about shortly, these flavored popcorn balls are easy to make and are sure to impress.
Recipe variation ideas
If you’re looking to switch things up slightly, here are a few tweaks you can make.
Salted caramel popcorn
If you don’t want popcorn balls, simply pour the mixture over the popcorn, mix, leave to firm up and you now have salted caramel flavored popcorn. Bag it up for the kids in individual servings so they don't have to fight over the bowl.
Crunchy salted caramel popcorn
Salted caramel goes well with things that have a little bite and crunch, which is why you may want to make this variant. You could even add shelled nuts to the mix before popping it into oven.
Pour the mixture over the popcorn, mix well, and then spread over a baking sheet and bake at 250 for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring now and then, until it forms a nice crunchy coating.
Tips and tweaks
If you decide to follow this awesome salted caramel popcorn recipe, here are a few tips and tweaks to help make your life even easier.
Know what things to gather
When making flavored popcorn, or any other dish for that matter, preparation is the key.
Before you begin, take the time to gather your equipment and your essentials.
For this recipe for example, you’ll need:
- Clean mixing bowl and spoons
- Baking sheet
- Aluminium foil
- Plastic baggies
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
Use plastic baggies on your hands
This gooey caramel mixture is soft and sticky, and as it cools, it firms up and hardens, and can be a real pain to get off your hands.
When rolling the popcorn balls, place a plastic baggie over your hands to protect them, as that way you needn’t worry about the mixture making a mess of them. Cooking spray on hands or baggies works too.
Coat your baking sheet in aluminium foil
To help keep your baking sheet clean and to save on the washing up, simply coat your baking sheet in aluminium foil as that way you can remove it and throw it in the trash when finished.
Storing your balls
Finally, we’re going to finish by looking at how to store your popcorn balls.
Ideally you can spray plastic wrap with cooking spray then wrap each ball in plastic and seal it, like a wrapper, and keep the balls in the fridge or a cool, dark, dry place.
Alternatively, place them into an airtight Tupperware and eat within two weeks.
Caramel popcorn balls recipe
Now it's time to learn more about how you can make this delicious sweet and sticky popcorn snack in the comfort of your own kitchen.
- 2 bags of microwave popcorn
- 3/4 c of corn syrup
- 1 ½ c of packed light brown sugar
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 2/3 c of sweetened condensed milk
- 3/4 c of butter
- A pinch of sea salt
- Vegetable oil or cooking spray
- Baggies or vinyl gloves
- Follow the popcorn package directions to Pop both bags of popcorn.
- Once the popcorn has been popped, transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
- To a large saucepan add butter, syrup, and brown sugar and heat over medium heat until the mixture is at a very gentle boil.
- Use a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of the mixture. (A meat thermometer works too.) Temp needs to reach 240F degrees.
- Once the mixture is at 240 degrees, add the condensed milk and the vanilla extract and then heat for another minute. It’s important to wait until the temp reaches 240, if it’s too cool the mixture won’t form caramel, and if it is too hot it will burn and become bitter.
- Now, take your melted butter and sugar mixture, sprinkle in a generous pinch of sea salt, and stir.
- Pour it over your popcorn and gently mix. Allow it to cool slightly.
- Spread the popcorn out over a baking sheet.
- Then lightly oil or spray your hands or put on some kitchen gloves. Take a handful of the popcorn mixture and shape it into balls, working quickly.
- Set aside, and enjoy at your leisure.
We used 2 bags of microwave popcorn because we wanted our caramel coating to be extra thick. If you prefer, you can use 3 bags.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 314Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 203mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 38gProtein: 2g