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Maple Popcorn Balls

Maple Popcorn Balls

I usually avoid prepackaged microwave popcorn. If you bounce over to Andrew’s post on how to make your own microwave popcorn you can certainly make it that way (use 1/3 cup instead of the 1/4 cup that he recommends on his post). However, I actually prefer my popcorn made on the stovetop the old-fashioned way, so the instructions below are given for that method. I use avocado oil, but feel free to use olive oil, coconut oil or another cooking oil of your choice. If you want to get fancy, you can add a dash of cayenne pepper, lemon zest, cinnamon or vanilla extract to the maple syrup as you cook it. I’ve intentionally left this recipe is basic so feel free to experiment!

Recipe adapted from Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking by Beverly Cox and Martin Jacobs. Popcorn method adapted from Simply Recipes.
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 367 kcal
Author Irvin Lin


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or oil of your choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup popping corn
  • 1 1/4 cup maple syrup divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter


  1. Place the oil and the salt in a large pot and swirl the oil around to distribute the salt. Place three or four popcorn kernels in the pot and turn the heat to high. Cover the pot with a splatter guard screen or a lid, slightly ajar to keep the kernels from popping out, but allowing for the steam to escape.
  2. Once the popcorn kernels have popped, turn off the heat and add the remaining 1/3 cup of popcorn. Shake the popcorn to coat with the oil. Wait 30 seconds for the popcorn to warm up (this allows for the popcorn to evenly heat – meaning fewer unpopped kernels) then turn the heat back on to medium high.

  3. Wait until the popcorn starts to pop, shaking the pot occasionally to make sure the popcorn doesn’t burn as you make it. Once the popcorn has slowed to popping every 2 seconds or so, turn off the heat. Shake it one or two more times to make sure no more popcorn is going to pop, and then empty it into a large heatproof bowl, placed on a trivet or oven pad.
  4. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line it with a silpat. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour 3/4 cup of the maple syrup and butter into a small saucepan. Cook the syrup on medium high, stirring frequently, until it reaches 250 degrees, the firm ball stage (when a little bit of syrup is dropped into cold water, it will form a firm ball that will flatten when you squeeze it) – about 8 to 10 minutes. Watch the pan carefully as the maple syrup may boil over. Drizzle the syrup over the popcorn and toss with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Keep tossing the popcorn with the maple syrup until the popcorn is evenly coated. Spread the popcorn on the prepared baking sheet, and pick out any uncooked kernels. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  6. About 10 minutes after you put the popcorn in the oven, pour the reserve 1/2 cup of maple syrup in the same saucepan and heat until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Since there is less maple syrup it should reach the firm ball stage about the same time you take the popcorn out of the oven. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, you can leave the popcorn in the oven for a few more minutes.
  7. Once the popcorn has baked and the maple syrup has reached 250 degrees, take the popcorn out of the oven. The popcorn should have browned a bit and crisped up. Pour it back in the same large heatproof bowl and drizzle the maple syrup over the popcorn. Working fast, toss the popcorn with the maple syrup and quickly form the popcorn into balls. Place them back on the baking sheet. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

Makes about 4 or 5 baseball sized popcorn balls with extra popcorn to munch on.