Perfect Popcorn plus Five Seasonings


PopcornMany microwave popcorn manufactures have known for years that employees in their factories may be at risk for a debilitating lung disease.  Yet it wasn’t brought forth in the media until diacetyl, the chemical used to create that buttery flavor, was singled out as the cause of an overzealous popcorn consumer’s lung disease.  Now the nation’s leading popcorn manufacturers (from Orville Redenbacher to Weaver) are working diligently on a plan to remove this chemical from their ingredient lists.  But really, what ever happened to homemade popcorn?  The safest of all, completely natural, and relatively easy to make, all you need is a good set of instructions (and perhaps some tasty seasonings) and you are ready to pop!

The Perfect Popcorn Recipe
Altered from Simply Recipes
Makes 2 quarts

  • 3 Tablespoons peanut, grapeseed, or other high smoke point oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup of organic or non-GMO popcorn kernels

Heat the oil and salt in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.  Put 3 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan. When the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds.  Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. When the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove it from the heat, and serve.

Now for the fun part, the toppings!  Of course, this nicely salted popcorn will be positively addictive on its own, but once in a while some extra flavor is in order. 

If the oil on the popcorn isn’t enough to allow the spices to adhere, or if you want that buttery flavor, be sure to select a dairy-free margarine.  We like Smart Balance Light (37%) and Earth Balance Buttery Sticks as both are trans fat free, but you can choose the margarine to your liking.

The following seasonings are altered from Recipezaar.  Since your popcorn already has the salt popped in, we omitted the salt from these mixes.  Combine the spices into a shaker, and apply as much as you like to your “buttered” or “unbuttered” popcorn:

Cajun Popcorn

  • 2  teaspoons paprika 
  • 1  teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1  teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2  teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
  • 1  pinch cayenne pepper (optional) 
  • (for a cheesy twist to this Cajun mix, add in 1 to 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast)

Southwestern Popcorn

  • 1 1/2  teaspoons chili powder 
  • 1  tablespoon ground cumin 

Curry Popcorn

  • 1  tablespoon curry powder 
  • 1/4  teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 
  • 1  teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1  pinch cayenne pepper 

Another option is to make your own seasoning salt.  We found these great options from Go Presto.  Either use the seasoning salt when popping, or apply as desired post-pop (omitting the salt in the Perfect Popcorn recipe above).  Each of the following mixes should be whizzed together in a spice grinder to reach a very fine texture.  Store the flavorful salt in a shaker and season popcorn as desired. 

Onion-Dill Salt

  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried dillweed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Herbed Salt

  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano leaves

Sesame Salt

  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Though popping your own corn is by far the best, if you must nuke, be sure to choose an organic brand whenever possible.  This practically guarantees non-GMO kernels and a legible ingredient statement, free of unwanted chemicals.  Brands such as Newman’s Own Organics and Bearitos Organic are good options.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.