These delicious marshmallow popcorn balls combine freshly popped popcorn with butter and marshmallows for the perfect treat! Whether you like a sweet treat or salty treats, you’ll love these delicious snacks that are like a rice krispy treat but with popcorn! They’ll be your new favorite Christmas popcorn balls!
Christmas Popcorn Balls
I’ve always loved popcorn balls but sometimes the old fashioned ones made with caramel just stick in my teeth, so I end up not wanting to eat more than a bite or two.
These marshmallow popcorn balls are a completely different ball game because they use a marshmallow mixture instead of caramel to keep the popcorn together. That’s why they’re called marshmallow popcorn balls – get it?
They’re more like a rice krispie treat with the marshmallows creating an ooey gooey texture to the balls while still being super tasty.
I’ll honestly never make popcorn balls another way again. These are one of my new favorite holiday treats (and only one of a ton of new Christmas treats I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks).
They make a great addition to any Christmas treat tray, are good for a nut-free classroom Christmas party snack, or just a delicious treat for your own family. Oh and of course, they work well for Christmas parties!
Or if you have a smaller family like I do, make a big batch of this Christmas popcorn balls recipe, bag them up, add one of these Christmas gift tags, and give them away as neighbor gifts or treats for friends!
Want to make these other times of the year? They’re also perfect for Halloween, Easter, and even kids birthdays – just use different sprinkles!
Why you’ll love this
- Easy – these easy Christmas popcorn balls literally only take three ingredients and a few minutes to make! Plus, they come together quickly with a total time of less than 15 minutes from start to finish!
- Ooey gooey – if you’ve ever had rice krispie treats, these are very similar in their texture except instead of popcorn, they use rice krispies!
- Versatile – I’m using these for my holiday parties with Christmas sprinkles, but you could make these all year long with any kind of sprinkles (or omit the sprinkles altogether). They’re a fun treat for birthdays, parties, and party faovors!
There are only three key ingredients in this recipe plus one optional one, so they’re all important!
- Popcorn – I recommend just doing regular bags of microwave popcorn. Anything works other than I’d avoid butter flavor simply because these already have quite a bit of butter in the recipe. You can also use popcorn that was popped in an air popper or even stovetop popcorn if you prefer!
- Butter – make sure it’s unsalted butter or you’ll end up with treats that are a bit saltier than you intended. And too much salt in this recipe is not your friend!
- Mini marshmallows – I recommend using the miniature marshmallows compared to the regular size ones because they melt into the butter better, and the melted marshmallows combine with the marshmallow a bit better. If you are in a pinch and want to use regular size marshmallows, I recommend cutting them up into fourths and using 3 cups of the 1/4 marshmallows so it’s like using mini marshmallows.
- Sprinkles – the sprinkles are totally optional in these marshmallow popcorn treats, but they do make them Christmas themed for the holiday season! If it’s not Christmas, you can use any other kind of sprinkles or just omit the sprinkles altogether. Oh, and I recommend using the little balls (nonpareils) so that they’re easy to eat in these homemade popcorn balls!
How to make marshmallow Popcorn Balls
These marshmallow popcorn balls are super easy to make but there are some key tips to making it so that they’re not only edible but also delicious. If you miss the tips, they can be not nearly as enjoyable to eat.
1 – Pop the Popcorn
Start by popping two bags of microwave popcorn. As I mentioned before, any kind works as long as you’re not doing butter flavored or kettle corn. Just any regular bags of microwave popcorn.
Once the popcorn is popped, open the bottom of the bag just barely and shake them over the trash can to get rid of any unpopped popcorn kernels (learned this trick on TikTok, ha!).
You don’t want to have a bunch of unpopped kernels in your popcorn balls getting into people’s teeth.
2 – Make the Marshmallow Mixture
Next, melt 1/2 cup butter in a large pot over low heat. Make sure it’s low so you don’t brown (or burn) the butter. Watch while you melt butter so you can move onto the next step as soon as it’s melted.
Add in the marshmallows and turn the heat up to medium low and heat until the marshmallows are completely smooth and melted into the butter. You don’t have to stir constantly but stir frequently so you don’t end up with burnt marshmallows on the bottom of the pan (also why you just do low-medium heat).
Remove the melted marshmallow mixture from the heat and add the popped popcorn. Gently stir the cups of popcorn into the melted marshmallow, folding it in gently so it mixes into the popcorn but doesn’t completely crush the popcorn into pieces!
3 – Make the Popcorn Balls
Spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray (to prevent the marshmallow popcorn balls from sticking to your hands), grab a scoop of popcorn (typically about a cup of the popcorn mixture), and form a popcorn ball in your hand.
After you form a ball from the marshmallow popcorn, place them onto a piece of parchment paper then sprinkle the popcorn balls with your a little bit of your favorite Christmas sprinkles before they are fully set. If you wait too long and the marshmallow sets, the sprinkles will just bounce off.
Repeat with the remaining mixture, forming balls, and adding sprinkles until you have a cookie sheet full of popcorn balls!
Once the popcorn balls are fully set (typically 10-15 minutes), move to a plate and serve immediately.
You can either just serve them as regular balls or if you want to make them a bit more festive, add them into cupcake liners with a holiday theme. Kind of like a Christmas cupcake but a popcorn ball instead!
This is my favorite way to serve because they just look like so much fun in one individual package!
If you’re gifting these to friends, I like to wait a bit longer and then bag them up in plastic treat bags with a ribbon and Christmas gift tag.
I’ve yet to find anyone who didn’t like getting these as a gift! I mean who doesn’t like this??
How to Store Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
If you’re not going to eat these right away or if you have leftovers after your Christmas party, you can place these in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to five days.
You can also wrap them individually in treat bags or in plastic wrap to give away to friends and family! They should be good stored that way also up to five days.
Expert Tips & Storage Info
Keep spraying your hands with a non-stick spray as they start sticking to the popcorn again. You may have to spray them a couple of times as you get the full batch out of the pot.
Wash the pot immediately after you get all of the popcorn balls put together to make for easy cleanup. If you let it sit out for a while, it’s a pain to clean, similar to these slow cooker candied nuts.
Turn these into popcorn ball pops by adding forming your ball around a lollipop stick or a fun and festive paper straw. I found that it’s hard to add it after the balls are formed but if you do it beforehand, they form pretty well and become popcorn ball treats on a stick!
Make sure you get all of the unpopped kernels out of the popcorn before you start making these. No one wants to bite into hard kernels when they want a popcorn treat.
A popcorn ball is made of popped popcorn (I like to use microwave popcorn), mini marshmallows, and unsalted butter. Those are all combined together over the stove top and then formed into delicious popcorn balls!
If your popcorn balls won’t stick together, there are two likely culprits. The first is that you didn’t measure the marshmallows and didn’t get the full three cups into the mixture. This happens if you just eyeball the marshmallows. Too few marshmallows means that there is an uneven ratio of marshmallows and butter, and they can be a bit too greasy. The second culprit is likely that the marshmallows were completely melted so there are still big chunks of marshmallows, making it hard for the popcorn to stick to it.
This recipe makes 10-12 marshmallow popcorn balls depending on how big you form them as you’re making them. If you make larger popcorn balls, it’ll make closer to 10. If you make medium size balls, you’ll get the full 12.
Marshmallow fluff is completely different than actual marshmallows, so I recommend not using marshmallow fluff in this recipe and using melted marshmallows instead. I also do not recommend using marshmallow cream.
These can be made in advance then stored in an airtight container for up to five days! They should stay ooey gooey, as long as they’re in a sealed container. Or if you want to store them individually to give to people, you can wrap each airtight in plastic wrap and give away with these Christmas gift tags for an extra special treat!
More Easy Christmas Snacks
If you like these easy popcorn balls, you’ll love these other yummy snack recipes! Try one of them after you’ve made these Christmas popcorn balls!
- Cranberry orange bread – this holiday sweet bread is one of the most delicious treats and makes a great gift!
- Chex mix recipe – this is the ultimate snack food and the homemade version is so much better! This easy recipe is a holiday time staple!
- Reindeer chow – if you want something that’s a little sweet and a little salty, this fun Christmas snack mix might be just the thing! It combines pretzels, chocolate, and candies together in a large bowl for a fun holiday mix!
- Hot chocolate cookie cups – sugar cookie cups made to look like super cute hot chocolate treats!
- Christmas bark – not your average Christmas bark! This one combines graham crackers, marshmallow, and chocolate in one fun and easy treat, all with very little prep time!
Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
- 2 regular bags of microwave popcorn (popped)
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups miniature marshmallows
- ¼ cup Christmas sprinkles
- Pop two bags of popcorn and remove any unpopped kernels.2 regular bags of microwave popcorn
- Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large pot over low heat until completely melted.1/2 cup unsalted butter
- Add in the marshmallows and turn the heat up to medium low and heat until the marshmallows are completely smooth and melted into the butter.3 cups miniature marshmallows
- Remove the melted marshmallow mixture from the heat and add the popped popcorn. Gently stir the popcorn into the melted marshmallow, folding it in gently so it mixes into the popcorn but doesn’t completely crush the popcorn into pieces!
- Spray your hands with nonstick spray and from a ball of popcorn. Respray your hands as needed. Place the ball onto a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with holiday sprinkles (optional).1/4 cup Christmas sprinkles
- Repeat with the remaining mixture, forming balls, and adding sprinkles until you have a cookie sheet full of popcorn balls!
- Once popcorn balls have completely set, serve. You can either just put on a plate, put in cupcake liners to serve, or put in treat bags to enjoy later.