Gourmet Flavored Popcorn

This easy gourmet popcorn recipe comes in two flavors, one sweet and one savory!

There are so many ways to dress up plain popcorn. You can go the simple, yet delicious route, with butter and salt.

Or you can fancy it up for a special occasion and make different flavors of popcorn.

For the recipe below, you will need a total of 12 cups of plain popcorn, 6 cups for each flavor.

I air pop mine because it’s super easy to do.

If you prefer making popcorn on the stove top with oil, the savory seasoning can probably be stirred in right after it’s done popping, while it’s still hot.

Plain air popped pop corn.

How to make Almond “Caramel” Popcorn

For my sweet version, I made a faux caramel. In the past, I’ve attempted to make real caramel, but heating sugar is not my forte. It either burns, crystalizes too much, or completely sticks to the sides of the pot.

So I decided I needed some sort of “medium” that I could sweeten and then coat the popcorn with.

I went with almond butter since it has somewhat of a neutral flavor (though PB would also be nice). No, it doesn’t taste like real caramel, but it is delicious and the kids gobbled it up.

In a small saucepan mix together 2-3 tablespoons of almond or butter, 1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place over med-low heat.

Gently heat until the nut butter melts and the mixture comes together. You can also place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds.

Pour mixture into one of the bowls and fold it into the popcorn.

How to Make Ranch Popcorn

For my savory version I chose a ranch flavor, because I had most of the dried herbs on hand. I also added buttermilk powder since buttermilk is normally used to make ranch dressing.

In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons buttermilk powder, 2 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, and 1 teaspoon each of dried dill, dried chives, and garlic powder. Also add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Then take 6 cups of plain popcorn and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon oil. Toss the popcorn well so it gets evenly coated. Then, sprinkle on the seasoning mixture and toss again.

Ranch popcorn in glass bowl.

If you don’t have all the dried herbs, that’s okay! Use whatever spices you have. It may not taste exactly like “Ranch” but it will still be flavorful.

If you don’t have buttermilk powder, my suggestion would be to maybe squeeze a little lemon juice over the popcorn to give it a bit of tanginess.

baking the flavored popcorn

Once each batch of popcorn has been seasoned, you will need to bake it on a low temp so the flavoring “sets” and doesn’t come off.

Place the first batch on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in an oven at 250°F for 15-30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Test the popcorn by taking out a few pieces and letting them cool. If they’re crunchy, they’re ready. 

Bake the second batch the same way.

Cool the popcorn for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to enjoy right away, or store in an air-tight container.

The ranch popcorn will last for several days. The “caramel” popcorn will last 1 to 1½ days max before it starts to become soggy.

This easy gourmet popcorn makes a great holiday gift or a tasty everyday snack. It’s also a fun activity to do with kids!

What My Kids Say:
10 year-old: “Apart from being salty, sweet, and crunchy, this popcorn is absolutely popping with flavor!”
7 year-old: “I liked the sweet one because it didn’t taste like almond butter, it really tastes like caramel, and it tasted really good.”

here are some other snack ideas

Roasted Masala Nuts
A baked mixture of cashews, peanuts, and Kerala spices.
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Joby's Test Kitchen jar of roasted masala nuts with Kerala spices.
Gourmet Flavored Popcorn
Here are two easy ways to flavor plain popcorn, one sweet and one savory!
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Joby's Test Kitchen 2 bowls of flavored popcorn.
Apricot and Coconut Granola Bars
Chewy granola bars full of dried fruit and coconut make the perfect grab-and-go breakfast!
Check out this recipe
Fiberful granola bars on cutting board.

Joby's Test Kitchen 2 bowls of flavored popcorn.

Gourmet Flavored Popcorn

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Here are two easy ways to flavor plain popcorn, one sweet and one savory!
Prep Time 6 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 46 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Cups

Ingredients
  

  • 6-7 tbsps corn kernels (makes 12 cups)

Almond “Caramel” Popcorn

  • 6 cups plain popped corn
  • 2-3 tbsps (30-45g) almond or peanut butter
  • 1-2 tbsps (15-30g) honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp (15g) oil
  • ¼ tsp salt

Ranch Popcorn

  • 6 cups plain popped corn
  • 1 tbsp (15g) oil
  • 2 tbsps (16g) buttermilk powder
  • tsps dried parsley
  • tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • tsp cayenne

Instructions
 

  • Make air popped corn according to instructions. You should have about 12 cups. Divide them into 2 large bowls.

Almond “Caramel” Popcorn:

  • Mix ingredients in a small saucepan and place over med-low heat. Gently heat until the nut butter melts and the mixture comes together. You can also place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds. Pour mixture into one of the bowls and fold it into the popcorn.

Ranch Popcorn:

  • Drizzle oil onto popcorn and toss. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over popcorn and toss again.

Baking:

  • Place popcorn on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in an oven at 250°F for 15-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Test the popcorn by taking out a few pieces and letting them cool. If they’re crunchy, they’re ready.
  • Cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy right away, or store in an air-tight container. The ranch popcorn will last for several days. The “caramel” popcorn will last 1 to 1½ days max, because the almond butter makes the popcorn soggy.

Notes

No Popcorn Machine? You can make popcorn in your microwave with a paper bag! Place about half the kernels in a medium size paper bag, fold it over tightly to seal it, and microwave for 1 1/2-2 1/2 minutes. Stay close by and listen to the popping. When it slows down, take out the popcorn or it might burn. Repeat with the remaining kernels.
Keyword almond butter, popcorn, ranch

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