Bring back the joy of childhood with this yummy candy store pink popcorn recipe! Do you remember the magic of seeing flavored popcorn displayed in the windows of old-fashioned candy stores? Pink popcorn sold at carnivals, state fairs, and the city zoo evokes sweet feelings of nostalgia. As a child it was a real treat to enjoy a little bag of gourmet pink popcorn on Valentine’s Day, birthday parties and other special occasions.
Ingredients for Candy-Coated Pink Popcorn
These are the simple ingredients you’ll need to make candy-coated pink popcorn for Valentine’s Day: popped popcorn (I like using mushroom popcorn), granulated sugar, half-and-half or whole milk, light corn syrup, popcorn salt, vanilla extract, and neon pink gel food coloring. Optional: white and red candy sprinkles.
How to Make Pink Popcorn
This is how to make pink popcorn: start by getting everything prepped for the process. Pop the popcorn kernels and lay them in an even flat layer within a cookie sheet that’s been lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. For the pink popcorn you see in my images, I used 14 cups of popped popcorn. But you can adjust the quantity down to 12 cups for more candy coating on the batch, or raise the quantity to 16 cups for lighter candy-coated pink popcorn. I like using mushroom popcorn kernels whenever I’m making candy-coated popcorn. It’s large rounded shape offers more surface area for holding onto the candy coating, and it looks festive and special!
Pink Popcorn Recipe
Start by pulling out a medium/small pot and a candy thermometer. Add 2 cups of granulated sugar to the pot. Add the salt and light corn syrup in the center of the sugar. Slowly and deliberately pour the half-and-half tightly around the edge of the pot surrounding the sugar. This process is to wash away any little sugar particles that might be present on the sides of the pan. We don’t want any sugar whatsoever on the sides of the pan because they will crystalize and harden. Over medium heat slowly stir or whisk the sugar mixture until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Pink Candied Popcorn
Lift the spoon or whisk out of the pan and leave the sugar mixture undisturbed. Allow the sugar mixture to start boiling rapidly. DO NOT stir the sugar as it boils or it will crystalize! Check the temperature of the mixture with a candy thermometer. When it reaches the “soft ball stage” at 230 F degrees, immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the pink food coloring (start off with one or two tiny drops and adjust the color from there).
Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn
Drizzle the candied mixture evenly over the popcorn. With a silicone spatula, quickly spread and fold the mixture into the popcorn so that the coverage is nice and even throughout the batch. As the mixture cools down, you can then also use your clean hands to continue mixing and spreading the candy coating. It’s a bit like making Rice Krispy Treats. Things get a little messy and sticky, but the end result is absolutely worth it! Allow the pink popcorn to rest and cool down for about 20 minutes or so before moving it to a popcorn bowl to be enjoyed with family and friends. Here’s a perfect Valentine’s Day gift idea: fill small, clear cellophane bags with pink popcorn and tie off the top with a red or white bow! Or fill a Valentine’s Day coffee mug with pink popcorn, and place the filled mug inside clear cellophane gift wrap.
Best Kitchen Tools and Supplies for Making Pink Popcorn
Our family loves theater-style popcorn as well as candy-coated pink popcorn. We have an industrial-size popcorn machine in our TV room and a smaller popper that is lighter weight and more portable for parties. We purchase our popcorn kernels at a specialty popcorn store. For buttered popcorn we use white kernels, and for making pink popcorn we like using mushroom popcorn because the surface area is wider and it’s puffy look is super festive! Below are the helpful kitchen tools I use when making large batches of fresh pink popcorn for parties.
Candy Store Pink Popcorn Recipe
Beautiful, sweet, candy-coated pink popcorn is perfect for Valentine's Day, movie nights, game nights, birthday parties, bridal showers, and baby showers. This classic crowd-pleasing treat with satisfy any sweet tooth. Pink popcorn brings joy and a fun feeling of nostalgia to any special occasion.
- 14 cups popped popcorn* (I use Mushroom Popcorn Kernels)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt (the texture is much finer than table salt)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Drops of neon pink food coloring ( I use Wilton Neon Gel Food Coloring)
- Optional: soft candy sprinkles (jimmies)
PREPPING PROCEDURES FOR MAKING PINK POPCORN
Pop the popcorn kernels. Line a large cookie sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Take out a medium/small pan, a small whisk, a heat-safe silicone spatula, and a candy thermometer.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PINK POPCORN
- Add the granulated sugar to the pan. Add the popcorn salt and light corn syrup to the center of the sugar. Slowly and deliberately pour the half-and-half all around the interior edges of the pan to surround the sugar. This process is important as it makes sure any tiny granules of sugar are completely washed off the sides of the pan. If there are any little bits of sugar left on the sides of the pan they will harden and crystalize.
- Place the pan over medium heat. Slowly stir or whisk the sugar mixture until the ingredients are fully combined. Lift the wooden spoon or whisk out of the pan and allow the mixture to come to a boil. DO NOT stir the mixture while it's boiling or the mixture will crystalize. Use a candy thermometer to track the temperature. Once it reaches the "soft ball stage" of 230 F, remove the pan from heat, add in the vanilla and pink food coloring and stir well.
- Immediately drizzle the mixture over the popcorn. Working quickly, use a silicone spatula to mix and fold the candy-coating evenly throughout the batch of popcorn. Once the candy-coating cools down a bit, you can also use your clean hands to finish the mixing and folding process. Optional: sprinkle the pink popcorn with festive soft candy sprinkles.
- Allow the pink popcorn to finish cooling on the silicone mat for about 20 minutes. Transfer it to a serving bowl and enjoy!
*Although I used 14 cups of popped popcorn for this recipe, you can use just 12 cups if you prefer more heavily candied pink popcorn. If you prefer even lighter candy coverage, use 16 cups of popped popcorn instead.
Courses Snack, Dessert, Potluck, Party
CANDY STORE PINK POPCORN RECIPE > PIN IT TO PINTEREST
Save this fun nostalgic treat for later! Pin this PINK POPCORN RECIPE to Pinterest.
CANDY STORE PINK POPCORN > YOUR THOUGHTS
Have you ever tried pink popcorn? Do you have childhood memories of buying yummy colorful treats at an old-fashioned candy store? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this pink popcorn recipe in the comments below!