6 Ingredient Marshmallow Popcorn Balls is a nostalgic salty-sweet treat that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less. Made by melting marshmallows, butter, and vanilla on the stove and combining them with freshly popped popcorn, they offer a quick and easy way to satisfy your craving for a homemade snack everyone will love!
So many of these southern-style recipes on FSS are recipes I grew up with. Ones my moms made all the time I know them like the back of my hand. Southern homemade pie crust, buttermilk biscuits, strawberry pretzel jello salad, and her apple pie. are just like second nature recipes to me.
Marshmallow popcorn is one of those recipes. We made homemade popcorn on the stove all the time growing up - she popped the kernels with a spoonful of bacon grease and a generous amount of salt and it is the best (give the bacon grease a try next time - it is so good!). She likes to eat hers stuffed in a glass of milk which I still think is gross ( 😜 love you Mom) while we at ours plain.
On a pretty regular occasion, she would dress salted popcorn up by stirring it in with a marshmallow and butter mixture - just like the one you make for rice krispie treats and we would DEMOLISH IT! Especially my brother.
This popcorn balls recipe with marshmallows is like a rice krispie but with popcorn. It is salty and sweet, made in under 30 minutes, is best enjoyed warm and will be your new favorite sweet treat!
You just need 6 ingredients for this recipe.
- Mini Marshmallows - you will just need 1 - 10-ounce bag of mini mallows - any brand is great.
- Butter - because butter makes everything better and helps the marshmallows melt nicely.
- Vanilla - I always use Nelson-Massey vanilla bean paste for all my baking recipes, but a splash of regular vanilla extract will work as well.
- Oil - you can be like my mom and pop your popcorn with bacon grease, or use another oil like coconut oil or canola. I like to stay away from seed oils so I usually go with coconut oil for this recipe since it is a more milder flavor than bacon grease.
- Salt - this is needed to help flavor the popcorn.
- Unpopped Popcorn Kernels - popping your own popcorn is ideal for this recipe.
How to Make Homemade Popcorn
To make marshmallow popcorn balls, you need to pop your popcorn. I always recommend using freshly made popcorn because it yields a better flavor than microwaved for this specific recipe. It is a lot easier to make than you think. There are several machines that are helpful for this as well - we use a Whirlypop* in our home, but an air popper*, this microwave silicone bowl*, or just a regular large stock pot *on the stove works just fine (and how my mom taught me how to make it).
- Place a large stock pot on the stove on high heat and add a tablespoon or two of oil.
- Sprinkle generously with salt then add your kernels.
- Place the lid over top and shake the pot over the burner to keep the kernels constantly moving. This helps prevent them from burning.
- Continue shaking even after you begin to hear the first couple of pops.
- Stop shaking and turn off the burner once the kernels are consistently popping and wait. Once you hear a couple of seconds in between each pop, remove it from the stove and pour it into a large bowl.
PRO TIP: pick out any unpopped kernels that settle to the bottom of the bowl. I will dump the freshly popped corn in one large bowl then scoop out small handfuls into another bowl so I can catch all the kernels. You do not want to break your own or someone else's tooth by biting down on an unpopped kernel!
How to Make
Make marshmallow filling: In a large pot add butter and marshmallows and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the butter and marshmallows melt. After 7-10 minutes the marshmallows should be completely melted and incorporated into the butter. Whip vigorously with a wooden spoon to get rid of any remaining clumps. Once completely smooth remove from heat and add in vanilla, stirring to incorporate.
Pour over popcorn: Immediately pour the marshmallow mixture over the popped popcorn. Stir the popcorn mixture until every popcorn kernel is evenly coated.
Shaping the Marshmallow Popcorn into Balls
- Spray hands with some cooking spray to prevent sticking and pack one big handful of popcorn together in the shape of a ball. Think like you are making and packing together a big snowball (see the video for reference).
- Place balls on a baking sheet and repeat until all the popcorn is used. You can make the balls as big or as small as you would like.
Alternatively, you do not have to shape into balls. 99% of the time growing up we would just eat this warm without hands out of the pot or large bowl - it is so good warm - HIGHLY RECOMMEND! So if you want to enjoy warm and immediately, just gather around the bowl. But shaping them into balls makes them easy to serve.
PRO TIP - spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray when shaping into balls - this will help you from getting sticky marshmallows all over your hands!
Place in a ziptop bag for 24 hours. These are best enjoyed fresh and on the day of. The popcorn loses its crunch after a day and becomes soft and stale.
It is best to pop your own popcorn for this marshmallow popcorn recipe. Microwave popcorn can be used if needed but I would recommend using a plain salted version and not a movie theatre butter flavor as that would alter the taste of the recipe significantly.