Recipe: Tasty popcorn toppers -- five ways to spice it up

by Julie Snyder

Popcorn toppersPopcorn makes a great snack, but it can seem a little mundane for the buffet table. All you need to do is dress it up a bit.

Spicy or sweet and savory seasonings -- we've included a recipe something for every snack-lover.

Pop up a batch. Then give it some sparkle, a festive flare and a bit of a kick with one of these popcorn toppers.

Five tasty popcorn toppers

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes | Yield: 16 servings

1. Spicy popcorn seasoning

Start with popped corn to make six to eight cups. Choose a topping -- or several -- and follow the instructions for a crunchy snack.

Ingredients:
• 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
• 2 tablespoons celery salt
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon paprika, ground cumin and curry powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
• 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together and set aside. Pour the melted butter over the popcorn. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and stir well.

2. Honey roasted popcorn

Ingredients:
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon milk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a bowl, mix together the honey, brown sugar, butter and milk. Add the popcorn and mix. Spread it evenly on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

3. Spicy cheesy popcorn

Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 pound Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese
• 4 teaspoons hot sauce (more or less to taste)
• salt to taste

Instructions:
In a small bowl, mix together the the two cheeses and the hot sauce. Put hot popcorn in a large bowl and coat with the butter. Add the cheese mixture a handful at a time and mix thoroughly. The heat from the popcorn will melt the cheese.

4. Sweet and salty popcorn

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoon brown sugar, more or less to taste
• nuts, dried fruit or chunks of chocolate if desired

Instructions:
Stir the nuts, fruit or chocolate into the popcorn. Melt the peanut butter and butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. If it isn't melted, microwave in additional 15 seconds increments. Stir in the brown sugar to taste. Pour over the popcorn and serve.

5. Parmesan nacho popcorn

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook's note

Popcorn makes a filling and satisfying snack. If you're tired of the same old thing, dress it up. Do you have a favorite commercial popcorn blend? Take a cue from the ingredients listed in their products and add the same spices to your homemade popcorn.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.