Fall just calls for caramel apples and popcorn balls, doesn’t it! We love them but I have to admit, it’s really easy just to pick up caramel apples at the grocery store. Popcorn balls, not so much or not the ones I have purchased. Here’s a very easy and quick way to make tasty popcorn balls right at home!
My mother had a great recipe for caramel corn and popcorn balls. I’ve made it plenty of times, but today, opted for something easier, homemade, but still easier. I’ll look up her recipe and post it another time.
Old Fashioned Popcorn Balls
I do have memories of popcorn balls made with molasses. No one ever came away from making popcorn balls from scratch with molasses without getting burned! Either it was your tongue for tasting too quickly or your fingers from forming the balls. It was downright dangerous!))) But they did taste good.
My recipe is so much easier and quicker too!
Caramel Popcorn Balls
1 13 oz Bag of Kraft Caramels
5 Bags of Orville Redenbacher’s Mini Bags – Popped
2 T butter (extra butter later for greasing hands)
Pop the bags of popcorn in the microwave and set them aside. If you use other brands of popcorn or pop loose corn, the package insert from the Orville Redenbacher Mini bags says one bag yields 5.5 cups of popped corn.
That gives you an idea of how much you need. I think they overestimate it myself. But if you used an actual measuring cup maybe that’s correct. If you have too much popcorn, it won’t be covered well enough with the caramel and you’ll have trouble getting it to stick together. Empty the bags of popcorn into a large bowl.
Use two bowls, scoop the popcorn out by hand, and place it into the second bowl sort of sifting the popcorn. You don’t want to get any of the unpopped kernels in the balls. Unpopped kernels, some people call them “old maids.” Wonder where that term ever came from. Do you know?
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and add the unwrapped caramels. Unwrapping the caramels is the hardest part of this recipe! If you have small children put them to work! They love to unwrap anything!
Melt the caramels slowly over very low heat. You can do this in the microwave of course, but be careful not to overcook or get burned.
Pour the melted caramel mixture over the popcorn and stir gently with a long-handled wooden spoon until well-covered. By the time you have stirred the corn up, it should be cool enough to handle, but test it to be sure.
Grease your hands with butter (or margarine), grab a handful of the mixture, and compress until it holds together and forms a popcorn ball. Make the popcorn balls as small or large as you like. My balls were probably about the size of a medium orange or tennis ball. I think it made 6-7 balls. Make them smaller if you want more.
Wrap the balls individually in plastic wrap, or place them in individual zip-lock bags. Clear cellophane bags are great too if you’re going to use them for a party or as a special treat. You can make them pretty with a bit of ribbon or raffia.
By the way, do you like decorating with natural things for Christmas like stringed popcorn? It’s been a long time since I’ve done that, and it takes a lot of time, but fun to do as a family activity.
The last time I did it, day-old popcorn worked the best and also I used waxed dental floss as the string. It is messy and does take a long time, but the end results were worth it. Wish I had a pic to share!
More from My Kitchen
Caramel Popcorn Balls
- Melt butter over low heat in large saucepan or dutch oven.2 T Butter
- Unwrap caramels and add to pan. Melt over low heat, stirring frequently. (You can do this in a microwave too, just be careful not to overcook.)1 Bag 13 oz Kraft Caramels
- Pop individual mini bags of popcorn using the recommended settings of your microwave. Set aside two large bowls. When each bag of popcorn is popped, pour contents of bag into one of the bowls. Scoop out the popcorn by handfuls and place into the second bowl. Be careful not to transfer any un-popped kernels. Do this with each bag. You don't want any un-popped kernels to make it into the popcorn balls.5 Bags Orville Redenbacher's Mini Bags
- Pour the melted caramels over the popcorn and gently stir to cover well. Depending on the size of your bowl, it may be easier to pour the popped corn into your dutch oven.Butter your hands and form popcorn balls to the desired size. Mine were about the size of tennis balls. Wrap in clear plastic wrap.