Popcorn is a movie night classic, but oh, the fat! It’s one thing to splurge at the theater, but at home, it can be healthier (and tastier) to opt for natural popcorn seasoned with herbs, spices and other sprinkle-ables. In fact, you can even have sweet popcorn treats with fewer calories than most movie popcorn.
As you might guess, you have to start with natural popcorn. You can, of course, use natural microwave popcorn and spritz it with a little cooking spray or low-fat butter spray before adding the toppings, but the stovetop method is actually a lot more efficient because it ensures the oil (which you need to hold the toppings on) and toppings are disbursed evenly throughout your popcorn. And despite what easy-popcorn manufacturers would have you believe, DIY popcorn seasoning is ridiculously easy to make.
Homemade natural popcorn recipe
If the toppings you use don’t stick as well as you want with this recipe, don’t add more oil, or it won’t combine properly. Stick with spritzing a little cooking oil or no-calorie butter spray.
Serves 2 – 3 (6-2/3 cups)
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 3 minutes | Total time: 8 minutes
- 4-1/2 teaspoons high-smoke-point oil (peanut, canola, coconut)
- 1-1/2 ounces (about 1/4 cup) popcorn kernels
- Toppings of your choice
- In a medium (minimum 3-quart) pot, place the oil and popcorn, and cover it securely with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use a knife to cut at least 10 slits into the foil.
- Put the pot on the stove, turn the burner to medium heat, and constantly shake the pot until the popcorn finishes popping (about 3 minutes or until there are 2- to 3-second intervals between pops). Be careful to not burn the popcorn.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and remove the foil (be careful to not burn yourself — use tongs or a utensil to help).
- Pour the popcorn into a large grocery bag or giant (plastic) bowl with a lid. There should be plenty of “air” in the bag for the popcorn to get tossed around. Add your seasonings, roll it up (or put the lid on), and shake like mad until it’s combined.
Now skip the butter, and use these DIY popcorn seasonings instead.
- Always do your mixes while the popcorn is piping hot! It will take the seasonings and add-ins better.
- If a recipe calls for kosher or sea salt, grinding it into a fine powder works best. Just make sure you measure it before you grind. Otherwise, use half the amount of fine or popcorn salt until you’re sure you need more.
- Try mixing all the toppings together and sprinkling them in a little at a time to get the best coating without additional oil.
- With stickier or non-dry toppings, it’s sometimes helpful to mix them in a little at a time to make sure you get the best coating.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2015.