Everyone loves popcorn. It’s cheap, it’s easy to make, and it’s delicious. It’s the go-to savory snack at movie theaters, parties and office break rooms. And nothing beats the flavor of hot, freshly made popcorn at home.
Well, almost nothing.
In honor of National Popcorn Day (January 19), we’ve gathered a selection of seasoning recipes from professional chefs and culinary bloggers that take homemade popcorn to the next level. Once you top your kernels with these quirky spice blends, you’ll never settle for plain popcorn ever again.
Swedish-born culinary expert Linnea Johansson has been hired to plan parties for celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Sarah Jessica Parker and Julianne Moore — and with recipes like her Parmesan-Truffle Popcorn, it’s not difficult to see why. This savory seasoning blends earthy, buttery and cheesy flavors for the perfect party treat.
- 1 large bowl of freshly popped popcorn
- 1/2 stick of salted butter
- 2 tablespoons truffle oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in truffle oil. Drizzle mixture over popcorn, then add the Parmesan cheese and toss to coat. “Try other flavor mixes, such as smoked paprika powder instead of truffle oil, to create a smoky and spicy popcorn snack for your guests,” suggests Johansson.
SURPRISINGLY GOOD POPCORN SEASONING
Adrienne Urban at WholeNewMom.com loves to experiment with popcorn toppings, and her Surprisingly Good Popcorn Seasoning is very aptly named. Eschewing butters and oils in favor of well-balanced spices, Adrienne delivers guilt-free popcorn without sacrificing an ounce of flavor. “Wherever we take this popcorn (and we take it EVERYWHERE), people ask us for the recipe,” she writes.
- 4 tablespoons celery salt
- 4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
- 6 teaspoons garlic powder
- 6 teaspoons salt
- 6 teaspoons ground savory (you can try subbing thyme, but it will be a tad stronger)
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Transfer to a glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Stir or shake well before sprinkling atop freshly popped popcorn.
ITALIAN BREADSTICK POPCORN
“You won't be disappointed,” says Kristen Rosenau of her Italian Breadstick Popcorn seasoning. As a serious foodie and pastry chef, Rosenau owns and operates PastryAffair.com, where she shares her passion for all things edible. And although she mostly sticks to sweets, Rosenau makes an exception for her Italian Breadstick seasoning, which manages to pack the herby, garlicky kick of restaurant breadsticks without the excess calories or butter.
- 8 cups popped popcorn, hot and fresh
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon popcorn salt (or fine grain salt)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix together the basil, parsley, garlic salt and popcorn salt in a small bowl. Transfer your freshly popped popcorn to a larger container with a lid, then add the spice mixture and drizzle the olive oil on top. Close the lid and shake until the popcorn is evenly coated with spices. “Doing this while the popcorn is hot will allow the spices to stick better to the popcorn, resulting in a better flavor,” suggests the chef.
Brooke McLay of Cheeky Kitchen has found a way to enjoy the sugary, cinnamon-dusted taste of carnival churros all year long. “Sometime around mid-January, I start to get a hankering for summertime,” writes McLay, which is why she developed this creative Churro Popcorn recipe to satisfy her sweet tooth.
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup cinnamon chips, melted (available online or in the chocolate chip section of most major grocery stores)
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Drizzle the melted cinnamon chips over the popcorn and toss to coat evenly. In a separate bowl, mix the powdered sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the popcorn, then toss to coat again. Cool completely before serving.
ORANGE CREAMSICLE POPCORN
“Oranges and cream is such a dreamy combination, isn't it?” asks Jaclyn of the food-centric blog Cooking Classy. As it turns out, it’s just as dreamy in her Orange Creamsicle Popcorn recipe, of which Jaclyn provides both “wet” and “dry” versions. But be warned: This Orange Creamsicle Popcorn recipe might take a bit of extra effort to make, but it’s definitely worth the work.
- 9 cups freshly popped popcorn (the yield of about 1/4 cup of kernels)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 can sweetened condensed milk (for “wet” version only)
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3/4 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 cup miniature marshmallows
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white chocolate chips (for “dry” version only)
- 1/4 teaspoon orange extract
For the “wet” version, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, then stir in sweetened condensed milk, cream, sugar, salt and orange zest. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows until melted, then mix in the orange extract. Pour warm mixture evenly over popped popcorn and toss with a spatula to coat. Allow to rest and set for 20 minutes, then enjoy. Jaclyn has also experimented with a “dry” version of the recipe, which omits the cream altogether and instead incorporates white chocolate chips, which are melted into the warm mixture at the same time as the marshmallows.