Maple Pecan Popcorn Balls

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

"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.

25 min Prep: 10 min Cook: 15 min
Serves: 18 Save

Ingredients (9)

  • 4 quart (16 cups) freshly popped popcorn (made from about 2/3 cup popcorn kernels and 3 tablespoons canola oil -- work in batches if necessary)
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (do not use imitation maple syrup)
  • 8 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick), plus additional for greasing
  • 2 teaspoon 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.

Discover fascinating facts and health benefits about some of the ingredients in the recipe, including other delicious recipes!