How To Make Spicy Popcorn

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

When we think of spicy popcorn, our minds drift to popcorn that has been lightly or moderately topped with spices. And while this is the general rule behind how spicy popcorn is made, it isn’t as simple as that.

This may be getting too philosophical, but the way in which we enjoy it, is equal to, or in fact more significant than the actual ingredients used to make it. 

It’s the same principle as enjoying chocolate popcorn, the flavoring is what made you enjoy it, but you yourself associated that taste with a certain fondness and that is why you enjoyed it. A flavor is a flavor, you make the flavor mean something else.

By eating a specific food that you like, you’re brought back to the first time you tried it, and this is a simple rendition of why you enjoy it today. 

Our taste buds associate flavorings with memories and the moment these memories are triggered, we are left overjoyed. The human mind is very good at remembering things through physical forms, maybe there is more to flavor and spices than we think there is.

There was a time when spices were used for the very first time, and since then they have been carried through our associations since day one, believe it or not, the way in which you react to spice has more to do with your ancestry and history than to do with your personal tastes developed through childhood. 

What is it about spicy popcorn that we like? Yes, the spices are half the reason, but where does the other half come from? 

And more importantly, how do we make spicy popcorn altogether? 

We’re going to answer these questions below, so you can get your hands on your favorite spicy popcorn yourself from home. 

How is Popcorn Made?

It’s actually a rather simple process when it comes down to it. There’s a reason it is considered by far the healthiest form of snack available, its contents are simple.

Each piece of popcorn is made from a single kernel. Each kernel is made up of a strong rock-hard hull, which contains the seed’s hard starchy shell, each has around 14 to 20% moisture inside.

This is where physics comes into play. When the kernels are heated, each kernel’s moisture turns to steam, as you’d expect. Pressure from this steam builds up until the hull erupts, allowing the kernel to forcefully expand. This increases up to 20 to 50 times its natural form, creating your favorite popcorn pieces. 

The reason you find some kernels still intact or some half intact, as when you popped them in the microwave or on the stove, is because a few of the kernels fail to go through this process. If a kernels hull doesn’t form the pressure for long enough, it does the opposite and deflates, serving as an unsuccessful kernel.

What is Spicy Popcorn?

To put it simply, spicy popcorn is popcorn that has been modified with spices and other flavorings to either resemble spicy popcorn or be spicy popcorn. It is up to you whether you’d rather have something that is the real thing or is similar to it.

Some people would prefer something that is simulated to be spicy because they do not like the aftertaste or effect that spicy food has. Others cannot accept anything that is not the real thing. The more spice, the better!

Spicy popcorn is popcorn that has been enhanced with spices and powders containing spicy flavorings, such as cumin, chili, and pepper. You can either flavor your popcorn before the popping stage or after. Usually, popcorn makers will pour the spice over the popcorn after it has been popped to maintain the flavors.

Spice or No Spice? That is The Question?

Should spice belong on popcorn morally? Well, popcorn has been made to be sweet, and savory for a long time. We believe the first renditions of popcorn recipes were salted, therefore savory.

But they developed into being a sweet snack some time afterward, and we have this to thank for our favorite sweet and salted snacks today!

How Exactly Do You Make Popcorn Spicy?

Well, if you want it put simply, you need to pour the spices over your freshly made popcorn with some butter, and you’re done!

But, spicy popcorn is so much more than that, and we’ve got the methods and instructions right here for you to make it better than ever! There is actually a variety of different spicy popcorn out there that are not just the stereotypical chili spices.

Subtle spicy popcorn can be enjoyed through flavorings like chili chocolate popcorn, caramel, pepper, and chili popcorn, Thai sweet chili popcorn, black onion popcorn, and madras curry. If something has a kick to it, it’s worth putting into popcorn!

In terms of ingredients, you’ll want ½ teaspoons, ¼ teaspoons, and whole teaspoons of most flavorings depending on how much you like your spice! ½ teaspoons may be used for things like paprika, and garlic powder. Whereas, you may want ¾ teaspoon servings for cumin and salt.

You can also substitute things easily, so the butter can be substituted out for margarine or whipped butter plus salt.

Cumin can be substituted out for chili powder. Garlic powder can be substituted out for garlic juice, garlic paste, and garlic salt. And chili powder can be substituted for ground red pepper or a dash of bottled hot pepper sauce plus oregano and cumin. 

You’ll want to place your popcorn in a bowl when it’s fully popped from the microwave or stove, and add your spice bowl to it. Then you’re done!

Chili Chocolate Popcorn

Much chocolate-flavored popcorn works well with the addition of chili flavorings. Belgium chocolate is often wonderful with chili, and we have one particular brand that seems to just do it right!

Joe & Seph’s seem to be experimental when it comes to their popcorn, and we’ll link their website below for you to discover all the spicy popcorn kinds there are to enjoy!

Cheddar Cheese & Chili

Cheese and chili is a combination that has paired together well for a long time, the flavorings in cheese and other dairy products neutralize spice mildly, and especially for the people out there who don’t enjoy spice, this may be a way to find enjoyment out of it. They’re your taste buds, after all.

Thai Sweet Chili Popcorn

Another delightful type of popcorn for you to try, the spices are more subtle and have those sweet flavorings that we all love to mellow down the flavor. Sweet and savory always go well together, and this is why Thai sweet chili is a great addition to popcorn. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in spicy popcorn? 

Typically, spicy popcorn contains cumin, paprika, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and other spices. It’s actually up to you though how much spice you want in your popcorn, if you don’t like one of these spices, feel free to remove it and substitute something else in. 

How do you make popcorn with Tabasco sauce?

This is fairly simple, you want to make your popcorn up the same way you usually would, and set it aside for later. Combine your butter and Tabasco sauce in a pan to melt together, keeping an eye on the temperature at all times. Mix in salt, pepper, paprika, and any other spices you like, and pour this over your popcorn!

Final Thoughts

Overall, spiced popcorn is fantastic no matter what level of spice you add to it is. It’s all dependent on if you’re a spicy lover or not. Spices aren’t for everyone, and we don’t expect them to be, however, enjoying them through popcorn can be a way to introduce theme into your life in a way that doesn’t have you reaching for a glass of ice-cold milk to relieve the pain.

We hope we’ve managed to answer your question in this article, as spicy popcorn is as simple to make as any other popcorn out there, it’s all in how you combine your spices together!

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