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Last Updated on March 23, 2023
Popcorn is one of life’s wholesome delights. It conjures up nights at the movies sipping cherry cola, and lazy after-school snack sessions, fingers digging deep into a buttery bowl.
Yet there’s a whole lot more to this low fat, high fiber treat than salt, sugar, or caramel. In fact, popcorn is a blank canvas for all sorts of culinary experimentations and specialty seasonings. In other words, there’s no reason to ever get bored of this treat.
With this in mind, here are 8 ways to make your popcorn more thrilling:
- Turn it into a cheese feast
As Parmesan comes in either powdered or easily gratable form, it’s an obvious choice for popcorn. This way, you can give your treat a cheese boost without, say, using melting cheddar and turning everything into a lumpy, coagulated gloop. Parmesan also has an amazingly complex flavor profile to savor — for instance, it’s simultaneously rich, tangy, bitter, nutty, and salty. What’s more, the gritty yet melt-in-the-mouth texture will bring added texture to your snack.
- Embrace some Scottish spirit with whisky & caramel popcorn
Finally, no list of popcorn toppings would be complete without a boozy option. The great thing about this whisky & caramel popcorn recipe from The Whisky Club is that you can experiment with your Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, or bourbon, depending on your preference. But in general, the “water of life” is an ingredient that — alongside a welcome bite of spirit — can bring elements of oak, vanilla, nutmeg, spice, and smokiness to food. Yet this recipe’s inclusion of caramel turns the whole thing into a delightful confection that you can enjoy with a dram.
Feeling inspired to try out different popcorn recipes? Don’t be surprised if you have so many bright ideas that you end up chomping down this snack every day of the week. And if you want to create the perfect popcorn at home, then Popsmith’s Stovetop Popper is the nifty kitchen gadget you’ve been missing.
- Enjoy sweet nostalgia with chocolate & mint
There’s something about this classic pairing that can take you right back to childhood. From gooey mint-choc-chip ice cream sundaes, to the sugar rush of festive peppermint bark, it’s an innocent, feel-good combination. So isn’t it time to infuse your popcorn with the grandest romance in candy flavors? Find out with this whimsical chocolate & mint popcorn recipe from Two Sisters. Essentially, you can whip up a rich, sugary snack from mint marshmallows, peppermint extract, and chocolate chunks.
- Go gourmet with truffle oil
If you want to make your popcorn kind of fancy — say, as a pairing to a freshly popped bottle of Champagne — then truffle oil is the obvious choice. Cheaper than actual truffles (which are sold for a premium due to being snuffled out by specialist pigs in Provence), you can simply drizzle it into your bowl. Next, glug on your fizz while you give that pungent, earthy, slightly sweet oil time to seep into all the popcorn crevices. Classy snack heaven, here you come.
- Add an umami blast with soy sauce
We can be so focused on the classic popcorn flavor elements of sweet and salty that it’s easy to overlook the other options. Umami, the fifth flavor group, describes a sort of savory, rounded, complex deliciousness than you’ll find in MSG, or foods such as meats, aged cheese, seaweed, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It’s a big feature of Japanese and East Asian cuisine, and luckily, you can add it to your popcorn with just a simple spattering of soy sauce, maybe even combined with garlic, ginger, and chili. Other umami-rich options include Marmite, Worcestershire, ketchup, molasses, or miso paste.
- Sprinkle in a little British charm with salt & vinegar
This classic combo is commonly found shaken over classic fish & chips in the UK, as well as grocery store potato chips. While it’s an incredibly simple flavor pairing, there’s just something about the intense sourness of the vinegar that sings with the humble salt. Texturally, it works well too, as the vinegar reduces the salt’s grittiness, creating a slightly slushy — but ideally, not mushy — texture. With this in mind, be careful not to overdo the vinegar, as you don’t want soggy popcorn or sour lemon expressions.
- Wake up your popcorn with wasabi
Wasabi is the Green Lantern of ingredients and makes absolutely no apology for itself. So if you’re in the mood for injecting a nasal-flaring element to your popcorn, a strong blast of burn is the way to go. Opt for wasabi sauce, add it in moderation, and transform your snack into something a little more risky than usual. Don’t have wasabi to hand? Try some horseradish or even mustard. Or want to tone down the wildness a little? Whip up your own horseradish butter (such as this recipe from Sprinkles & Sprouts) to enjoy a creamier, velvetier version of this treat.
- Get your caffeine fix with coffee popcorn
If you like coffee chocolate, coffee ice cream, and coffee cake, then isn’t it time to add a little caffeinated “je ne sais quoi” to your popped snacks too? But how do you capture that rich cafe au lait flavor? Never fear, help is at hand with this coffee crunch popcorn recipe from Food, which basically involves melting instant coffee crystals, sugar, butter, and corn syrup together in a pan. Plus you could also experiment with coffee essence or chicory syrup.