Grandma’s Popcorn Ball Recipe

There was a time, believe it or not, when trick-or-treaters would be rewarded with homemade treats instead of store bought snacks. Some of you may remember getting these in your goody bags as you ran through the neighborhood. While it may be frowned upon nowadays, these homemade goodies were a big part of the Halloween tradition in many families. And the king of them all was the popcorn ball.

Equal parts sweet, salty, crunchy, messy, and fun, everything about the popcorn ball is fantastic. As a kid, I would look forward to my Grandma’s popcorn balls all year. So, as we were getting the candy and costumes this year I decided to pull out my Grandma’s old recipes and whip up a batch of these old-fashioned sweets.

As I gathered the ingredients it was immediately obvious this wasn’t going to be a healthy recipe. I’m no dietitian, but if I had to guess each one of these balls has something like 4,000 calories. I rationalized this with the fact Halloween only comes once a year and soldiered on.

You are going to need about 12 cups of popped Black Jewell Popcorn for this recipe, and it needs to be unsalted and unbuttered. I used Original Black Kernels popped on the stovetop, but you could definitely use an air popper, or just grab some No Salt/No Oil Microwave Popcorn and don’t worry about it. As for the rest of the ingredients, the only change I made was that I didn’t have any table salt, so I used some Pink Himalayan Sea Salt instead. I don’t think it made a noticeable difference in the end product, but I doubt my Grandma had pink salt in mind when she wrote this recipe down.

Start by adding your margarine to a medium sized pot over medium heat. Let it melt down, then add your powdered sugar, marshmallows, corn syrup, and salt.

Bring it to a boil while stirring constantly and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and stir in your vanilla and baking soda. After they’re all mixed in pour it immediately over your popcorn.

Now comes the fun part. You need to make sure every piece of popcorn is coated, and the easiest way to do that is with your hands. What I did was take a couple of plastic sandwich bags, spray them with cooking spray, and wore them like gloves. Worked like a charm.

Once you have your popcorn mixture packed firmly into ball-ish shapes set them on wax paper, or plastic wrap and let them cool. Then you can wrap them however you like (I opted to just wrap them in plastic wrap like Grandma did), and enjoy.

Overall, this was a fun recipe to make, and it’s a great one to make with the kids. The taste really brought me back to being a kid again. However, anything can be improved upon. Try adding chocolate chunks, some cinnamon, or putting it on a stick and dipping it in caramel. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy!


  • 12 Cups Popped Black Jewell Popcorn
  • 1 Cup Marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Margarine
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1/4 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/2 TSP Pure Vanilla Extract