Snacks & Treats

Pastel Candied Popcorn

Mar 31, 2017

When we were kids, my sisters and I came across a recipe for something called popcorn pastels — candied popcorn in shades of pink, green and orange, coloured and flavoured with gelatin powder. We loved it. It became a go-to for anything remotely celebratory. It’s economical, fun to make and still technically popcorn.

Green popcorn!

I decided to resurrect the idea, and it was (not surprisingly) a hit with my son. It’s a fun one because of the bright colours, and kids can have the special task of making sure the popcorn is well mixed and coated with colour before baking (with adult supervision, of course).

And the addition of baking soda, plus time in the oven, makes it light and crunchy so it won’t stick to your teeth. Just make sure you use a bigger pot than you think you need — it will foam up when you add the vanilla and soda, like a candy-coloured science experiment.

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This colourful popcorn can be made in any hue your kids want, as long as they make a gelatin flavour to match. If you want to make more than one colour (it’s hard not to!), feel free to bake them on the same sheet, if they’ll fit. Try having your littles shape the popcorn into balls once it's cooled but is still still warm for another element of fun in this already whimsical treat.

Colours of gelatin.


  • 4 L popped popcorn
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 small box (about 3 tbsp) coloured, flavoured gelatin powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda


Put the popped popcorn in a large bowl, carefully picking out any unpopped kernels. We do this by popping into one bowl and shaking the bowl back and forth a bit, then lightly scooping out the popcorn by hand into another, leaving the unpopped kernels in the bottom. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line one or two rimmed baking sheets with foil.

Regular popped popcorn.

In a medium saucepan, with room for the mixture to at least double in size, bring the sugar, gelatin, water and butter to a boil. While it's boiling, cook for 4 minutes without stirring, swirling the bowl occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and soda. Pour over the popcorn and toss with tongs to coat completely.

Cooking up candy in a sauce pan.

Spread out onto the baking sheets and bake, stirring once or twice, for an hour. Set aside to cool. Makes about 16 cups.

Colourful batch of pastel-coloured popcorn.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.


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