I'm a great fan of popcorn, and I recently acquired a popcorn maker. It's the sort that spins the kernels in a drum and heats the metal until they pop.

However, I've had difficulty flavouring them. When I used to make popcorn years ago if I wanted a quick flavour I'd just sprinkle on salt of sugar liberally. But I'm a little more health-conscious nowadays, and I don't really want to use too much of either.

I found this question about flavouring corn:

How do I coat popcorn with flavor?

But the answers are a little culinary - I want to flavour my popcorn quickly and easily. Are there any good off the shelf flavourings for this? Or any mixtures I can make in advance and keep for quick sprinkles? Suggestions for both adults and kids would be much appreciated.

  • 2
    The answers there do mention that without using oil when popping, it's difficult to get seasoning to adhere.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 17:21
  • 1
    @Jefromi : I use my pump oil sprayer to give a light coating of oil, then I can toss in the popcorn salt, then toss the whole bowl to coat. It's actually difficult to over-salt this way, as the extra salt will just fall to the bottom of the bowl. related : cooking.stackexchange.com/a/27924/67
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Joe Yup, write an answer!
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 0:06
  • 1
    Our favourite is melted (salted) butter or unflavoured coconut oil, spread it over, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Not sure that constitutes an answer though.
    – Seth
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 0:09
  • Kelp powder will stick. It makes a good, tasty salt substitute. Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 20:31

6 Answers 6


I worked at a movie theater for a few years in high school. We cooked popcorn in coconut oil and applied Popcorn Salt (the kind that includes artificial flavorings in addition to the salt) during cooking and at time of serving per customer's request.

For application after cooking we stocked many flavors of a brand of popcorn seasoning known as "Kernel Seasons." Those flavorings range from the expected cheddar and french onion to the stranger marshmallow and caramel.

Kernel Seasons popcorn seasoning shakers

These flavorings were fun every once in a while but most of them had strong chemical aftertastes. It's quick and easy to apply. Kids have a blast with it. People who object to artificial flavors will not enjoy it though.

You could try something like a powdered ranch dressing mix or some other spice mix for similar results.

The key is adding some salt during the cooking process. It sticks much better that way. Any additional seasoning should be added as quickly as possible after popping while the corn is still "wet" with oil on the surface, again for stickiness.

  • 1
    I have no idea if I can get these in the UK. But my word, am I going to look and see.
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 18:43
  • @MattThrower - I love the White Cheddar version of this seasoning, but I live in Australia where it is unavailable. I was able to order it via Amazon. I also recommend trying a bit of flavored oil on your popcorn - I love it with chili oil.
    – jkraybill
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 2:07

Yes, there are popcorn flavorings available in most grocery stores. In the US, those can usually be found with the popcorn. The thing that makes popcorn salt different from table salt is that it is very fine, that's why it sticks better. You can turn table salt into popcorn salt in the food processor, or buy popcorn salt. Another fun thing for popcorn is cheese powder

You have to have some oil or butter, salt or powdered flavorings won't stick to dry, air-popped popcorn. Even just a very quick spray of butter flavored non-stick spray (Pam) will help salt and/or flavorings adhere.

  • Aha. So icing or caster sugar are likely to be a better bet than standard granulated?
    – Bob Tway
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 18:43
  • 1
    @MattThrower For just tossing with popcorn? Absolutely. Icing sugar might get clumpy, I'd go with caster.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 18:49
  • 1
    I've used a mortar and pestle to reduce table salt to popcorn salt -- absolutely necessary to make it adhere, since I use a hot-air popper.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 21:51
  • @keshlam do you use any kind of spray or anything?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 22:03
  • Nope. If it's ground finely enough, it sticks well enough. I don't know whether that's due to static electricity, or moisture in the popcorn, or something else. (Actually, I can't eat as much popcorn as I used to; my gums really aren't happy with it.)
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 22:05

My two favorites:

My wife's suggestion:

  • Brewer's/nutritional yeast (somewhat cheesy, can be an acquired taste)

I like to use pre-blended seasonings for similar reasons to you. They come in little jars that can be shaken over your popcorn. For example.

I've also used things like curry power and paprika powder.

You still need to throw in some oil or butter in there to make it stick to the popcorn better. And I think some mixes don't taste as good without a little bit of salt.

  • smoked paprika would give you a smoky 'bacon' flavour which would be quite good for pop corn
    – jk.
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 9:01

A very healthy and believe it or not, an addicting popcorn enhancer is Nutritional Yeast. I eat meat and am not a health food nut. It's very like a powdered cheese flavoring but it's not dairy, just yeast.


Favorite at our house is a spice blend (nutritional yeast, garlic powder, cumin, salt, sugar, paprika) called Shane Lyons's "Magic Dust" -- grind everything to a fine powder in a bullet blender.

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