Popcorn, much like fall, is a crunchy treat.
And it’s even more of a treat when you pop it up with the flavors of the season – Halloween and football-friendly flavors like pumpkin spice, peanut butter and honey, white chocolate and candy corn, Buffalo ranch or bacon Parmesan.
We scoured the internet for the most tempting popcorn recipes for fall and found several winners. These recipes are all easy to make – some take only a few minutes to mix up – and they’re perfect for Halloween parties, tailgates or even simple snacking. Popcorn also is inexpensive, plus it’s high in fiber and low in calories if you pop it yourself.
We started all of these recipes by popping the corn from kernels, something that’s easy to do. Just heat up 1/4 cup of oil at the bottom of a big pot, then add enough kernels to cover the bottom. Move the pot around on the burner until the popping slows.
All of the five recipes included here were made using just one 32-ounce bag of kernels, and we had about 8 cups left over.
You also can use microwave popcorn or bagged popcorn, but the calories and cost both go up if you do.
Buffalo ranch popcorn
Makes 12 cups
12 cups popped popcorn
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons hot sauce, like Frank’s RedHot
In a small bowl combine granulated garlic, dill, cumin and sea salt. Set aside. In another bowl, melt butter and add sauce. Mix until combined. Toss butter with popcorn in a large bowl. Then toss with seasoning.
Peanut butter popcorn
Makes about 8 cups
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (should be free of added sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Have a clean paper shopping bag or oversized mixing bowl ready.
Heat a 4-quart heavy pan over medium heat and film the bottom with vegetable oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the popcorn, shake to distribute, then put a lid on the pan, leaving a small crack for steam to escape. When the first kernel pops, put the lid on all the way. As the popcorn starts popping, shake vigorously to make sure the kernels are distributed evenly. When the popping slows to a few seconds between pops, take the pan off the heat.
Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool, and attempt to leave any unpopped kernels behind in the pan. (Coated with peanut butter caramel, the unpopped kernels are a serious tooth hazard). Lightly salt the popcorn to taste.
Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the peanut butter. Stir vigorously until all the peanut butter is melted, then mix in the vanilla.
Immediately pour the peanut butter caramel over the popcorn and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until it’s all coated. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Note: This recipe will also cover one standard bag of microwave popcorn, so you can substitute that for the stovetop popcorn, if you wish. This keeps well overnight. If you want the gooey-ness of freshly made popcorn, though, warm a bowl of leftover popcorn in 15-second bursts in the microwave until slightly warm and soft.
Peggy’s Halloween delight popcorn
Makes 16 cups
From Peggy Smith.
16 cups popped corn
12 to 16 ounces white chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup candy corn
3/4 cup peanuts
1 1/2 cup pretzel sticks
1 1/2 cups Reese’s pieces
Make sure unpopped kernels are removed from popcorn. Place popped kernels in a large bowl. Melt white chocolate in a microwave-save bowl in the microwave. Pour chocolate over popcorn in bowl and stir to coat. Spread the mixture onto two large cookie sheets lines with wax paper. Distribute candy corn, pretzel sticks and Reese’s Pieces over the popcorn. Allow chocolate to set up and break mixture into pieces.
Bacon and cheese popcorn
Makes 16 cups
4 quarts popped popcorn
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke seasoning
1/3 cup bacon bits or soy “bacon” bits
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon seasoned salt or kosher salt
Place popcorn in a large serving bowl. Place butter in a small bowl and melt in microwave, about 20 seconds. Stir liquid smoke into butter. Pour butter mixture over popcorn and toss to distribute evenly. Sprinkle bacon bits, Parmesan cheese and salt over popcorn. Toss and serve immediately.
Pumpkin caramel popcorn
Makes 15 cups
15 cups plain popped popcorn
1 1/2 sticks butter, cubed
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat. Place the popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a boil. Stir briefly to combine the ingredients and then allow them to boil for 3 minutes without stirring.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour onto the popcorn. Stir until evenly coated. Spread the popcorn evenly on the prepared sheet pan and place in the oven. Allow to cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and break into pieces (or enjoy as clusters). Serve popcorn warm or at room temperature.