Popcorn is the best snack for entertaining a large group. It’s inexpensive, tastes great, and you can flavor and color it so many different ways. Today, I’m going to show you an easy way to make some easy red, white, and blue popcorn that would make a great snack for parade or firework watching! All you need is 15 minutes and a few dollars to make this recipe.
Let’s get started…
- Jell-O. Jell-O is the best way to get the vibrant colors you want and there are some delicious options for red and blue. I buy mine at Walmart because the great value brand is so cheap when compared to the name brand. At the time of this post, it was just .36 a box!
- *Popcorn kernels. My favorite trick here, no surprises, is the dollar store. Dollar Tree sells a 20 ounce bag of Jolly Time brand popcorn kernels that can be found in the food isle (my store carries it by the microwave popcorn in the snack section but every store is different). Alternatively, you can pick up a 32 ounce bag of popcorn kernels, same brand, at Walmart for around $2 if you’re already headed there for gelatin! I’m always a fan of a 1 stop shop. *See note at the bottom to find out what type of kernels to use if you want it to look gourmet (round balls) as is pictured for the red and blue.
- Butter. I use salted because I’m a salt addict AND because salt always makes sugar taste better.
- Corn syrup. Just a few tablespoons here.
- Sugar. I don’t love having to add more sugar to an already sugar-laden recipe, but it’s a necessary evil for this one to give the final product the proper crunch and consistency it needs.
- White chocolate, optional. I prefer to leave the ‘white’ portion of the popcorn plain with a little melted coconut oil and some popcorn salt for coating, but you could also drizzle some white chocolate. Personal preference here, do whatever you think tastes best.
Did you know that you DON’T need an air popper to make plain popcorn? A simple brown paper bag and a microwave will do the trick just as well (minus some of the magic of watching it pop :)). I use this Nordicware microwave popper and it’s awesome.
How to make Jell-O popcorn:
First, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Then, you’ll need to pop the kernels. You’ll need about 24 cups popped for the red and blue and 12 cups popped for the white. Pop in batches in the microwave if using a brown paper bag (I just hit the popcorn button and then LISTEN. Once the popping sound is a few seconds apart I stop the microwave to avoid burning). If using an air popper, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
For the white layer:
- For the white portion I used my beloved oil popper (I found mine at a thrift store and it makes the BEST kettle corn), but you could also drizzle a few tablespoons of melted coconut oil over hot, freshly air popped corn and then sprinkle with popcorn salt and shake to distribute.
PRO TIP: After popping kernels, place a cooling rack over the bowl of popcorn, flip it upside down, and shake. This will remove all of the kernels that didn’t pop so that your teeth won’t have to find them later!
Next, you’ll make the red and blue popcorn coating. It’s summer and HOT so the last thing I want to do is crank up the heat by using the stove top so I like to make the coating using the microwave. You’ll need a microwave safe bowl.
Steps for red and blue gelatin candy coating:
- Combine the corn syrup & butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted.
- Add the sugar, water, & gelatin powder from ONE color/flavor. Stir until combined and place back in microwave. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir. Microwave for another 1 minute 30 seconds or until it comes to a rolling boil (doubles in size).
- Add baking soda, it will bubble and turn a lighter color.
- Immediately pour over popcorn in a large bowl and stir to coat
Lastly, you’ll want to bake the coated popcorn on a parchment lined jelly roll pan so that you get that nice light crunch to the coating.
- Spread mixture onto prepared pan and spread out evenly.
- Bake in pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool to room temp. Then break into pieces and enjoy!
You can certainly eat this un-baked as well but it will be soft and gooey. If you are going to package it or use it for a party, I suggest baking it first.
*Want to take this recipe to the next level?
You can make it gourmet grade by using mushroom kernels or ‘seed’ kernels. These are the type of kernels that pop into a perfectly round ball.
Materials for packaging:
- ribbon (dollar store always carries seasonal ribbon…you don’t need that much for projects like this one so it’s a great low-price point option)
- cellophane bags–I used some triangular bags I had leftover from a previous project but I recommend using these bags from the dollar store or these bags from Walmart (a bit better value).
- printable sticker -I’ve done the work for you if you want to add a little pizazz to your packaged product! You can download the 4th of July tags below.
I think it would be so fun for a youngster looking to earn some summer money to sell these at a parade or pre-fireworks show. Gourmet popcorn is expensive, so profit margin could be decent!
A note on the blue: This wasn’t exactly the ‘4th of July’ blue I was after. It’s more of a turquoise blue and looks a little green due to two things: the yellow of the popcorn kernels (blue and yellow make green!), and science. It has to due with acidity vs. alkalinity, the baking soda, and other factors. I’m working on a fix for this and will update the recipe when I’ve got it figured out!
Easy Red, White, and Blue Popcorn
- 3.5 ounces Flavored Gelatin For red: strawberry, cherry, or raspberry For Blue: Jell-O brand berry blue or Starburst brand berry (no generic option here)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3 T corn syrup
- 3 T water
- 1/4 tsp salt, optional
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
- Combine the corn syrup & butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted.3 T corn syrup, 1/4 cup butter, melted
- Add the sugar, water, & gelatin powder and salt from ONE color/flavor of gelatin. Stir until combined and place back in microwave. Microwave on high for about 1 minute 15 seconds or until it comes to a rolling boil (doubles in size).3.5 ounces Flavored Gelatin, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, optional, 3 T water
- Add baking soda (mixture will bubble).1/4 tsp baking soda
- Immediately pour over popcorn in a large bowl and stir to coat.1/2 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
- Bake at 275 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir and bake another 10 minutes
- Let cool. Break apart and package to keep it crisp.
- Repeat steps with other color. For white, I like to pop in coconut oil and then coat with popcorn salt.
Hope you enjoyed making this easy, red, white and blue popcorn. Click below for more fun 4th of July ideas.