Caramel Popcorn Balls

Caramel Popcorn Balls are the ultimate fall treat! Popcorn is tossed in homemade caramel and formed into balls. Perfect for kids and adults!

Caramel Popcorn Balls wrapped in wax paper close up

There’s nothing quite as Fall-ish to me as popcorn balls, maybe because one of our neighbors always handed them out for treats on Halloween night. (But they are great year round if you ask me!) Unfortunately, I don’t have that recipe, but when I took Home-Ec in 8th grade, we made these Caramel Popcorn Balls and OMG they are amazing! Thankfully I have a mom who saves recipes, because we kept this one.

See – the original copy that she scanned to send to me:

Caramel Popcorn Balls Recipe

I love how it has a hint at the bottom of how to measure out 3/4 cup – guess I forget what it’s like to be around junior high kids!

Caramel Popcorn Balls wrapped in wax paper

Recipe Details

First, you can either pop popcorn on the stove or in the microwave. Alternatively, you can purchase already popped popcorn from the store. Next, you’ll make the homemade caramel sauce. A candy thermometer is crucial here to getting the caramel to the correct sugar stage. Once the caramel reaches the appropriate temperature, butter is added and the syrup is poured over the popcorn.

caramel cooking in a saucepan on the stove with a candy thermometer

I’ve made these several times, and finally figured out the trick. They must be wrapped in waxed paper immediately after being formed, otherwise they will harden and stay that way! For the best, chewy texture ever, they can’t sit out to cool without being wrapped. This time, I remembered to wrap them right away and they stayed chewy. However, a new problem arose – they stuck to the waxed paper. I think spraying the waxed paper with cooking spray (butter flavored might be good) before wrapping the popcorn balls might be a good idea, so I’ve written it into the recipe. I haven’t tried it yet, but no one wants to be picking off little pieces of waxed paper to get to the yummy caramel inside! If they do happen to stick, you can pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to loosen the paper 🙂

Caramel Popcorn Balls PIN

Gluten Free Caramel Popcorn Balls

These popcorn balls are naturally gluten free! Please check the packaging on your popcorn to check for cross contamination.

Looking for More Fall Recipes?

Check out some of my favorite Fall Recipes:
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Pumpkin Chocolate Tart

Caramel Popcorn Balls wrapped in wax paper close up

Caramel Popcorn Balls

Popcorn tossed in a homemade caramel sauce. These are the perfect treat for fall!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 popcorn balls


  • Candy thermometer
  • squares of waxed paper


  • 8 cups of popped corn (1/2 cup unpopped corn, see note)
  • cooking spray


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 1 1/2 sticks butter


  • Pop corn and place in a large bowl.
  • In a saucepan, combine sugars, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring all of the time. Cook until mixture reaches 260 degrees F.
  • Reduce heat to low; stir in butter until melted. Pour syrup over corn in a thin stream. Stir until well coated. Cool slightly.
  • While the caramel corn is cooling, cut squares of waxed paper and spray them with cooking spray.
  • Butter your hands. Scoop a small handful of popcorn mixture and form into a 3" ball. Place on a square of waxed paper, twist and turn paper to close. *It is key to seal up the popcorn balls at this point. Do NOT let them cool before you do this or they will harden and turn into rocks.


I used 1 package of butterless microwave popcorn, and it was exactly 8 cups.
Source: My 8th grade Home Economics teacher
You’re Gonna Bake It After All
Keyword candy, dessert, fall, gluten free

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