Homemade Popcorn: The Snack Food That’s Better For You Than You

When you’re having breakfast for dinner, popcorn can’t be beat. It’s an ideal “main course” because it’s more filling than other snack foods and doesn’t rely on the fryer for flavor. It can also be made from scratch in minutes without any special equipment other than a large pot, and you can flavor it any way you want.

You don’t have to save popcorn night for a special occasion. While you can certainly associate popcorn with a movie-watching evening, there is no law against making popcorn for dinner whenever the time feels right. Don’t fight with emotion.

Popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain: in fact, it’s the combination of a starchy core inside a fibrous outer hull that makes popcorn pop. It’s also high in fiber, with about 4 grams per 4-cup serving, and contains significant amounts of polyphenols that may help lower blood sugar levels and aid digestion.
Plus, “popcorn is a filling snack because of the amount it holds in your stomach, which keeps us from over-snacking,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Julian Chamoun of RDN Nutrition Consulting in New Jersey. Popcorn has been shown to be more satiating than potato chips, which means you’ll feel full after eating it.
You can use an air popper to reduce the amount of oil used in making popcorn, says registered dietitian nutritionist Julian Chamoun.

However, keep in mind that “although popcorn is a great healthy snack, when oil is added during the cooking process, it can double the calories and fat,” Chamoun said. He recommends an air popper as the best method for limiting the amount of oil added during cooking, but if you don’t want to spring for one, you can still cook on the stovetop for very little per serving. Can make popcorn with oil. This way.

How to Make Basic Stovetop Popcorn

To make 16 cups of popcorn (about 4 servings), you’ll need 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons of neutral cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil.

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Pour at least 6 quarts of oil into a large pot. Add two or three kernels to the pot, then cover and cook over medium-high heat until the kernels burst.

Once this is done, take the pot off the heat, add the remaining kernels and cover the pan. Wait 30 seconds, then return the pot to the burner and cook, stirring the pan frequently, until the popping slows down.

Carefully remove the lid to let the steam escape, then transfer the popcorn to a large bowl to season.

Make Popcorn Your Own with a Flavor Combo

When it comes to flavoring your popcorn, the options vary according to what you desire. Popcorn can be jazzed up with an off-the-shelf mix like a bagel or Old Bay Seasoning, but it’s always fun to get creative and create your own combination.

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Whether you prefer a savory mix, sweet or a bit of a mix of both, you can customize your bowl based on what your taste buds tell you.

Toss freshly popped popcorn with melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil to keep some of the seasoning from sticking, and then sprinkle on the toppings of your choice. Try these suggested flavors to get started.

if you like savory

Pizza Popcorn: Cheesy, herby, garlicky and a little spicy — and better for you than eating a whole pizza or a basket of breadsticks for dinner. If you’re dairy-free, substitute nutritional yeast for the Parmesan.
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Sesame Nori Popcorn: The ethereally crunchy seaweed snacks aren’t just meant to be eaten on their own. Crush them into popcorn tossed in sesame oil for a Japanese-inspired bowl and add toasted sesame seeds for more texture.
Mexican Popcorn: If you prefer the flavors of elote, or Mexican street corn, this condiment is just as pungent but without the mess. Fresh lemon juice and zest add a little something extra to each bite.
Buffalo Ranch Popcorn: Once you’ve made homemade ranch masala, you won’t want to go back to store-bought packets. Add butter hot sauce and you’ve got a chance to watch the game.
Barbecue Popcorn: No sauce is needed for this recipe—smoked paprika is the secret to this simple sweet and smoky popcorn seasoning.

for a sweet feeling

Hot Cocoa Popcorn: Instead of weighing down your popcorn with melted chocolate, try a mild kettle corn-style take on sweet and chocolate popcorn. Mini marshmallow bits make it perfect to enjoy by the fire.
Spiced Snickerdoodle Popcorn: You can make a better-than-bagged version of this with just cinnamon and sugar, but warm spices like cardamom and ginger give this popcorn a more sophisticated feel.
Strawberry Popcorn: Rushing freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor gives you a pretty pink powder that makes this popcorn berry stand out from other sweet snacks.
Pulverized freeze-dried strawberries give popcorn a beautiful pink hue.
Toasted Coconut Popcorn: If you don’t want to toast your own unsweetened coconut chips for this tropical take on popcorn, use toasted coconut from the snack aisle. Add a handful of cashews or almonds to turn it into a trail mix blend.
Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn: Whether you choose to make your own pumpkin spice mix or go with a premixed version, you’ll feel all fall from this flavor.

Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made From Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Eat. stories.


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