Desserts and Sweets/ Gluten Free/ Kid Friendly/ Nut Free/ Snacks and Appetizers/ Vegetarian

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

This Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn is the homemade version of the pink popcorn you bought as a kid. It’s lightly candy coated and with a fun pink color.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

What is Pink Popcorn?

If you grew up in Canada, especially if you are older than say…30 years old, you likely remember Lucky Elephant Pink Popcorn. If you haven’t tried it, and you like sweet popcorn, you should definitely try this Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn.

It’s a lightly candy coated, slightly vanilla flavored popcorn with a festive pink color. I suppose you could make it any color you want, or skip the color all together, but pink is definitely the traditional version.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

When I first learned that you could make this tasty treat from my childhood, I was a little intimidated, thinking it would be much more difficult than it actually is. Turns out it’s not very hard at all.

There is a bit of a trick to it though. Make sure you have your popcorn completely popped and ready in a large bowl before your syrup is ready. You don’t want the syrup hardening up on you while you’re waiting for popcorn.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

I did try this recipe a couple of times to get an optimal candy-popcorn ratio. The recipe I have posted here is most similar to the Lucky Elephant popcorn I remember eating as a child.

However, if you want yours less sweet, use more popcorn. If you have a major sweet tooth and you want sweeter popcorn, use less popcorn, just note that it will take longer to dry or harden.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

The first time I made this, it had a much thicker candy coating and it took much longer (overnight) to dry. The recipe I have posted here dried very quickly, almost immediately.

However, it may depend on humidity. If yours doesn’t seem to be setting up, don’t worry too much, just leave it uncovered at room temperature for a few hours or a day or so until it does.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

Warning: if you leave it sitting out, uncovered, it will likely disappear quickly. You and your family will not be able to resist this sweet crunchy treat. You can however, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a couple of weeks.

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

Because of the pretty pink color of this popcorn, I think it’s perfect for Valentine’s day. If your kids (or you) hand out goodies for Valentine’s day, I think this is a great slightly healthier treat.

For one cup of this popcorn, you’re looking at around 100kcal, which is the perfect amount for a small snack, and 1g of fiber. You could package it in a little baggie tied with a red or pink ribbon. How cute is that?

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn Nutrition Notes:

Since popcorn is a whole grain, you can consider this a healthier treat. Just keep in mind that it does have a fair bit of added sugar. But it’s definitely better than candy!

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Pink Popcorn in a bowl
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Print Recipe

Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

Just like the Lucky Elephant brand pink popcorn you remember eating as a kid. It’s easy to make at home, and makes a great healthier Valentine’s day treat.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Drying Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 24 cups
Calories: 100kcal

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces popcorn kernels
  • 2/3 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon white corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • red or pink food coloring I used Wilton Gel Color in Rose

Instructions

  • Pop popcorn using an air popper or in a pot. This makes a large amount (about 24 cups) of popcorn, so you may have to do it in 2 batches. Place into one or two large bowls and set aside.
  • Stir milk, corn syrup and salt together in a small saucepan. Pour sugar into the center of the saucepan, being careful not to get any on the sides of the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Stir occasionally until mixture reaches 230Β°F, the soft ball stage. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and food coloring (several drops of red should do, or about 1/2 a toothpick dipped into gel color).
  • Working quickly, pour sugar mixture evenly over popcorn and stir until the popcorn is evenly coated. Spread popcorn over 2 large baking sheets to dry. Once popcorn is completely dry, store in airtight bags or containers.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @DomesticDreamboat or tag #DomesticDreamboat!
Pink popcorn nutrition info

*Recipe barely adapted from Nan’s Recipe Spot

Overhead photo of pink popcorn in a bowl

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49 Comments

  • Reply
    Ape
    June 25, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    My coating dried almost instantly while putting on the popcorn. Was rather think. How can I make it thinner so I it can be more liquid like to poor into popcorn and have a chance to stir? Or did it need to heat a lot longer?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      June 25, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      I would guess it’s a temperature issue. Candy coated things like this are really picky. They need to be heated to a specific temperature – no more, no less. Did you use a candy thermometer? If not, I would recommend trying again with one. If you did, and cooked to the correct temperature, maybe it was related to the weather or something. It never fails to amaze me how much that can impact certain recipes.

  • Reply
    Ann
    January 10, 2016 at 11:19 PM

    Once dry, is the popcorn sticky?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      January 11, 2016 at 11:06 AM

      No, it shouldn’t be sticky once dry. It should be a hardened candy coating.

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    January 19, 2016 at 4:50 PM

    Is the popcorn supposed to maintain crunch once it’s coated and dried? Mine turned out a little “chewy” once it dried.

    • Reply
      Carissa
      January 19, 2016 at 5:23 PM

      I would say that mine doesn’t usually turn out 100% as crunchy as fresh popcorn, but pretty close.

    • Reply
      Linda
      September 20, 2016 at 6:18 PM

      I sometimes have a problem with this – I have tried a giant popcorn that makes large puffy popped corn and the problem is worse with this than it is with the Orville Redenbacher I have also tried – so could it be the popcorn itself? Might give a different brand a try. Try using a greater ratio of popcorn – perhaps increasing the amount of popped corn by 4 cups or so – I believe too much coating saturates the popcorn too much and causes this problem. And the weather can also be a problem – try making again on a cooler clear day with low humidity – if at all possible. I know these kind of days results in better candy making results. Don’t try drying in the oven – it will of the colors – purple becomes gray, and blue becomes greenish.

  • Reply
    ej
    February 4, 2016 at 5:13 PM

    couldn’t you just melt butter, put some food coloring in it then mix it in the popcorn?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      February 4, 2016 at 8:29 PM

      If all you’re going for is color, then maybe that would kind of work, but I doubt the result would be very even. This recipe is for more of a candy coated popcorn.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    March 15, 2016 at 1:14 PM

    How long does this stay good for?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      March 16, 2016 at 4:46 PM

      It lasts quite awhile – I would say at least 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.

  • Reply
    Stacey
    March 24, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    5 stars
    You are AMAZING! ! I grew up with this Punk Elephant Popcorn and it was only recently that my husband had said that since I have a knack for making things from our childhood, if I could attempt this one. This is that exact recipe I was looking for! This also isn’t the 1st time I’ve found what I was looking for on your site!! So Pls keep up the awesome work and posts!! I hope you understand and realize how much mum’s like me need women like you!! So Thanks again!!

    • Reply
      Carissa
      March 24, 2016 at 1:32 PM

      Wow, what a great comment! I’m so happy that you’re enjoying my recipes! Thanks for brightening my day!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    March 30, 2016 at 3:45 PM

    Can I use microwaved popcorn for this recipe? I have never made popcorn in a pot on the stovetop before…

    • Reply
      Carissa
      March 30, 2016 at 3:48 PM

      Absolutely! As long as it’s just plain popcorn, and not the salted, butter flavored stuff. Any way you choose to pop it is totally fine!

  • Reply
    Siti Zaliha Abdullah
    April 2, 2016 at 2:02 AM

    4 stars
    Really beautiful popcorn ,Carrisa. I’ll make for my grandaughtet. Very very thanks!

  • Reply
    Stacey
    April 2, 2016 at 7:26 PM

    5 stars
    Haha! I did it! Lol. However I do think I may have cooked a little longer than stated. ‘Quick work’ is just as said. But like Caramel, quick is necessary. Regardless…. I came out awesome! Family loves it & you were right… don’t leave it on the counter!! Thanks again!! πŸ’–πŸ’–

  • Reply
    Pat
    April 20, 2016 at 5:40 PM

    How long can you store it? Making it for wedding goodie bags

    • Reply
      Carissa
      April 20, 2016 at 6:08 PM

      I kept mine for about 2 weeks and it was still totally fine. As long as it’s totally dry, I think it would be fine for a month.

      • Reply
        Alison
        September 24, 2019 at 7:43 PM

        How long would you say it takes to dry?

        • Reply
          Carissa
          September 24, 2019 at 7:51 PM

          It’s hard to say, and depends largely on the weather. When I make it, it dries very quickly. However, I’ve never tried making it in the summer, when the weather is significantly more humid here. If yours isn’t drying within a few hours, I’d try putting it in the oven at a low temperature (200Β°F)

  • Reply
    RebLadyDi
    June 9, 2016 at 4:15 PM

    I want to try this with Puffcorn. I usually make caramel Puffcorn but this sounds perfect for my moms pink and purple birthday reception. PS using butter flavored Puffcorn means NO HULLS or OLD MAIDS plus its already popped in bags at the grocery store πŸ™‚ woo hoo thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Morgan
    June 15, 2016 at 8:52 AM

    Thanks for the recipe! I made this last night in prep for my sisters baby shower that I am throwing. I guess I was under the impression this was like a candy-coated popcorn with a crunch to the candy (similar to a caramel corn coating). It turned the popcorn soggy and after it dried (over 12 hours) it just tastes like really stale popcorn. Is this what yours tastes like?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      June 15, 2016 at 9:17 AM

      I’m sorry this recipe didn’t turn out for you πŸ™
      This pink popcorn definitely shouldn’t have turned soggy. It doesn’t get a thick glossy coating like most candied popcorn, but it should remain crunchy, with a sweet, matte, slightly crunchy coating. Is there a chance that it’s really humid where you’re at? Perhaps that could be the culprit?

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 27, 2016 at 6:41 PM

    I always thought it was pink because they used the extra-fine pink cotton candy sugar in the recipe.

  • Reply
    DMF
    September 1, 2016 at 4:02 PM

    This!! The Jewel tea man used to bring a popcorn my mother would buy, and I’ve been searching for the recipe for years, every time I bought candy popcorn in premade bags I’d hope that flavor would come back to me, but never did, till NOW! This recipe is the popcorn I remember! (well more than 30 years ago for me, try some time in the early 70’s!) Thank you!

    • Reply
      Carissa
      September 1, 2016 at 7:30 PM

      I’m so glad you like it! I think it brings back fond memories for a lot of people!

  • Reply
    Camille K.
    September 12, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    I know this is an older post, but I couldn’t help but comment. I’m living in Minnesota but as a girl went to visit grandparents in Manitoba often. A visit always included buying some Pink Elephant Popocorn. I kinda forgot about that till I saw this article and I can’t wait to make some!

  • Reply
    Melanie
    September 14, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    This turned out absolutely perfectly!! I followed your recipe precisely including cooking to 230 degrees. Super cute for a baby shower this weekend!! Thank you so much!!

  • Reply
    laura hunter
    September 26, 2016 at 5:31 PM

    making this for my daughter’s princess party next week. fingers crossed!

  • Reply
    wiz
    December 3, 2016 at 11:55 AM

    you sold me on this & I made a batch of popcorn & candy coating last night for a desert table. I think you should put up a warning – DEADLY SWEET – πŸ™‚ At first it looked like it was pink sticky glue but by morning it had dried & so its ready to eat. Thank you. Next time I will use a brighter pink & try less sugar. Still a neat recipe to try!! Thank you again

  • Reply
    Renae Murphy
    December 20, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    My popcorn is still sticky and gooey after 4 hours…hoping by morning it hardens a little…any advice?

    (I live in cold temps low humidity right now, chilly chilly winter month!)

    • Reply
      Carissa
      December 20, 2016 at 8:32 PM

      Definitely give it until the morning. Make sure you leave it out in the open, not in a sealed container. I left mine on a cookie sheet overnight. Give it a stir every now and then if you can (but don’t bother waking up to do it!) If it still doesn’t harden, is it possible that the syrup didn’t quite get up to temperature when you were cooking it? Anything involving a candy coating can be picky like that. If it’s still sticky in the morning, I would try putting it in the oven at low temperature (like 200Β°F, no more than 250Β°F) on the cookie sheet (ideally with a silicone baking mat, wax paper or parchment paper to prevent sticking) and stir every 5-10 minutes to see if that dries it out/hardens it.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    February 9, 2017 at 10:27 AM

    Is there by any chance a substitute for the corn syrup? I don’t have any and to buy a whole bottle for one tablespoon doesn’t seem rational!

    • Reply
      Carissa
      February 9, 2017 at 2:10 PM

      I agree, I hate buying a bottle of something that I know I won’t use again. However, in this case (any sort of candy making is very specific) I’m not sure anything else would work. I have used sweetened condensed milk instead of corn syrup in marshmallows, but I have not tried in this recipe. You could try substituting it one for one, but I really can’t guarantee the results.

  • Reply
    Roh
    March 8, 2017 at 9:22 PM

    Hi can I substitute the milk with soya milk? Would the end result be the same.

    • Reply
      Carissa
      March 9, 2017 at 7:20 AM

      I’ve never tried. But yes, I think it should work.

  • Reply
    Angela
    September 10, 2017 at 9:23 PM

    I am wanting to attempt to make this only color purple for my daughters baby shower her theme is Ready To Pop we are doing a popcorn bar…I wanted to prep and make this a week or so in advance but I need to make big quantity so do you think it will store well in bags?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      September 11, 2017 at 6:59 AM

      Yes, I think it will store for several days in bags, but the popcorn must be completely dry before you pack it into the bags. If you live in a humid climate, getting the popcorn to dry completely my take longer.

  • Reply
    Pamela
    January 10, 2018 at 4:51 PM

    could this be made into popcorn balls? I have a birthday party. They are twins and turning 6. one is a boy and the other a girl. trying to get some ideas on some sweets to have at the party.

    • Reply
      Carissa
      January 10, 2018 at 4:54 PM

      I don’t see why not – but since this popcorn is already sweetened, the popcorn balls will be doubly sweet πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sheri
    June 10, 2018 at 3:19 PM

    Ive never had pink popcorn so don’t know how it should taste. My friend loves it, so I tried. It tastes really good, but a bit sugary (grainy). Did I overlook the syrup…when I grabbed thermometer, turned out to be a meat thermometer, DUH. Only went to 220 and I couldn’t find candy thermometer.

    • Reply
      Carissa
      June 10, 2018 at 3:32 PM

      When something goes wrong with candy-making (as in this case), it is usually a temperature problem. In this case, it could be overcooking, because undercooking would typically lead the sugar coating to not harden. However, in your case, it sounds like maybe they sugar crystallized. This isn’t necessarily a temperature problem, but happens during the cooking of the sugar where once the sugar has melted/dissolves, it forms a crystalline structure again, which could lead it to feel grainy. This can happen with over stirring, or even just if an extra granule of sugar or crumb or some sort makes its way into the melted sugar (like from a spoon or the side of the pot).

  • Reply
    Carla
    November 20, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    This looks delicious! Have you tried it with a dairy free milk (coconut, almond…) instead? My son is allergic to dairy and I’d love to try a version that he can have.

    • Reply
      Carissa
      November 20, 2018 at 1:11 PM

      I haven’t tried it with dairy free milk. I’m not sure how it would turn out, as candy making can be a precise (and finicky) process. But the ingredients aren’t costly, so it’s worth a try. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out!

      • Reply
        Carla
        December 1, 2018 at 2:42 PM

        I did try it with coconut milk today and it turned out very well! Thanks for the recipe!

        • Reply
          Carissa
          December 2, 2018 at 8:48 AM

          Great! I’m so glad to hear it worked out for you! Good to know it works just as well with non-dairy milk too πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Kristen
    November 8, 2019 at 7:21 PM

    Can this be frozen? If so how long does it last?

    • Reply
      Carissa
      November 8, 2019 at 7:52 PM

      I have never tried (it never lasts that long around here!), but yes, I would think so. If it’s in a sealed zipper bag or container, and it’s dry when you put it in the freezer, I would think you could keep in in there for a couple of months.

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