Let’s face it, pouring candy syrup over popcorn is easy.  It’s making the candy syrup that’s a pain.

But what if you could make candy popcorn without digging out the sugar, flavor, colors and corn syrup? What if you didn’t have to make the syrup from scratch.

Here are three ways to do that with hardly any trouble.  I mean, it’s so easy that every time you watch a family movie or go on a picnic, it’s popcorn time. 

Table of Contents

These are all shortcuts to starting from scratch. You can have candy popcorn in no time, it’s scrumptious (same principles as scratch, and the available flavors are amazing).

Making Candy Popcorn with Pancake Syrup

Why not cook a pancake syrup to the softball stage and make candy popcorn? We’ve done that. We’ve cooked pancake syrups to the softball stage, and it makes terrific candy popcorn.

Linde, who worked in our store, doesn’t even bother doing that. She simply pours the syrup over her popcorn. It’s stickier but her boys don’t mind and it’s a super quick treat.

Shop these syrups in 20 flavors.

If you are cooking pancake syrup, you may wish to add a half teaspoon of baking soda but that’s optional. (See the troubleshooting section of this article to understand what soda does.)

Making Candy Popcorn with a Pancake Syrup Mix

We sell pancake syrup mixes and they make perfect candy popcorn mixes. Make it like you’re making pancake syrup but cook it another five minutes or so, to the softball stage.

The pancake syrup mixes, except for lemon syrup, have baking soda in the mix. They are absolutely scrumptious. Choose from these flavors:

Making Candy Popcorn with a Popcorn Kit

Buttermilk syrup is very much like caramel syrup, maybe a bit more like butterscotch. The syrup is very good . . . and so is the popcorn. It’s a quick, easy way to make caramel popcorn.

These kits include a very good popping corn. Pop the corn, mix up the syrup, and pour.

For easy popcorn, shop these syrup mixes in ten flavors.

The Wonderful World of Candy Popcorn

You can make popcorn in many different flavors.  Some of my favorites are huckleberry, root beer, and licorice. 

But where do you find flavors like this? We sell 38 amazing flavors, flavors that you won’ find anywhere else

Add a color to match your flavor. Choose from 40 colors here.

How to Make Candy Popcorn

The technique for making candy popcorn is simple. Create a sugar syrup, cook it to the softball stage, add baking soda, and pour it over your popcorn.

  1. Cook the syrup to 240 degrees, the soft ball stage.
  2. Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in baking soda.
  3. Pour the warm candy over the popped corn.

You can also make popcorn balls with any of these syrups. To make popcorn balls, butter your hands and form balls with the warm, candy-coated popcorn.

How to Make Lemon Popcorn with Syrup

Make sure not to let any sugar stick to the edges of the pan or your whole batch may crystallize. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 235-245 degrees.

  • Remove the pan from the stove and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and stir quickly as the mixture begins to bubble. Add pink food coloring. We used Americolor Deep Pink food color gel. Mixing the deep pink color with the yellow syrup produces a sunrise pink color of popcorn.
  • Pour the candy over the popped popcorn. Fold it into the popcorn until coated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I pour the candy over the popcorn or stir the popcorn into my pot of hot candy?

Pour the candy over the popcorn in a stream, stirring the popcorn several times as you stir. If you pour the popcorn into the candy, you’ll have a mess.

Why do I add baking soda? Do I need to?

There are plenty of recipes that don’t call for baking soda. I prefer baking soda in my candy popcorn. It certainly is a different product with baking soda added. Let me explain.

Baking soda is a base. If you add baking soda to an acidic liquid, you have a chemical reaction. The result is a liquid filled with carbon dioxide bubbles. The liquid, filled with bubbles, expands.

Sugar is acidic and so your sugar syrup, your candy, is acidic. After adding baking soda, it’s less dense.

You would think it would be softer. But soft versus hard is a function of temperature, not acidity. At the soft ball stage, 240 degrees, your popcorn is going to be soft and a bit sticky. If you cook it longer, you’re coating your popcorn with hard candy. But the candy has a lighter texture because you added baking soda.

As an illustration, think of peanut brittle. You cook peanut brittle to the hard crack stage, 300 degrees. If you added the peanuts and poured it into a pan without the soda, it wouldn’t be brittle. It would be rock hard. You couldn’t bite it.

But with the soda, it bubbles and foams and has a porous texture. Now you can bite it, chew it, and it has a brittle, chewy texture.

It’s not analogous to caramel popcorn because the candy is only cooked to 240 degrees, the soft ball stage. But it’s lighter, airier, and will melt in your mouth.

What if my popcorn is too sticky?

You didn’t cook it long enough. We prefer our candy popcorn at 240 degrees, the softball stage.

There’s nothing wrong with eating sticky popcorn as long as it’s not soggy. If it’s soggy, throw it out. If not, you can line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the sticky popcorn over the sheet. Set the oven to 250 degrees, put the sheet of popcorn in the oven, and dry it.

What if I don’t have a candy thermometer?

If you are cooking your candy to the soft ball stage, you can test it in cold water. Slide a teaspoon or so of the candy into a tablespoon of cold water. It should set into a soft, pliable ball. If you had cooked it longer, it would be a hard ball.

Deep Fry and Candy Thermometer

Candy and Deep Fry Thermometer

Deluxe Candy Thermometer

Free! The Popcorn Lovers Handbook

There are really only three secrets
to making candy popcorn: Use a
thermometer, be careful not to let the
sugar crystallize, and add baking soda.
But we’ll give you more.

Just tell us where to send it. 

Popcorn Handbook

Free! Six Incredibly Fun Popcorn Recipes

These recipes are incredibly fun. Your family will love them, and we want to share them.  Get immediate access. 

People also ask . . .

How long does homemade candy popcorn last?

Put your candy popcorn in a sealed container and store it at room temperature for up to five days.  But there is nothing as good as fresh, slightly sticky popcorn.

What is the best way to flavor candy popcorn?

Chances are that your recipe is going to call for a bottled flavored.  Add the flavor to the candy after it is cooked and before you pour your candy syrup over the popcorn.  If you add the flavor before cooking, the heat from the cooking will destroy much of the flavor.

How much flavoring do you put in popcorn?

There is a great difference in the strength of flavors, from brand to brand. Add a teaspoon of flavor to begin with and stir.  Spoon a small amount of the syrup into cool water as if you were testing for doneness.  Then taste the candy ball.  If there is not enough flavor, add another teaspoon of flavor and try again. 

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