Confession time: I might be a popcorn addict. It could be the nostalgic feeling it gives me when I eat it (reminding me of movie nights when I was a kid) or the crunchy satisfaction and inventive ways to season it to make it taste whatever flavor I choose.
Or, it could be the fact that popcorn is a nutrient-dense whole grain snack with a large volume and low-calorie count. The truth is, I probably run out of popcorn kernels in our kitchen more often than I’d like to admit!
We all know we’re not going to give up popcorn anytime soon, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy ways of eating it – by pairing it with incredibly delectable flavors!
- Cookies ‘n Cream
Cookies ‘n Cream is a classic flavor that tends to be the center of attention at any gathering. After all, a sweet, creamy, and chocolatey snack is hard to go wrong with.
To prepare the popcorn version of cookies and cream, simply crush some Oreo cookies, add the bits to the popcorn, and mix everything together for a wonderful, chocolatey taste. You can even make a chocolate or cream dip at the side for a personal touch!
Butterscotch is one of the best flavors to mix with popcorn.
To create this snack, begin by coating the popcorn with gooey butterscotch chips, then top it with more butterscotch chips to amp up the flavor and provide a different texture.
- Goat Cheese & Garlic
Sweets are all well and good, but let’s take a break with something savory. After all, salty and tasteful popcorn is the original taste – why don’t we just take it up a notch?
Toss your warm popcorn with crumbled shreds of goat cheese and a sprinkle of garlic powder (a little goes a long way). The goat cheese is salty and tangy, and the garlic will add a savory touch to the dish. You can also add chopped dill to your inventive popcorn toppings if you want to take it a step further.
S’mores are a popular summer treat, so why not add their flavors to your buttery, crunchy popcorn? The creamy marshmallows can be toasted over an open fire, on a gas stovetop, or even in the oven.
You can even coat the popcorn in marshmallow fluff if you’re a marshmallow fan! Add chunks of chocolate directly to your popcorn or melt it down and swirl it into it with crushed graham cracker bits sprinkled on top.
- Birthday Cake Goodness
Who doesn’t enjoy a slice of birthday cake? Sprinkles are a lot of fun, and the sweet vanilla essence in the popcorn is delicious. Toss lightly buttered popcorn with melted white chocolate, vanilla essence, and sprinkles, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
This is one of my favorites among the many popcorn toppings because it mixes ageless popcorn with the fun of childhood birthday cakes for a perfect once-a-year surprise.
- Dark Chocolate Cherry
The delectable mix of rich dark chocolate and sweet, juicy cherries is a classic. Both real cherries or maraschino cherries work great. Maraschino cherries are favorable because they already contain “liquid” (more akin to cherry sugar syrup) and are usually less expensive than real cherries.
To make the perfect popcorn mix, drizzle the cherry syrup and melted dark chocolate over the popcorn, top with a few cherries for a cherry flavor boost, and voila! You have the dark, dreamy popcorn snack you need.
- Spicy Cheddar
Cheese, in my opinion, belongs on everything. And in the case of popcorn, you can use powdered cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella, Gouda, etc., etc., etc.! Just add a dash of heat to the creamy, cheesy flavor and excite your taste buds by incorporating a bit of cayenne pepper or chili powder.
- Cinnamon and Brown Sugar
Warm cinnamon pairs well with sweet, rich brown sugar to provide a comforting, indulgent treat. You only need to add a bit of clove and nutmeg to make it feel like Christmas in June (or whatever summer month you want).
- Peanut Butter, White Chocolate, & Marshmallow
It’s impossible to go wrong with gooey, rich peanut butter, sweet white chocolate, and crunchy micro marshmallows, so adding popcorn is a no-brainer.
Warm the peanut butter and combine it with the melted white chocolate before pouring it over the popcorn and marshmallows. While munching, you’ll get peanut butter and chocolate all over your hands, but it’ll be well worth it.
- Caramel Apple
Caramel corn is a popular popcorn taste, but you can toss in chopped green apple and pour the caramel on top before mixing everything. You can use caramel ice cream as a delicious topping, melted caramel candies, or even make your own caramel for brownie points.
The apple, on the other hand, adds a nice variation of texture and a bright, acidic flavor that balances off the sweetness of the caramel.
- Everything Bagel
This savory popcorn topping combines sesame and poppy seeds with garlic and onion. Whether you air-pop your popcorn or use pre-buttered microwave popcorn, you’ll need to drizzle melted butter on top to keep this dry seasoning from falling to the bottom of your bowl.
Plus, with this option, you can either make your own everything bagel seasoning, with only the ingredients you like to use, or get a readymade mix off the store shelves from your favorite store.
- Dill Pickle
This mix would be like dill pickle potato chips, only better! Vinegar powder, which you can purchase at some spice stores and online, is the key to getting the flavor. It greatly accentuates the pickle flavor. You won’t miss the cucumber at all when mixed with all the other ingredients in a pickle brine!
- Pizza Flavor
Why choose between pizza and popcorn on movie night? You can eat both of them at the same time! Just pop some kernels with cheese, oregano, and basil, and you’ll have the pizza taste you crave seamlessly mixed with the popcorn you can’t live without.
- Ranch and Chive
This combination will knock your socks off if you like ranch-flavored chips. Moreover, it’s also a lot less expensive per bag. And the powdered ranch dressing can be bought on the same aisle as the other salad dressings, so you don’t have to go out of your way too much.
Plus, if you’re concerned about MSG, most all-natural or organic dressing powders are free of it, so don’t worry!
If you are in the mood to enjoy something a little unique, this is a delectable option that can remind you of a fruity kid’s cereal.
Most large supermarket stores — and online outlets — should include freeze-dried strawberries among their organic children’s snacks. If strawberry isn’t your thing (or you can’t locate it), nearly any other freeze-dried fruit will suffice as long as you crush it to a powder.
There are many more exciting popcorn toppings to explore. Flavor combinations are pretty subjective. Don’t be afraid to tweak these flavor combinations to suit your preferences or even make your own from scratch.
You only have to decide which route you want to take (sweet or salty), what ingredient you want to taste, and then experiment!