Dessert Snack

It’s good to have a fallback recipe for whatever pops up

Popcorn balls are simple to make and easy to customize with tons of sweet or salty mix ins.

On a recent free evening, Joey and I decided to watch a movie together, and I wanted popcorn.

Of course, I couldn’t just toss a bag of microwave popcorn in to cook; I needed to make the real stuff on my stovetop.

I melted a spoonful of coconut oil in a pot and waited for it to be nice and hot, testing it with a couple kernels, just like you’re supposed to.

But then it came time to add the rest of the kernels, and honestly, I couldn’t remember how many to dump in. After a bit of time thumbing through my mental Rolodex, I somehow determined that popcorn kernels were measured out like rice, and I dumped a full cup of kernels into the pot, figuring I would make about two cups of finished popcorn.

I added the lid and waited. Soon, my popcorn was popping.

And then it kept popping.

And popping.

It wasn’t long before the lid started lifting off my pot, and I realized the error of my ways.

Joey walked into the kitchen just in time to see me frantically scooping popcorn into several bowls on the counter while more popcorn flew out onto the floor and our schnauzer, K.C., excitedly performed clean up duties. It was a bit crazy, and the aftermath left me with a ton of popped kernels.

So, with that in mind, I decided to opt for a great recipe for leftover popcorn: popcorn balls.

The recipe I used is from Martha Stewart’s website. You can find the original post at I simplified the mix-ins a bit.


Popcorn Balls

Popcorn balls are simple to make and easy to customize with tons of sweet or salty mix ins.
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword brown sugar, Halloween treat, honey roasted peanuts, mini marshmallows, popcorn, popcorn ball


  • 1/4 cup stick butter plus more for your hands
  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 10 to 12 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 cup nuts dried fruit and/or baking chips


  • Spread a large piece of waxed paper or parchment paper on your workspace.
  • In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the marshmallows and brown sugar, and continue stirring until it’s all melted.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Add the popcorn and whatever mix ins you want to add, and stir well.
  • Butter your hands, and then shape the mixture into about two- or three-inch balls. Lightly press them together so they stick, but be careful not to crush the popcorn.
  • Place the balls on the waxed paper to cool. Either individually wrap the popcorn balls or store in an airtight container.

I really liked these, and the nice thing about making your own popcorn balls is you can make them whatever size you want for snacking.

I ended up using some honey roasted peanuts I already had in the pantry, and it was delicious.

Plus, I managed to get rid of all of the extra popcorn on my counter. Despite eating a nice, large bowl during our movie night and receiving lots of gracious help from K.C., there was no way I was going to get through all of it on my own.

The next time I decide to make popcorn, I’ll actually look up the measurements so I don’t end up in a cartoon-like situation again. But at least now I know what to do with the extra.

This piece first appeared in print on Sept. 21, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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