How To Get Salt to Stick to Popcorn

The Kernel
Latest posts by The Kernel (see all)

Four Reasons Why Salt Keeps Falling Off Your Popcorn

There are probably countless reasons salt just refuses to stick to corn. It might be because you didn’t buy high-quality popcorn kernels, or possibly because your popcorn’s overall shelf life has expired. 

But here are the top few reasons why your popcorn doesn’t turn out amazingly salted.

Dry Popcorn

When you use an air popper for popping popcorn, you’re likely to get a dry texture. This device uses a hot air circulation system to pop popcorn without using any oil.

As a result of the lack of moisture, sticking salt with popcorn will be difficult. The salt thus settles at the bottom of the bowl, making the popcorn taste bland.

Using the Wrong Salt 

Powdered salt is one of the most important components in getting salt to attach to popcorn. That’s why popcorn salt should be used instead of ordinary salt. Ordinary salt isn’t fine enough to penetrate all the cracks and crevices of your popcorn!

Insufficient Amount Of Liquid

If you’re using powdered salt, make sure the kernels are covered in liquid so the salt can easily adhere to the popcorn. Without the use of adhesives, powders cannot stick to most surfaces on their own.

You can coat the popcorn with a liquid-like oil, butter, water, Tabasco, soy sauce, or anything similar. However, make sure you use the appropriate amount of liquid; else, your popcorn won’t get crunchy, and will be the soggy mess that ruined my movie night!

Using Wrong Oil

As oil plays such an important part in popcorn quality, choosing the wrong oil will yield poor results. In general, high-smoke-point oils, such as coconut or avocado oil, should be used for popcorn instead of other alternatives.

What You Need To Get Salt To Stick To The Popcorn

Whether you make it on a stove, in an air popper, or even in a microwave, the salt can refuse to stick. Still, as mentioned previously, popcorn is drier when air popped as compared to other methods of making it, ensuring the salt can’t really adhere. 

But whether it’s dryness or any other reason, we still want the salt to stick! That’s why we’ve got a few methods here that might solve all your popcorn problems.

Grind, Grind, Grind!

First of all – make sure your salt is powdered, because that makes it easier to adhere. You can either purchase it in powder form or grind it yourself.

Pop the popcorn first. Then drizzle in a little water, oil, melted butter, or other liquid, and season them while they’re still hot. You’ll be sure to have a yummy snack like this!

Salt AFTER making the popcorn

Popcorn that has been made in an air popper is dry, and the salt does not stick well. Add in a binding agent in the form of water, oil, butter, or something similar, and season while the popcorn is still hot.

This is also easily done if you remember to add seasoning only after you’re done popping the corn. Plus, this makes sure the taste is up to your standards!

Salt BEFORE making the popcorn

Seasoning popcorn before popping allows for a more evenly coated spread. You can season it in the following way: add 1 teaspoon of oil (or any other liquid) for every half cup of popcorn kernels, plus salt. 

Dampen the bowl

Do this before adding the popcorn to make it moist. Then, in a mixing bowl, combine the oil and salt. Place the hot popcorn inside the container. Because it’s less dry than usually after popping, the salt and oil will adhere better, providing you an amazing batch of popcorn.

Use Steam

In this method, boil some water and place popcorn above the steam, preferably in a colander. The water vapors will make the popcorn sticky, allowing you to salt it. However, this is tricky because of the care required with timing. You don’t want it soggy, trust me!

This method is one that requires the most finesse, so I tend to keep it as a last resort. But if you’re confident, feel free to make it your first option!

Get Salt To Stick To Popcorn In 3 Different Ways

  1. Stovetop Popcorn

Before Popping

Coat the popcorn kernels with oil before popping them and create a binder for your salt. To add a thin oil coating without getting your popcorn mushy, use only one tablespoon of oil per one-fourth cup of kernels.

Add salt while the popcorn is still warming up and shake the pan while heating to ensure equal popping and improved oil absorption.

After Popping

Don’t worry if you forget to add the salt before the popcorn has done popping; you still have the chance to end up with a tasty snack. Just add a binder (anything like oil or butter will do).

After using a spray mister to evenly coat the popcorn and season it with salt, you’ll be good to go!

  1. Air Popped Popcorn

Using Butter/Oil

As previously said, you should employ adhesives to help your popcorn “stick” to the seasoning. Due to their accessibility and mouth watering flavors, oil and butter are the most feasible alternatives for this purpose.

Without Using Fats, Butter, or Oil

Let’s say you want to eat a healthy bowl of popcorn that’s free of oil and fat; how do you get the salt to attach to the popcorn without using butter or oil?

The answer is easy! Make a salt binder by combining one or more of the following ingredients: Tabasco, honey, water, vinegar, saltwater, lemon juice, etc.

  1. Microwave Popcorn

Before Popping

To make popcorn, get a paper bag ready. You can’t simply ignore the oil or butter if you want your popcorn to be crispy and absorb the flavor evenly, so brush a small amount of oil onto one side of the bag to evenly coat it.

When placing the bag in the microwave, make sure the greased and buttered side is facing up (now you know why the store bought bags ask for it, too!). After around 2-3 minutes, you’ll be able to taste the full flavor of salted, buttered popcorn.

After Popping

If you don’t think the end result is as good as you need it to be, try adding more salt. Fill a bowl halfway with popcorn and spray with a binder. Season with salt and shake well. Repeat until you’ve achieved the desired popcorn flavor.

Is it possible to add salt to the popcorn before it is popped?

Yes! You can easily toss the unpopped kernels with oil and salt. You can pop them once they’ve been properly covered with oil and salt. The salt will be uniformly distributed among the kernels when the popcorn pops, coating the popcorn.

How can you season air-popped popcorn?

You can season air-popped popcorn with various savory, spicy, or sour seasonings. Some possible seasoning options are:

  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Hot sauce
  • Lime
  • Lemon juice
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili powder 
  • Cinnamon and sugar
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel sauce

How can you salt your popcorn without using oil?

You can use various alternatives as binding agents; 

  • Vinegar
  • Lime juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Salty water
  • Melted butter
  • Tabasco sauce. 

You can also combine some of these components to create a multi-flavored dish.


Depending on your taste, you can use any and all seasonings with popcorn. However, salt remains one of the most simple and popular seasonings, despite it being difficult to apply to the popcorn itself.

So, to make sure you can easily fix up a batch of salted popcorn for your movie night, here is the summary of the principles outlined in this article.

To begin, select the appropriate popcorn variety, then locate the appropriate oil or similar binding agent. Next, pop them! And, lastly, simply season the popcorn with salt once it has been popped (or beforehand, too), and enjoy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *