From miso paste to marmalade, here are 5 unconventional toppings to try on fresh popcorn

The possibilities are endless when it comes to flavoring popcorn. Ditch the butter and try these toppings instead

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 31, 2022 2:00PM (EDT)

Popcorn (Getty Images/Yevgen Romanenko)
Popcorn (Getty Images/Yevgen Romanenko)

Microwaveable popcorn has been a go-to snack of mine since I was a kid. From generously sized bags of Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theatre Butter popcorn to Pop Secret's Kettle Corn popcorn and Newman Own's Sea Salt popcorn, the puffed treat was always found in abundance in my family's kitchen pantry.

Over the past couple of months, I've been upping my popcorn game with different seasonings & spices. My favorite pairings are nutritional yeast with ghee — inspired by Lesser Evil's Organic Vegan Butter + Himalayan Salt Popcorn and "No Cheese" Cheesiness Popcorn — and parmesan with both garlic powder and red pepper flakes. I also really like a Cinnamon Toast Crunch inspired popcorn made with melted butter, avocado oil, granulated sugar and ground cinnamon.

When it comes to flavoring popcorn, the possibilities are truly endless. Alongside classic flavors, there are a handful of wacky options — such as eggnog, bacon bourbon caramel and cotton candy — emerging as fan-favorites, thanks to a slew of gourmet popcorn shops.   

Here at Salon Food, we're looking forward to taste testing these unconventional flavors and recreating them at home. To help us get started, we scoured a few specialty shops online and spoke with Joshua Resnick, chef-instructor of Culinary Arts at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). Resnick shared his favorite topping (it includes white miso paste) and other unusual flavors — salty, sweet and a mesh of both.


Joe & Seph's, a UK-based gourmet popcorn company, has an entire line of "tipsy" popcorn flavors that are inspired by wines and traditional cocktails. Their Gin & Tonic Popcorn, Irish Coffee Liqueur with White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn and 007 Dry Martini Popcorn are just a few popular varieties. Other eye-catching flavors include their Prosecco Popcorn, Caramel Macchiato & Whisky Popcorn and Espresso Martini Popcorn.

Each variety contains at least 5% alcohol by volume and is coated in smooth caramel infused with the liquor of choice. The resulting concoction is a sweet and slightly boozy popcorn that tastes almost like the real deal!

The brand also has a line of beer-flavored popcorn infused with caramel. A few varieties include the German Weissbier Popcorn, BrewDog Goats Cheese & Black Pepper Popcorn and BrewDog Madras Curry with Black Onion Seed & Lime.

All of Joe & Seph's popcorns can be purchased online via their official website and shipped throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

White Miso Paste

White miso paste, a versatile ingredient made from fermented soybeans, rice, salt and water, is oftentimes used in marinades, salad dressings and soup stocks. Surprisingly, it can also be added on popcorn, according to Resnick.

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"At a restaurant I used to work at, we used to cook down white miso paste in butter, then add in raw kernels from the cob and sauté them with a little bit of red pepper flakes," he explains. "And then you top it with a poached egg in a bowl. And you get this kind of rich, umami flavor — it's kind of like the flavor of an aged cheddar cheese."  

The miso paste can also be slathered on popcorn alongside sprinkles of Furikake seasoning, per this recipe from Veggiekins Blog. For a sweeter option, try this Caramel Miso Popcorn recipe which includes splashes of agave, vanilla extract and sriracha.


Also known as "Japanese chili pepper," this seven-spice blend consists of toasted nori, dried orange zest, toasted sesame seeds, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and dried garlic. Like other seasonings, Togarashi tastes great on popcorn, both salty and sweet. Popcorn sprinkled with togarashi, lime zest and salt is a spicy-tangy variety you can easily make at home. For a sweet twist on togarashi popcorn, try adding a tablespoon of honey.

Togarashi can be purchased at your local grocery stores or on Amazon and Instacart. If you want to make the blend from scratch, check out this simple guide from Food52.


Although Resnick advises against using liquids as toppings for popcorn (the wet consistency ruins both its texture and airy crispness), ketchup and other condiments, like mustard and tabasco sauce, can still be drizzled on popcorn as long as the popcorn is baked in the oven afterwards.

For ketchup popcorn, check out this short-and-sweet recipe from Chatelaine that calls for ketchup, butter, granulated sugar and salt. If ketchup isn't your cup of tea, try this Honey Mustard Popcorn recipe from Tasty which adds onion powder, white vinegar and honey to its list of seasonings. And lastly, if you're looking to step outside your comfort zone, check out this recipe for Tabasco Honey Butter Popcorn. The popcorn is popped in tabasco sauce and coated in a mixture of unsalted butter, honey, extra tabasco sauce and kosher salt.

Orange Marmalade

Joe & Seph's Orange Marmalade Popcorn is a "winner of 1 star in the Great Taste Awards in 2015 and a big favourite of Paddington Bear," per their official website. The fan-favorite treat, which is coated in buttery caramel and zesty orange marmalade, is a sweet variety of popcorn with a citrus kick.

To make your own marmalade topped popcorn at home, simply stir sugar, water, marmalade, salt, light corn syrup and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the sugary sauce on top of freshly popped popcorn and mix until coated evenly. You can leave the popcorn as is and enjoy or combine small handfuls of the mix to make marmalade popcorn balls.  

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By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alcohol Popcorn Reporting Togarashi Toppings White Miso Paste