Traditional recipes

Bacon-Peanut Popcorn Balls

Bacon-Peanut Popcorn Balls

Photo: Ryan Liebe; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl


Serves 4 (serving size: 1 ball)

Take your holiday party or movie night to the next level with these delectable snack-size treats. Best of all, they're only 110 calories per serving!


  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 2 slices cooked and crumbled center-cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 110
  • Fat 5.3g
  • Satfat 2g
  • Protein 3g
  • Sodium 107mg

How to Make It

Melt butter in a pan over low heat. Add marshmallows; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in popcorn, bacon, and peanuts. Cool 2 minutes. Form into 4 (2-inch) balls.

"I love the rosemary and the orange together, then the salty flavor of the popcorn just makes it so great!"

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Since having Elle, I am always trying to find ways to keep family traditions alive. From my Nana&rsquos pumpkin rolls and my mom&rsquos chicken paprikash, to Eric&rsquos grandma&rsquos date cake.

It&rsquos these food traditions that truly make the holiday season extra special. Now that Elle loves getting in the kitchen with me, I love making holiday memories with her while creating some of my favorite childhood treats.

Each year we roll up our sleeves and whip up a batch or two of these simple popcorn balls. If you&rsquove never made homemade popcorn balls, you&rsquoll be amazed at how simple they are.

And I&rsquom pretty sure you probably already have all of the ingredients on hand.

2. Birthday Cake Batter Flavored Popcorn

This birthday cake batter popcorn is perfect for your next party…or you can enjoy it all by yourself on movie night. It has cake mix, white chocolate or almond bark and of course, sprinkles. Kids are going to adore this one and you’re going to love it, too. If you love birthday cake flavored anything, this is seriously a popcorn flavor that you need to try.

  • 1/2 Cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 Cup oil
  • 1 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 3/4 Cups corn syrup
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 Pound bacon, cooked extra-crisp and crumbled
  • 2 Cups honey-roasted peanuts

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and pop the popcorn. Cover the pot while cooking or risk eye injury. Cook until the popping slows to 1 pop per 3 seconds.

Pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle the salt, peanuts, and crumbled bacon over the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the sugar, corn syrup, and a ½ cup water until light amber in color. Pour evenly over the corn. Mix with a heat-proof spatula to try and evenly coat the mixture. Place in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes until the caramel has melted. Work the mixture again with the spatula until everything is evenly coated. Let cool before serving.

Protein Peanut Butter PopCorn Balls

Who agrees that thinking about PopCorn Balls brings back childhood memories? Smelling that popcorn pop. Watching all that corn syrup and butter bubbling on the stovetop. Adding different food colorings to make them all fun and appealing? Burning your fingers or hands helping form those balls. Yeah, good memories.

But now, in our present, we want to make new memories. Healthier memories and still enjoy them as well.

Here it comes. Protein Peanut Butter PopCorn Balls. Are they easy to make? YES! Are they really healthier? YES! The big question, do they taste good? YES!

Ok then, let's make these and start those memories.

    • 12 cups (approx. 1/2 c / 110g. un-popped) popcorn
    • 3/4 c./240g. Agave
    • 1/2 c./120g. Peanut Butter (or nut butter of your choice)
    • 2 Scoops Whey Protein (flavor of your choice)

    First thing is to pop the popcorn.

    We are using our air popper that we've had for years. This way you are not adding any additional fat or calories from oil in a pan or microwaved popcorn. But, if that is all you have, keep in mind it will change the nutritional breakdown a bit.

    After the popcorn is popped, set the bowl aside. Now it's time to make the Ooey, gooey, rich and chewy part.

    In a sauce pan on medium heat, pour your agave first. Then add the peanut butter and start mixing. It doesn't take but a few minutes for them to blend together. Just as it starts to bubble, keep stirring and turn off the stove.

    Remove it from the heat and now add the 2 scoops of Protein powder. Mix that well.

    Slowly pour this over the popcorn and try to spread it out as evenly as possible. Then, using a spoon or spatula (this works best) Scrap and fold, scrap and fold. You don't want to break up the popcorn. Make sure every piece is covered in all this yumminess.

    Next, take a pinch of butter and rub it into the palms of your hands (this helps you form the balls and for it to not stick to your hands). Take a handful and press and turn and make those balls!

    That's it! You are done. Oh, wait, no you aren't. Now you need to EAT some :0)

    Healthier fats, natural sweetener, more protein, we hope you make these and enjoy them as much as we do.

    We got 15 Popcorn Balls from this recipe. You can make them bigger or smaller according to your taste.

    Jazz up peanut brittle with bacon

    Halloween is the time for old-fashioned treats. Apple bobbing, caramel apples, popcorn balls and peanut brittle!

    For a treat, I embellished my grandmother’s brittle recipe to make a bacon-peanut brittle.

    Peanut brittle is easy enough for kids to make, though working with molten sugar requires adult supervision. Once you start cooking, the recipe moves rapidly along, so make sure you have everything set out next to the stove before you start. You also will need a large, heavy-duty saucepan, as the brittle foams up and expands at the end of the process.


    Scary good cupcakes mummy-style

    You can use a candy thermometer to know when you’ve cooked the sugar to the so-called hard ball (255 F to 260 F) stage, or you can just use a cup of ice water. This is what my grandmother did and what my mother and I still do. Just fill a 2-cup measuring glass with water and ice. Keep it close to the stove. When you think the sugar is ready, drizzle a few drops into the ice water. If the small drops of the sugar syrup instantly turn into candy balls, the sugar base of the peanut brittle is done.

    Once the sugar reaches the hard ball stage, the fun begins. You quickly add the peanuts, bacon and a bit of butter, then stir quickly. Next up, cook this delicious mixture to a light caramel. It should be lightly golden brown — the color of peanut brittle — and reach 300 F to 305 F.

    Next, add the baking soda, stir vigorously and immediately pour onto a buttered baking sheet. Don’t be afraid of the frothing mass in the saucepan! The baking soda makes the brittle bubble up to create the tiny bubbles in the peanut brittle, making it crunchy instead of just plain hard.

    Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer and author of three books, including “Taming the Flame.”


    This brittle is crazy good and everyone loves receiving it. The trick is to buy thick, meaty apple wood-smoked bacon, then dice it and cook the bacon slowly until the fat is fully rendered and the meat is a reddish mahogany. Press the bacon pieces between paper towels to make sure all the excess fat is absorbed. If you don’t do this, the candy will have a cloudy appearance.

    Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

    2 tablespoons butter, divided

    1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

    1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

    2 cups cooked, crumbled apple wood-smoked bacon

    Use about 1/2 tablespoon of the butter to coat a rimmed baking sheet.

    In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high, combine the sugar and corn syrup. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly and slightly thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ancho chili powder and cayenne, then cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The sugar mixture should now be at the hard ball stage, or 255 F to 260 F.

    Stir in the remaining butter, as well as the peanuts and bacon. Continue cooking until the mixture is golden brown and reaches 300 F to 305 F. Stir well, then add the baking soda and stir again. Immediately pour onto the prepared baking sheet and use a silicone spatula to spread evenly. Set aside to cool, about 30.

    Once the brittle is cool, break into pieces by hitting the bottom of the sheet pan on the counter. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

    Nutrition information per serving (a 2-ounce serving): 480 calories 190 calories from fat (40 percent of total calories) 21 g fat (6 g saturated 0 g trans fats) 25 mg cholesterol 580 mg sodium 74 g carbohydrate 1 g fiber 70 g sugar 12 g protein.

    Step 2: Prepare the Syrup Mixture

    Gather the Ingredients

    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/2 cup light-color corn syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla
    • candies (optional)

    Mix the Ingredients

    For syrup mixture, butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In the saucepan combine sugar, the water, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils, stirring to dissolve sugar (about 6 minutes).

    Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Reduce heat to medium continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 250 degrees F, or hard-ball stage (about 20 minutes).

    Remove saucepan from heat remove thermometer. Stir in vanilla. Pour syrup mixture over the hot popcorn and stir gently to coat, adding candies. Cool until the popcorn mixture can be handled easily.

    More great popcorn recipes

    Crunchy peanut butter popcorn with that perfect sweet and salty balance. This popcorn is so fun to snack on!

    The sweet, buttery, crunchy caramel corn you love can be done in the microwave to make it faster and easier. It&rsquos perfect for a snack and fun for a party!

    Strawberries and cream popcorn is especially fun in spring, but is great year round. It incorporates yummy tart berries and sweet creamy white chocolate for a great treat.

    Or whip up some puppy chow popcorn for that chocolate and peanut butter combo we all love. It is munchable in the best kind of way!

    • 10 cups freshly popped popcorn
    • 1 recipe Pumpkin Pie Spiced Candied Bacon, chopped 
    • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
    • ½ cup maple syrup
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons salted butter
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1. Combine the popcorn and chopped bacon in a large bowl. Set aside. 
    2. Combine the brown sugar, maple syrup and water in a heavy saucepan clip a candy thermometer to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, and boil it until it reaches 250°F on the thermometer. 
    3. When it does, remove from the heat and stir in the butter and pumpkin pie spice. Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and bacon and stir quickly with a rubber spatula to combine thoroughly. 
    4. As soon as it is just cool enough to handle, quickly gather up handfuls of the mixture and roll into 3-inch balls. Arrange on a sheet of wax paper to cool completely. 
    5. The popcorn balls can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.

    In This Recipe

    Applegate Naturals ® Sunday Bacon ®

    Applegate Organics ® Sunday Bacon ®

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    * Animals raised with no antibiotics ever or growth promotants, on vegetarian feed with no animal by products (beef is 100% grass-fed) and with space to engage in natural behaviors and promote natural growth.

    ** Applegate requires all animals be raised without antibiotics. Applegate is committed to advancing agriculture and processing systems like organic, non-GMO and regenerative farming.