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Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

Marshmallow popcorn balls bring the salty-sweet flavors we all love together in a classic treat. As usual, you’ll find me making my healthier version with clean-er marshmallows without high fructose corn syrup and using real butter for additional nutrition and fat to balance the sugar in the marshmallows. They’re delicious!

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a stack of marshmallow popcorn balls on a plate

The origins of marshmallow popcorn balls are a bit unclear, but it is believed that they first became popular in the United States in the early 1900s.

Marshmallow popcorn balls were particularly popular during the Great Depression, when people were looking for inexpensive treats that could be made with ingredients they had on hand. They were also a popular treat at Halloween and other holidays.

Essential Ingredients


Marshmallows are the star of the show when it comes to making marshmallow popcorn balls. They provide the sweetness and stickiness that hold everything together. Make sure your marshmallows are fresh and soft. Stale marshmallows can lead to a dry and crumbly popcorn ball. Mini marshmallows are preferred over the large ones as they melt faster and more evenly, but either one works.

I choose to use Dandies marshmallows to cut out the HFCS which is an ingredient we avoid as much as possible.


Popcorn is the base ingredient for marshmallow popcorn balls. It is important to use plain popcorn without any added flavors or salt.

Microwave popcorn or pre-packaged popcorn with added flavors can alter the taste of the final product plus microwave popcorn is pretty high on the list of processed foods with some very dangerous ingredients.

It is recommended to use freshly popped popcorn as stale popcorn can lead to a chewy and tough popcorn ball.


Butter adds flavor and helps bind the popcorn and marshmallows together. Unsalted butter is preferred as it allows for better control of the saltiness of the final product, but I will sometimes use salted just to help balance the sweetness of the marshmallows.

Make sure you are using real butter and not a tub spread which is full of inflammatory oils like canola and vegetable oils.

It is important to use the right amount of butter as too little can lead to a dry and crumbly popcorn ball while too much can make it too sticky and difficult to handle.

How to make marshmallow popcorn balls

Preparation Steps

To make marshmallow popcorn balls, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Popcorn kernels
  • Butter
  • Marshmallows

First, pop the popcorn kernels and set them aside.

a pot of popped popcorn

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

a pot with butter inside to melt with marshmallows

Next, pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popcorn and stir until the popcorn is evenly coated. Use a very large bowl or dish so you can stir well without spilling.

9x13 pan of popped popcorn with marshmallow  mixture poured over

Cooling and Shaping

Once the marshmallow popcorn mixture is ready, it is time to shape it into balls. It will harden quickly so work fast but try not to burn yourself.

Using lightly buttered hands, form the mixture into balls, pressing firmly to ensure that they hold their shape. Place the balls on a sheet of parchment paper to cool completely before serving.

Flavor Variations

Sweet Additions

Marshmallow popcorn balls can be made even sweeter with the addition of various sweet ingredients.

You can add chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, or caramel chips to the mixture for an extra burst of sweetness.

Dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries, or cherries can also be added for a chewy texture and a sweet taste.

Spices and Seasonings

Spices and seasonings can be added to marshmallow popcorn balls to create unique and flavorful combinations. Cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice can be added for a fall-inspired flavor.

For a spicy kick, you can add cayenne pepper or chili powder. Smoked paprika or chipotle powder can also be used to add a smoky flavor.

Finally, you can add a touch of sea salt or black pepper to enhance the flavor of the popcorn and balance out the sweetness.

Events and Celebrations

Holiday Themes

Marshmallow popcorn balls are a perfect treat for any holiday celebration. During Halloween, you can add candy corn to the marshmallow mixture to create a spooky effect.

For Christmas, you can add red and green sprinkles.

During Easter, you can add pastel-colored sprinkles to the mixture and shape them to make them look like Easter eggs.

Tips and Tricks

When making marshmallow popcorn balls, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure that they turn out perfectly. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Use fresh popcorn: Stale popcorn can result in a less-than-ideal texture for your popcorn balls. Make sure to use freshly popped popcorn for the best results and do NOT use microwave. The flavor is too strong and the popcorn is too salty.
  • Work quickly: Once the marshmallow mixture is ready, it will start to harden as it cools. To make sure that you can still mold the mixture into balls, work quickly to shape them before it becomes too difficult.
  • Use buttered hands: To prevent the marshmallow mixture from sticking to your hands, rub a little bit of butter on them before shaping the popcorn balls. This will make it easier to work with the mixture and create smooth, round balls.
  • Add mix-ins: While traditional marshmallow popcorn balls are delicious on their own, adding mix-ins like chocolate chips, nuts, or sprinkles can take them to the next level. Just make sure to mix them in quickly before the marshmallow mixture hardens.
rows of popcorn balls on a table

Troubleshooting Common Issues

When making marshmallow popcorn balls, there are a few common issues that can arise. Here are some tips to troubleshoot these issues:

Issue #1: Popcorn balls won’t stick together

If your popcorn balls are falling apart, it may be because you didn’t use enough marshmallow mixture. Make sure you are using the correct ratio of popcorn to marshmallow mixture. If the mixture is too dry, you can add a little bit of melted butter or oil to help it stick together.

Issue #2: Popcorn balls are too hard

If your popcorn balls are too hard, it may be because you cooked the marshmallow mixture for too long. The longer you cook the mixture, the harder it will become. Make sure to remove the mixture from the heat as soon as it is fully melted.

Issue #3: Popcorn balls are too sticky

If your popcorn balls are too sticky, it may be because you didn’t let the marshmallow mixture cool enough before shaping the popcorn balls. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes before handling it. You can also lightly grease your hands with butter or oil to prevent sticking.

Other gooey marshmallow treats to try

Popcorn is just one way to enjoy melty marshmallow goodness! Try these other recipes on for size:

a stack of marshmallow popcorn balls on a plate

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

Ditch the corn syrup and make this vintage recipe even easier. Gooey, crunchy and so much fun to make!
Servings 18 balls
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 16 cups unsalted popcorn not microwave
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 cups miniature marshmallows without high fructose corn syrup
Makes: 3inch round


  • Place the popcorn in a large, greased dish or bowl.
  • Melt the butter on low heat until melted. Add the marshmallows and cook until melted. Turn off the heat and add the vanilla; stir to combine.
  • Pour over the popcorn, then using buttered or oiled hands, form balls about 3 inches across and set aside to cool completely.


Makes approximately 18 balls 


Serving: 1ballCalories: 117kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 42mgPotassium: 35mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 136IUCalcium: 2mgIron: 0.3mg
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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.