Benign, binge-worthy popcorn recipes spice up snacking

Popcorn is the fluffy white snack that has become synonymous with cinema. Famous for its versatility and ease of preparation, popcorn is an excellent base for just about any flavor combination. With only 30 calories per cup, it often is marketed and sold as a low-calorie solution for snack cravings.

However, the most conscientious movie-goers still can snack happily with several low-sodium and clean options like Skinny Pop, Lesser Evil and Simply Nature at Aldi.

Movie theater popcorn is coated in chemically altered fine salt called Flavacol to produce its classic yellow tint. The liquid “butter” squirted from machines is partially hydrogenated soybean oil loaded with transfats. It’s also mixed with preservatives and chemicals that mimic butter flavoring.


Microwavable popcorn bags aren’t much better for you, containing similar sodium amounts and the same artificial butter. The neat bags that expand as the kernels pop were historically lined with toxic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) until 2011.

Hang on. Everyone knows calories don’t count when watching a good flick. But you should at least be able to pronounce the ingredients in your popcorn, and why not make your own when there are so many cheap and easy gourmet popcorn recipes. Here’s a list of both binge-worthy and benign popcorn recipes. So think twice next time you’re heading to the theater. Your snack game is about to get a whole lot better.

Binge: Cajun-Spiced popcorn — Who said butter had to be the only savory popcorn topping? If you like a little kick, cajun-spiced popcorn is worth trying. You might as well cook up some shrimp and crawfish while you’re at it. Get the recipe from AllRecipes at armagazine.com/3yGzrYk.

Benign: Skinny Buttered Popcorn — This is a simple and more conscientious version of popcorn’s movie theater variety. With only three ingredients and minimal fat, your body and mind will thank you! Get this recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking at bit.ly/3bRi0vg.

Binge: Caramel Corn Blondies — Popcorn and cookies are delicious; what more needs to be said? Gooey butterscotch cookies are enhanced by the salt and crunch of the popcorn. You can’t eat these by the handful, but trust us, you won’t need to. Get the recipe from Epicurious at bit.ly/3P49hE7.

Benign: Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn — The combination of sour cream and onion is a classic savory culinary trope. You don’t have to eat fried potato chips to enjoy this flavor combination. Most of the ingredients for this simple recipe probably are already hiding in your pantry. Get this recipe from Kitchen Concoctions at bit.ly/3yKlEzK. 

Binge: Buffalo Wing Popcorn — This is another one for our spice lovers who aren’t counting calories. You may have just found your new game-day snack recipe. Pair these with wings or ranch to pump up your team spirit. Get this recipe from Epicurious at bit.ly/3NYSNMR. 

Benign: Spicy Cilantro Lime Popcorn — If you are a fan of fusion flavors, this Mexican-inspired recipe could be a great addition to family taco night or a healthier replacement for chips and salsa. Cilantro lime popcorn is reminiscent of street tacos, but you don’t have to chase a food truck for this spice attack. Get this recipe from A Simple Pantry at bit.ly/3al08sg.

Binge: Maple Pecan Popcorn — Mmm, sweet and salty is a combination that will never steer you astray. Maple pecan melts in your mouth and adds a nice crunchy texture to plain old popcorn. Skip the syrupy pancakes; whip this up instead! Get this recipe from Epicurious at bit.ly/3P41hTM.

Benign: Chocolate Protein Popcorn — This is a great idea for any gym-goer. Who says getting your daily protein can’t be enjoyable? Chocolate protein popcorn looks much more appetizing than a powdery shake. You also can replace protein powder with cacao and stevia. Get this recipe from Bites of Wellness at bit.ly/3AwUfmj.

Binge: Bacon Jalapeno Popcorn — You had me at bacon! Nothing says indulgent like putting bacon on things it shouldn’t go on. This zesty shakeup is brought to you by Guy Fieri, the flavor master himself. All aboard for flavor town! Get this recipe from Epicurious at bit.ly/3nL99xy.

Benign: Vegan Maple Caramel Popcorn — This Cookie and Katie recipe is all about returning to the basics. This plant-based spin on classic caramel corn is mouthwatering and won’t leave you feeling guilty. They recommend popping the corn from scratch and using any nut butter you have lying around. Get this recipe from Cookie and Katie at bit.ly/3OK22S7.

Binge: High Honey Sriracha Popcorn — This golden red beauty will make perfect sense if you’ve ever tried hot honey on pizza. A little savory yet a little sweet, what’s more to want? Add a little extra sriracha if you can handle the heat, and the garlic flavor will really pop. Get this recipe from Epicurious at bit.ly/3NEIsFD.

Benign: Coconut Curry Popcorn — This is one of 12 popcorn recipes from Honest to Goodness, and it is my favorite! Coconut curry has a complex flavor profile, and it’s all the seasoning needed to liven up a batch of plain popcorn. Move over movie theater popcorn, coconut curry popcorn holds much more intricate flavors to tickle your palette. Get this recipe from Honest to Goodness at bit.ly/3aegh2s (No. 9).

Binge: Crunchy Salted Caramel Popcorn — Caramel popcorn is notoriously difficult to make correctly. Caramel sauce often renders popcorn soggy and oversaturated, ruining the natural fluffy texture of beloved popcorn. This recipe from Recipe Winners guarantees crunchy goodness to the last bite. Their secret is adding bicarbonate baking soda to the caramel and then baking it. Get this recipe from Recipe Winners at bit.ly/3bOhuhq. 

Benign: Apple Cinnamon Popcorn — Have you ever wanted to bring a bowl of your favorite apple cinnamon cereal into the theater? This fall-inspired popcorn has you covered. Enjoy a scary movie on a cloudy fall day with this recipe, or wow your guests at Halloween parties. Get this recipe from Around My Family Table at bit.ly/3Rn7hsK.

Binge: Peanut Butter Popcorn — This simple recipe represents yet another baking application to all-versatile peanut butter. Honey is added to compliment the saltiness of popcorn, and this batch is crunchy all the way through. You could probably whip this one up in a jiffy with only four ingredients! Get this recipe from Nerdy Mamma at bit.ly/3bKxwsx.

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