A Cut Above: 5 Flavorful Popcorn Recipes

Partial to popcorn? These tasty twists on the classic snack are sure to become new favorites.
Partial to Popcorn Partial to Popcorn

Busy or not, here we come. Every month “A Cut Above” serves up new recipes, cooking tips and ideas for dishes that are simple enough to prepare and enjoy in a snap.

We're partial to popcorn. It's our go-to, late-night snack. What's a movie without the whir of the popper? And besides, few treats are as low in PointsPlus™ values, high in fiber, and taste so good.

Spiced popcorn — with lots of flavor — is our favorite. The best spice mixtures balance two types of flavors such as piquant and sour or sweet and spicy. To give you a wide range of sweet and savory combinations, we're including five great recipes.

Skip the microwave and haul out the trusty air-popper. It makes a delicious treat without any fuss. Let the popper heat up for at least three minutes before adding the kernels. They should hit the heat head on for the lightest, fluffiest result.

Then, to get your favorite flavors to adhere perfectly to your popcorn, we suggest putting the popped kernels in a large bowl and spraying them two or three times with cooking spray, tossing after each spray. Add your spice mixture, toss again, and your popcorn is ready to enjoy.

A note about un-popped kernels:
Popcorn needs moisture to pop (it's actually the superheated water vapor in the kernels that blows them up), and too many un-popped kernels are a sign of dried-out popcorn. For optimal freshness, store popcorn in an air-tight container at room temperature for no longer than six months. Don't store it in the freezer or refrigerator since the chill can dry out the kernels.

If you find too many unpopped kernels, next time consider dropping the kernels in a jar, adding a tablespoon of water, covering and shaking vigorously for a minute or two. Drain off any excess moisture and drop the kernels into a preheated popper. They will have absorbed some of the moisture and should pop much better.

About Southwestern Spiced Popcorn
Here's a great late-night snack or a nice munchie to set on the coffee table before a Southwestern meal.

Southwestern Spiced Popcorn

Makes 4 servings

PointsPlus value per 2-cup
serving: 2 (note: a 1-cup serving has a PointsPlus value of 1)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Nonstick spray
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika, preferably smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  • Place popcorn in a large bowl; spray with nonstick spray, tossing well.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt and garlic powder. Sprinkle over the popcorn, tossing all the while, until well coated.

About Cinnamon-Spice Popcorn
Perfect for a chilly evening, consider serving this treat with warm cider or tea.

Cinnamon-Spice Popcorn

Makes 4 servings

PointsPlus value per 2-cup
serving: 2 (note: a 1-cup serving has a PointsPlus value of 1)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 2 sprays cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Instructions

  • Place the popcorn in a large bowl; spray with nonstick spray, tossing well.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Sprinkle over the popcorn, tossing all the while until well coated.

About Parmesan-Thyme Popcorn
For the best taste, use real Parmesan cheese, stamped Parmigiano-Reggiano on the rind and available in chunks at most supermarkets; grate it with a microplane or through the small holes of a box grater.

Parmesan-Thyme Popcorn

Makes 4 servings

PointsPlus value per 2-cup
serving: 2 (note: a 1-cup serving has a PointsPlus value of 1)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 cups plain air-popped popcorn, kept hot
  • 2 sprays cooking spray

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together cheese, thyme, garlic powder and salt.
  • Place hot popcorn in a serving bowl and coat with cooking spray; sprinkle with cheese mixture, tossing all the while until well coated.

About Greek-Spiced Popcorn
Take an easy trip to the Aegean with this savory popcorn. You might even search out Greek rosé wine, a nice complement and an unusual treat. Look for dried, ground lemon peel in the spice aisle of your market.

Greek-Spiced Popcorn

Makes 4 servings

PointsPlus value per 2-cup
serving: 2 (note: a 1-cup serving has a PointsPlus value of 0)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill
  • 1 Tbsp dried ground lemon peel
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  • Place the popcorn in a large bowl; spray with nonstick spray, tossing well.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dill, dried ground lemon peel, salt and onion powder. Toss the spice mixture with the popcorn until well coated.

About Ranch Popcorn
Here, the spices of Ranch dressing are turned into a dry mixture for popcorn, a boon to anyone who loves this classic taste. Look for dried buttermilk in the baking aisle of most supermarkets or from suppliers online.

Ranch Popcorn

Makes 4 servings

PointsPlus value per 2-cup
serving: 2 (note: a 1-cup serving has a PointsPlus value of 1)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Nonstick spray
  • 2 Tbsp dry buttermilk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper, preferably white pepper

Instructions

  • Place the popcorn in a large bowl; spray with nonstick spray, tossing well.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the dry buttermilk, salt, onion powder, dry mustard, garlic powder and pepper. Sprinkle over the popcorn, tossing until well coated.

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