Candied Popcorn

This post is sponsored by Queen.

I’m quite sure that the very first time I ate popcorn, it was the multi-coloured candied variety.  I just assumed that was what popcorn was and had no idea most commonly it was eaten in its natural colour, seasoned with butter and salt.

So 'fairground'

So ‘fairground’

Country fairgrounds with their ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, laughing clowns and petting zoos were where you could buy candied popcorn back in the 70’s.  It was packaged in conical-shaped plastic bags hanging from the bunting that looped around the canvas roof of the market stalls in the fairground.  You could buy a bag for a few cents and it was big enough to live off for the rest of the day.

The popcorn is ready to be tinted

The popcorn is ready to be tinted

Country fairgrounds have changed a lot since the 70’s but one thing that’s remained unchanged is the conical-shaped bags of candied popcorn hanging from the roof of the stalls.  For me candied popcorn conjures up warm memories of a day of great excitement and anticipation at a country fair where the only other thing I probably ate that day was a bag of fairy floss (cotton candy).

The natural flavour powders

The natural flavour powders

When Queen asked me to try their new food colour gels that come in blue, green, yellow and blue, I had just seen candied popcorn in the supermarket and wondered how easy it would be to make my own.

Queen's new range of food colour gels

Queen’s new range of food colour gels

It’s actually very easy.  You just make the popcorn then make a sugar syrup and add a few drops of Queen food gels.  And you don’t need more than a few drops as these are strongly concentrated gels and a little goes a long way.

IMG_4086But candied popcorn also needs to be flavoured.  I bought Fresh As fruit powders that are freeze-dried fruit ground into a powder.  There are no additives and the powders are intensely flavoured.  I used raspberry, passionfruit and pineapple.  If you don’t want to use the powders or can’t source them, Queen has some essences that can also be used like lemon, orange, coconut and strawberry.

Vibrant Queen gel colours

Vibrant Queen gel colours

Queen’s gel colours are wonderful to use.  The colours are strong and give a clean and vibrant result.  I’ve seen recipes for candied popcorn where jelly crystals are used to provide the colour for the popcorn but by comparison this gives a very muddy, muted and wishy-washy result.  The gel colours also have no bitter taste as some other brands do; these gels didn’t affect the natural flavour of the popcorn at all.

Vibrant Queen gel colours

Vibrant Queen gel colours

It’s very easy to control how much you use with the gel colours as there’s a very fine tip on the tube and with a gently squeeze you can have just one drop coming out at a time.  Because of the way the packaging has been designed, you don’t end up with a mess in your kitchen as there’s no bottle to knock over and spill.

Packaged up for a child's birthday party

Packaged up for a child’s birthday party

I’ve made the popcorn in all the provided colours of red, green, yellow and blue but also blended the blue and red gels to make purple and you could also blend red and yellow to make orange.  I think the candied popcorn would be great bagged up for take-home party-packs at children’s birthday parties.

Individual packets

Individual packets

Another idea for candied popcorn is to colour it for specific celebrations.  On Australia Day you could package up bags of green and gold candied popcorn and on July 4, you could make up little bags of red, white and blue.  This year for Halloween I’m going to make bags of dark purple and orange candied popcorn for the trick or treaters who land on my doorstep.

Australia Day

Australia Day

Queen gel colours are available in supermarkets and to keep up to date with product uses and new launches, you can follow the Queen facebook page.

4.8 from 5 reviews
Candied Popcorn
Recipe type: Confectionery
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: many
Easy to make party food
  • 2 tbspns vegetable oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar x 6
  • ¼ cup water x 6
  • Queen food gels - red, blue, yellow, green
  • Fruit powders or essences
  1. Heat oil over high heat. Add two kernels of corn and if they start to rotate, the oil is hot enough. Add popcorn then cover saucepan with a lid. As popcorn begins to pop, agitate the saucepan. When popping slows down, divide into 6 bowls.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  3. In a small saucepan combine water and sugar over medium heat. Stir only until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil then do not stir. Allow sugar syrup to boil for about 5 minutes or until it thickens and becomes golden in colour.
  4. (Note: you need to watch the sugar syrup. You don't want it to be too runny or it will take the 'puff' out of the popcorn as it will wet it too much. But you don't want the sugar syrup to be too thick or it won't coat the popcorn properly so it may take a few trials to get it right).
  5. Remove from heat and add the desired food gel - just a couple of drops. Swirl.
  6. Quickly pour in powder (about 2 tspns) or essence (a few drops) and ⅙ of the popcorn.
  7. Work quickly and use a spoon to mix the syrup into the popcorn.
  8. Pour out onto baking tray and allow to harden. (It will feel sticky but it dries).
  9. Repeat process 5 more times making a different colour each time.
  10. When the popcorn has dried, serve in a bowl or package into individual servings.

4th of July

4th of July

If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!

So 'fairground'

So ‘fairground’

Related Post


  1. Interesting! My cousin in Hungary used to make candied popcorn, it was delicious.

  2. I’ve made caramel popcorn but never candied popcorn and certainly never anything that looked so … colourful. 🙂 And adding the fruit powders was an inspired move. I’m sure those kids loved them. I wouldn’t mind a bag or two either.

  3. I’m happy that we’ll be able to buy gel colour in the supermarket now. I have a set of Wilton gel colours that cost me a fortune from a cake deco shop.

  4. that’s good to know we can buy the gels in supermarkets now. Nigella Lawson was always going on about such things but they seem to be way ahead of us in the UK. love the look of this popcorn!

  5. These look great and I like the idea of the natural flavours as well! Liz x

  6. this looks brilliant – I could foresee a pink popcorn in my future – complete with small child managing to squeeze messy amounts of colouring everywhere – though am not sure if those colours would mix to pink. I think of threading coloured popcorn to put on christmas trees – and it would be great to dye it different colours for each strand.

  7. I’ve never heard of candied popcorn. But what fun. And I agree that this would be a fantastic treat for a children’s birthday party.

  8. These popcorns are F-U-N! Fun to eat, fun to make!

    Gourmet Getaways

  9. Who can resist candied popcorn? Not me! Amazing colors, fun recipe — thanks.

  10. I had completely forgotten about coloured popcorn! You have taken me right back to childhood, and I did love the coloured type – far more than I’ve ever liked the traditional salted, buttered version. Your homemade batch is very vibrant and put the gel colours to excellent use.

  11. H Charlie, what a fun treat, that is a great idea about changing up the colors depending on the occasion.

  12. I loved it! This is a wonderful idea for children parties. My son Fernando turns 5 this month, I’ll give your recipe a try then. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. This is a great idea for parties Charlie, and adding the flavour like that is genius! The gels do seem to keep their vibrant colour well too, I’ll definitely have to pick some up 🙂 xox

  14. Such a fun idea!!! I love candied popcorn and your colorings are so beautiful and vibrant!

  15. This is so cool, I love all of those colors! How fun!

  16. I loved candied popcorn growing up – best I not make any as I would gobble the whole lot up in one sitting. Yours are beautifully bright and pretty Charlie.
    have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  17. I kind of want to have a party just so I have an excuse to make this crazy colorful popcorn!

  18. Those are soo fun! I know kids would surely go crazy for the colors. Again, they should sell those in India… 😉

  19. What a fabulous recipe 😀
    I love the idea of this, it would party perfect!

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. Man stop reading for a few days and I have heaps to catch up on. Have a wonderful weekend, hoping it is a bit warmer there than here lately 🙂

  21. These would be a great hit at kids, of all ages, gathering and adults too, Love the vibrant colors.

  22. The popcorn looks fantastic and it also had be reliving my childhood at fairs and fetes. I love the idea of co-ordinating the colours for 4th of July and Halloween! The colours are so vibrant!

  23. We call this colored popcorn ‘Christmas Popcorn’ as we always get it at Christmas. I’d never even thought to try and make my own. How exciting! Maybe this year I’ll make our Christmas popcorn.

  24. G’day and how whimsically fun Charlie!
    I could not get my eyes off the photo!
    Cheers! Joanne

  25. This is just amazing to me! I’ve never seen popcorn colored in this way. I love it! I don’t know that I can obtain these fantastic food colors, but I’m going to see if perhaps they’re available on-line and begin to create my own fantastic gifts and party favors. This recipe is just too much fun!

  26. Beautiful! My mother used to make colorful popcorn ‘balls’ like this for the holidays…they were abit hard on the teeth compressed like that, though! This isa better idea.

  27. What a clever idea! Those colours really do pop! 🙂

  28. Ohhhh…. I love this so much Charlie, I didnt know you could buy gels like this, and I did wonder how to colour the corn. Pinning this post for later in the year, what a lovely idea for a party or as colourful gifts. Thinking I might make this for my work mates at Chrissy time. 🙂 Boom!

  29. What a fun thing to do with the color gels!! I loved candied popcorn as a kid but it wasn’t near this colorful.

  30. Charlie this looks fantastic!

  31. What pretty popcorn! I love candy popcorn but can’t remember the last time I had it. What a great idea to add fruit powder for flavoring.

  32. It’s so bright and fun!! I bet it’s super tasty, too!! Love it!! xo

  33. So bright and cheerful! Those food color gels really make the food beautiful, the colors are so vibrant! I want those flavored fruit powders, yum! Hugs, Terra



  1. […] you love popcorn and sweets then you are sure to love Hotly Spiced’s rainbow candied popcorn. It would make a tasty special treat or wonderful take home sweet bagged up at a Birthday […]

Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: