Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Recipes

Celebrate National Popcorn Poppin’ month with recipes that are perfect for parties or snacking at home
Harvest Munch popcorn snack mix

The Popcorn Board

October is nearly over, and I couldn’t let National Popcorn Poppin’ month come to an end without sharing some recipes for one of my favorite foods! Popcorn is, of course, delicious with just a little salt and drizzle of butter, but it also makes tasty sweet and savory snacks that are perfect for parties, book club, or movie night—such as the following sweet and spicy recipes, courtesy of the Popcorn Board.

Plus, did you know popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain? One serving provides about 70% of the recommended daily intake of whole grains. All U.S. popcorn is GMO free, even if it is not labeled “non-GMO,” according to the Popcorn Board. It is also gluten- and sugar-free, naturally low in fat and calories, and has no artificial additives or preservatives.

As always, keep in mind that popcorn kernels expand up to 40 times their original size. So 1 ounce, which is 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons of un-popped kernels will make 4 cups (1 quart) of popped popcorn. Consider how large of a batch you might like to make, and take it from there.

Harvest Munch (Monster Munch)

Makes 12 servings

Sweet and salty, this party snack mix is also perfect for munching while watching scary movies—and it only takes about 20 minutes to make.

8 cups air-popped or stove-top popcorn, unbuttered and unsalted
4 cups mini pretzel twists
¼ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup marshmallows
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups mini chocolate peanut butter cups
1 cup candy corn

  1. Toss popcorn with pretzel sticks; spread out on large parchment paper-lined baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In saucepan set over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup; cook, swirling pan, for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbling.
  3. Stir in marshmallows and salt; cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until marshmallows are melted. Pour evenly over popcorn mixture. Sprinkle with mini chocolate peanut butter cups and candy corn. Let cool completely and break into clusters.

Notes: Add edible googly eyes and call it Monster Munch. For a peanut-free snack, try substituting chocolate chips or candy such as M&Ms for the mini chocolate peanut butter cups.

Cranberry & Chocolate Spiced Popcorn

The Popcorn Board

Cranberry & Chocolate Spiced Popcorn

Makes 8 Cups

Warm up with this fall-inspired popcorn blend that’s sure to be a hit with your family and friends.

8 cups air-popped or stove-top popcorn, unbuttered and unsalted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1½ tablespoons coconut oil, melted
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. In large bowl, toss together popcorn, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  2. Lay mixture flat on parchment paper-lined tray. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes or until chocolate sets. Break apart into chunks.
Adobo and Roasted Peanut Popcorn

The Popcorn Board

Adobo and Roasted Peanut Popcorn

Makes 4 quarts

4 quarts air-popped or stove-top popcorn, unbuttered and unsalted
¼ cup peanuts
1 egg white (See Note)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from one 7-ounce can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce; reserve chilies for other use) OR 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or foil sprayed with cooking spray). Spread popcorn and peanuts onto prepared baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg white, sugar, adobo sauce, and salt until foamy. Pour over popcorn and toss to coat evenly.
  3. Bake 20 minutes, stirring once midway through baking time. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Note: The use of egg white helps the flavors adhere to the popcorn without adding fat through the more traditional use of oils.


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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.