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Kit’s “Popgrain” Balls for Horses

December 8, 2011

Ever wanted to get your horse one of those expensive *cough* 19.99 grain balls but could not justify the cost?  Have no fear, I have a recipe here for you that you can make that is just as good as the stuff you can buy online or in the store!

Here is a great recipe from my book that your horses and horse friends will LOVE!


I hand these out as gifts at Christmas – they are pretty easy to fix and I use them as fundraisers for horse events as well! These are similar to popcorn balls – only difference is you use grain instead of popcorn!

Kit’s “Popgrain” Balls (all my horses just love to get these for treats – we have a lot of fun with these)

1 cup sugar or Dry Molasses (Local feed mill will have dry mollasses which I prefer)
1/3 cup light karo syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (I make my own vanilla – I’ll post that recipe soon)
3 quarts sweet feed (You can use sweet feed, oats, I use a grain and a handful of kernal corn for crunch)

Cook first three ingredients to medium-crack stage (280 degrees F by thermometer)
Add salt and vanilla.
Stir into sweet feed.
Grease hands and shape mixture into balls.  ** You can also spread out on a greased cookie sheet and then break into pieces like a Peanut brittle or use a Cake or Candy Mold.  I used a bundt cake (mini) to make little wreaths for Christmas one year!**

Place on wax paper to set.
Wrap in colored cellophane as gifts.

**You can also add a tie to this made out of hay- braid together several LONG sections of hay to make a “rope” that can be added to the ball so you can hang in their stall.  I do not recommend using twine or rope.

Let me know how yours come out!


11 Responses to Kit’s “Popgrain” Balls for Horses

  1. June Schiller on March 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Thanks for your grain ball horse treat recipe. I do not have horses, but I do have 150lb. rodents called capybaras which are related to guinea pigs only much larger. I wanted to make a treat they could gnaw on and I was inspired by your recipe. I used guinea pig food pellets in place of grain or sweet feed. I added dried carrots, cranberries, peas, raisins and apples. I put it in mini meatloaf foil pans with a little olive oil spray to help them come out. I placed a piece of baling twine through the middle of the pan for hanging later. It may not be an issue with them, but I will keep an eye on what happens to the twine as they enjoy the treat.

    • Nancy on April 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Hi June, Thank you for your note! I’m so glad you found my recipe and made it your own! That is the best thing about recipe’s is tweaking them for your own! Let me know how they like them! Take Care!

  2. Shannon on April 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I was having trouble heating the sugar, water, and syrup all the way too 280 degrees. it would only go to about 200 degrees and wouldn’t budge. How exactly did you do it?

    • Nancy on May 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Hi Shannon,

      I’m not sure where you are located but I do know humidity and elevation do have a play in this recipe. It has to get to the hard crack stage. Did you have your themometer far enough into the liquid? You might want to use the “old Fashion” way of checking for hard crack. Heat the liquid up, have a small bowl of cold water on stand by and when you believe it has gotten as hot as you can get it, take a spoon full of the liquid and drizzle lines of the liquid into the cold water, it should have an immediate reaction and the lines should become hard and easily “cracked”. If this happens, your liquid has reached the stage it needs to be to ensure your oat balls become solid. Keep me posted on your outcome – don’t be afraid to tweak a bit, maybe a bit more corn syrup or check a popcorn ball recipe for your area to see if it has any info on elevation/humidity. I know if it is humid you don’t want to make these.

  3. brittney butler on April 8, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    So my daughter and I attempted to make these and the mixture did not cone out right. Seemed like way too much sweet feed. Did you in fact mean 3 QUARTS or 3 cups?

    • Nancy on May 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Brittney, it depends on the type of feed you are using. Mine has more oats than anything and it takes about 3 quarts but a denser feed you may not need quite as much. It was trial and error for me too.

  4. dida on July 16, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I made this recipe last night, and I did everything the recipe asked for however I only put in two cups of grain and was going to add more until it got to the consistency it called for. I did everything it said even up to the temp it asked for, further more I am HIGHLY disappointing with this recipe. It was let sit for over 10 hrs to harden and it is still falling apart. I am highly disappointing with this and will not be using this recipe again unless it is reamped and improved.

    • Nancy on October 9, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      I’m sorry you are having issues with the recipe. This recipe works for me, I do not that humidity, and type of oats will affect the consistency. Sounds like it is humidity that is causing the issue. If you have a popcorn recipe that works for you, I would use it and use oats instead of popcorn. I will not be revamping my recipe as it works for my area.

  5. Patti on December 14, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Hi! I too have been playing around with recipes (a LOT of trial and error 🙂 to make the Hanging Balls. I live in Canada and they are up to about $25.99 here. I have two big Canadian girls and they go CRAZY for them…I think they demolished the last one in about two and a half- three days(piggies! I wasn’t home or I would have taken it down after the first day if I had seen how much they had eaten!). When I made some of my first trials using silicone bundt pans, they thought they were in heaven because they had an “edge” they could get their teeth on so they could just chomp away! New plan…at the bulk food store I found a two-part round mold that I can put together and it makes a ball that is a little bigger than Uncle Jimmy’s. I sprayed 2 pieces of wooden dowel with Pam and put them in the middle of each side to make a hole for the rope. As for the ingredients, some of the things I used were crushed soybeans, cracked & crushed corn, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, ground flaxseed and steel cut oats (I tried to copy ingredients I found on the Uncle Jimmy’s balls). I have tried a couple of different ‘binding’ agents. Corn syrup, and then corn syrup, flour and water. To try and get the moisture level down and make them as hard as possible, I baked them on low for about 6-10 hours (if I remember correctly). I have never tried Karo syrup, Molasses or dry Molasses powder, because I read somewhere that corn syrup will get harder than Molasses?? Do you know if Karo syrup and molasses are ‘better’ sugars than high-fructose corn syrup? The round mold worked better but because the last batch had some flour and water in it (to try and cut down on the sugar), it dissolved easier, so they ate the one I made in a day and a half. Anyways, now that I have bags and bags of all kinds of ingredients crushed and ready to go….one of my girls was just diagnosed with Cushings, Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance. So, needless to say,I am now trying to figure out if there is any ingredient I can use that: a)will harden, b) will keep all the seed/grains etc. together, and c) is low/no sugar. I am doubtful that I will find anything… but I thought I would ask anyways! Perhaps you or any visitors to your website MIGHT have some ideas or suggestions. I am still going to try your recipe though! Maybe that will be their one and only Christmas treat and I’ll only let them have it for a little while each day. Winter gets soooo long and cold and boring here in Ontario that I want to give them SOMETHING to pass the time…Thanks for sharing your recipe and for any advice you can offer! Patti

    • Nancy on March 2, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Patti, Thank you so much for sharing! I apologize for taking so long to get this posted. I’ve had some computer issues that resulted in my old computer becoming
      a target on the gun range and I had to save some money to get the computer that I truly wanted.

      I’m not aware of any low/no sugar ingredients that would work. If I do run across anything I will post it up. Now, I have had success in “baking” my balls on lower heat for
      longer which will tend to cause the molasses to harden more which I see you have done. True Corn Syrup is all glucose and not a High fructose corn syrup that has been modified.
      I would look for 100% real corn syrup that does not have HFCS as an ingredient in the ingredient list and try that.

  6. Patti on December 16, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Hi! I sent a reply a few days ago, but it isn’t appearing here. Just wondering if you received it? Thanks! Patti

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