Taste the beauty of autumn with Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls. Imagine apple infused caramel drizzled over a bed of fluffy white air popped popcorn and formed into mouth watering popcorn balls that you can’t stop eating!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. This recipe originally published 9-27-2013, it has been updated for your convenience.
One of my favorite memories growing up is when Autumn arrived, my mom would always make caramel popcorn balls.
Since we lived in a rural location growing up, we never went trick or treating for Halloween. It wasn’t possible to walk from house to house.
Not to mention, we were always buried in a few feet of snow. So trick or treating wasn’t very fun.
Instead, my Mom would rent movies for us (you know way back when video rental stores were actually a cool and necessary thing).
She would get us our favorite Halloween Treats and she’d make us caramel popcorn balls.
Then we had our own Halloween movie party at home with our family.
The first movie was always for the little kids. Then the little kids went to bed and another movie would be for the older kids/parents.
I look back on these family movie parties with so much fondness that now as an adult I like to keep this tradition alive.
With my own kids and living in a more suburb town, we found a love for Trick or Treating. But we still have to have a family Halloween Movie Night with treats!
So after a short trick or treating outing with the kids, we come home and enjoy the Halloween candy and homemade Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls.
Easy Caramel Apple Popcorn Balls
Basically, I took my mom’s caramel popcorn and put on a twist because honestly how do you make caramel better? You infuse apple flavor into the caramel! Or if you prefer, we also have a Dr Pepper Caramel Popcorn recipe as well for the adults to enjoy during the Halloween party.
Then drizzle over a bed of fluffy white air popped popcorn!
Now I feel I need to warn you. If you thought you liked caramel popcorn balls, you had better brace yourself!
You will never be able to go back to regular caramel popcorn again after you taste these apple infused caramel popcorn balls!
And you will definitely want to plan on sharing with neighbors unless you are ready to overindulge!
Because honestly once you start, you can’t stop munching on these tantalizing popcorn balls!
And no one really needs to be eating that big 30-quart bowl by themselves, right?
- 4 cups Apple Juice Reduced to 1/2 cup juice syrup
- 1 cup unpopped popcorn
- 2 sticks butter (1 cup)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- Bring 4 cups apple juice/cider to a boil
- Reduce to medium/low heat and cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.
- This usually takes approximately 1.5 hours
- Juice will be a little syrupy
- Air pop the popcorn kernels.
- Sift or transfer bowls ensuring all kernels are removed.
- Set aside
- Combine Juice, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and salt in 4 qt sauce pan
- Bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to below medium
- Tightly cover with lid and cook for 3 minutes
- Remove lid carefully and clip on candy thermometer
- Continue to cook until soft ball stage (approximately 236F)
- Remove from heat
- Add in vanilla and cream of tartar
- Mix well
- Drizzle over popped popcorn.
- Fold popcorn into Caramel sauce until all popcorn is covered.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes
- Form into popcorn balls or portion cups
The longest part of making these caramel apple popcorn balls is simply to reduce the apple syrup. It is super easy but takes a bit of time. So you will want to plan ahead.
Measure out 4 cups of Apple Juice or Apple cider in a 4 cup liquid measuring cup.
Then bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer until the apple juice reduces to ½ cup. This makes it a thicker syrup and really condenses the flavor. It will take approximately 1 hour 35 minutes.
Like I said it takes a while, but it is really easy to do. So plan ahead.
In the mean time, you can begin popping the popcorn. You don’t need any fancy tools for this. We have a very simple air popper that has served our family well for over 3 years.
Although the type of popcorn you pop does make a slight difference. Not crucial, but the better the popcorn the better the flavor of your popcorn balls.
I have a fetish for Hoosier Hill Farm Original White Popcorn. It pops up into a very light and white popcorn with a delicious flavor. And it has fewer husks after popping and I have very few kernels that don’t pop. Much less than a regular store popcorn.
After popping up the popcorn I sift it to remove the few husks and kernels. And I transfer it to my favorite 30-quart stainless steel mixing bowl. Honestly, if you love popcorn you need this bowl!
These bowls can hold the entire batch of popcorn and give you enough room to mix without making a mess!
Plus they double perfect for making big batches of bread or hosting goodies for parties!
Once the Apple Juice has finally reduced then you can begin cooking the caramel sauce.
Combine the apple syrup, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and salt in the saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to below medium. Tightly cover with a lid and cook for 3 minutes.
Remove the lid carefully as it will release a lot of steam. Then click on a candy thermometer.
Continue to cook the caramel sauce until it reaches the soft ball stage on the candy thermometer (approximately 236 F)
Once it reaches a soft ball stage, remove from heat and add in the vanilla and cream of tartar. Mix it well.
Finally, we get to drizzle the caramel sauce over the popcorn.
Stir until all the popcorn is covered in the caramel sauce.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes so the caramel sauce has a chance to cool to the touch and thicken slightly.
Now form into popcorn balls. Package any you want to gift to neighbors. You can use cute little treat bags, or just wrap in saran wrap.
To make them even more festive add a candy stick or paper straw in the top to make them easy to eat without getting a mess all over your fingers!
Or portion them out into fun snack cups!
Now curl up with your family and watch a fun family movie. A few classics we love to watch include:
There are many more movies we love to watch together – Take a look at these top Family Friendly Movies for the complete list.