It's so easy to make colored popcorn in any fruit flavor you want with the BEST recipe for Kool-Aid Popcorn. This candied popcorn recipe is fun and fruity and delicious, and those bright colors are irresistable.
Yeah, we've all seen this all over Pinterest. I pinned the recipe myself. And when I was making grape, strawberry, and fruit punch popcorn for the Firefly Theater party for Festivities magazine, I initially followed this recipe (the one I pinned) faithfully.
And it was ok. It took longer than I expected to cook to a decent texture (longer than the recipe called for by far!) and it was still a little too chewy for my taste. I didn't like the way it stuck to my teeth so aggressively. So I decided to develop my own formula, based on my favorite caramel corn recipe.
The BEST Kool-Aid Candied Popcorn Recipe
- 4-5 quarts of popped popcorn (NO unpopped kernels!)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup light Karo syrup
- 1 t salt
- 1 t baking soda
- 2 packages of unsweetened Kool-Aid, any flavor
Put popped popcorn in a large roasting pan. I love using my Nordicware microwave popcorn popper. You don't need any oil, and it only takes three minutes to make a large bowl of popcorn without all the artificial junk that comes in commercial microwave popcorn.
Important Tip for Making Candied, Colored, Kool-Aid Popcorn:
- Be very careful not to get any unpopped kernels in the roasting pan! You could break a tooth on a kernel coated in candy and hidden in a cluster of popcorn.
Place butter, Karo syrup, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbly at the edges. Cook on medium heat for another five minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat, and quickly stir in the baking soda and the two packages of Kool-Aid. The mixture will foam up (which is why we used a larger saucepan), so don't be alarmed.
Pour the hot sugar mixture over the popcorn and stir until well coated.
Bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes.
Cooling Candied Popcorn
When done baking the candied popcorn, spread it out in a single layer on parchment lined baking pans. If you let it cool in the roasting pan, you will end up with one giant, solid popcorn ball.
It's ok if the many pieces of candied popcorn touch eachother on the baking sheet as it cools; it just needs to be in a single layer so that it's easy to break apart once the popcorn has cooled.
The texture and flavor of this new candied popcorn recipe was perfect. The fun colors and vibrant flavors were a hit with all of the party-goers. It turned out so well, I'm kind of tempted to throw another rainbow party, just so I can have a full rainbow of popcorn flavors!
A Note on Making Blue Popcorn
A couple readers have made this recipe using Blue Lemonade and and Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid packets, and both of them thought the popcorn was delicious, but it turned a decidedly green color as it cooked. There must be something about the blue food coloring used in Kool-Aid that breaks down in high heat, or interacts with one of the other ingredients strangely. Whatever the reason, if you're trying to make blue popcorn, this is evidently not the method to use.
Other Ways to Make Colored Popcorn:
- Use chocolate melts and this tutorial to make colored popcorn in a few minutes
- Make colored popcorn using Jello!
- Here's a recipe for making sweet, colored, candied popcorn without the fruit flavoring (using food coloring instead)
- Or you can just buy it!