You can choose from a wide array of ingredients to season popcorn. Nearly any seasoning or spice you add to food will work just as well with popcorn. Season your popcorn to satisfy your taste buds or to match the theme of a special event. Consider other types of ingredients in addition to herbs and spices. A little creativity should be part of the creation process, according to The Popcorn Board.
Sweet and Sticky
Caramel corn is a sweet popcorn favorite, but add a twist to the old standard with extra ingredients. Coat the popcorn in caramel — made with brown sugar, corn syrup and butter heated to a boil in a saucepan — and mix cooked, crumbled bacon bits throughout the sticky popcorn for a sweet and smoky contrast.
If you prefer the sweet and conforming aroma of baking spices, sprinkle on pie seasonings — like allspice, nutmeg or cinnamon — while the caramel is still wet. If you’re really feeling festive, take advantage of the holding power of the caramel and add coconut flakes.
Whisk the spices, vanilla extract and sugar or sugar substitute in to the cooking oil or melted butter, spread the mix over the popcorn and toss well to spread the seasoning.
Spicy, Tangy or Hot
Season the popcorn with one or more ingredients to create a spicy flavor or three-alarm heat. If you’re in a hurry, use a taco seasoning packet, powdered ranch dressing or bottled seasoning combinations, such as Italian or Cajun. When you make your own seasoning mix, you control the ingredients, salt content and flavor.
Make spicy Italian seasoned popcorn, as described in a recipe from The Popcorn Board. Mix minced garlic, oregano and basil. Spray the popcorn with oil, sprinkle on the seasoning mix and toss to coat.
A popcorn seasoning recipe from Bake Your Day uses fresh cilantro, lime juice, butter and salt. Melt the butter in a pan, mix in the lime juice and cilantro, pour the mix over the popcorn and toss the popcorn to mix and coat.
For basic popcorn with lots of heat, spray the popcorn with oil and sprinkle on any of the hot spices, such as cayenne, chili powder, red pepper or paprika. Alter the flavor with a little sugar, Parmesan cheese, dry mustard or a dash of vinegar.
Salt-Free and Tasty
If you prefer to skip the salt, you can still get big flavor from your seasoning choices. A salt-free variation of the Cooking Melangery’s garlic-cayenne popcorn seasoning recipe adds 2 minced garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the popcorn and toss to coat.
Create a tangy salt-free seasoning mix by combining the zest from lime, orange or lemon with herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, cumin, sage or oregano. Spice up the mix with lemon pepper or chili powder. Mix the zest with oil or melted butter, add the seasoning and pour the mix over the popcorn. Toss and stir to coat the popcorn.
Gelatin for Color and Flavor
Use powdered gelatin to add color and flavor to popcorn. Make red, white and blue popcorn for a patriotic holiday or multicolored pastel popcorn for a child’s party. This recipe, inspired by Kraft, requires a few minutes in the oven to create a colorful, flavorful glazed popcorn.
Melt 1/2 cup of butter and 3 tablespoons corn syrup together in a saucepan, stir in one 3-ounce package of flavored gelatin and ¼ cup of sugar, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
After coating the popcorn in the gelatin mixture, spread the popcorn on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.
Adjust the ingredients, such as the butter or sugar, to suit your tastes or add extra ingredients, like nuts or raisins.
The tastiest popcorn seasoning won’t mean much if it affects the quality of the snack or if it all falls to the bottom of the bowl.
Season popcorn after the kernels have popped. Salt applied to popcorn kernels make the popcorn tough, according to The Popcorn Board.
Use nonstick cooking oil spray or use a kitchen spritzer or similar tool to spray the popcorn with a very light coating of oil before adding the seasoning.
Pour the cooked popcorn in to a bowl or bag, sprinkle seasoning over the popcorn and toss or shake spread the mix throughout.
References and ResourcesHuffington Post: Flavored Popcorn Recipes -- Sweet, Spicy and Savory
Cookies and Cups: Salted Caramel Popcorn
the kitchn: How Do I Get Seasoning to Stick to Air-Popped Popcorn