When snacking for dinner, popcorn is unbeatable.
It’s an ideal “main dish” because it’s more filling than other snack foods and doesn’t rely on a deep fryer for flavor. It can also be made from scratch in minutes with no special equipment other than a large jar, and you can flavor it however you like.
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There’s also no need to book a popcorn party for a special occasion. While you can certainly associate popcorn with movie night, there’s no law against making popcorn for dinner whenever the moment arises. Don’t fight the feeling.
It’s a snack that really fills you up
Popcorn is an unprocessed whole grain: in fact, it is the combination of a starchy kernel inside a fibrous outer shell that makes the popcorn pop. It’s also high in fiber, containing nearly 4 grams per 4-cup serving, and contains a significant amount of polyphenols that can help lower blood sugar and aid digestion.
You can use popcorn to minimize the amount of oil used in making popcorn, dietitian nutritionist Julien Chamoun says.
Plus, “popcorn is a filling snack because of the bulk it takes up in your stomach, which keeps us from over-munching,” says dietitian nutritionist Julien Chamoun of RD Nutrition Counseling in New Jersey. Popcorn has been shown to be more filling than potato chips, which means you’ll feel fuller after eating it.
Keep in mind, however, that “although popcorn is a great healthy snack, when oil is added during the cooking process, it can double the calories and fat,” Chamoun says. He recommends a popcorn as the best method to limit the amount of oil added during cooking, but if you don’t want to jump on it, you can always make popcorn with very little oil per serving on the stovetop. . Here’s how.
How to Make Basic Stovetop Popcorn
To make 16 cups of popcorn (about 4 servings), you will need 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons of neutral cooking oil, such as canola oil or vegetable oil.
Pour the oil into a large saucepan of at least 6 liters in volume. Add two or three grains to the pot, then cover and place over medium-high heat until you hear the grains pop.
Once this happens, remove the pan from the heat, pour in the remaining grains and cover the pan. Wait 30 seconds, then return pan to burner and cook, shaking pan frequently, until popping slows.
Remove the lid to carefully allow the steam to escape, then transfer the popcorn to a large bowl to season.
Make your own popcorn with flavor combos
When it comes to flavoring your popcorn, the options are as varied as your cravings. Popcorn can be topped with a ready-made mix like any Old Bay bagel or seasoning, but it’s always fun to get creative and make your own combinations.
Whether you prefer a savory mix, a sweet treat, or a bit of both, you can customize your bowl based on what your taste buds tell you.
Toss freshly popped popcorn with melted butter, coconut oil, or olive oil to give the seasoning something to stick to, then sprinkle over your choice of toppings. Try these suggested flavors to get you started.
If you prefer salty
Pizza Popcorn: Cheese, grass, garlic, and just a little spicy — and better for you than eating a whole pizza or a basket full of breadsticks for dinner. If you don’t eat dairy, substitute Parmesan with nutritional yeast.
Sesame Nori Popcorn: Crispy seaweed snacks aren’t just for eating on their own. Mash them in sesame oil popcorn for a Japanese-inspired bowl and add toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.
Mexican Popcorn: If you love the flavors of elote or Mexican street corn, this seasoning is just as zesty but without the mess. Fresh lime juice and zest add a little something extra to every bite.
Buffalo Ranch Popcorn: Once you’ve made homemade ranch seasoning, you won’t want to go back to the store-bought packet. Add some hot sauce to the butter and you have a game to watch.
BBQ Popcorn: No sauce needed with this recipe – smoked paprika is the secret to this simple sweet and smoky popcorn seasoning.
For a sweet feeling
Hot Chocolate Popcorn: Instead of weighing down your popcorn with melted chocolate, try a lighter version of sweet and chocolatey popcorn kettle popcorn. The mini marshmallow pieces are perfect for enjoying by the fire.
The pulverized freeze-dried strawberries give the popcorn a pretty pink hue.
Spicy Snickerdoodle Popcorn: You can make this better-than-bag version with just cinnamon and sugar, but warming spices like cardamom and ginger give this popcorn a more sophisticated feel.
Strawberry Popcorn: Humming freeze-dried strawberries in the food processor gives you a pretty pink powder that makes this popcorn berry different from other sweet snacks.
Toasted Coconut Popcorn: Use toasted coconut from the snack aisle if you don’t want to toast your own unsweetened coconut chips for that tropical take on popcorn. Add a few handfuls of cashews or almonds to make a trail mix.
Maple Pumpkin Spice Popcorn: Whether you choose to make your own pumpkin spice blend or opt for a pre-mixed version, you’ll still get all the fall sensations from this flavor.