Happy Zea Mays Everta Day: 5 Unique DIY Popcorn Seasoning Recipes

Get out your giant bowl and keep the floss handy, because today is National Popcorn Day! Aren't you excited? Wait, what? You didn't know there was a popcorn day? Me neither...until just now. I have no idea where or how this "holiday" originated, but I'm sure as hell gonna celebrate.

It's almost ritualistic to pop a bag before curling up in a blanket and watching a good movie. Popcorn and movies go together like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Americans eat over 1 billion pounds of popcorn each year, enough to fill the Empire State Building 20 times. Whether it's movie theater butter, kettle, caramel or that powdered cheese kind that comes in the tri-flavor tins, we just can't get enough.

To commemorate the beloved snack's special day, we rounded up a bunch of spices and cheeses, bought some plain, non-flavored popcorn (ugh...boooorriinnnggg) and turned our kitchen into a popcorn laboratory, experimenting with lots of different homemade seasonings. Maybe we made popcorn crowns, necklaces and bracelets and danced around the living room...maybe we didn't. (There was tequila involved...and all photographic evidence has been deleted.) But we did come up with some pretty tasty popcorn flavors that are easy to make, with ingredients that are probably in your pantry right now. Here are our favorites:


  • 2 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 24 cups plain popped popcorn (from 1 cup kernels or 4 microwave packages)
  • In a small bowl, stir together salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, oregano, thyme, and cayenne pepper. In a very large bowl, drizzle butter over popcorn and toss. Add spice mixture and toss to coat.

    Peanut Butter

  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 cups of popcorn (1 standard microwave bag)
  • Pour the popcorn into the paper bag or bowl to cool and lightly salt popcorn to taste. Mix the honey and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about two 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.

    Parmesan, Dill & Garlic

  • 8 cups popped popcorn
  • Nonstick cooking spray or melted butter
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Put popcorn in large bowl and spray lightly with cooking spray (or drizzle with butter). Toss popcorn to coat and sprinkle with seasoning.

    Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1 3.5-ounce bag of microwave popcorn
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • In a large bowl, toss the popcorn and melted butter and in a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over the popcorn and toss to coat.

    And since we can't do anything without booze...

    Chili Lime Tequila (large quantity, great for a party)

  • 4 quarts (16 cups) freshly popped popcorn
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp tequila
  • 1/2 small jalapeno, seeds and membrane removes, minced
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

    Put the popcorn in a large, clean paper bag. In a medium-size bowl whisk together the butter, lime juice and zest, and tequila. Add the jalapeno. In a small bowl combine the black pepper, salt, red pepper, and cumin.

    Drizzle half of the butter mixture over the popcorn, fold over the top of the bag, and shake until the popcorn is coated and moist. Taste. Add more of the butter mixture if you like, and give a second shake. Sprinkle (most of) the pepper mixture over the popcorn, fold over the top of the bag, and shake a few times to coat. Taste, and if you'd like more pepper flavor add the rest of it.

    Spread the popcorn evenly over the baking sheet and bake until the popcorn is dry, five to seven minutes.

    How will you celebrate National Popcorn Day? Would you give any of these seasonings a try? What's your favorite kind of popcorn? Let us know in the comments section!

    Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

    KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
    Ginny Braud
    Contact: Ginny Braud