Maple Pecan Popcorn Balls

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 18 pieces
  • Prep 10 mins
  • Cook 15 mins

Classic popcorn balls with a flavorful twist make a perfect after-school snack for pint-sizers.

Maple Popcorn Balls
Mark Boughton/styling: Teresa Blackburn

"Light" corn syrup doesn't refer to its calories; it's a reference to its color -- and its mild flavor. Here, it keeps the sugar from crystallizing in these chewy popcorn balls, spiked with maple for a fall treat. Have everything ready before you start as you need to work quickly.


4 quarts (16 cups) freshly popped popcorn (made from about 2/3 cup popcorn kernels and 3 tablespoons canola oil -- work in batches if necessary)
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup (do not use imitation maple syrup)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus additional for greasing
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup chopped toasted pecans


  1. Lightly butter the inside of a large bowl. Pour warm popcorn into buttered bowl.
  2. Mix sugar, water, corn syrup, maple syrup, butter, salt and cream of tartar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring often. Attach candy thermometer to the inside of the pan. Continue heating undisturbed until temperature reaches 268F (hard-ball stage), about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from the heat; stir in nuts. Slowly drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn, tossing gently with a spatula.
  4. Working quickly and wearing rubber gloves that you’ve buttered, gather about 1/2 cup of the coated popcorn together at a time, and form into balls without compacting too tightly.

Recipe by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.



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