One weekend last year I was in charge of preparing the popcorn for a movie night with my friends.
I tossed the popcorn with my spice mixes, but NOTHING stuck. It all just fell to the bottom of the bowl.
You are watching: How To Get Seasoning To Stick To Air Popped Popcorn
I tried to fix it by pouring some oil in, but that resulted in soggy popcorn.
I’m here to help make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as me. Here’s how to get the seasonings to stick to your popcorn, whether you’re popping it in an air popper, on the stove or in the microwave.
To get your popcorn seasoning to stick, first make sure it’s in powder form. Popcorn salt is much finer than normal salt, so it will stick better. You also need to mist your popcorn with a liquid to make it sticky. Oil, water, soy sauce, and Tabasco are all good options.
Getting seasonings and salt to stick to popcorn
Before I get into the details, you need to be aware of the basics.
These tricks apply whatever method you use to season your popcorn.
You need to get whatever seasonings you’re using to as close to a fine powder as possible.
The smaller the grains are, the better chance they have of sticking.
If salt is your go-to seasoning, you’re in luck. You can buy ready-made popcorn salt, which is already in powder form. If you can’t find ‘popcorn salt’, look for brining salt.
It’s the same thing.
If you want something other than salt, take a look at kernels popcorn seasoning. The fine powder comes in loads of different flavors, including caramel corn and cheesy jalapeno (yuuuuuuuum!).
Alternatively, you can grind the seasonings yourself. There are a few things you can use to do this:
- A spice grinder
- A mortar and pestle
- A blender or a food processor
Once you have your ground seasonings, always try to add them while the popcorn is still hot.
That way, there’s still some residue moisture on the popcorn from the steam. The moisture will help the seasonings stick.
If you’re using oil, the heat will mean the oil spreads better, leading to a more even coating (and less soggy popcorn).
How to get the seasoning to stick to popcorn from an air popper
The problem with using an air popper is that the resulting popcorn is SUPER dry. This makes it difficult for any seasonings to adhere properly.
To get round this, you need to moisten the popcorn.
The most common way to do this is to use oil, but I also explain how to do it without oil.
The most common way to make popcorn sticky is to coat it in oil or fat.
Any kind of oil will do. I like to use olive oil or melted coconut oil. A cool trick you can use is to infuse your oil. This will enhance the flavor of popcorn even more.
Melted butter is another popular option.
How do I stop the popcorn from becoming soggy?
Easy. Use a mister (amazon link).
These ingenious little devices pressurize the liquids, so the spray comes out as a mist rather than a stream.
This means the popcorn gets evenly coated in a thin layer of your liquid.
If you were to pour the liquid (as I did that fateful weekend), you’d get a few super saturated bits of popcorn and the rest would remain dry.
It also means you use MUCH less oil, so you impart fewer calories onto your popcorn.
Once your popcorn is sufficiently misted, sprinkle on your seasoning and toss. You should end up with perfectly coated popcorn.
If you don’t, try adding a few more spritzes from your mister and re-tossing.
As an alternative, you can use what I’ve coined the bowl trick.
The bowl trick is useful if you don’t pop popcorn often enough to justify investing in a mister, or if you need a solution right now, you can use my bowl trick.
Disclaimer: you’ll have to get your hands dirty.
The bowl trick:
- Get a bowl big enough to hold your popcorn and toss it around
- Coat the bowl with a mixture of oil and your seasoning. Use just enough oil to cover the bowl entirely without a puddle forming in the bottom of the bowl
- As soon as you’ve coated the bowl, chuck your popcorn in and toss it around – the oil mixture will stick to the popcorn, seasoning it nicely
You’ll have to work quickly to coat the popcorn before gravity takes effect and all the oil slides to the bottom of the bowl. But if you’re nimble enough, this is a quick and effective method.
Seasoning popcorn without fat or butter
Want to avoid fats altogether, even if it’s just a few sprays?
Swap the oil for one of the following:
- Water (or saltwater)
- Soy sauce
- Lime juice
- A mix of the above (you can use water to dilute any of the flavors for a more mild taste)
My personal favorite is a spritz of vinegar and then a sprinkle of salt. It transports me back to my crisp eating childhood, but it’s MUCH healthier!
Another option you have is to lightly steam the popcorn. The moisture from the steam will coat the popcorn and make it sticky.
- Fill a pan with boiling water
- Put the popcorn in a colander and place it over the boiling water
- Toss or stir the popcorn in the colander, so it gets evenly coated in steam
- As you’re tossing the popcorn, sprinkle over your seasonings. The steam will help them stick
- After 30 seconds, take the popcorn off the heat and continue to toss. This will prevent the popcorn from getting soggy
Be careful not to over-steam the popcorn, or it will lose its crunch.
How to get the seasoning to stick to popcorn on a stovetop
The traditional way to make popcorn is to pop it in a bowl on the stove. It’s generally easier to get seasonings to stick when you’ve prepared the popcorn this way because the oil makes it sticker.
But if you want a REALLY good coating, I’ve got just the trick for you.
Coat the un-popped kernels with an oil of your choice and your seasonings.
As the popcorn pops the seasoned oil will coat your popcorn.
Tip: use an infused oil to get even more flavor in your popcorn
The recommended ratio is ½ a teaspoon of oil for every ¼ cup of popcorn kernels. With this ratio, the popcorn will get a nice thin coating of oil without becoming soggy.
If you want to add more seasoning once the popcorn is popped, go ahead and just sprinkle it on. Be quick though, because as soon as the popcorn cools down it will no longer be sticky.
If you’ve already popped the popcorn but it’s dry and nothing’s sticking, then it’s best to treat it like air-popped corn.
Scroll up and check out the advice I give above for getting seasoning to stock to air-popped popcorn.
How to get the seasoning to stick to popcorn from a microwave
If you’re popping your corn in the microwave you can also use the trick of coating the kernels in oil and seasoning before you pop them.
Or if the popcorn is already popped, then again, the best thing to do is look at the options I give for coating air-popped popcorn above.
How to fix soggy popcorn
Soggy popcorn occurs when you’ve gone overboard with the moisture.
If only a small amount of your popcorn is affected, it’s easiest to forget those bits ever existed. Chuck them out and enjoy the rest of your crispy popcorn.
But if the whole batch is looking a bit damp, you can revive it in the oven.
- Spread the popcorn in a single layer of a baking tray.
- Pop it in the oven at 250 degrees for 5 minutes.
Popcorn is very delicate. 5 minutes will be plenty long enough to draw out all the moisture and crisp it up again. Any longer and you risk it burning.