21 ways to liven up microwave popcorn for a treat

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Great snacks are healthy, easy to make and delicious to eat. Ones that are budget-friendly get an even bigger bonus point. Popcorn ticks all the boxes. When popcorn is in its purest form, it can be low in fat, calories and sugar. It’s also loaded with healthy whole grains and fiber.

There is also something irresistible about popping one after the other of those light, fluffy puffs into our mouths as we watch the drama of a great movie unfold.

Popcorn can be ready in minutes, whether you make it from scratch, use an air popper or place a bag in the microwave. While it’s delicious with just a little oil and a pinch of salt, adding other toppings takes no time at all and elevates popcorn into a new snack entirely, even if you’re already starting with the best microwave popcorn. What’s more is that you can customize it based on your current craving, be it sweet, savory or salty.

Rather than smothering freshly popped popcorn in butter and oil, why not try adding other ingredients to upgrade your crunch? So whether you are making a batch for yourself or your next movie night with friends, here are 20 ways to turn popcorn into an even better treat.

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Low in Calories, Big in Flavor

Sprinkle your popcorn with one of these toppings for big taste that won’t hurt your diet.

1. Nutritional yeast – this gluten-free, vegan seasoning has a flavor like cheese without the calories.

2. Taco seasoning – use homemade or store-bought for some spicy depth.

3. Mist with coconut oil – we recommend using a fine mist sprayer for this topping.

4. Lime and cumin – squeeze the lime over your hot popcorn first, then shake on the cumin.

5. Ranch dressing seasoning  – Italian dressing blends work well, too.

6. Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend find the variety that matches your tastes best, whether it be Southwest Chipotle, Lemon Pepper or something else.

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Trail-Mix Style Blends

Try these three varieties one at a time during a Netflix binge or test the whole bunch out at your next gathering.

7. Dried cranberries, raisins and banana chips – try this for a fruity, salty mash-up.

8. M&Ms and pretzels – a sweet-and-salty combo that packs a crunch.

9. Walnuts, dried strawberries and chocolate chipsthis recipe speaks for itself.

10. S’mores style – break up graham crackers into small pieces and add chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.

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Pour-Over Flavor Boosters

Drizzle these ingredients over your popcorn bowl and gently mix to turn your next batch into a decadent dessert.

11. Melted dark chocolate and coconut flakes – there might not be a better topping for a night of watching rom-coms.

12. Maple syrup – it may sound rich but that’s entirely the point.

13. Honey – (see above).

14. Milk chocolate and peanut butter – mix chocolate and peanut butter in a bowl first and melt in the microwave before pouring over your popcorn.

15. Caramel – who doesn’t love caramel corn?

16. Chopped dates, sunflower butter and dark chocolate – we did say decadent, right?

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Savory Goodness

Not quite dessert not yet a meal, these popcorn toppings will leave you wanting more once you reach the bottom of the bowl.

17. Truffle oil – take your microwave popcorn to elegant heights.

18. Pesto and parmesan – bet you never knew popcorn could have such depth.

19. Crispy bacon with a splash of the drippings – I promised myself I wouldn’t drool.

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Desserts That Won’t Wreck Your Diet

If you’re craving something sweet, but don’t want a full-on dessert, these final two popcorn ideas shouldn’t put quite your diet back to start-again-tomorrow mode.

20. Cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar – a dusting of these pantry staples can make regular popcorn taste like kettle corn.

21. Oreo cookies – finely crush up a few Oreos and dust them over the bowl for something sweet, savory and satisfying.

Which topping ideas make your mouth water?

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. Learn More.