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Festive Holiday Popcorn Balls Recipe

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Holiday popcorn balls are a fun and easy treat that adds a burst of festivity to any celebration. Whether you’re using marshmallows, M&Ms, or classic ingredients like corn syrup and butter, these delightful snacks are perfect for entertaining family and friends.

Making these treats is simple and can be done with everyday ingredients. Pop your popcorn, melt some butter, mix in marshmallows or your favorite sweetener, and shape them into festive balls. Add sprinkles, chocolate, or candies to make them extra special.

You can customize your popcorn balls according to the holiday season. For Christmas, add red and green M&Ms or sprinkles. For Halloween, use orange and black decorations. It’s a creative way to enjoy popcorn and bring joy to your celebrations.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

For making holiday popcorn balls, you will need these ingredients:

  • Popcorn: About 10-12 cups of popped popcorn are needed. You can use microwave popcorn, but make sure it’s not too buttery or salty.

  • Brown Sugar: 1 cup. If you don’t have brown sugar, you can mix 1 cup of white sugar with 1 tablespoon of molasses.

  • Corn Syrup: 1 cup light corn syrup helps to bind the popcorn. Honey or maple syrup can be used as substitutes.

  • Butter: 1/2 cup. For a dairy-free option, you can use margarine or coconut oil.

  • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon. Almond extract can be used for a different flavor.

  • Salt: 1/4 teaspoon. Sea salt or kosher salt can also work.

  • Marshmallows: 10 ounces. You can also use marshmallow fluff, but use a bit more to get the right consistency.

Here’s a handy table for quick reference:

IngredientAmountSubstitute Options
Popcorn10-12 cups poppedNone
Brown Sugar1 cupWhite sugar + molasses
Corn Syrup1 cupHoney, maple syrup
Butter1/2 cupMargarine, coconut oil
Vanilla Extract1 teaspoonAlmond extract
Salt1/4 teaspoonSea salt, kosher salt
Marshmallows10 ouncesMarshmallow fluff

Feel free to mix and match these substitutes as needed based on your preferences and what you have in your pantry.


Start by prepping your popcorn. Pop ½ cup of kernels using your favorite method. Once done, make sure to remove all unpopped kernels. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the mixture over medium heat:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook until a candy thermometer reads 235°F.

Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the hot mixture over your popcorn. Gently stir to coat all the kernels evenly.

Add mix-ins if desired, such as:

  • Mini M&Ms
  • Sprinkles

Let the mixture cool slightly. Spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray and shape the popcorn into balls.


  • To keep your popcorn balls from sticking together, store them in an airtight container.
  • You can make them ahead and store for up to 5 days at room temperature.

Enjoy your delicious holiday popcorn balls!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Making holiday popcorn balls can be fun and easy with the right tips and tricks!

Choose the Right Popcorn: Use fresh, plain-popped popcorn. Avoid buttered or flavored types as they can interfere with the coating.

Mix Well: Stir the marshmallow mixture thoroughly to ensure all the popcorn is well coated.

Work Quickly: Form the balls while the mixture is still warm. It will be easier to shape.

Butter Your Hands: To prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands, apply a little butter or oil on them before forming the balls.

Use an Airtight Container: Store popcorn balls in a container with a tight-fitting lid. This keeps moisture and air out, preserving freshness.

Line the Container: Use parchment paper or wax paper to line the inside of the container. This prevents sticking and keeps the balls from clumping together.

Avoid Sunlight: Store your popcorn balls in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This prevents the candy coating from melting.

Do Not Freeze: Freezing popcorn balls is not recommended. It can make them lose their texture and flavor.

Short-Term Storage: For the best taste, consume your popcorn balls within a week. If you need to store longer, check regularly for freshness.

By following these simple steps, you can enjoy delicious popcorn balls throughout your holiday celebrations!

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Classic Popcorn Balls: Follow the traditional recipe by mixing popped popcorn with melted marshmallows, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Shape into balls and let them cool.

Colorful Popcorn Balls: Add a few drops of food coloring to the marshmallow mixture before adding the popcorn. This is fun for themed parties or holidays.

Chocolatey Treats: Drizzle melted chocolate over the formed popcorn balls. You can use white, milk, or dark chocolate for variety.

Holiday Mix-Ins: Add festive candies like mini M&Ms, sprinkles, or crushed candy canes to the popcorn mixture before shaping.

Nutty Flavor: Mix in chopped nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, or pecans, for added crunch. Be sure to ensure guests have no nut allergies.

Spicy Kick: Sprinkle in some ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the marshmallow mixture for a warm and cozy flavor.

Serving Suggestions

  • Arrange the popcorn balls in a decorative bowl or on a tray for a festive display.
  • Wrap each ball in colorful cellophane and tie with a ribbon for gifting.
  • Serve with hot cocoa or apple cider to complement the sweet treat.

Experiment and enjoy these fun variations!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.