Sweet and Salty Caramel Popcorn Balls

This recipe for Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls is the easiest popcorn ball recipe you will ever make, and that is a promise! The caramel is chewy and the gray sea salt sprinkling over top puts this recipe at the top of all its competitors in the popcorn ball world.

It’s really hard to mess this salted caramel popcorn ball recipe up. And, I know because I’m the biggest candy messer-upper of all time! With only 6 ingredients and no candy thermometer needed, you can have these tasty popcorn balls ready in no time flat!

Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls

Halloween and Popcorn Balls

Popcorn makes great for Halloween recipes. Popcorn Balls are my number one favorite way to do Halloween up and do it up right. Kids and adults alike love this popcorn ball recipe and they will disappear fast as soon as they are spotted on the table. These sweet and salty treats are the perfect Halloween treat for those you love.

I always relate popcorn balls to Halloween because that was my favorite treat I would receive when I went trick or treating as a child. We had a neighbor who made a popcorn ball with brown sugar and I absolutely loved the flavor and texture of that recipe.

The combination of my favorite flavors

As an adult, my taste buds moved into enjoying salty and sweet flavor combinations. Salted caramel is probably my most favorite candy of all time. So, it made sense to make these Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls to appease my adult taste buds!

I love popcorn of all kinds. But give me those with a little something extra and I’m super happy. These Sweet and Salty Popcorn balls do the trick as well as this recipe for Sweet Hot Caramel Corn and Chocolate Drizzled Kettle Corn with Almonds! The textures, sweet, heat, salt and crunch have me hooked!

Sweet and Salty Caramel Popcorn Balls

Visual Guide for making Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls

Start with making the popcorn. I highly recommend using air-popped popcorn. Microwave popcorn usually is pre-seasoned with butter flavor and salt. You want plain popcorn for this recipe.

air-popped popcorn in a green bowl

The ingredients are pretty simple. You need butter, karo syrup, light brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.

To prevent burning, be sure to stir constantly when the caramel syrup is boiling.

Pour the caramel syrup over the popcorn as soon as the 5 minute boiling time ends.

Stir the corn to completely cover it with caramel syrup. Then let the bowl sit for at least 5 minutes before shaping.

Sit each salted caramel popcorn ball on parchment or wax paper to cool and set. Sprinkle immediately with fleur de sel for salted caramel popcorn balls or halloween jimmies.

sweet salted caramel popcorn balls on parchment paper

Wrap and give to your little Halloween goblins!

Tips for making Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls

This is the best recipe for making salted caramel popcorn balls! You don’t need a candy thermometer – just a timer! The ingredients are very forgiving ingredients. Below are some tips for making the best popcorn balls possible!

  • Be sure to remove any unpopped corn kernels from the popcorn bowl. You don’t want someone to hurt a tooth by biting into one accidently!
  • Once your syrup has come to a boil, immediately add the sweetened condensed milk, then stir constantly the entire 5 minutes of boiling time. Not stirring constantly will give the syrup an chance to burn.
  • Start a timer for 5 minutes as soon as the sweetened condensed milk is added to the syrup. Don’t go over the 5 minute cooking time as you take the chance of hardening the syrup.
  • As soon as the 5 minutes is up, slowly pour the vanilla extract into it. The vanilla extract will bubble quickly when added so be careful when stirring it in so you don’t spatter yourself with hot syrup.
  • Use cooking spray or butter on your hands when shaping the popcorn balls. This will prevent the syrup from sticking to your hands.
  • Don’t be too anxious to start shaping the popcorn balls. Make sure to let it cool down enough to not burn your hands when shaping.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls

Variations to this recipe

I have been making this recipe for several years now and I have found it to be the BEST Popcorn Ball recipe out there. It is no-fail and delicious. Below are some other ways I have changed the recipe that you may like also.

  • Stir in some chopped nuts to the corn mixture before shaping into balls
  • Instead of vanilla extract, use another flavor that goes well with caramel. I have used banana extract as well as almond
  • Sprinkle the popcorn balls with some colored jimmies
  • Drizzle with white chocolate and sprinkles
  • Dip 1/2 of the ball in milk or dark chocolate
  • Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips or white chocolate chips just before shaping into balls.

Other delicious Halloween food ideas

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn Snack Mix
Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn Snack Mix on Grumpy’s Honeybunch

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn Snack Mix is another sweet popcorn treat that I love to make for Halloween! I had a lot of fun spooking the table up when I made this recipe! Another delicious popcorn recipe is Halloween Popcorn that is coated with orange and black candy coating.

Grumpy is a fan of chocolate dipped pretzels. However, when I made these Super Easy Halloween Pretzel Bites with only 3 ingredients, I satisfied his love of pretzels, white chocolate, AND candy corn!

One of my favorite store bought cookies is the Nutter Butter. I would beg my mom to buy these! These Nutter Butter Halloween Bat Cookies, remind me of my love for those cookies and they are cute to boot!

If your someone who likes to find a surprise in your treats, then these Candy Bar Truffles are for you! This is a great recipe for using up some of that leftover Halloween candy!

Frankenstein Krispie Treats

Everyone loves rice krispie treats, right? Well kids and adults alike will love to gobble down these Frankenstein Rice Krispie Treats!

How about some Kid-Friendly Halloween Party fun ideas? Or, maybe you’re an adult who loves to party and want to throw an Adult Halloween Party?

Grumpy and Honeybunch Halloween Party
Grumpy and Me at an Adult Halloween Party we hosted!

*If you made this recipe, please give it a star rating!*

Sweet and Salty Caramel Popcorn Balls
Yield: 12 popcorn balls

Sweet and Salty Popcorn Balls

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

These popcorn balls are cweet, salty, chewy, crunchy all filling your senses with these perfect little bites!

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 cups air popped popcorn
  • grey sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Place popcorn in a large bowl making sure there are no unpopped popcorn kernels in the bowl. Set aside until syrup is ready.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Combine sugar and corn syrup with butter. Bring caramel mixture to a boil.
  3. Add sweetened condensed milk and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir gently to coat completely. Set mixture aside to cool about 5 minutes.
  6. Scoop out about 1/4 cup measure of popcorn mixture and shape into balls. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
  7. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1 popcorn ball

Amount Per Serving Calories 200Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 15mgSodium 79mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 1gSugar 33gProtein 2g

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy, but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.

Did you make this recipe?

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About the Author: Shelby Law Ruttan

Shelby is the author/owner of Grumpy's Honeybunch. Established in 2007, she shares and preserves family recipes as well as recipes for cooking light and keto. She is an experienced, self-taught home cook who loves to share recipes with others. You can see her work on websites such as Veal Made Easy, Parade, Community Table, SoFab Food, Yummly, and FoodGawker.

36 Comments

  1. Liz Berg February 22, 2015 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Now, these are what I'd gravitate towards when choosing a munchie to eat during the Oscars!!! I have no will power when it comes to popcorn or popcorn balls!

  2. Christie Daruwalla February 22, 2015 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    I would love to be able to grab one right through the computer screen. Salty and sweet are my favorite combination.

  3. Tara Noland February 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    These look fantastic as I love sweet and salty together, perfection!!

  4. Mary Ellen February 22, 2015 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    These look so good. I love sweet and salty!

  5. Tammi @ Momma's Meals February 22, 2015 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I love the combo of sweet and salty! These would not last long in my house!

  6. Laura Dembowski February 22, 2015 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    I'm obsessed with popcorn lately and these candies are totally calling my name!

  7. Foodie Stuntman February 22, 2015 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    Sweet and salty seems to be a theme this week and this is another great addition to the mix!

  8. The Ninja Baker February 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Soooo cute, Shelby! You've inspired me to start using little flags =) Where did you get them? Thank you for the great tips to replicate your yummies. Your words gave me confidence that I truly can make popcorn balls easily =)

  9. Lauren Everson February 23, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

    PERFECT recipe for tonight! I'll take them all, thank you.

  10. Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips February 23, 2015 at 2:49 am - Reply

    I just love these! Sweet, salty crunchy goodness!

  11. Wendy Klik February 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Yum. These have my vote for best in dessert category.

  12. Rebekah Hills February 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Oh my goodness – those look WONDERFUL! Perfect snack / dessert to enjoy and share!

  13. Sara Glover February 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    These are going to be addicting! Can't wait to make them!

  14. Valerie Cathell Clark February 23, 2015 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    First, your presentation is adorable! I could eat a ton of these! I love popcorn and the gooey, chewy perfect photo is making me drool! Nice post!

  15. Carrie R February 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Now this is my kind of treat! I love the sweet & salty with the crunchy & chewy. 🙂 These are definitely a winner in my book!

  16. Sandra Shaffer February 24, 2015 at 2:17 am - Reply

    These are perfectly sized for munching! I love the sweet and salty combo.

  17. Renee Paj February 24, 2015 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    What cute little bites! I know Joe would love these! I'll have to make them for him one day!

  18. Sheena @ Hot Eats and Cool Reads February 24, 2015 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    I have to try these! Totally my kind of recipe!!

  19. Cindy Kerschner February 26, 2015 at 11:20 am - Reply

    I could snack on these anytime!

  20. Renee February 28, 2015 at 12:36 am - Reply

    A great snack for anytime!

  21. Sarah Reid March 1, 2015 at 4:02 am - Reply

    I love popcorn in all different ways, I have to try this!

  22. Yvonne [Tried and Tasty] March 1, 2015 at 5:54 am - Reply

    I love caramel corn, this looks like it would fit my taste just perfectly!

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Shelby Welcome! I'm Shelby, author of Grumpy's Honeybunch. I have been sharing family favorite recipes since 2007. We started the Keto Diet in October 2017 and since then I have been creating Keto ... read more

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