Elevate Microwave Popcorn With A Generous Burst Of Lemon Zest

When life gives you lemons, make better popcorn — stay with us. Although microwave popcorn is the ultimate low-effort snack, unless you're buying buttered and salted versions, then flavors can border on bland. Rather than subject yourself to a boring treat, you might be tempted to reach for powdered seasoning to sprinkle on top. However, there's a fresher and more delicious way to enhance popcorn that only requires a lemon and a microplane.

A one-ingredient-wonder, lemon imparts depth simply, which is why this is such a great hack for jazzing up microwaveable popcorn. Ready in just minutes, start by grating the zest of a thoroughly washed lemon. Eureka or Meyer, any citrus variety will work. Once kernels have been popped, add the warm popcorn to a bowl, drizzling melted butter or olive oil over top before sprinkling on the reserved lemon zest. Give things a good toss to evenly coat, and serve.

Why citrusy popcorn makes sense and other tasty additions

Aside from boasting a toasty quality with nuances of butter and corn, plain popcorn is fairly neutral tasting. Lending itself to almost any flavor combination, lemon works especially well with unseasoned popcorn (but also, salted and buttered versions) as its fragrant and floral zest adds complexity. Its tart sourness also works to provide a degree of freshness and enhance other ingredients, in addition to balancing the richness of buttered kernels.

In a viral TikTok, creator @leels_ shared a recipe for lemony popcorn, adding both zest and juice, as a means of replicating a recent snack. While there were mixed opinions on the inclusion of citrus juice, that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what else can be added to the lemon-laced popcorn.


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♬ original sound – le

Sea salt is an easy addition that can elevate flavors. Likewise, hard cheese like Parmigiano can impart some salt and umami to the mix when finely grated over the top of kernels. In contrast, fresh herbs like thyme, cilantro, or rosemary can add a vegetal element, whereas spices like cracked black pepper, smoked paprika, or a briny caper powder can create a bolder result. Alternatively, you can even take a sweeter approach and drizzle maple syrup or melted white chocolate on the zesty popcorn. 

Whatever you decide, remember that at its core, jazzing up microwave popcorn is simply a matter of keeping things easy peasy, lemon squeezy.