Spicy Popcorn Balls

Serving Size: 8
Total Time:


  • cup freshly popped corn, from 3/4 cup popping corn
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 0.5 cup water
  • 1 unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 cup sweetened puffed-corn cereal, such as Corn Pops
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder


1. In a very large, lightly oiled bowl, toss the popped corn with the corn cereal and peanuts.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar with the corn syrup, butter, water, vanilla bean and seeds. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the syrup registers 295° (hard-crack stage) on a candy thermometer, about 18 minutes. Stir in the salt and chipotle powder.

3. Immediately pour the hot syrup over the popcorn mix. Using a lightly oiled wooden spoon, stir to coat. Working quickly, scrape the popcorn onto a large sheet of lightly oiled parchment paper. Discard the vanilla bean. Wearing lightly oiled sturdy rubber gloves and using a very large, lightly oiled ice cream scoop (1/4 cup), form thirty-six 2-inch-wide balls, pressing lightly without compacting. Transfer the balls to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Let cool completely before serving.