Great, Great Grandpa Apell had a huge farm in Illinois with prize-winning corn. He made Popcorn Balls for all the Grandkids at Christmastime. He lived to be 106 and claimed workin' the farm and eatin' corn was the secret! This recipe is delicious!

Recipe Summary

prep:
10 mins
cook:
15 mins
total:
25 mins
Servings:
10
Yield:
10 - 3 inch round balls
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Ingredients

10
Original recipe yields 10 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and water. Stir and heat to hard-crack stage or 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Remove from heat, add vanilla or vinegar; mix well.

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  • Pour slowly over popped popcorn while stirring. Wait 5 minutes and shape into 3 inch round balls.

Nutrition Facts

458 calories; protein 1.7g 3% DV; carbohydrates 75.1g 24% DV; fat 18.7g 29% DV; cholesterol 24.4mg 8% DV; sodium 317mg 13% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (165)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
01/27/2004
oh boy, these are really good. It is really important to reach hard crack stage with these candies. To test for hard crack stage without a candy thermometer, use the ice water method. Have nearby a bowl of ice water. Periodically test the syrup to see if it has reached hard crack. To do this, drizzle a small amount of syrup off of a spoon into the cold water. When it has reached hard crack stage, it will form treads in the water. When you take the threads out of the water, they will be hard and brittle. If they are still soft and pliable, or if it forms a ball instead of threads, keep cooking and checking until you get hard, brittle threads. Read More
(657)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
10/26/2009
I am sure these are great and would love some advise. The first 2 or 3 minutes in the bowl it all started to harden and I could not get it up into a ball. It was hard as a rock. I started making them into balls right away and only got a few done before it all stuck together and got hard. What did I do wrong? Read More
(25)
192 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 129
  • 4 star values: 36
  • 3 star values: 15
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 10
Rating: 5 stars
01/27/2004
oh boy, these are really good. It is really important to reach hard crack stage with these candies. To test for hard crack stage without a candy thermometer, use the ice water method. Have nearby a bowl of ice water. Periodically test the syrup to see if it has reached hard crack. To do this, drizzle a small amount of syrup off of a spoon into the cold water. When it has reached hard crack stage, it will form treads in the water. When you take the threads out of the water, they will be hard and brittle. If they are still soft and pliable, or if it forms a ball instead of threads, keep cooking and checking until you get hard, brittle threads. Read More
(657)
Rating: 5 stars
11/07/2003
If you dont cook to the hard-crack stage you will end up with sticky "caramel" on the popcorn. At the hard-crack stage it becomes crispy when completely cooled. When you bite off a piece from the ball it is like caramel corn. As the mixture was cooling I added some red hots to give it a Christmas theme look. Another tip is to put each hand into a plastic sandwich baggy's and mold the popcorn into balls with these on. That way the warm caramel wont stick to your hands. These are sweet caramel corn tasting popcorn balls. Very delicious. If you dont like them sweet you add the vinegar to tone it down. I used my hot air popcorn popper to pop 1/2 cup kernals. Read More
(259)
Rating: 5 stars
10/07/2007
These popcorn balls taste just like a gourmet popcorn shop from back home. They really taste rich and buttery! We must have popped too much corn because ours weren't covered as much as the photo. Does anyone know how many cups of unpopped kernels makes 5 quarts popped? Read More
(179)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/07/2003
Kids of ALL AGES love these popcorn balls. Don't be thrown by the 1/2 cup of popcorn that is the measurement for unpopped corn. Makes just the right amount! Read More
(122)
Rating: 5 stars
12/14/2003
These are absolutely the best! Just make sure you reach "hard crack" stage when doing the syrup. I did go to 300 deg. on my thermometer but it wasn't quite hard crack and these wouldn't come off my teeth and I had to toss. However the next batch turned out YUMMY and were perfect. I used about 3 tsp. of salt on the popcorn - seems like alot but you need to make them salt/sweet like the old fashioned kind. FABULOUS! Read More
(89)
Rating: 5 stars
02/13/2006
I think your grandpa and my 92 year old grandma knew each other. She makes these every Christmas two separate batches one with green food color and the other red. My 46 year old husband and 39 year old sister fight like kids over them every year! Read More
(68)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/30/2005
We loved this recipe. I made a few batches for my preschooler to take to his Halloween party. We wrapped them in cellophane and tied them up with green pipe cleaners. I then attatched a green tag cut like a leaf saying Happy Halloween from my son. Next we curled up the pipe cleaners on a pencil to resemble a vine. Finally, we took a sharpie marker and made a jack-o-lantern face. These were so fun!!!!! Read More
(59)
Rating: 5 stars
12/12/2003
Thank you for sharing your Grandfather s recipe. I made two batches this evening and they turned out great. I decided to add food coloring to mine(red and green for Christmas)at the same time I added the vanilla extract. Read More
(56)
Rating: 5 stars
01/27/2004
What a perfect popcorn ball. Be patient with the syrup candy making can be tedious but so worth the results. I might experiment and add a tad more butter for more richness. Super super super Read More
(52)
Rating: 3 stars
10/26/2009
I am sure these are great and would love some advise. The first 2 or 3 minutes in the bowl it all started to harden and I could not get it up into a ball. It was hard as a rock. I started making them into balls right away and only got a few done before it all stuck together and got hard. What did I do wrong? Read More
(25)
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