The Best Things To Add To Your Popcorn That Aren't Butter

If you frequently make your popcorn at home, whether you go stovetop or microwave, you likely have your go-to popcorn add-ins. Some folks like to sprinkle on some plain salt, while others are fans of butter all the way. However, if you've just been adding butter to your popcorn, or even settling for the butter flavor that you get from a microwave bag, then you may be missing out. While everyone loves a bowl of buttery, hot, movie theater-style popcorn on occasion, if you eat popcorn on the regular, even butter can get boring.

To help you liven things up, here are the best things to add to your fresh popcorn that aren't butter. And of course, you can add these items to your microwave popcorn, too. Because let's face it — sometimes you just don't have the time nor patience to sit and jiggle a pot on the stove to cook your kernels from scratch. You've got snacking to do.

White chocolate and Oreos

Do you love the Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme Drizzled Popcorn that's only available for a limited time at Sam's Club? If so, what are you going to do when that limited time runs out and this sweet and salty treat is no longer available? Or what if you're just now hearing about this tempting snack after the limited time has passed, and you never got to try the collab between two of your favorite snacks, popcorn and Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme bars?

Well, what you're going to do is ... make your own. You can replicate the experience and flavor (or even improve upon it) by adding white chocolate and crushed Oreos to your popcorn at home. You can do it the simple way: Just crush a handful of Oreos, chop up your favorite white chocolate bar (or a Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme bar), add both to your popcorn, and give it all a good shake to mix. You can also go the extra step and melt your chocolate before adding it to the popcorn and crushed Oreos.

Dark chocolate and matcha powder

For a sweet popcorn treat that goes above and beyond your typical caramel corn, add some dark chocolate and matcha powder to the mix. You can use any popcorn you like, even the bagged, pre-popped stuff. Just toss in a few teaspoons of matcha powder to taste, spread out your popcorn on a sheet pan, and drizzle on some melted chocolate.

You can adapt this chocolate-covered popcorn recipe to make it happen, especially if you're unsure what chocolate to use or how to best go about melting it. Just swap out the white and milk chocolate for dark and don't use quite as much as the recipe calls for — you're going for more of a drizzle than a bark. 

Don't care for dark chocolate? There's absolutely no reason why you couldn't use white chocolate with the matcha powder instead. As you chow down on handfuls of this delicious treat, just tell yourself it's a healthy choice; matcha powder does come with a bevy of health benefits, after all.

Chocolate chips

For an incredibly easy addition to your popcorn, go with chocolate chips. You don't need to melt anything, crush anything, or go to any specialty food stores for an ingredient you don't already have in your pantry. All you need are the chocolate chips and the popcorn — two items most home cooks will already have on hand.

The nice part about using chocolate chips in your popcorn versus chopped chocolate? Chocolate chips are designed and formulated to hold their shape better than other types of chocolate. So you'll still get a nice, rich bite from the chocolate chips contrasted against the texture of the light and airy popcorn. 

However, if you do want some chocolate that's going to melt as much as possible once it hits your hot popcorn — but still want the ease of ripping open a bag of chips and throwing them into the bowl — simply grab your favorite chocolate bar and break it all up inside the wrapper before opening it over your popcorn.

Peanut butter and honey

Peanut butter? And honey? On popcorn? You'd think that would be a little messy and sticky, but not necessarily.

This peanut butter popcorn recipe blends peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and peanuts with microwave popcorn for a totally tasty treat that's incredibly easy to make. You just blend your peanut butter, honey, and vanilla in a saucepan until the ingredients are mixed and melted. Then, add the mixture to your popped popcorn and give it a stir. To avoid the mess (though you don't necessarily have to, if sticky fingers aren't going to bother you), spread the popcorn out on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes at 300 F. Then, toss the popcorn with your peanuts and dig in. You have a delicious, peanut buttery, sweet popcorn that won't leave a mess on your couch during movie night. For best results, go with lightly salted, no-butter microwave popcorn.

Cocoa powder and powdered sugar

Hot chocolate bombs, hot chocolate cookies, hot chocolate lattes — around the holiday season, everything seems to get the hot chocolate flavor treatment. But what about your popcorn? Holidays or not, you can give your microwave or stovetop popcorn a little hot chocolate love with just a few basic baking ingredients. Once you have the staple hot chocolate flavor down, you can then add in extra ingredients to get the perfect, individualized hot chocolate flavors you enjoy during the winter months.

Just mix a small amount of cocoa powder with confectioners' sugar (you'll want to avoid regular sugar for this — who wants a bunch of grainy bits in their popcorn?) to taste and then add it to your popcorn. It's easiest to do this with microwave popcorn while it's still in its bag — just throw the cocoa and sugar in the bag, hold the top closed tight, and then give it all a vigorous shake. Adjust the cocoa and sugar to taste and then feel free to add in other hot chocolate-appropriate toppings, such as miniature marshmallows or chocolate chips.

Curry powder

If you've yet to sprinkle a bit of curry powder atop your popcorn, you're missing out. This versatile addition to your spice cabinet has so many uses, and curries (obviously) are just the start; from popcorn to soup, rice to salad dressings, you can add curry powder to just about everything. Just sprinkle your curry powder onto your popped popcorn, either in the bag or a bowl, and give it a good shake to mix.

Not familiar with curry powder? The bright orange seasoning is made with an array of different spices, depending on the brand you buy (or if you make it at home). Typical ingredients include turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, pepper, cloves, ginger, and bay leaves, among others. Curry powder typically isn't salty, so you can add it to your already-salted popcorn without any worries about potentially making your snack too salty. Plus, beyond the great taste, curry powder is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and adds some extra health benefits to your popcorn. 

Jerk seasoning

If you're craving popcorn with a bit of a spicy kick, consider sprinkling some jerk seasoning atop your popcorn. If you've yet to experience this Caribbean spice blend, it's typically a combination of allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic, and scallions (via TasteAtlas). It comes as a marinade in addition to a dry spice rub. Historically used for seasoning smoked and dried meat, now you can find jerk seasoning on just about anything, from salmon to pasta.

You can find jerk seasoning blends in the international section or spice aisle of your favorite grocery store. Just be careful — this spicy, sweet, and smoky flavor is not for the faint of heart. If the seasoning is made with cayenne pepper, it'll be slightly milder. But if it's made with the traditional Scotch Bonnet peppers, you can expect the flavor to rank from 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units on the Scoville scale (via Forbes). For reference, that's up to 40 times hotter than a jalapeño. 

Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence may sound very proper, but it's not quite as fancy as you might think. Translated as "herbs from Provence," the blend features traditionally French-grown, summer herbs. It lends a slightly Italian, sometimes floral flavor to all kinds of dishes, from various proteins to veggies to sauces — and now your popcorn. An herbes de Provence blend typically includes summer savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, basil, and bay leaf (via MasterClass). Some additionally include dried lavender, but this isn't traditional (via Spiceography). It's more of an Americanized take on the French invention — which was, by the way, popularized in the United States by Julia Child.

If you add herbes de Provence to your popcorn, you can opt for a blend that does or does not include lavender, depending on how you feel about floral flavors. Simply sprinkle the blend to taste over your cooked popcorn and shake to blend.


You may already enjoy paprika on some of your popcorn and not even know it. If you've tried Skinny Pop's popcorn mini cakes in the sharp cheddar flavor, you'll find paprika lurking in the ingredients list, helping to enhance the taste of the snack (which doesn't have any actual cheese in it). Paprika can add a greater depth of flavor to your salted popcorn. It has a gentle smoky spice that can be enhanced the more paprika you add, and by purchasing the right paprika. 

There are three types of paprika: sweet, smoked, and hot (via Cooking Light). Depending on what types of flavors you prefer, you might want to opt for one over the other. How hot exactly is the hot paprika? It receives a rating of 1,000 Scoville units, or about the same heat level as a poblano pepper.

Sprinkling some paprika on your popcorn not only adds spice, sweetness, or smoke. It can also add health benefits. Paprika is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Chili seasoning

Chili seasoning, or chili powder, is one of those vague seasonings that will differ according to the brand you buy or if you make on your own at home. However, if you can find a chili seasoning that you love, you can add it to your popcorn for a chili or taco-reminiscent flavor with all the ease of adding just a few shakes atop your bowl or bag of popcorn.

As AllRecipes explains, chili powder typically includes a mixture of chiles, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and paprika. To achieve the perfect blend of all these spices and seasonings, you can make your own seasoning mix. If you buy your chili seasoning at the store, though, don't make the mistake of picking up chile powder instead. That one letter swap makes a difference. While chili powder is made with a range of spices and seasonings, chile powder typically only includes dried, ground chiles and pretty much nothing else.

Wasabi powder

Love wasabi? You're not alone. This sushi accompaniment, derived from a plant in the same family as horseradish, is a popular addition to any foods in need of a kick of spice (via Taste of Home). But did you know most wasabi in the United States is fake? While real wasabi is extremely difficult to grow and very expensive, you can find fake wasabi powder for much less and quite easily in the international aisle at your local grocery store.

Luckily, even the fake stuff makes a good addition to your popcorn. You can sprinkle the wasabi powder to taste atop your popped popcorn and shake to mix. You can also try blending wasabi powder with melted butter and drizzling it over your popcorn like you would plain butter. If you only have wasabi paste, not wasabi powder, then you'll definitely want to try the butter mixture for easier flavor distribution throughout your entire bowl of popcorn.


Upgrade your typical salted popcorn with gomashio, a blend of sesame seeds and salt that's popular in Japan. The addition of the black or white sesame seeds makes for a nuttier, richer flavor than salt alone, says The Vegan Atlas. In addition to the enhanced flavor, the blend also comes with the many health benefits of sesame seeds; they're a good source of protein, calcium, vitamins, and antioxidants.

To make gomashio at home, The Vegan Atlas says to simply grind half a cup of toasted sesame seeds with 2 teaspoons of salt in a spice grinder. You can also give your gomashio a twist by adding a pinch of granulated garlic. When you're ready to add it to your popcorn, just sprinkle the mixture over your bowl and give it a shake or stir to distribute evenly. After you try it, you may just find this is one underrated seasoning that deserves more attention in your kitchen.

Parmesan cheese

Who doesn't love cheesy popcorn? If you love snacks like Cheetos Popcorn, but not the fat, sodium, and carbs — each serving has 13 carbs, 11 grams of fat, and 260 milligrams of sodium — there's another option. You can make your own healthier, cheesy popcorn at home by adding some parmesan to your favorite, low-cal, air-popped popcorn. To get the cheese to stick to the popcorn, make sure to add it while the popcorn is piping hot, and consider shaking the popcorn in a sealed container to blend everything together. You can also add some extra oil or melted butter to your popcorn for extra help.

And if you're looking for a cheesy popcorn option that's keto-approved, you can skip the actual popcorn altogether and make your own homemade cheese puffs, using a semi-hard or hard cheese like parmesan or gouda. This recipe tells you how to simply slice, dry, and bake your favorite cheese to low-carb snacking perfection. 

Nutritional yeast

For vegan cheesy popcorn, nutritional yeast is a popular option. However, if you don't live the vegan lifestyle, you may not have tried this healthy ingredient just yet. Nutritional yeast is literally just inactive yeast that's grown specifically to be a food source, and it's filled with — you guessed it — nutrients (via Healthline). And don't ask us why, but it also magically tastes like cheese. You can add nutritional yeast to pasta, veggies, soups, and anything else you think needs some cheesy flavor. But it's particularly popular for adding to popcorn, especially when you don't want to add real cheese or even butter.

All you need to do is blend nutritional yeast and salt together in a large bowl or lidded container. Add your hot, freshly popped popcorn, pop the lid back on, and give it all a shake until the nutritional yeast and salt are evenly distributed. 

Truffle oil

Truffle oil is one of those trendy ingredients that you either love or you hate. With its unmistakable aroma and earthy flavor, truffle oil is expensive when authentic and entirely synthetic when it's fake, containing not a single ounce of actual truffle. But whichever option you decide (or can afford) to go with, truffle oil makes a nice addition to your popcorn. Simply drizzle it over a fresh bowl just how you would melted butter. You can even pair it with other savory popcorn toppings, such as parmesan or herbes de Provence.

If just can't stand the taste of truffle oil, it might be because your taste buds aren't interested in the fake stuff that's more readily available at the grocery store. While some diners love any truffle oil they can get, experts note that there's a big difference between real truffle flavor and what you'll get from the mass-produced oil product. So, if you want to try this topping but you're not keen on truffles, it might be worth it to invest in the real deal and then see what your tastebuds think.