How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Popcorn

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Whether you’re making it salted, sweet or savory, popcorn is a delicious and irresistible snack. It’s expected by all when you plan a movie night with your friends or family. Popcorn itself is easy to make and can take less than five minutes, but where has the seasoning gone? Often when popcorn is made at home it’s a challenge to know how to get seasoning to stick to popcorn.

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It doesn’t matter what seasoning you’ve tried. It could be salt or sugar, and I bet the seasoning falls right to the bottom of the bowl. If you pour oil over the popcorn you risk ending up with a soggy, slimy snack.

We’re here to help and share some knowledge to save your movie nights. It doesn’t matter what method you use to cook the popcorn. If it’s on a stove, microwave or even an air popper, we have an array of tips that may help you. In this article we will be sharing recipes and different methods on how to get seasoning to stick to popcorn.

Table of Contents

How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Popcorn: The Prep

Firstly, we have some checkpoints for you to look at before you attempt to season your popcorn.

It’s very important to choose the right type of popcorn, the right type of oil and the right type of pan.

Choose Your Popcorn

The different types of popcorn will pair better with certain types of flavor. If you would like to fully coat your popcorn in seasoning then you will want to get a popcorn that can handle the density of the seasoning. If you choose the wrong type of popcorn, the end result could mean you either end up with dry or soft popcorn.

The most common types of popcorns are butterfly or mushroom.

Butterfly popcorn is fluffy, airy and is often the type of popcorn you will find at the cinema. Butterfly popcorn works well when coating in hot oil to prep for your seasoning as it’s flatter than the others. Butter, caramel and salt can easily catch on to the wings of the butterfly popcorn. But if you coat it too heavy, then butterfly popcorn will crumble as it’s naturally fluffy and airy.

Mushroom popcorn holds a more dense round shape unlike butterfly popcorn, which spreads as it heats. Mushroom popcorn is better for heavy seasoning due to its shape being strong enough to hold it. Flavors like caramel, chocolate and even cheese work well on mushroom popcorn as it has a wide surface area that can catch the coatings better. 

If you’re wanting to add your own unique taste to your popcorn, it’s best to either use butterfly or mushroom popcorn types.

What Oil Will It Be

Next up is the choice of oil. This may be the key to why your seasoning isn’t sticking to your popcorn.

Popcorn will need the oil to be heated to a good temperature. Using an oil with a high smoke tolerance like canola oil, sesame oil, avocado oil and corn oil will give you better popcorn. Oils like sesame oil will also add a nutty flavor to your popcorn.

If you choose a high heat oil, it’s most likely that your cooking process will go a lot smoother. If you’re cooking popcorn on a stove then you could even opt for oils like coconut oil, olive oil and almond oil which both have a high heat tolerance and won’t leave nasty residue on your popcorn.

kernels of popcorn in a bowl

Which Pan

Lastly, selecting the right pan when making popcorn could save you many failed batches.

You want to aim to use a conductive heat pan, which is a pan that will change temperature quickly. This means you can change your heat from high to medium heat and the pan will be able to change the temperature of the food quicker.

A conductive heat pan will also ensure that your popcorn will heat evenly. This is important as you want to cover all the popcorn with the seasoning. Having a conductive heat pan means you can vary how you cook your popcorn and can produce different flavors, with a variety of seasonings. When purchasing a conductive heat pan, it may be best to go for a heavy bottomed pan as they can control the beat changes better than other types.

The Seasoning Matters

To start off, you will want to make sure that any seasoning you add to your popcorn is in powder form. To do this you can use a spice grinder, a pestle or a food blender or processor. Even when seasoning with salt, the salt you add should be finer than normal salt, allowing it to have a better chance at sticking to the popcorn.

No matter what the recipe, making your seasoning into a fine powder and misting your popcorn are key steps. Misting the popcorn will make it sticky and allow the seasoning to stick. You can use oil, water, tabasco and even soy sauce to mist your popcorn.

Applying the seasoning to the popcorn while the popcorn is hot is the best way to get your seasoning to stick. The moisture on the popcorn will help lock in the seasoning. When you’re using oil to coat your popcorn, to avoid ending up with soggy popcorn it’s best to get the popcorn and oil to a high heat, meaning the oil will spread evenly over the popcorn.

We have a great hack that can help you mist your popcorn quickly without having to purchase any extra tools. Follow these step by step instructions:

  • Step 1: Use a bowl that is large enough to fit all your popcorn. You should be able to move the popcorn around in the bowl freely, without it spilling over the edges.
  • Step 2: Pour your chosen oil and seasoning, using enough to cover the bowl without any extra liquid falling to the bottom. Add your popcorn to the bowl and toss it around in the bowl.
  • Step 3: Use your hands to mix the popcorn around in the bowl to cover all popcorn pieces evenly.

Using A Stove For Seasoning Popcorn

Most people when making popcorn choose to use a stove. This is one of the better ways to get popcorn to stick as the popcorn will be moist if prepared this way.

To ensure as much moisture as possible, coat the un-popped popcorn with your oil and seasoning before popping. As the popcorn pops, your seasoning will stick. To add more seasoning to the popcorn after, you can sprinkle it on while it’s still hot.

Using A Microwave For Seasoning Popcorn

Using a microwave can be a little trickier than a stove. Yes, it may be far quicker and will involve less steps but it won’t make the popcorn as moist, which is the key to the seasoning sticking. We advise the same method of seasoning the popcorn in oil and your chosen flavour before popping in the microwave to give the seasoning the best chance of sticking.

How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Air Popcorn

Air popcorn is made using a hot air popper rather than a stove. Just like a microwave, an air popper can make the popcorn dry meaning it’s hard to add seasoning.

If you can only make popcorn with an air popper then it’s best to get something that can moisten your popcorn, like a mister. A mister is an appliance that will spray your food with a mist and not steam, evenly coating your popcorn with liquid. A mister can save you a lot of oil use and can impact how many calories your popcorn results in.

To cook with an air popper, mist the popcorn and add your seasoning and then cook.

If you don’t want to splash out on a mister, oil or butter will work well too.

unseasoned fresh popcorn

How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Popcorn Without Oil

There are plenty of ways to get seasoning to stick without using oils. Anything that can moisten your popcorn will work. The best alternatives are plain water, saltwater, soy sauce, tabasco, vinegar or butter. All of these alternatives will add extra flavor to your popcorn except water.

If you would like to season popcorn without oil it’s best to steam the popcorn to add a moisture coat. Follow these simple steps to steam your popcorn:

  • Step 1: Boil plain water in a pan and place either a glass bowl or colander over the pan.
  • Step 2: Place your popcorn in the glass bowl or colander. This will steam all the popcorn.
  • Step 3: As you see the popcorn begin to get moist, sprinkle your seasoning over the popcorn.
  • Step 4: After one minute, your popcorn should have reached a high enough temperature to allow the seasoning to stick. Do not leave the popcorn over the boiling water for longer than a minute or your popcorn will turn soggy.

How To Make Nutritional Yeast Stick To Popcorn Without Oil

Aim to get nutritional yeast in the finest form to give it the best chance of sticking to your popcorn. The best alternatives to make nutritional yeast stick is better, water or lime juice.

It’s best to add nutritional yeast after popping the popcorn. After the popcorn is popped, spray with water, butter or lime juice and add the nutritional yeast.

How To Get Salt To Stick To Popcorn

Salt is a very common seasoning for popcorn and salted popcorn can be bought pre-made. Although, there’s something about preparing it fresh that makes it taste better.

Adding your seasoning and moisture before you popcorn pops will be the best method when trying to get your salt to stick. Make sure to cover the popcorn lightly in salt, as you can always add more after you do a taste check.

Here is a recipe to get you started:

  • Step 1: Place a spoonful of butter and your desired amount of salt into a large bowl. Remember to make sure that your salt is as fine as it can be.
  • Step 2: Add the un-popped popcorn and mix with your hands.
  • Step 3: Heat the popcorn on the stove at a medium heat.
  • Step 4: Taste check the popcorn to see if you need to add more salt. If you would like to add more salt, do this while the popcorn is hot.

How To Get Sugar To Stick To Popcorn

Just like the other methods, adding sugar to popcorn will follow the same process.

We have a great recipe that will help you add sugar to your popcorn and make your popcorn extra sweet:

  • Step 1: Start by making caramel by boiling sugar. This will create a caramel sauce.
  • Step 2: Steam your popcorn on a stove. While the popcorn is hot, add a tablespoon of butter.
  • Step 3: Add the caramel sauce while the popcorn is still hot.
  • Step 4: Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before eating.
caramel popcorn

Make it Stick!

Seasoning your own popcorn at home can be very tricky and can take practise. With the methods we’ve shown, this process should be a little easier. Keeping the popcorn moist before adding the seasoning is key to making successfully seasoned popcorn.

Have you tried seasoning popcorn? What have you found is the best method when seasoning popcorn?


How To Keep Popcorn From Getting Soggy

You will have soggy popcorn if you allow your popcorn to steam for too long or if you add too much oil, or liquid before your seasoning.

It is possible to save your soggy popcorn by putting it in the oven to dry out and crisp up. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and allow your popcorn to sit for no longer than 10 minutes. Keep checking on the popcorn to make sure it doesn’t dry up too much.

How To Make Air Popped Popcorn Taste Good

Always add moisture to air popped popcorn to help add seasoning to the kernels. If you don’t add moisture to the popcorn, the air popped popcorn could taste very dry.

For seasoning suggestions we recommend using olive oil over butter. If you want to add herbs like basil if you want to make salted popcorn. If you want to make sweet popcorn, we recommend using butter, added with sugar and cocoa powder.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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