On a Stick by Matt Armendariz {Recipe: Caramel Popcorn Balls)

I have what I would call a somewhat strange obsession with food trucks and fair food. We don’t have many food trucks in Kansas, unless you count the ice cream man, but fairs? Boy oh boy do we have fairs and from a young age, I have been fascinated by the food served at these venues.

Back when I was young, you could find the typical cotton candy, funnel cakes, soft pretzels and corn dogs. Now, you can find just about anything at a fair and most of the time, it is served on a stick.

Naturally, when Matt Armendariz (from Matt Bites) announced that his first cookbook was going to be all about foods on a stick, I was intrigued. Expecting normal fair type food, I was surprised when I opened the book to find unique offerings like Deep Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Pineapple Funnels, and Fruit Salad on a stick. I should have known not to expect the ordinary from Matt…he is anything but. Matt went above and beyond and shared hundreds of On a Stick recipes in his new cookbook. In fact, I am so inspired by his book, hosting a food on a stick party is on my summertime bucket list! Won’t that be fun?

My kids love caramel popcorn, so I thought it would be fun to make Matt’s caramel popcorn balls on a stick. (Side note: this book has made me realized that I need to go stick shopping very soon because the only sticks I had on hand were cocktail toothpicks!) I ended up making the popcorn balls into mini, bite sized versions, which turned out perfect for the little mouths at my house.

There are so many fun ideas for food on a stick in his cookbook… if you like to entertain or if you simply like to do things with a unique flair, Matt’s book is worth saving a space for on your bookshelf.

Recipe: Caramel Popcorn Balls on a Stick from Matt Armendariz’s cookbook On a Stick

  • 8 wood sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups popped popcorn (I use this Perfect Popcorn stovetop recipe)
  1. Combine sugars and corn syrup with 1/3 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugars dissolve. Once mixture has reached 240° F, remove from the heat and stir in butter.
  2. Return to heat and continue cooking until mixture reaches 300°F. Remove from heat and careful stir in baking soda and salt. (The mixture will bubble aggressively, so stir with caution).
  3. Place popcorn in a large bowl and gently fold in caramel mixture until well coated. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using greased heatproof gloves, take a handful of caramel corn and roll it into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and pierce with a pop stick. Repeat to form 8 balls. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until firm. Let sit at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.


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  1. says

    I love food on a stick too, Kristen! My favorite is a chargrilled keilbasa at the Texas fairs I went to as a kid. Amazing stuff. But these look so fun, and I love the idea of an entirely ‘food on a stick’ themed summer party. Great for kids and adults alike :)

  2. says

    Foods on a stick have long been a favorite at our house. We called chicken sate “chicken on a stick” to get the kids to try it. And I’m nuts about all kinds of kebobs (my favorite right now is the spicy Turkish adana kebab) I’m thinking the popcorn balls will be great for the 4th of july potluck — make it much less messy to eat!


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