Popcorn: 3 Ways to Make It Gourmet!
The “favorite food” question during summer camp ice-breakers and middle school questionnaires was easy for me. Hands down, it was good ol’ potato chips — out of all the culinary delights under the sun. (I’m not exactly allowed to mark that as my choice today, even if I wanted to — ya know, now working at a food magazine and all.)
But as my palette matured and chips fell a few notches on the list, I also began making healthier eating choices. Light and airy popcorn replaced greasy fried potato chips … and so began my love affair with the ultimate movie snack.
With its salty, slight crunch, popcorn is satisfying to munch on, but doesn’t leave that oily aftertaste and feel you get with other junk foods. Unfortunately though, microwave popcorn is chock-full of chemicals and unnecessary fat. Bagged popcorn is a healthier option, but if you’re hankering for more flavor than simply sea salt, you may find yourself back to square one in terms of health.
Many flavored popcorns, like caramel, BBQ, and even kettle corn, use artificial flavoring and coloring. And even popcorn labels that claim to use all natural ingredients often use unappetizing and synthetic ingredients as binding and preservative agents.
I set out to create ways to naturally doctor a clean batch of bagged popcorn — popcorn that only contains corn and a small amount of oil and salt — into a flavorful and healthy snack. My favorite brand is Snacks 101 Baked Popcorn, which uses coconut oil. Check out these three delicious and easy recipes that only include real and natural ingredients that probably already live in your kitchen. Plus, they’re sweetened with pure honey and maple syrup — none of that processed stuff. All recipes can easily multiply; just work in batches.
Are you craving a mix of savory and sweet? Give the Honey BBQ popcorn a try. Something a bit fresh and zesty? You won’t be able to get enough of the Sun-dried Tomato and Basil. And those of you with a sweet tooth will love the Salted Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter popcorn.
Honey BBQ Popcorn Recipe
- ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. sweet paprika (often labeled simply as paprika)
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp. onion powder
- ⅛ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Pinch of ground cayenne
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. real maple syrup
- ¼ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups bagged popcorn
- In a large bowl, whisk together the smoked and sweet paprika, garlic, onion and chili powder, salt, and cayenne.
- In a large rimmed, non-stick skillet, heat the oil and syrup on medium-low, stirring with the back of a large wooden spoon until emulsified and small bubbles form, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in Worcestershire sauce. Because of the acidic content of the Worcestershire sauce, it may sizzle a bit—just be sure to stir it in as quickly as possible.
- Add the popcorn, and toss until kernels are equally glazed. Quickly transfer popcorn to the large bowl with the spice mixture. Toss until fully coated.
- Store in a zip-top bag for 1 day, though it’s definitely best enjoyed the day of.