Thursday, October 17, 2013



Halloween and Fall Festivals are quickly approaching as y’all are aware.  That night when the kids get into their costumes, looking totally adorable, or scary, or funny, or just weird; no matter what they look like, one thing is for sure, they’ll be all jacked up on sugar!

There’s always going to be that one parent, or one neighbor that can’t stand the kids having all that sugar (Party Pooper!) and hands out apples or boxes of raisins as a treat…that’s not a treat! 

Admittedly, while I’m not an apple or box of raisins giver, I do like to compromise and make semi-healthy treats like Gourmet Caramel Apples.  Yes they're healthy, apples are fruit after all!  Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls can fall into the semi-healthy category as well. 

The base for Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls is obviously popcorn, as well as marshmallows and peanut butter.  A great number of stir-ins can be incorporated to make them as indulgent or as healthy as you like.

Since I made these just for Billy and I to snack on I made them with peanuts, sunflower seeds and yogurt covered raisins.  Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins are packed with protein, fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin B-6, magnesium, and even calcium.

Actually, if I were making these for a party, I would be making them with Peanut M&M’s.    

So I hope that I’ve given you apple/raisin givers at least a pause for thought this season.

Here’s what you do.

I'm always so proud of myself when I get it together enough to take a photo of the ingredients...and then inevitably I leave one ingredient out!  

Picture here:  Popcorn, marshmallows, butter (imaginary creamy peanut butter) and vanilla extract.  The stir-ins that I chose are salted roasted peanuts, salted roasted sunflower seeds, and yogurt covered raisins.  

You could also use Peanut M&M's, plain M&M's, plain raisins, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, or dried bananas.

Pop the popcorn into an extra-large bowl. 

If you don't have a large enough bowl, use your 6 quart pot.

Line two sheet pans with parchment or wax paper.

I used a double boiler on top of the cook top to make the marshmallow mixture.  I do have directions in the recipe to make it in the microwave as well.

Melt the butter; I totally spaced, but this would also be a good time to add the peanut butter.

Once the butter and the peanut butter has completely melted add a bag of marshmallows.

Stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in some vanilla extract.

Add half of the marshmallow mixture to the popcorn and give it a gentle stir, this will help to keep the stir-ins from falling to the bottom of the bowl.

Okay so I didn't stir it first, but I learned from my mistake!

Gently stir in the peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Oooh...spooky spider webs.

By the time you've mixed the peanuts and sunflower seeds in, the marshmallow mixture should be cooled enough that the yogurt covered raisins can be stirred in without melting. 

This would also be the time to add chocolate if that was the stir-in that you preferred.

Spray a little cooking spray on your hands to keep the sticky mixture from sticking.  

Scoop out a handful and gently form a ball.

Place the balls on to the lined sheet pans.  

I made 2 ½ inch and 3 inch popcorn balls; personally I found the smaller portion to be just the right size serving.

Allow the popcorn balls to sit, uncovered on the counter for a couple of hours so that the air will dry them just slightly; then pack them into an airtight container.

Serve them at your Halloween shindig, or pack them in cellophane bags as gifts; these little yummies are peanutty, salty, sweet and sticky, just what Halloween treats should be!  

Make Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls an indulgent treat, or a healthier one; just please don’t be that one handing out boxes of raisins for Halloween!


Makes 2 dozen- 2 ½ inch, or 16 -3 inch popcorn balls

¼             cup         Butter
½             cup         Creamy peanut butter
1-10          oz. bag    Marshmallows
½             tsp.         Vanilla extract
10            cups        Popped popcorn (about 1/3 cup un-popped kernels)
1              cup         Salted roasted peanuts
1/3           cup         Salted roasted sunflower seeds
1              cup         Yogurt covered raisins (or 2/3 cup raisins)

1.       Line two sheet pans with wax or parchment paper.

2.   Melt the marshmallow mixture on the stove top.

         Bring the water in the bottom of a double boiler to a simmer and then place the top of the double boiler on the top.  Add the butter and peanut butter to the top of the double boiler; stir until melted.  Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2.   Or Melt the marshmallow mixture in the microwave.

Microwave the butter and peanut butter in a large microwave safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, or until melted (keep an eye on it).  Add the marshmallows to the bowl, and toss to coat.  Microwave 1 ½ minutes, stirring half way through, or until the marshmallows are completely melted.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

        To make the popcorn balls.

   3.       In an extra-large bowl add the popped popcorn, and half of the marshmallow mixture; give it a stir, being gentle as not to break up the popcorn.
   4.       Add the peanuts, sunflower seeds and the remaining marshmallow mixture; stir gently until completely combined.  Now it should be cool enough to stir in the yogurt covered raisins.
   5.       Spray a little cooking spray on to your hands and scoop out a handful of the mixture; gently form it into the desired size popcorn ball, and place it on the lined sheet pan.  Repeat with the remaining mixture.
   6.       Allow the popcorn balls to sit out uncovered for about 2 hours before storing them in an airtight container.

Other suggested stir-ins:  Peanut M&M’s, chocolate M&M’s, Skor or Heath Bits, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, or dried bananas.

If stirring in chocolate, be sure that the marshmallow is mostly cooled so that the chocolate doesn’t melt.

You may also like:

Gourmet Caramel Apples
Chocolate Covered Caramel Popcorn

Chocolate Caramel Krispy Pretzel Treats

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

This recipe was shared at:
The Weekend Potluck

Freedom Fridays


  1. NO WAY! My mom has the same popcorn machine as you! She's had it since before I was born and I thought for sure she was the only person on the planet who owned one..sigh..the things you tell yourself when you're a kid. These PB popcorn balls look amazing! I'll have to borrow my mom's machine (she still has it!) and make a quadruple batch of these bad boys to eat on Halloween...err....I mean, to give to the trick-or-treaters ;)

    1. Thanks Julia. The machine is actually a brand new Cuisinart popcorn machine. I used a $10 off coupon at Sur la Table to treat myself!

  2. This is such a beautiful presentation for a great treat!
    Just in time for the Holiday Season.
    Thank you ,Kari!

  3. This is such an awesome idea!! So simple, I love it!

  4. Love that cute popcorn maker!! And the flavors in this fun dessert :)

  5. Hi Kari, this is very addictive, hard to stop eating. Your pop corn balls certainly look awesome. Thanks for sharing the recipe.