4 Addictive Popcorn Toppings That Are Way Better Than Butter

best popcorn toppings recipes
Photo: Jason Wyche

If you're like me, the second someone suggests a movie night, my mind instantly starts planning what snacks we'll be serving (you know, the important stuff). Case in point: really good popcorn, and lots of it. And options. If you're in search of an easy way to upgrade your kernels, you've come to the right place. Each of these easy recipes lets you choose your method of popping—so whether you prefer to do it on the stovetop, in a popper, microwave, or you want to buy a bag and call it a day, it'll work. You'll then add a few tasty toppings. We've included the crowd-pleasing classics, like olive oil-garlic and cinnamon-sugar, plus a few surprisingly delicious additions, from banana chips and melted chocolate to buffalo ranch. If your guests refuse to leave after the movie's over, we can't be held accountable. All recipes serve four to six people.

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Basil Garlic Popcorn

Basil Garlic Popcorn
Jason Wyche

You can create all sorts of fun flavors with this recipe by using your favorite fresh herbs. Substituting cilantro for the fresh basil, for example, gives this popcorn a bold new flavor.

Pour 8 cups popped popcorn into a large bowl and remove any unpopped kernels. Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil to the bowl. Drizzle 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil over the popcorn. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon garlic salt and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

02 of 04

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn

Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn
Jason Wyche

This popcorn drizzled in butter and tossed with cinnamon sugar hits the spot every time.

Pour 8 cups popped popcorn into a large bowl and remove any unpopped kernels. In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon salt. Drizzle 4 tablespoons (½ stick) melted butter over the popcorn. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

03 of 04

Chunky Monkey Popcorn

Chunky Monkey Popcorn
Jason Wyche

Banana pudding mix gives this popcorn a unique and delicious flavor, while the walnuts and banana chips give it a satisfying crunch. A chocolate coating seals the deal and makes this fun recipe a winner.

Place 1 cup milk chocolate melting candy in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for 1 minute. Stir until melted and smooth. Whisk 1 tablespoon banana-flavored instant pudding mix into the melting candy. Pour the melted candy over the popcorn, but do not stir yet.

Add ½ cup dried banana chips and ½ cup chopped walnuts to the popcorn bowl. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir to coat. Spread the popcorn mixture on a large piece of parchment paper or a large silicone baking mat. Allow to cool until the chocolate coating has hardened, about 20 minutes. Break into pieces before packaging or transferring to a bowl. The popcorn may be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Buffalo Ranch Popcorn

Buffalo Ranch Popcorn
Jason Wyche

If you are sensitive to spicy flavors, just be sure to buy a mild Buffalo sauce (the creamy-looking sauces are usually less spicy). But if you’re looking for a little flame, use an extra-spicy sauce, throw in a splash or two of hot sauce, and add a little ground cayenne pepper to the ranch seasoning. You’ll have a fire on your hands in no time!

Pour 8 cups popped popcorn into a large bowl and remove any unpopped kernels. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons Buffalo wing sauce. Drizzle over the popcorn and gently toss to coat.

Sprinkle half of a 1-ounce envelope ranch dressing mix or 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning and 1 teaspoon salt over the popcorn and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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