How to make 20-minute Halloween popcorn balls

Published on October 27 2011 - 3:02 PM
How to make 20-minute Halloween popcorn balls

EatingWell’s popcorn balls have very few ingredients, come in at 78-103 calories each, contain whole grains and fiber from the popcorn—and the caramel popcorn ball variations have half the sugar and butter of traditional recipes. Our easy master popcorn ball recipe (below) is flexible, so you can really mix and match your flavors, add-in ingredients and rolled toppings to make the popcorn balls your own. Get easy recipes for all 4 mix-and-match popcorn balls here.

When my friends and their kids gather at my house this Halloween, I’m going to serve up a classic Halloween treat (with a healthier twist): popcorn balls. It may seem like I’ve gone out of my way to make them, but for the September/October issue of EatingWell Magazine my fellow Test Kitchen cooks developed a popcorn ball recipe that takes only 20 minutes!

More Halloween Recipes to Try:
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Cookies & More Pumpkin Recipes
Apple Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting & More Halloween Party Recipes

EatingWell Popcorn Balls Master Recipe
Makes: 12 (2-inch) balls
Total time: 20 minutes
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Fill a bowl with ice water. Put 6 heaping cups popped corn in a large bowl.
2. Cook the Sticky Mixture of your choice (see below).
3. Immediately stir the mixture into the popcorn until well coated. Gently stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped Add-Ins, if using (see below for healthy ideas).
4. Dip both hands in the ice water. Quickly and firmly press the popcorn mixture into 2-inch balls. Roll in or sprinkle with 1/4 cup Roll-Ins, if using (see below), while still a little damp and sticky. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
5. To store, individually wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Sticky Mixtures
Two options:
Keep it classic with Caramel: Combine 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup reduced-calorie light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the syrup starts to bubble, cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is melted and the mixture darkens, about 2 minutes. Proceed with Step 3.

Go “all-natural”: with Agave-Peanut Butter: Combine 1/4 cup each agave nectar (or honey) and room-temperature creamy natural peanut butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble, cook, stirring constantly, for 15 seconds more. Proceed with Step 3.

Dried fruit
Crystallized ginger
Pretzels, regular or chocolate-covered

Coat with Roll-Ins:
Unsweetened coconut flakes
Finely chopped nuts
Toasted sesame seeds
Finely ground granola

More Treats to Try:
Indoor S’Mores and More Instant Chocolate Treats
6 Tricks for Making Better Chocolate Chip Cookies

By Hilary Meyer


EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.