Popcorn is a pretty healthy and satisfying snack. It’s a whole grain packed with antioxidants and low in calories. You really can’t go wrong eating a big bowl of the stuff at your next movie night.
While plain popcorn already tastes good, there are so many types of popcorn toppings you can use to enhance it — and believe it or not, they’re actually good for you.
Here are 16 healthy popcorn toppings you should try:
Why Avoid Pre-Seasoned Popcorn?
Popcorn is essentially healthy, but if we talk about movie theater popcorn and all the who-knows-what’s in it, then consider the health benefits canceled out.
Homemade popcorn is so much healthier. 3 cups of air-popped popcorn, for example, only has about 100 calories. For the same serving, movie theater popcorn gives you 400 calories.
If you’re looking for the perfect in-between — popcorn that’s as good as movie theater popcorn but healthier — make stovetop popcorn. Unlike pre-seasoned popcorn, cooking popcorn on stovetop gives you complete control over ingredients. You decide everything that goes into the snack, from the kernels to the oil and seasoning.
The result? Popcorn so much fresher and way more delicious than any pre-popped popcorn could ever taste.
How to Get Homemade Seasoning to Stick
You want your homemade seasonings to coat the kernels evenly so every bite is loaded with flavor. But it can be quite challenging to get dry seasoning to stick. Luckily, there are some tricks you can try.
For sweet popcorn, use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. Granulated sugar tends to fall to the bottom of the bowl while powdered sugar will cling to the kernels well.
Healthy Seasonings You Need to Try
There are an endless number of seasonings you can add to your popcorn. Here are a few of our favorite healthy popcorn seasonings to give you a little inspiration for your next bowl of popcorn:
Savory Popcorn Seasonings
If you like spicy, prepare to be obsessed with chili lime popcorn. Chili powder adds a nice kick to your salty snack and it’s quite healthy. It’s been proven to help clear sinuses and lower blood pressure. This, plus a squeeze of fresh lime juice, will make your popcorn hot, tangy, and downright irresistible.
Curry Powder Popcorn Seasoning
The awesome thing about curry powder is that it comes in different types — you won’t get bored seasoning your popcorn with this. Try Jamaican, Thai, or Indian curry seasoning to see which one you like best! You might just find a new favorite popcorn flavor.
Parmesan Cheese Pizza Seasoning
Parmesan cheese and popcorn are a match made in heaven. Powdered parmesan sticks to popcorn well and makes an easy snack that’s high in calcium and also rich in protein. Throw this in with some dried oregano and onion powder, and you’ll have a yummy pizza-inspired snack.
If you’re lactose intolerant or trying to avoid dairy, nutritional yeast makes a great alternative to cheese. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor that tastes almost like the real deal. You can sprinkle it over your popcorn by itself or combine it with garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder for a nacho-like flavor.
Oh, and nutritional yeast is very high in potassium so you’ll be getting essential nutrients on top of that cheesy goodness.
Spicy Maple Popcorn
Get a small bowl and mix some maple syrup with your favorite hot sauce. Pour this over a bowl of popcorn and you’ll have an incredible snack. This sweet, spicy, and sticky popcorn is so easy to make and a true show-stopper.
To turn up the heat even more, try adding some cayenne pepper. Spicy peppers have been known to boost metabolism, so don’t feel guilty about grabbing a second helping of this popcorn.
Dorito Flavored Popcorn
Okay, hear us out. We know actual Doritos aren’t the healthiest snack around — all those artificial ingredients listed on the bag definitely aren’t good for you. But you can’t deny it’s a guilty pleasure.
We’ll let you in on a secret – you can make a Dorito-inspired popcorn seasoning that’s also as delicious. Just combine nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne powder, and cumin.
Ranch Flavored Popcorn
Who doesn’t love ranch? It has a tangy, slightly sweet taste that doesn’t just complement salads. It also pairs well with popcorn. All you need is powdered ranch seasoning mix. Sprinkle as much or as little as you want over your cup of freshly popped stovetop popcorn and enjoy!
Sweet Popcorn Seasonings
Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to ignore your sweet tooth! There are lots of sweet popcorns you can enjoy while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few of our favorite sweet popcorn seasonings you’ll love, too.
Apple Cinnamon Popcorn Seasoning
Satisfy your fall cravings with apple cinnamon popcorn. All you need to do is crush some dried apple slices into a fine powder, mix it with a little cinnamon, and sprinkle it over your popcorn. This is a fun and tasty way to add fruit to your popcorn.
Pair your apple cinnamon popcorn with some apple cider, and you’ll have the perfect fall snack.
Banana Bread Popcorn
This isn’t the first seasoning you’d think of for popcorn, but trust us — it’s totally worth a try and you only need a few simple ingredients. Sprinkle some allspice, brown sugar, chopped banana chips, and heart-healthy walnuts over your popcorn and voila. Easy banana bread popcorn.
You can also go the extra mile and dehydrate your own banana chips to avoid added sugars and oils.
Peanut butter isn’t just a classic sandwich spread. It’s incredibly versatile, adding just the right amount of sweetness and salt to cookies, fruits, and even popcorn.
To make it easier to pour the peanut butter over your popcorn, use a little coconut oil to thin it out. You can then mix everything together and enjoy or make peanut butter popcorn balls to enjoy all week long.
Did we mention peanut butter is also packed with nutrients? It really is a nutritious yet scrumptious treat.
A little balsamic vinegar is all you need to turn your popcorn into a gourmet dish worthy of any 5-star restaurant. We like to cook the vinegar for a few minutes to reduce it into a thick, sweet syrup before drizzling it over the popcorn. It’s sweet, tangy, and complex.
The icing on top? It’s good for the heart and helps with digestion, among other health benefits.
Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt
For something truly decadent, you can’t beat dark chocolate and sea salt popcorn.
The contrast between bitter and salty will make your tastebuds happy. And if that isn’t reason enough to try this popcorn topping, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants. Your heart will thank you for eating it.
You can even add almonds or some chopped pumpkin seeds to make the popcorn even crunchier. The chocolate will make everything stick together.
You may want to divide your dark chocolate popcorn into individual serving sizes so you don’t eat the whole batch at once.
Gingerbread popcorn is the perfect winter snack, and it’s so much simpler than building a gingerbread house. You’ll need ground cloves, allspice, and cinnamon for the seasoning. All of these spices have anti-inflammatory properties that keep you healthy, plus they smell incredible.
Mint Chocolate Chip Glazed Popcorn
What if we told you it was possible to make your popcorn taste like your favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream? You just need a small amount of mint extract and some melted chocolate chips. You then mix the two together and pour it over your popcorn.
Hot chocolate popcorn sounds like something out of a dream. Luckily, you can make it a reality just by dusting your popcorn with a little cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Try adding a little bit of cayenne pepper to make it a sweet and spicy snack.