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Our Favorite Flavored Popcorn Recipes, Ranked

Orville Redenbacher will have to sit this one out, because today we’re sharing our favorite popcorn recipes.

With Fall right around the corner, we’re already thinking about apple cider, acorn squash, crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, and of course: cozy movie nights. While there’s beauty in simplicity, sometimes you want to go that extra mile for something extra special. Orville Redenbacher will have to sit this one out, because today we’re sharing our favorite popcorn recipes.

Starting it off at #1 is a recipe reminiscent of every baseball fan’s favorite sweet snack: Cracker Jacks, but with a twist.

Molasses Popcorn (Bars)

What You'll Need:

  • 2 ½ cups popped corn

  • 1 cup shelled, roasted peanuts

  • ¼ cup molasses

  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon butter

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

What You'll Do:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (if roasting the peanuts).

2. Pop the corn using your favorite method. Sort through and discard any un-popped pieces. Trust us, you don’t want to skip this step. Our goal is sweet-tooth satisfaction, not a new dental filling. Set aside.

*Optionally, crisp up the peanuts by lining them in a single layer on a baking tray. Keep a close eye on these guys, because they can burn in a flash. Cook just until they’re warm and fragrant, with a light golden color.

3. Combine the molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, butter and salt in a small saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, cook until it reaches 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Remove mixture from the heat and fold in the roasted peanuts to thoroughly coat.

5. Pour the hot mixture slowly over the popcorn, tossing up from the bottom of the bowl to evenly mix. Turn the popcorn into two greased loaf pans and press gently to prevent breaking the kernels. Carefully remove from the pans and cut into bars while still warm.

*Alternatively, you can press the mixture into cookie molds or shape by hand. Wrap each bar in wax paper before storing.

We haven’t forgotten about our vegan friends, either. If you’ve ever thought wistfully about cheesy popcorn while settling in for a show, #2 is for you!

‘Cheesy’ Vegan Popcorn

What You'll Need:

  • Popped popcorn [however many servings you want, we’re not here to judge]

  • Oil of choice [recommended for maximum sticking power]

  • Nutritional yeast

  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, you name it [if desired]

What You'll Do:

1. Take your bowl of popped corn and add the oil. Spray is recommended if you don’t want to risk any sogginess.

2. Next, generously (because why have cheese popcorn if it’s not CHEESY) sprinkle on the nutritional yeast to taste.

3. Here’s where you can add any other seasoning to your heart’s content, or just keep it simple.


NOTE: for optimum tastiness, we don’t recommend this as leftovers, so here’s your permission to finish the whole bowl.

This next flavored popcorn recipe has everything you could hope for: crunch, sweetness, cinnamon-y aroma. Are you drooling yet? #3 brings all of the fall vibes.

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Recipe by Whitney Wright @ SALT & BAKER

IMPASTIAMO tip: the secret to cinnamon flavor that really *pops* is ground cloves, which are often used as a flavor enhancer in certain recipes, especially ones containing vanilla or cinnamon.

What You'll Need:

  • 10 cups popped corn / 1/2 cup un-popped kernels

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup*

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3 oz white chocolate or almond bark, melted**

  • Optional: 1/8 tsp ground cloves

What You'll Do:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper for easy cleanup.

2. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl.

3. In a medium saucepan add the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir the mixture for 1 minute to cool it slightly.

4. Add the cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, and baking powder to the sugar/butter mixture. Stir to combine.

5. Pour the sugar/butter mixture over the popcorn and toss to coat. Spread the popcorn mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the sugar coating is set (don’t over-bake otherwise it will be HARD).

6. Allow the popcorn to cook slightly then drizzle the melted almond bark over the popcorn, let set and then serve! Alternatively, leave the popcorn hot from the oven and toss it in the warm almond bark for more even coverage.

7. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 7-10 days.


*If you don’t happen to have corn syrup on hand, in a pinch here are some great corn syrup substitutes to try.

**You could also replace the white chocolate with melted butterscotch morsels for even more buttery sweetness.

We’re willing to bet you’ve never had a flavored popcorn like this next recipe before. The perfect way to pack in big flavor to a light snack is our #4 pick:

Pad Thai Popcorn

Recipe by Chef John @ allrecipes

What You'll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon + 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn

  • 1 cup chopped dry-roasted, salted peanuts

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek chili paste

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest

  • 1/3 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

What You'll Do:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius). Line baking sheet with foil, brushing with vegetable oil or use a silicone baking mat.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add popcorn; cover and cook, shaking often, until fully popped, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl using a strainer or your hands, leaving unpopped kernels in the pan. Stir chopped peanuts into popcorn.

4. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and corn syrup in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add lime juice and fish sauce. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the sambal oelek, lime zest, and baking soda.

5. Pour brown sugar mixture over popcorn, stirring to coat. Spread popcorn out on the prepared baking sheet.

6. Bake in the preheated oven, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and sticky, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool and become crispy. Toss with cilantro before serving. We recommend storing this in an airtight container for up to a week (IF there are any leftovers, that is).

IMPASTIAMO note: popcorn can easily scorch, so we recommend erring on the side of caution and cooking for the shortest amount of time, then while keeping a close eye, cooking for 1-2 minutes at a time until finished.

With low prep and short bake times, these flavored popcorn recipes can be made in less time than it takes you to pick out a movie.

Do you have a favorite flavored popcorn recipe? If you try ours, make sure to let us know what you think over on @Instagram.


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Whether it's a birthday celebration, a work retreat, or a date night, let us set up a private cooking class for you with any chef around the world. 

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