Easy Cheap Vegan Candied Popcorn and Popcorn Balls Recipe

"Mommy, did you make caramel popcorn?" my kids asked me. No, this isn't caramel, caramel has dairy in it, specifically butter, and this has none of that. There is another popcorn based dessert similar to this called kettle corn, but there are big differences between that and this- namely the proportions of oil and sugar, and the amount of precision that it needs to be made with, otherwise it'll all burn into a big mess. This dessert is closest in taste to caramel popcorn, but not exactly.

So how did I make it? Well, years and years ago I posted a recipe here for sesame candy (one of the first recipes on my blog, when I still didn't know how to format recipes) and this time decided to use the same sugar candy mixture and pour it onto popcorn that I popped in my popcorn maker, and voila. It was super easy and tasted terrific and everyone enjoyed it and asked me to make it again.

The one thing you need to be aware of is that once you make the sugar candy mixture, you have to work quickly. But beyond that, it's easy as pie.

If you want to form these into popcorn balls as I did, its a bit more work, but nothing serious.

Additionally, mine were very candied, but you can add more popcorn to change up the ratio of candy to popcorn, it's up to you.

Easy Cheap Vegan Candied Popcorn and Popcorn Balls Recipe

1/2 cup (or more) popcorn kernels, popped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon oil plus more oil as needed
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Pop your corn kernels however you prefer to pop them. If you use oil to pop them, use as much oil as you need, in addition to the amount of oil mentioned in the recipe. I use my popcorn popper that  doesn't need any oil. Alternatively you can microwave yours in a brown paper bag. However you pop it, once that's done, move on to the next step. Make sure to remove all the unpopped kernels.

2. Put your sugar, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt into a sauce pan, on a medium heat. Mix it frequently until it starts to melt a bit, and once it does, mix constantly until its fully melted.

3. Once melted, add a teaspoon of baking soda, mix it quickly when it foams up, and pour it immediately onto your popcorn. Add one more teaspoon of salt and mix it very well so the candy coats all the popcorn.

4. If you want popcorn balls, wait for this to cool a little bit (cool enough to handle but not cool enough to harden) and then oil your hands lightly, and press your popcorn into balls, then place on a flat surface to cool and solidify. I put mine on parchment paper. If you don't want popcorn balls, just wait for it to cool.

5. Eat once cooled.


Have you ever made or had candied popcorn? Does this look like something you'd try? Would you call this caramel popcorn, or kettle corn, or what name would you give this?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I think my sweets loving son would love this! I am going to try it today! Thank you so much!

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