Sweet and salty, spicy and tangy, these Dark Chocolate Popcorn Balls are some of our favorite snacks! These gluten-free, vegan popcorn balls are super easy to make with just a few ingredients and make an amazing addition to any dessert table during the holidays!
I am really excited to share this recipe for Dark Chocolate Popcorn Balls, which is sponsored by Pop Zero Popcorn.
Popcorn balls—gluten-free vegan snack
We absolutely love popcorn in this house, so of course I had to go and turn popcorn into something else: popcorn balls. I used chili lime popcorn and combined it with an easy maple syrup & brown sugar sticky sauce to hold it all together in neat little balls.
Then I topped them with some melted dark chocolate sauce—YUM!!
The result is these bite-sized sweet little treats that are fun and easy to make (albeit sticky to work with), but so worth it! The combination of sweet, salty, and a little spicy is amazing.
These popcorn balls make a great snack or fun dessert and can be decorated to fit any holiday theme. I made some Fall-colored popcorn, but you can do more of a Halloween theme by sprinkling Halloween sprinkles on top or using orange and black melting wafers to drizzle over the popcorn balls.
Related recipe: Vegan Halloween Recipes
You’re going to love these dark chocolate popcorn balls if you:
- Love a combination of sweet, salty, and spicy together
- Love the flavors of caramel, maple syrup, and chocolate
- Are looking for a new easy dessert recipe to make with the family
- Need new gluten-free snack and dessert ideas
- Prefer your desserts and snacks to be on the lighter side
I can’t even tell you how quickly we devoured the WHOLE BATCH of these popcorn balls. We could not stop!
Not a fan of sweet & spicy? Try these popcorn balls with other flavors of Pop Zero Popcorn, such as Cinnamon Toast, Sea Salt, or classic Simply Cinema. See all the Pop Zero flavors and decide for yourself which one would be best in these chocolate popcorn balls!
This easy dessert recipe has just a few basic ingredients, and I’ll give you lots of suggestions for how to switch things up to your liking!
- 8 rounded cups Pop Zero Chili Lime Popcorn (that’s almost the whole bag; it leaves you with just enough popcorn for snacking while you’re preparing these popcorn balls ?)
⅓ cup organic light brown sugar (or use maple sugar or coconut sugar)
- ¼ cup maple syrup (or use agave)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- Sprinkles (how about some Christmas-colored or Thanksgiving-themed sprinkles?)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
You’ll also need:
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Parchment paper or wax paper (or a few large plates)
- A large heat-proof bowl (glass or ceramic is best!)
- A small saucepan to prepare the maple syrup caramel
- A small bowl for melting the dark chocolate
- A spatula or spoon for mixing
How to make popcorn balls:
Step 1: Start by combining the brown sugar, maple syrup, and a teaspoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan. If you like salted caramel flavors, or spicy dark chocolate, feel free to add a pinch of sea salt or cayenne powder to the sugar mixture!
Cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the brown sugar melts. The mixture will boil and start to rise - watch carefully and remove the saucepan from the heat source at this point. Your maple caramel syrup is ready!
Step 2: Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the popcorn in a large heat-proof bowl. A heavy glass bowl is best! If you are using a metal bowl you will need to be careful because it will get hot on the outside.
Stir the popcorn to coat it in the syrup mixture completely, and allow it to cool for a few minutes, or until cool enough to safely touch.
At this point, the caramel chili lime popcorn is good enough to eat on its own, but try to be patient! It gets even better with dark chocolate!
Step 3: Spray your hands with non-stick spray, then grab a small handful of the caramel popcorn mixture and form it into a small ball, pressing gently to allow the caramel-coated popcorn to stick together into a firm ball. Place the popcorn balls onto your parchment paper or wax paper.
Step 4: Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave or using a double boiler. You might need to stir in 1 teaspoon coconut oil to get the chocolate mixture to be extra gooey and pourable.
Step 5: Drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn balls. If you want to add sprinkles or an extra touch of sea salt, sprinkle that on before the chocolate dries.
That’s it! 5 minutes of cooking, 10 minutes of sticky caramel popcorn fun, and you have the most delicious Dark Chocolate Chili Lime Popcorn Balls ever!
Enjoy these with the family for movie night, or place them in individual mini muffin liners for a fun party presentation.
How to store popcorn balls
Store popcorn balls in a sealed container on the counter for up to 3 days. If you live in a humid or warm climate, then keep them in the fridge to prevent the chocolate from melting.
Other easy snacks and desserts you’re going to love:
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Dark Chocolate Popcorn Balls
- 8 cups Pop Zero Chili Lime Popcorn
- ⅓ cup organic light brown sugar, or use maple sugar or coconut sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup, or agave syrup
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- Optional: pinch of sea salt or cayenne pepper, colorful sprinkles
- Melt the brown sugar, maple syrup, and a teaspoon of coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sea salt or cayenne pepper, if using. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully! The mixture will boil and start to rise - remove the saucepan from the heat source at this point.
- Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the popcorn in a large heat-proof bowl. Stir the popcorn to coat it in the syrup mixture completely, and allow it to cool for a few minutes, or until cool enough to touch safely.
- Spray your hands with non-stick spray, then grab a small handful of the caramel popcorn mixture and form it into a small ball, pressing gently to allow the caramel-coated popcorn to stick together into a firm ball. Place the popcorn balls onto your parchment paper or wax paper.
- Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave (about 2 minutes, in 30 second increments) or using a double boiler method. You might need to stir in 1 teaspoon coconut oil to get the chocolate mixture to be extra gooey and pourable, otherwise it will be thick and you will have thicker globs of chocolate on your popcorn (not a bad thing!)
- Use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn balls. If you want to add sprinkles or an extra touch of sea salt, sprinkle those on before the chocolate dries. Let the chocolate dry, and enjoy!
Now this is an adorable idea. I think it would be cute as an end-of-year teacher gift, too. Thanks for sharing. Anderea Nicolai Aleck