Grandpa's Popcorn Balls Recipe -
Grandpa's Popcorn Balls Recipe
  • READY IN 25 mins

Grandpa's Popcorn Balls

Recipe by  

"Great, Great Grandpa Apell had a huge farm in Illinois with prize-winning corn. He made Popcorn Balls for all the Grandkids at Christmastime. He lived to be 106 and claimed workin' the farm and eatin' corn was the secret! This recipe is delicious!"

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 10 - 3 inch round balls Change Servings
  • PREP

    10 mins
  • COOK

    15 mins

    25 mins


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and water. Stir and heat to hard-crack stage or 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Remove from heat, add vanilla or vinegar; mix well.
  2. Pour slowly over popped popcorn while stirring. Wait 5 minutes and shape into 3 inch round balls.
Kitchen-Friendly View


  • Tip
  • Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Jan 27, 2004

oh boy, these are really good. It is really important to reach hard crack stage with these candies. To test for hard crack stage without a candy thermometer, use the ice water method. Have nearby a bowl of ice water. Periodically test the syrup to see if it has reached hard crack. To do this, drizzle a small amount of syrup off of a spoon into the cold water. When it has reached hard crack stage, it will form treads in the water. When you take the threads out of the water, they will be hard and brittle. If they are still soft and pliable, or if it forms a ball instead of threads, keep cooking and checking until you get hard, brittle threads.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Oct 26, 2009

I am sure these are great and would love some advise. The first 2 or 3 minutes in the bowl, it all started to harden and I could not get it up into a ball. It was hard as a rock. I started making them into balls right away and only got a few done before it all stuck together and got hard. What did I do wrong?

Nov 07, 2003

If you dont cook to the hard-crack stage, you will end up with sticky "caramel" on the popcorn. At the hard-crack stage, it becomes crispy when completely cooled. When you bite off a piece from the ball it is like caramel corn. As the mixture was cooling, I added some red hots to give it a Christmas theme look. Another tip is to put each hand into a plastic sandwich baggy's and mold the popcorn into balls with these on. That way the warm caramel wont stick to your hands. These are sweet caramel corn tasting popcorn balls. Very delicious. If you dont like them sweet, you add the vinegar to tone it down. I used my hot air popcorn popper to pop 1/2 cup kernals.

Oct 07, 2007

These popcorn balls taste just like a gourmet popcorn shop from back home. They really taste rich and buttery! We must have popped too much corn, because ours weren't covered as much as the photo. Does anyone know how many cups of unpopped kernels makes 5 quarts popped?

Nov 07, 2003

Kids of ALL AGES love these popcorn balls. Don't be thrown by the 1/2 cup of popcorn, that is the measurement for unpopped corn. Makes just the right amount!

Dec 14, 2003

These are absolutely the best! Just make sure you reach "hard crack" stage when doing the syrup. I did go to 300 deg. on my thermometer, but it wasn't quite hard crack and these wouldn't come off my teeth and I had to toss. However, the next batch turned out YUMMY and were perfect. I used about 3 tsp. of salt on the popcorn - seems like alot but you need to make them salt/sweet like the old fashioned kind. FABULOUS!

Feb 13, 2006

I think your grandpa and my 92 year old grandma knew each other. She makes these every Christmas, two separate batches, one with green food color, and the other red. My 46 year old husband and 39 year old sister fight like kids over them every year!

Dec 12, 2003

Thank you for sharing your Grandfather`s recipe. I made two batches this evening and they turned out great. I decided to add food coloring to mine(red and green for Christmas)at the same time I added the vanilla extract.


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  • Calories
  • 458 kcal
  • 23%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 75.1 g
  • 24%
  • Cholesterol
  • 24 mg
  • 8%
  • Fat
  • 18.7 g
  • 29%
  • Fiber
  • 1.8 g
  • 7%
  • Protein
  • 1.7 g
  • 3%
  • Sodium
  • 317 mg
  • 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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