Movie Night Popcorn and Candy Cookies
Movie Night Cookies are fun and flavorful cookies filled with buttery popcorn and theater candy. Great snack for movie night with a sweet and salty combo featuring something for everyone! Recipe makes 3 dozen (2.75 in) cookies.
Looking for a fun cookie recipe for your next family game night, movie night, or after school adventures? These Movie Night Cookies with candy and popcorn are definitely what you want!
Add any type of movie candy you like to this cookie dough, plus lots of buttery movie theater popcorn, and you’ll have a delicious cookie recipe everyone will love.
For this batch of cookies, we used 6 ounces of M&Ms, about 6 ounces of dark chocolate Raisinets, and about 3.75 ounces of Twizzlers pull ‘n’ peel cherry (a theater peg bag), chopped into small discs. If you’ve never added Twizzlers pull ‘n’ peel to a cookie before, trust me, it’s a game changer!
This delicious cookie recipe uses a mixture of popcorn and candy for a variety of textures and flavors.
All purpose flour
baking soda – using only baking soda keeps the cookies from being cakey
salt – this recipe uses a little less salt than usual because the popcorn adds saltiness
brown sugar and cane sugar – we’ll use more brown sugar than cane sugar so the cookies will be chewier
50/50 butter and shortening – this ratio of butter and shortening bakes cookies that are flavorful but also structurally strong. Butter adds flavor, but shortening keeps the cookies softer for longer and helps keep the cookies from spreading as much. Butter should be softened slightly but not so much that it melts on contact. I usually take butter from the fridge just 30 to 40 minutes before baking.
large eggs – eggs add structure and stability to the cookie dough
vanilla – this recipe uses a little less vanilla than usual, but the candies add plenty of sweetness
popped movie theater popcorn – popcorn adds flavor, some texture, and helps form the cookie dough base
movie theater candy – use your faves to make this a cookie for your family! Just about any small candies will work well. Aim for 2 cups volume of mix-ins
Process to make the cookie dough:
Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt). Set aside.
Combine all the candies in a bowl. (Mixing them together before adding to the dough helps in 2 ways: it ensures the candies are equally distributed between cookies and it keeps us from overworking the dough trying to distribute the candy evenly.)
Cream together butter, shortening, and sugars until lightened and fluffy.
Only cream until blended to avoid overheating the butter
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Add in the popcorn and stir a couple times just to begin working it into the dough
Using whole popcorn pieces means some will break down when mixed in. Some of the popcorn will ‘melt’ into the dough once it’s baked, but this adds flavor and a little nuttiness to the cookie. Some of the popcorn will remain whole and add texture to the cookies.
Fold in the candy mixture until incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough
Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes (up to a day before baking)
Refrigerating cookie dough helps in a few ways: sugar is allowed to settle and develop a little more sweetness/ add moisture into the dough, the fats in the dough (butter and shortening) firm back up so the cookies will spread less, and the overall structure of the cookie is improved.
Cookies could be baked straight after mixing but they will spread and the candies will be unevenly distributed in the dough (mostly stay in the middle, while the dough will spread out into a thinner cookie)
Process to bake the cookie dough:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scoop out (we use a #40 scoop which holds 1.5 Tablespoons of dough)
Place at least 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. There’s enough butter and shortening in the cookies to keep them from sticking and we don’t want to overbrown the bottoms of the cookies.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Let cool a few minutes on the sheet, then remove to a cooling rack
Can I freeze unbaked cookie dough?
Yes! We usually bake 1 dozen of these right away and freeze the rest for later.
Freeze unbaked cookie dough by scooping it onto a cookie sheet and place about 1 inch apart. Freeze for 2 hours, then place in a freezer safe ziptop bag. Dough should stay separated since it’s been par-frozen.
Label and use within 3 months of freezing.
To bake cookie dough from frozen:
Bake as directed in the recipe, but add 1 to 2 minutes of bake time to the total.
Tips for better cookies:
- bake only 8 or 9 cookies per cookie sheet. This gives plenty of space and helps them bake evenly.
- make sure cookie sheet are cool and clean between batches
- don’t skimp on the mix-ins! Our first test batches had too few candies and we wanted each bite to be full of flavor.
Movie Night Popcorn and Candy CookiesEmma J. Watling
- 2½ cups all purpose flour = 300 g
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1¼ cups brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened = 1 stick (113 g)
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening = 95 g
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups movie theater butter popcorn, popped
- 3/4 cup chocolate covered candies = 132 g
- 3/4 cup milk or dark chocolate covered raisins = 149 g
- 1/2 cup chopped soft red licorice = 113 g
- 1 to 2 cups popcorn for topping optional
Make the cookie dough:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, stir together the candies and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add both sugars, butter, and shortening. Cream on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add in eggs, 1 at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
- On low speed, add flour mixture to the creamed mixture until just combined.
- Using a spatula and working gently by hand, add in the 3 cups popcorn and mix 3 to 4 times to begin incorporating.
- Fold the candies in until mixed, being careful not to overwork the dough. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes (up to 1 day).
Bake the cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Scoop dough into 1.5 Tbsp (#40) balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. We usually bake 8 per half-sized cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and tops are nearly set.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet 2 to 3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. If using extra popcorn for topping, add a few pieces to each cookie when first taking them out of the oven (press down gently to get them to stick).
- Between batches: keep dough refrigerated while one set of cookies bake, and use cool cookie sheets for each batch.
Storage and Freezing:
- Store baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or freeze dough: scoop cookie dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Par-freeze for 1 to 2 hours then remove to a freezer safe bag and store up to 3 months. Bake as directed but add 1 to 2 minutes bake time.
- substitute your family’s favorite movie candies: Reese’s pieces, other flavors of M&Ms, Sno-Caps, Milk Duds, Dots, jelly beans, gummy bears, etc.
- topping with extra popcorn adds some visual interest but is mostly for looks– popcorn topped cookies can be enjoyed fresh but popcorn on the outside of the cookie will soften when stored (so we usually only top some of them to eat right away)
- For best results: ensure baking soda is fresh, cookie sheets are wiped and cooled between batches (to keep them free of grease), and refrigerate the dough. This helps keep the cookies from spreading.
These have not been tested with gluten-free flour, vegan butter or egg replacements.