At 93 calories per 3 cups, popcorn is a healthy choice when you want something quick and crunchy to snack on. Truth be told, though, plain popcorn isn't always appealing. Here are 8 sweet and savory popcorn recipes that add flavor and fun to snack time. Most of these recipes use around 16 cups of popcorn, but feel free to make adjustments that fit your needs and goals.
1. Ranch Popcorn (Savory)
Ranch flavor is a universal favorite, making ranch-flavored popcorn a good option for group gatherings. Mix popcorn with one packet of dry ranch seasoning and about 4 tablespoons of butter. Garnish with chives or dill.
2. Apple Pie ala Popcorn (Sweet)
If you want the taste of apple pie without all the calories and fat, try this sweet popcorn concoction, no baking needed. Add a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon, vanilla, and apple pie spice to a large both and then gradually toss in the popcorn. You can add a little bit of sugar or Stevia to boost the sweetness to satisfy serious cravings.
3. Cinnamon Chili (Savory)
Having a big bowl of chili on a cold night can really warm you up, making this cinnamon chili popcorn a good snack for the fall and winter. For every 6 cups of popcorn, add about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 salt, 2 tsp of maple syrup, and 1/2 of chili seasoning. Mix together and enjoy.
4. Peanut Butter Popcorn (Sweet)
This recipe is great for kids or when you want your snack to include a little protein. Add 1 cup of hone and 3/4 cup of sugar to a small pot. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring slowly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Put in 1 cup of peanut butter and tsp of vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Dump in a bowl and toss with popcorn, then spread out on a baking pan to cool. For an added crunch, add your favorite nuts.
5. Gourmet Butter and Cheese Popcorn (Savory)
Milk is a comfort food, which is why people often crave cheesy and buttery foods when they're upset. So after a long day wrestling with coworkers and/or children, try this cheesy popcorn mix to soothe your psyche. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan and cook for a minute or two until it turns brown. Add to a large bowl of popcorn and then sprinkle about 3 to 4 tablespoon of parmesan cheese over the mixture. Toss until coated and then start snacking.
6. Mint Chocolate Chip Popcorn (Sweet)
If you're in the mood for some ice cream but can't really spare the calories, try this popcorn alternative. For every 4 cups of popcorn, combine 3 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat. Remove from heat and add 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract to the mixture stir gently. Pour over popcorn and toss until evenly coated. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for three minutes intervals (stirring occasionally) until the popcorn is try. Dump back into the bowl and add several teaspoons of mini chocolate chips.
7. Margarita Popcorn (Savory)
Sometimes you want a drink, but it isn't always an appropriate time to indulge in alcohol. Instead try this margarita-inspired popcorn snack that great for eating alone or with friends. In a pan over medium heat, mix together 6 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar and salt, 2 tablespoons of tequila and lime juice, and 1.5 teaspoons of lime zest. Stir until well mixed and then toss with popcorn and a few cups of crushed tortilla chips.
8. Fruit Flavored Popcorn (Sweet)
When you want something simple, fast, and sweet, try this fruit-infused popcorn snack. In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of freeze-dried fruit (e.g. strawberries, blueberries) and 6 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar until it forms a powder. Mix with popcorn. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add to the popcorn mixture. For an extra shot of sweetness, add 1 cup of the freeze-dried fruit.
For a quick and easy way to make popcorn for these recipes, shop at a local retailer, such as New England Pretzel & Popcorn CO. Inc., for a popcorn machine that fits your needs and lifestyle.