All you need is microwave popcorn, chocolate chips, mini m&ms, and a microwave to make the perfect crunchy, salty, sweet snack perfect for picnics, BBQs, and parties.
This is one of the easiest snacks to make, and it's one of those special treats that both kids and adults love.
About This Recipe
This chocolate m&m popcorn recipe comes straight from my grandparents' backyard. They used to host a massive July 4th BBQ in their back yard every year. The guests were neighbors, friends and colleagues, as well as any relatives in the area.
It was a huge, all-day party with lots of food, sparklers, sprinklers and inflatable pools set up for the kids, and did I mention all the food?
The most infamous dish from these parties arrived in beautifully arranged, festive tissue-paper lined wicker baskets, filled with heaps of bright yellow-white popcorn held together with a drizzle of chocolate studded all over with mini-M&Ms.
As infamous as the chocolate-popcorn-M&M baskets were, they almost never made it out of the kitchen and on to the serving table. Everyone hanging out in the kitchen and prepping food would eat it, breaking off pieces to snack on while they worked.
"Oh, it's too hot outside — it'll melt," or "Let's put it out once the sun goes down," they'd say to each other. By the time the sun went down and it was cool enough to keep the chocolate from melting, there was nothing left to share.
Next time you need to bring a last-minute dish to a picnic or BBQ, grab a bag of microwave popcorn, some chocolate chips, and M&Ms and you're set.
Chocolate M&M popcorn is a low-effort, high-reward treat that's pretty much guaranteed to make you one of the most popular guests at any party.
You really only need three ingredients to make chocolate m&m popcorn. You can probably guess what they are, too. They're right in the name! See recipe card (at the end) for quantities!
- Popcorn: I recommend using movie theater butter popcorn for this recipe. I'm usually more of a lightly-salted popcorn kind of gal, but butter flavor really is the way to go for this recipe. Without the intensely buttery, salty flavor, your popcorn will taste flat and almost stale in contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. No one wants that.
- Chocolate Chips: Of course you can use any kind of chocolate you want here, but I find semi-sweet pairs best with buttery popcorn. Dark chocolate ends up being too bitter, and milk or white chocolate melts too easily to serve in the summer. Semi-sweet is your friend.
- Mini M&Ms: You can usually find large bags of these in the baking or candy aisles at the grocery store. Around the Fourth of July you can often find red, white, and blue variations, perfect for July Fourth picnics!
How to make chocolate M&M popcorn
Pop a bag of popcorn: Spread the popcorn out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. To make sure the chocolate can stick the pieces of popcorn together, you want them in a semi-single layer, close together but not piled high on top of each other.
You may need more than one sheet tray, or to crowd the popcorn on one side of the pan. It depends on how big your sheet pan is and how much popcorn you've made.
Remove the unpopped kernels: Take a minute or two to quickly go through and remove as many un-popped kernels as you can. No one wants to eat them.
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe cup or bowl: Chocolate chips have added stabilizers in them so they hold their shape while they bake, which can make it hard to tell when they've actually melted.
To safely microwave chocolate chips, heat them on high in 10-15 second intervals, stirring in between. When they're ready, they won't look melted, but when you stir them they'll suddenly turn into liquid chocolate.
If you're feeling fancy, you can melt the chocolate chips in double-boiler. Bring about an inch of water to a boil, then turn off the heat and place the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over the mouth of the pot. Make sure the bottom isn't touching the water. Stir until melted.
(But why would you make more dishes if you didn't need to? The microwave is fine.)
Use a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn & sprinkle with M&Ms. The tines of the fork will help you get some variety in your chocolate drizzle.
Drop large globs of chocolate as well as fine, thin strings of chocolate suspended between the popcorn pieces. You can use a spoon, knife, or spatula, but I've found a fork gives you the most control over your drizzle.
Let the chocolate set for a few minutes before sprinkling the mini M&Ms. If the chocolate is too melty, the weight of the M&Ms might make them slide off. You want them to stay in place when you drop them on.
Transfer to freezer for at least 20 minutes to harden the chocolate. It really is crucial that the chocolate has hardened before you serve this. It'll be a mess otherwise.
If it's not solid after 20 minutes, give it another 10 and check again. (Also check that your freezer is working because 20 minutes really should do the trick.)
Once the chocolate has hardened, gently break the popcorn pieces apart in to bite-sized chunks. Try not to knock the M&Ms off in the process.
Repeat on the other side: Flip the hardened chocolate popcorn chunks over and repeat the chocolate drizzling & M&M sprinkling on the other side. Freeze for another 20 minutes, then break apart again.
Variations on Chocolate M&M Popcorn
Other meltable drizzles (to be used in addition to, or instead of, the chocolate drizzle):
- Peanut butter chips
- White chocolate chips (melt your chips in batches and stir a few drops of candy food coloring into each of them for more colorful options)
- Butterscotch chips
- Add 2 teaspoon citrus zest into the melted chocolate
- Add 1 teaspoon citrus or nut extracts (like almond extract) into the melted chocolate
Other sprinkle-able sprinkles:
- Chopped regular M&Ms or other M&M varieties
- Chopped mini pretzels
- Chopped toffee pieces - Bonus points for using homemade toffee chips!
- Crushed Reese's Pieces - So good with a combo of chocolate and peanut butter chip drizzle!
- Chopped peanuts, pecans, almonds, or walnuts
- Rainbow sprinkles - You can get really fun sprinkle sets at Fancy Sprinkles and Sprinkle Pop!
- Pop-rocks or nerds
- Dried fruit - Cranberries, raisins, strawberries, etc.
- Coconut shavings
Honestly, sky's the limit here! You could even use kettle corn instead of butter popcorn if you want. I'd recommend against the cheese-flavored popcorns though.
Popcorn goes stale very quickly. This is best made no more than 12 hours prior to serving.
If you need to store it for longer, you don't want it exposed to the freezer air. Transfer it into an airtight freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to two weeks. It won't be as good as if you made it fresh, but it'll still be pretty dang good!
Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
DO NOT line your sheet pan with aluminum foil. The foil will stick to the chocolate. A bare, un-greased cookie sheet or silicone mat works best. Hot water will melt any remaining hardened chocolate right of the sheet pan.
When you flip the chocolate m&m popcorn pieces over to drizzle the back, do your best to pick up any loose mini m&ms that didn't stick to the top side of the popcorn. You can use them to sprinkle on the back!
Chocolate Mini M&M Popcorn
- 1 bag movie theater butter popcorn (approx 4-5 cups popped popcorn)
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (1½-2 cups)
- 1 cup mini m&ms
- Pop microwave popcorn according to package directions. Spread popcorn in a single layer over a 13″x18″ sheet tray. Remove any un-popped kernels.
- Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 10-15 second bursts, stirring in between. When the chips completely melt down when you stir, continue stirring until there are no lumps left.
- Use a fork to drizzle and dollop the melted chocolate over the popcorn, making sure to get the kernels along the edges and in the corners. Let chocolate set for a few minutes.
- Sprinkle mini-M&Ms across the chocolate drizzle so that they stick.
- Transfer sheet tray into freezer or refrigerator for 20 minutes until chocolate has hardened, then break the popcorn into bite-sized pieces. Flip them over on the sheet pan.
- Repeat drizzling more chocolate and M&Ms over the back of the popcorn. Chill for 20 minutes, then break into pieces to serve.
- Store somewhere cool and dry until ready to serve, especially if serving outdoors or somewhere warm! The chocolate will melt.