Award-Winning Popcorn

Some of the simplest snacks are also the most satisfying, and that holds true for the G.O.A.T.: popcorn! With movie-watcher’s event of the year, The Academy Awards, right around the corner, what better party treat? Whether you like a bowl of classic salt-and-butter or prefer to switch it up with sweet kettle corn, popcorn is quick and delicious and can be a surprisingly healthy option. We’re all about broadening our horizons here at Simon, so we asked Ruth Tam of Cook Til Delicious for her favorite twists on the classic snack. Read on for the lowdown on Ruth’s savory, sweet, and funky popcorn variations, then head over to Simon to get everything you need to make these treats.

Popcorn is one of my favorite, crowd-pleasing snacks, and while there’s nothing wrong with plain, buttered popcorn, why stop there! You can dress popcorn up pretty much any way you like it: sweet, salty, spicy, tangy, or any combination thereof. I’ve created a few fun and simple takes on the classic for your next movie night, snack attack, or Oscars party.

Note: All these recipes were created using unsalted stovetop popcorn. You can use microwave popcorn, but use plain/unseasoned varieties for best results.

Sea Salt & Vinegar Popcorn
I like the subtle sweetness of balsamic vinegar, but feel free to substitute a different variety—like malt—if you want a more punchy vinegar flavor.

CRATE & BARREL Swoop Serving Bowl,  LE CREUSET Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, available at Crate and Barrel.

8 cups plain popcorn, freshly popped
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling, if desired

1. In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt the butter.
2. When the butter has melted, stir in the balsamic vinegar and sea salt. Drizzle the mixture over the popcorn (in a large bowl), continually stirring to distribute evenly.
3. Sprinkle flaky sea salt over individual servings, if desired.

CRATE & BARREL Tall Ramekins.

Brown Butter Popcorn Marshmallow Treats
These are a twist on crispy rice cereal treats. Brown butter, vanilla, and salt add some complexity, and a generous amount of marshmallows make these extra chewy and decadent.

SHUN CLASSIC Chef’s Knife, available at Sur La Table.

10 cups plain popcorn, freshly popped
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
10 cups mini marshmallows, divided into 8 and 2 cup portions
1 tsp kosher salt
Dash of pure vanilla extract

WILLIAMS SONOMA Silcon Spatula,  PADERNO Sheet Pan, available at Bed Bath & Beyond.


1. Line an 8″×8″ pan with foil. Lightly butter or oil the foil for easy removal.
2. In a large pot over medium heat, brown the butter. It will melt, foam, crackle, turn clear gold, then finally start browning and smelling nutty. Stir frequently with a heat-resistant spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed to keep the milk solids from burning.
3. When the butter has browned, turn off the heat and add the salt, vanilla, and 8 cups of marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows are melted and you have a smooth mixture. If the residual heat from browning the butter isn’t enough to melt the marshmallows completely, turn the heat back to low.
4. Add the popcorn and stir until evenly coated with the marshmallow mixture. Stir in the remaining two cups of mini marshmallows.
5. Immediately scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and, using a greased silicon spatula or a piece of greased parchment/wax paper, press it firmly into an even layer. Let cool completely at room temperature before cutting into squares with a sharp, greased knife.
6. Store leftovers in an airtight container and eat within 3 days.

Hawaiian Style Popcorn
My late grandparents lived in Hawaii. They would often send us snack packages, and one of my favorites was “Hurricane” microwave popcorn or Hawaiian style popcorn. This recipe uses furikake, a sesame/dried seaweed seasoning, and is one of my favorite condiments ever—it’s delicious on rice and eggs! Arare, or Japanese rice crackers, come in many different flavors and size combinations. For this popcorn, I prefer smaller ones, but use whatever kind you like. Both furikake and arare can be found in Asian grocery stores.

8 cups plain popcorn, freshly popped
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cups furikake (rice seaweed seasoning), plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cups arare (Japanese rice crackers)

CRATE & BARREL Swoop Serving Bowl, CRATE & BARREL Tall Ramekins, WILLIAMS SONOMA Silcon Spatula.

1. In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the soy sauce.
2. Drizzle the mixture over the popcorn (in a large bowl), continually stirring to distribute evenly, followed by the furikake and arare. Serve with an additional sprinkling of furikake, if desired.

CALPHALON Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl, available at Bed Bath & Beyond.
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