Seasoned Popcorn

Photo: David Malosh

A big bowl of seasoned popcorn goes a long way -- and is an excellent healthy snack. There's a secret to getting every last kernel to pop (let stand 30 seconds), but this is among the easiest of snacks to make. Try it in one or more of our variety of flavors: sea salt-pepper; chili-lime; sesame-pepper; Pecorino-rosemary; smoked paprika; and spicy-sweet. This recipe originally appeared inMartha Stewart's Appetizers (Clarkson Potter).


  • ¼ cup safflower oil

  • ½ cup popcorn kernels

For the Sea Salt-Pepper Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground or cracked black pepper

For the Chili-Lime Seasoning

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin

  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest, plus juice from 1 large lime wedge

For the Sesame-Pepper Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, lightly toasted

  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

For the Pecorino-Rosemary Seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

For the Smoked Paprika Seasoning

  • Coarse salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika, also called pimenton

For the Spicy-Sweet Seasoning

  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated brown sugar (or light-brown sugar, sifted)

  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter


  1. Heat oil and a few popcorn kernels in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. When kernels pop, add remaining kernels and cover. Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Return to heat and cook, shaking pot frequently, until popping stops, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss with desired seasonings (adding more to taste), transfer to a bowl, and serve immediately.

  2. SEA SALT-PEPPER: Stir together salt and pepper.

  3. CHILI-LIME: Combine chili powder, cumin, salt, and lime zest in a large bowl. Add hot popcorn, and squeeze juice from 1 large lime wedge into bowl. Toss until evenly coated.

  4. SESAME-PEPPER: Grind sesame seeds, salt, and pepper in a spice grinder until seeds are coarsely ground. Toss hot popcorn with butter until evenly coated, then toss with sesame mixture.

  5. PECORINO-ROSEMARY: Stir together cheese and rosemary.

  6. SMOKED PAPRIKA: Season with salt to taste, then add paprika.

  7. SPICY-SWEET: Combine sugar, salt, garam masala, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Toss hot popcorn with butter until evenly coated, then toss with brown-sugar mixture.

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