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The 8 Best Butter Substitutes for Popcorn

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

Popcorn is a miracle of a snack. It is tiny until you microwave it for 2-3 minutes, and expands 40 times its original size.

The traditional popcorn recipe includes butter and salt. But you can always experiment and substitute the butter with something else — for example, coconut oil, nut butter, avocado, olive oil, and many more.

Popcorn
Popcorn

Healthiest Popcorn Butter Alternatives

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Ghee
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil

1. Replace Butter with Olive oil

Olive Oil
Olive oil

Let’s start with olive oil, the healthiest and best-tasting alternative to butter. There are several kinds of olive oil, each with a distinct taste profile — for popcorn, choose one with a mild flavor.

Place a pan on medium heat and warm 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil. Add popcorn kernels, cover the saucepan, and heat until the popcorn pops. Move the popcorn to another container and sprinkle more olive oil and salt.

2. Use Avocado Oil Instead of Butter in Popcorn

Avocado Oil
Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is famous for its rich, nutty taste. It’s an excellent choice for preparing popcorn since it’s lighter and more buttery than most other oils.

It’s also far healthier than butter. Butter tastes delicious, but overconsumption can be dangerous for your health. If you eat popcorn daily, switching to avocado oil is more beneficial.

To prevent the popcorn from becoming too oily, use small amounts of avocado oil. With this delectable and beneficial oil, a little goes a long way. 2 tbsp will be enough for 1 cup of popcorn.

3. Use Coconut oil

Coconut oil
Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a great source of healthy fats and gives popcorn a great taste.

Although it might not be the first option that comes to mind, these two are a perfect match. The subtle coconut taste makes a great combo with salt.

Melt the coconut oil and pour it over the popcorn kernels. Stir to coat thoroughly and begin popping. Once it’s off the stove, season it with salt, pepper, paprika, or any other seasoning you want.

Looking to buy coconut oil? See where to find coconut oil in the grocery store.

4. Use Sesame oil Instead of Butter

Sesame oil
Sesame oil

If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to butter, go no further than sesame oil.

Popcorn brings out the nutty flavor of sesame oil, and because of the high smoke point of this oil, your popcorn won’t burn as quickly. Plus, due to its high vitamin and mineral content, sesame oil is better for you than butter.

Once you’ve popped your fluffy snack, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sesame oil on top. Season the popcorn, and then top with parmesan cheese to take your snack to the next level.

5. Use Ghee as Butter Alternative in Popcorn

Ghee
Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter used in Indian cuisine. It prevents popcorn from burning and adds a buttery taste.

Start by melting one tablespoon of ghee in a big saucepan. Then, add a cup of popcorn kernels to the saucepan and cover with a lid. Shake the pot every now and then to keep the grains from burning. Once the grains have done popping, remove the saucepan from the heat and season with salt.

Can’t find ghee in the grocery store? Check for Ghee in the baking aisle.

6. Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is a vegetable oil made from grape seeds. A high smoke point and a mild flavor make it a good butter substitute for popcorn.

Grapeseed oil has a bland and somewhat nutty taste. It pairs well with different spices like paprika and chili flakes.

You’ll need 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil to pop a cup of kernels. Once fully popped, you can sprinkle some more on top to enhance the flavor and texture.

7. Canola oil

Canola oil
Canola oil

Canola oil is the cheapest alternative to butter in popcorn. It has a moderate flavor that won’t overshadow the popcorn and is a fantastic source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

Coat a large saucepan or kettle with canola oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the kernels and close the lid until they pop. Shake the saucepan often to prevent the kernels from burning. Take them off the stove and season to taste.

Tasty Popcorn Combination Ideas

Now that you know the best butter alternatives to make delicious popcorn, it’s time to meet some popular toppings you may not have tried yet.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon
Cinnamon

Cinnamon popcorn may be the world’s greatest snack. Cinnamon has a sweet and woody flavor that compliments the nutty taste of popcorn.

If you are interested in trying this topping, mix half a tablespoon of sugar with 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Set it aside, and heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Pour the mix in right before the kernels begin to pop.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder

Do you enjoy eating chocolate popcorn? Then, have your cocoa powder ready! Cocoa powder, the purest form of chocolate, gives the popcorn a rich chocolate flavor.

You’ll need to mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. Sprinkle the sweet mix over the popcorn once it’s done popping, then shake to distribute evenly.

Chili powder

Chili Powder
Chili powder

Do you like your popcorn spicy? Chili powder is the seasoning for you. If you prefer salty popcorn but don’t like to add salt, garlic powder is a great ingredient that compliments chili.

As for dosage, there are no right or wrongs. The best way is to add it gradually, taste it, and see from there. Remember that chili and garlic powder are overpowering spices, so go easy if you don’t want overseasoned popcorn.

Nut Butter

Nut Butter
Nut Butter

Nut butter is rich in protein and essential minerals and has more fat than regular butter.

Don’t know which nut butter to pick? Go for a smooth, creamy nut butter — like unsweetened almond or peanut butter.

Once your popcorn is all done and ready to be served, melt around 3 tablespoons of nut butter on medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle over the popcorn and stir to make an even coating. You may also top the snack with chocolate flakes or sliced fruit to create something truly special.

Garlic powder

Garlic powder
Garlic powder

You can mix garlic powder with vegetable oil to make a delicious coating. Heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil over low heat and mix in the garlic powder.

You can also heat the oil in the microwave, whisk in the garlic powder, and rewarm it for about ten seconds.

If you don’t have powder, granulated garlic should also do fine.

Once more, how much garlic you use depends on your preferences. A teaspoon adds a wonderful garlic taste, but a tablespoon can be too much unless you love garlic.

Curry Powder

Curry Powder
Curry Powder

Curry powder is an excellent topping for your late-night movie snack.

But how can you incorporate it into your snack? Easy. Heat 4 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add 5 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp curry powder, and 3/4 tsp kosher salt.

After 30 seconds of stirring, remove from heat. Sprinkle on the popcorn and taste it. If they’re lacking in spice, add some more.

Trail mix

Trail mix
Trail mix

Whether you’re getting ready for a movie night or need a quick dose of energy, trail mix is the perfect popcorn partner.

Granola, almonds, raisins, and even candy are all fair game. For more flavor and crunch, sprinkle some trail mix on top of your popcorn.

Your energy levels will increase thanks to the additional nutrients in the nuts and dried fruit. Drizzle honey on top to give your popcorn that extra sweetness.

Citrus Juice & Lemon Zest

Citrus Juice & Lemon Zest
Citrus Juice & Lemon Zest

You can also try a lemon topping. The exquisite sweetness and zing of citrus perfectly compliment the salty taste of popcorn.

While we’re at sweetness and zing, we have another citrusy option for popcorn — lemon zest. Incorporating these two will make your popcorn a tangy sensation.

All you need to do is squeeze your favorite citrus fruit — lemon, orange, grapefruit — the choice is yours. Sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons over the popcorn with some lemon zest, and mix.

Conclusion

Corn kernels have an outside shell as hard as grit — no amount of force or pressure will make them change into anything better — yet a gentle flame transforms them into the finest snack food: popcorn.

The classic recipe asks for butter and salt, but why not experiment with something different? You can use different oils to make popcorn, from coconut and olive oil to grapeseed and avocado oil.

Don’t forget about the toppings; they make the snack all the more delicious. For instance, trail mix, chocolate powder, nut butter, and cinnamon make popcorn sweet and delectable. Popcorn made with chili powder will be hot and spicy.

Curry and garlic both have strong flavors that are ideal for people who enjoy salty and spicy popcorn. You can even conduct a tangy experiment with lemon zest and citrus juices if you enjoy sour flavors.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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