Healthy Recipe: Hazelnut Popcorn Balls Drizzled in Dark Chocolate

Recipe by Ivy Manning | Photo by Erin Kunkel

Popcorn balls have all the nostalgia of a childhood treat, but a few clever hacks help make them healthy. Fun-sized portions keep calories in check, at just 140 calories per serving. Hazelnuts and hemp seeds add healthy fats and protein. All-natural maple syrup binds the balls together. And a little drizzle of melted dark chocolate adds beautiful benefits.


6 cups air-popped popcorn (from ¼ cup/1½ oz/45 g unpopped kernels)
½ cup (2½ oz/75 g) toasted hazelnuts, chopped
¼ cup (1 oz/30 g) hemp seeds
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup (1½ oz/45 g) roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate


Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the popcorn, hazelnuts, and hemp seeds. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the maple syrup and coconut oil, swirling occasionally, until the coconut oil has melted. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until it reaches 260°F (125°C) on a candy or digital thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes.

Wearing oven mitts, carefully pour the maple syrup mixture over the popcorn, sprinkle with the salt, and immediately stir with a wooden spoon or a silicone spatula until the popcorn and nuts are evenly coated.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle but still warm and pliable, shape it into balls. With lightly oiled hands, roll ¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) portions of the mixture between your palms, gently pressing the popcorn so everything sticks together. Place the popcorn balls on the prepared pan and let cool until hardened, 30 minutes.

In a microwave-safe measuring cup, microwave the chocolate on high in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Use a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn balls. Let cool until the chocolate has hardened.

Serve the popcorn balls right away, or store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Makes 12 popcorn balls

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories 140
Protein 3 g
Total fat 8 g
Saturated fat 3 g
Carbs 15 g
Fiber 2 g
Total sugars 9 g
Added sugars 8 g
Sodium 50 mg

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