3 Kids, a Mom & a Kitchen: Popcorn Ball Ice Cream Cones

3 kids, a mom & a kitchen: lemon pound cake

image source: jane maynard

I love monster cookies. They are chock-full of all kinds of goodies, and lend themselves to creativity as well as utility — whatever you have in the cabinet is fair game! The level of love I have for monster cookies is about equivalent to the love my kids have for popcorn. If those two things are good alone, then they must be even better together, right?

The kids and I decided it would be fun to create a Monster Popcorn Ball recipe together. Making these popcorn balls ended up being a great summer activity, and we even got Grandma in on the action!

We put the final products on top of ice cream cones to make them extra cute! While the popcorn balls are still warm, you can stick them right on top of the ice cream cones, and they’ll stay in place once cooled. To display them, simply place two popcorn ball-topped cones side-by-side in a short, clear drinking glass, and they’ll stand up by themselves and look adorable! This would be perfect for summer parties, but my kids loved the presentation even just for an afternoon snack.

image source: jane maynard

Choosing the Recipe:
I wanted to make sure whatever popcorn balls we made didn’t end up soggy and soft, so I looked for a recipe that involved cooking the sugar. We found a recipe from the Food Network that worked as a great springboard for our monster version. Our final recipe came out perfectly!

Everyone had a great time making the Monster Popcorn Balls together, and of course we loved eating them! The rankings were thumbs-up across the board!

monster popcorn balls rankings
image source: jane maynard

Steps Where Kids Can Get Involved:
This recipe is pretty straightforward and has lots of steps where kids can get involved. There is a step where you cook the sugar mixture to 250 F. I recommend doing this step yourself or only getting older kids involved with monitoring the temperature. Other ideas:

  • Since these are “monster” popcorn balls, there are lots of ingredients to measure and dump in the bowl. The kids can do all of the measuring and dumping!
  • Once the sugar is cooked and poured over the popcorn mixture, you need to work quickly to form the balls. Older children can help with shaping the balls (watch out, they may be hot at first!), and all the kids can help with adding more sprinkles while they’re still warm.

The Tasting:
There’s not much to say about the tasting except it went very well! These Monster Popcorn Balls are delicious and everyone loved them!

The Recipe:
Though the recipe is fairly straightforward and simple, you do need a candy thermometer or a high-quality instant read thermometer. Also, it takes about 30 minutes for the sugar mixture to reach the right temperature.

image source: jane maynard

Monster Popcorn Balls

Makes: 16-20

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins


  • 16 cups popped popcorn (1/2 cup unpopped corn yields about 18 cups popped corn)
  • 1 cup crisped rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate sprinkles
  • 1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles plus more for topping
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Mix together the popcorn, crisped rice cereal, M&Ms, coconut, and almonds in a very large bowl. Add a tablespoon each of the chocolate and rainbow sprinkles. Set aside.
  2. Place a can of spray oil next to the bowl for later.
  3. Combine sugar, 1 1/3 cups water, corn syrup, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Using a candy thermometer or high quality instant read thermometer, cook sugar mixture over high-heat on the stovetop until temperature reaches 250 F (up to 265 F).
  4. Once you reach the right temperature, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn mixture, pouring over all the popcorn evenly. Working very quickly, stir the popcorn mixture and sugar together very well using a mixing spoon or spatula. The sprinkles and M&Ms will start to melt a little — this is okay and gives the popcorn balls a marbled look.
  5. Once the popcorn is mixed well (remember, work quickly!), spray your hands with oil, then form 3”-4” popcorn balls, placing on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Immediately sprinkle the tops of the popcorn balls with more rainbow sprinkles while they are still warm.
  6. If you want to serve the popcorn balls in ice cream cones, place them on the cones while the popcorn balls are still warm so they can shape to the cone easier.
image source: jane maynard
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