This sweet and lightly salted candy popcorn is just like Grandma’s! The bright pink popcorn is light and fluffy, with a crisp candy coating. It’s perfect for parties, holidays, and more!

Wondering how to make old-fashioned candy popcorn? You’re in the right place! Read on for all my tips.

Candy popcorn in a bowl on a countertop


 

This candy popcorn is such a fun and nostalgic treat! The bright pink popcorn is light and fluffy, with a crisp candy coating. It’s perfectly sweet, lightly salted, and so delicious!

I love that this candy popcorn can be customized to any color you like. If you aren’t feeling the pink, try blue colors for a birthday party, red and green for Christmas, or orange for Halloween.

This candy popcorn recipe makes a statement at any party or holiday event, and is a fun way to switch it up from traditional caramel corn or other gourmet popcorn.

You could even make this for a kids’ birthday party or baby shower and call it cotton candy popcorn or unicorn popcorn. It’s totally versatile and fits any theme!

Best of all, this sweet treat lasts up to a week in an airtight container. So you can make it ahead and then hand it out in favor bags at a party, give it to neighbors as a holiday gift, or eat it as a treat for a weekend movie night. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Sweet and salty combination
  • Fun and nostalgic
  • Great for parties and holidays
  • Can be customized with any colors

You also might like these recipes for snickers popcorn, white chocolate popcorn, m&m popcorn, oreo popcorn, peanut butter popcorn, microwave caramel corn, caramel corn and chocolate drizzle popcorn.

You also might like this article on is popcorn gluten-free.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Sugar: Sugar sweetens the candy coating. I like to use Domino brand granulated sugar for all of my baking, but any brand will work for this candy popcorn.
  • Water: Water helps the sugar dissolve so we get a crisp candy coating, rather than a caramel coating.
  • Corn syrup: Light corn syrup helps prevent sugar crystallization and adds a bit of shine to the candy coating. I usually use Karo syrup, but any brand will work.
  • Popcorn: I’m using Orville Redenbacher Original Popcorn – but any popcorn kernels will work!
  • Salt: Salt helps balance out the sweetness of the candy. I like to use kosher salt for all of my popcorn recipes!
  • Food color: You can use any color food coloring that you like. I’m using Americolor’s Coral Red and Soft Pink. 

You also might like these favorite recipes for homemade caramels, caramel corn and peanut butter balls.

For more old-fashioned recipes, try this nougat, peanut brittle, english toffee, pecan log recipe and caramel.

How to Make Candy Popcorn

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it very lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. 
Popcorn in a pot
  • (Optional) If you have an air popper, use the kernels and pop according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • If you don’t have an air popper, heat a large nonstick pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm, add the kernels and cover it with a tight-fitting lid. Carefully shake the pot occasionally until the kernels begin to pop– this will help prevent them from burning. 
  • Then continue shaking the pot until popping is about 5 seconds apart. Immediately remove the popcorn from the heat and divide it between two large bowls. 
Caramel starting to boil in a pot
  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it just barely reaches the soft ball stage (240F)– about 4-5 minutes. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to ensure your candy coating is the right temperature so it sets properly. 
  • For the next few steps, you’ll need to work very quickly. The candy coating cools almost immediately when taken off the heat.
Candy coating in a glass bowl
  •  Remove the syrup from the heat and pour half of it into a heat-proof bowl. Add one drop of food coloring and stir to combine.
Candy popcorn coated in a glass bowl
  • Drizzle the candy coating over one bowl of sweet popcorn and quickly stir to evenly coat the popcorn.
Candy popcorn on a baking sheet
  • Transfer the candy-coated popcorn to the prepared cookie sheet and spread it out to an even layer. Repeat with the second bowl of popcorn and the remaining candy coating. 
  • Allow the popcorn to cool at room temperature until it is crisp and is no longer sticky popcorn (for about 2 hours.) Break the popcorn into clusters enjoy these tasty treats immediately, or store it in an airtight container for up to one week.
Candy popcorn in a bowl on a countertop

Storage Instructions

Store candy popcorn in an airtight container for up to one week.

FAQs

How long is candied popcorn good for?

Candied popcorn typically lasts up to one week when stored at room temperature in an airtight container. But it is so delicious, it will probably disappear much faster than that!

What is fruity popcorn?

Fruity popcorn is a colorful dessert popcorn that is covered in a light, crisp candy coating. It is typically made from Jell-O, corn syrup, water, salt, and a few other ingredients. You can choose any flavor of Jell-O to achieve any fruit flavor you want!

What kind of candy do you put in popcorn?

There are so many candies that pair well with popcorn. Some of the most popular options include chocolate chips, M&Ms, candy corn, sprinkles, and peanut butter cups. But you could also get creative and try Skittles, Oreos, marshmallows, Rolo’s, and more.

Candy popcorn on a baking sheet

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Working with candy can be difficult, but don’t be intimidated! This recipe is extremely forgiving! If your popcorn is still sticky after 2 hours, simply bake it at 300F for 10-12 minutes, or until dry and crisp. Then allow it to cool and transfer to an airtight container. 
  • Feel free to use any color food coloring that you like. You could use a color to match a holiday or party theme, or pick your child’s favorite color! I’m using Americolor’s Coral Red and Soft Pink.
  • This is a crispy, crunchy popcorn — not a chewy, gooey popcorn. Water helps the sugar dissolve so we get a crisp candy coating, rather than a caramel coating.

MORE favorite Candy recipes

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you try this candy popcorn, be sure to leave me a comment/rating below. I’d love to hear from you! 

Candy popcorn on a baking sheet
5 from 8 votes

Candy Popcorn (Old-Fashioned Recipe!)

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 servings
This sweet and lightly salted candy popcorn is such a fun and nostalgic treat! Use any color you like for this light and fluffy popcorn, with a crisp candy coating. It’s perfect for parties, holidays, and more!

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup popcorn kernels about 7 cups popped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 drops food coloring optional– see notes

Instructions 

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it very lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • (Optional) If you have an air popper, use the kernels and pop according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you don’t have an air popper, heat a large nonstick pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm, add the kernels and cover with a tight fitting lid. Carefully shake the pot occasionally until the kernels begin to pop– this will help prevent them from burning.
  • Then continue shaking the pot until popping is about 5 seconds apart. Immediately remove the popcorn from the heat and divide it between two large bowls.
  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it just barely reaches the soft ball stage (240F)– about 4-5 minutes. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to ensure your candy coating is the right temperature so it sets properly.
  • For the next few steps you’ll need to work very quickly– the candy coating cools almost immediately when taken off the heat.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and pour half of it into a heat-proof bowl. Add one drop of food coloring and stir to combine. Drizzle the candy coating over one bowl of popcorn and quickly stir to evenly coat the popcorn. Transfer the candy coated popcorn to the prepared baking sheet and spread it out to an even layer. Repeat with the second bowl of popcorn and the remaining candy coating.
  • Allow the popcorn to cool at room temperature until it is crisp and no longer sticky– about 2 hours. Break the popcorn into clusters and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes

RECIPE NOTES
  • Working with candy can be difficult, but don’t be intimidated! This recipe is extremely forgiving! If your popcorn is still sticky after 2 hours, simply bake it at 300F for 10-12 minutes, or until dry and crisp. Then allow it to cool and transfer to an airtight container. 
  • Feel free to use any color food coloring that you like. You could use a color to match a holiday or party theme, or pick your child’s favorite color! I’m using Americolor’s Coral Red and Soft Pink.
  • This is a crispy, crunchy popcorn — not a chewy, gooey popcorn. Water helps the sugar dissolve so we get a crisp candy coating, rather than a caramel coating.

Nutrition

Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 197mg | Potassium: 19mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 36g | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.2mg

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Categories: ,

Hi, I’m Erin!

BS Food Science,

MS Nutrition

I believe you can make amazing, gluten-free food with everyday ingredients that everyone will enjoy. I’m here to share my tried-and-true recipes with you!

You may also like

image for website to buy cookies cookbook

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This candy popcorn is the kids’ new favorite treat! They even requested this to be added to our go-to Trick or Treats party recipes!

    1. 5 stars
      The flavor was good, but the temperature of the candy was not right. It did not come out as crunchy as it should. It needed probably another 5°.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating