Popcorn is one of the easiest go-to snacks in the book. But recent controversy surrounding the best way to make this movie-going snack shouldn’t scare you off. Some research shows that microwave popcorn emits high amounts of ultrafine particles, which may cause health problems. The good news: You can skip those preservative-packed packets, and pop your own at home. Check out these awesome machines for air popping or go retro and prep your batch over the stovetop. Once you’ve mastered this method, scroll down for our favorite popcorn seasonings and mix-ins to spice up your kernels, stat.
How to Make Stovetop Popcorn
To get popping on the stovetop, use a thick-bottomed pot that can hold around three quarts. Pick the oil of your preference — coconut oil, olive oil, peanut oil and canola oil are some heart-healthy and flavorful ones — and add about three tablespoons to the bottom of the pan. Turn the stove to medium-high heat, and add three to four kernels to test the temperature. Once those kernels pop, fill your pan with roughly 1/3 cup of kernels and cover. You’ll want to shake the covered pan on the stovetop to make sure all kernels are reaching the heat at the bottom of the pan. Eventually popping will slow, and then you can repeat with every new batch of kernels. As for seasoning, if au natural isn’t exciting enough for you, try these simple popcorn flavor combinations to take things up a notch.
12 Flavorful Popcorn Recipes
1. Matcha and White Chocolate
Beyond lattes and cakes, matcha can find its way to your popcorn snack, too. For a boost of antioxidants, add a dash of matcha green tea powder to warm popcorn and drizzle some melted white chocolate. You can melt the chocolate in a saucepan, or toss in white chocolate chips for added texture or a touch of sweetness. Add a dash of sea salt to balance out the flavors.
2. Chili and Lime
If you’ve got a hankering for Southwestern flavor, opt for this sizzling duo of ingredients. Chili powder brings the heat, while lime juice adds a zesty flair. Use coconut oil instead of the olive or peanut oil to avoid overpowering the strong flavors. Photo and recipe: Dana Sandonato / Killing Thyme
3. Rosemary and Parmesan
You’ll love this flavor combo if white cheddar popcorn is your jam. This healthy alternative uses two tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Use a tablespoon of freshly minced rosemary to add satisfying, rich flavor to warm popcorn. Pro tip: Add a dash of garlic salt instead of regular salt for extra flavor.
4. Coconut and Curry
Curry powder and coconut flakes may not be your go-to combination, but the result is magical. Check out this recipe, which calls for ginger powder and recommends popping your kernels in coconut oil for an extra flavorful batch. Photo and recipe: Erin / Naturally Ella
RELATED: Coconut Curry Popcorn Balls
6. Mexican Spices and Lime
Spicy meets zesty when you combine these easy ingredients. If you’re unsure where to start, check out this flavor-packed recipe for a perfect list of Mexican spices, including cumin, chili powder and cayenne. Photo and recipe: Alaina / Belle Vie
7. Sriracha and Butter
Don’t tell us you haven’t thought of doing this before! Drizzle some sriracha on top of warm popcorn — how much and how spicy is up to you!
8. Maple and Bacon
Adding bacon to anything makes it infinitely better, right? And when you include a drizzle of maple syrup, you’ve got a decadent snack. Photo and recipe: Michelle / Brown-Eyed Baker
9. Salt and Vinegar
Some research shows that popcorn can be more satisfying than other salty snacks like chips — but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite flavors. We re-create the classic salt-and-vinegar chips by adding two to three teaspoons of white balsamic vinegar to a bit of melted butter and salt and drizzle it over warm popcorn.
RELATED: Amaranth “Popcorn” Recipe
10. Lemon and Thyme
You can easily enjoy this snack with a cocktail, thanks to its subtle, refreshing flavor. Don’t be afraid to use both the juice and zest from the lemon, and opt for chopped fresh thyme (instead of dried) for a robust taste.
11. Caramel and Apple
Combine chopped crunchy apple chips with a drizzling of sweet caramel for the perfect fall version of the snack. Make your own apple crisps or buy a low-sugar variety in store.
12. Vanilla and Almond
Toss popcorn with vanilla extract and add in whole almonds for extra crunch. For a more sophisticated vanilla-almond dose, check out this recipe which blends vanilla extract, almonds and medjool dates to make the perfect popcorn coating. Photo and recipe: Annemarie Rossi / Real Food Real Deals