28 Popcorn Seasonings, Ranked Worst To Best

The popcorn industry sure has come a long way since gaining popularity at the end of the 1800s, as street vendors sold piping hot bags of freshly popped kernels to patrons walking past. Its appeal grew further during the Great Depression, when movie theaters introduced the snack as an affordable refreshment to enjoy during a film. Since then, movies and popcorn have been synonymous. 

The invention of microwave popcorn changed our experience with the snack, making popping at home or the office much more effortless. Today, dozens of ready-to-eat brands with names like Nearly Naked and Live Love Pop line the snack aisle of any local grocery store. 

The 2023 Global Market Size of popcorn is almost $8 billion, with predictions that it could grow to $13 billion by 2028 (via Mordor Intelligence). It's easy to understand why the sector is growing. WebMD reports that when it is air-popped, popcorn is a tasty, heart-healthy, whole grain with high fiber, low calories, antioxidants, and a low glycemic index. 

It's also popular because popcorn's flavor is like a blank canvas. It is the perfect setting for flavor — be it the old standbys butter and salt, or a coating of well-seasoned paint to elevate the taste. In a sea of possible seasonings, which is the tastiest option? We've taste-tested 28 brands to find the best.

28. Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning

The flavor of Tony Chachere's Original Creole seasoning will transport anyone to New Orleans. The herbaceous, earthy, savory spice blend provides the familiar flavors of the city's famous shrimp gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and jambalaya

The brand suggests that the spice blend is like salt, noting in the directions that, "when the food is salted to your taste, it is fully seasoned." However, those who follow these instructions could quickly surpass their daily recommended sodium intake. The flavoring has one of the highest sodium levels among its competitors, with 340mg per quarter teaspoon, 15% of the daily recommended amount.

27. Kinder's buttery garlic salt blend

Since 1946, Kinder's has been packaging sauces, seasoning, and salt blends inspired by founder John Kinder's work as a butcher in San Pablo, California. Kinder built his reputation on quality, focusing on premium ingredients. Today, the company's products supports the legacy of its founder. 

Upon opening a bottle of Kinder's buttery garlic salt blend, an herbaceous, earthy aroma arouses the senses. The seasoning has a pungent, robust garlic and salt flavor. 

However, its texture (from the inclusion of flakey sea salt) does not adhere well to popcorn. The sodium is high (240 mg per quarter teaspoon), and the product settling during storage results in a new, unopened bottle appearing to be only three-fourths full.

26. Girl Scouts S'mores seasoning

The classic s'mores flavor medley of chocolate, graham crackers, and fire-roasted marshmallows reminds everyone of childhood camping trips and telling ghost stories around the fire. Girl Scouts bottles those memories with its S'mores seasoning blend. 

The combination highlights earthy, malty, graham cracker, bittersweet chocolate, and nutty, buttery, toasted marshmallow, packaged in the form of a fine powder. The flavoring adds layers of sugary sweetness to the snack with caramelized brown sugar and cacao. Those who can't get enough sugary treats should give it a try; for others, it's just too sweet for popcorn.

25. Valentina chili lime seasoning

A combination of chili powder and citrus would add a spicy zing to anything it is sprinkled on, from steaks and chicken to tropical fruits, vegetables, and of course, popcorn. Valentina's seasoning brings that spiced pepper taste to the nutty delights of popcorn. 

It's great as a garnish on snapper crudo and crab ceviche, or a topping on chilled avocado and cucumber soup. Valentina's sodium level is on the higher side of the options, however, placing it lower on these rankings.

24. Epicurean Specialty truffle, parmesan & black garlic

Epicurean Specialty showcases a flavor-packed combination of earthy black truffle, savory parmesan cheese, and sweet and tangy black garlic producing an umami-rich powdered seasoning. Including black garlic versus regular white garlic brings an aged balsamic and molasses-like character to the blend as fermenting the allium heightens its natural sweetness.

This seasoning is great on fresh pasta, redefining creamy garlic butter noodles. It is equally delicious on steamed vegetables, poached eggs, and popcorn. 

The product's sodium is comparable to its peers. However, this one has a pronounced, overly salty taste, so use sparingly.

23. Trader Joe's Cheesy seasoning

Trader Joe's aims to ensure everything is well seasoned. It seems like they have to sprinkle on any food, including tastes of sriracha, pickle, everything bagel, elote, and cheesy seasoning blend. 

This includes a cheddar cheese base with garlic, onion, oregano, and rosemary, making the condiment as much of an herb flavoring as a cheesy one. TJ's fans have a big problem with the cheesy blend. It is a deeply herbal flavor, with a somewhat inauthentic cheese taste. Still, if you enjoy the freshness that adding herbs brings to a dish, this blend may be for you.

22. Cinnamon sugar

Cinnamon sugar on popcorn is a great way to satisfy sugary cravings. Make the popcorn topper by combining one part cinnamon with four parts sugar. Or, take the shortcut to ensure there's always some in your pantry by buying a jar. 

The all-natural condiment delivers warm, toasty, brown autumnal spice flavors enhanced by the sweetness of natural sugar. Sprinkle the seasoning on buttered popcorn just after cooking to ensure that the sugar melts into the hot snack, coating it with warm spice and sweet sugary flavors.

21. Dash original seasoning

Dash is the ideal option for those watching their sodium intake. Healthline reports salt consumption is necessary for good health, fighting dehydration and hypotension. However, the average American consumes double the daily recommended amount of salt via foods like bread, cold cuts, chips, condiments, soups, and sauces. Too much salt in a diet can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. 

Dash original seasoning blends basil, parsley, garlic, onion, pepper, and lemon into a calorie-free seasoning with zero salt, fat, or sugar. Though this is one of the healthiest options out there, some degree of salt is needed to awaken popcorn's flavor.

20. Garlic & black pepper, with Himalayan salt seasoning

The classic combination of herbaceous garlic, spicy cracked black pepper, and flavor-enhancing salt does wonders for hot buttered popcorn. Dried garlic has a milder taste when compared to fresh, providing a vegetal flavor that doesn't overpower. Black pepper naturally gives foods a spicy kick, and salt enhances the taste of everything it touches. 

Combining all three ingredients ensures any mid-day snack has plenty of satisfying, savory flavors — and you likely have all three elements in your spice drawer right now.

19. Grated parmesan cheese

Shaker-style grated parmesan cheese is a tasty flavor enhancer for everything from pasta to popcorn. Americans have been shaking the cheese from a jar since Kraft introduced the product in the green container in the 1940s. It's an American favorite, even if bottled grated parmesan can't approach the depth of flavor found in real Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy. 

Nonetheless, domestic grated parmesan is a great option for enhancing the taste of popcorn. It is low in calories and sodium, delivers a few grams of protein, and includes a bit of calcium. The ingredient list is also concise and understandable — unlike so many other popcorn seasoning options.

18. Badia Sazón Complete

Sazón is a seasoning blend you will find in every Latin American kitchen. It is a cumin-heavy blend that includes herbs and spices like coriander, garlic, paprika, oregano, and salt. 

The taste of sazón enhances the savoriness of dishes without adding any heat or peppery taste. It gives a depth of flavor that creates a familiar south-of-the-border taste. Sazón-coated popcorn on top of chicken tortilla soup (instead of the traditional tortilla chips) is a yummy treat that adds an herbaceous crunch to the hearty dish.

17. Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast should be a pantry staple. This inactive yeast has a texture similar to Japanese panko breadcrumbs, but brings something else to the table.

Healthline reports that nutritional yeast contains nutrients that include high-quality plant protein, B vitamin, fiber, folate, potassium, and zinc. It is low in calories, has zero fat, and is extremely low in sodium, with only 10 milligrams per tablespoon. 

Aside from the health reasons to use nutritional yeast, it tastes delicious, like aged parmesan cheese giving anything it touches a savory boost. It is the healthy, vegan alternative to cheese, providing delightful flavor to popcorn.

16. Everything bagel seasoning

Everything bagel seasoning is one of the most popular blends in America. Its creation came from bagel makers putting together the leftover ingredients from making various bagels. Inspiration came in the form of the everything bagel, then eventually a seasoning blend that can make nearly anything taste like one. 

The combination of salt, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds sprinkled on freshly cooked, butter-soaked popcorn creates a savory, unctuous taste. The seeds adhere to the buttery corn, adding a crunchy texture to the snack while delivering a nutty, savory, well-seasoned flavor. 

15. Old Bay

Old Bay originated in the early 1940s, when Jewish spice merchant Gustav Brunn developed a topping for Maryland's Chesapeake Bay seafood. Brunn named the product Old Bay after the sailing company that went from Maryland to Virginia in the early 1900s. Though initially, the product's intention was to season seafood, today Old Bay is in everything from vodka, beer, and bloody Mary mix to Goldfish crackers, peanuts, chocolate bars, and sunflower seeds. 

The 18 ingredients that go into every batch of Old Bay are proprietary, a secret beyond known elements like celery salt, paprika, and red and black pepper. However, it likely includes spices like mustard seed, bay leaf, nutmeg, mace, and cardamom. Sprinkling this combo on popcorn blesses the snack with herbal, vegetal, seasoned salt flavors.

14. Watkins organic ranch popcorn seasoning

Minnesota-based Watkins Company has been crafting extracts, spices, and seasonings in the same warehouse for over 150 years. The company's organic ranch popcorn seasoning captures everything you love about ranch dressing in a fine powder form that easily coats every popcorn piece. 

It is creamy and herbaceous, with parsley, garlic, and onion flavors. The 100% organic product includes tamari powder from tamari soy sauce, lending a note of umami to the seasoning.

13. Frank's RedHot original

The recipe for Frank's RedHot Louisiana-style hot sauce has stayed the same for over 100 years. Since 1920, the sauce has been spicing up the flavors of everything from raw oysters to scrambled eggs to bloody mary cocktails. 

In 1964 a Buffalo, New York bar mixed it with oil before tossing it with chicken, inventing buffalo wings. In March 2023, Instacart named it the most popular hot sauce sold on its site. It's easy to love, as Frank's is spicy but not too hot, with just the right amount of vinegary tanginess and saltiness. 

Frank's RedHot original seasoning has all the sauce's buttery, spicy zestiness in powdered form. It is perfect for popcorn, as it provides the flavor you love without any sogginess.

12. Cuisinart honey sriracha

Sriracha is one of the most versatile, beloved condiments Americans use today. Its tangy, spicy, garlicky flavor has proven immensely popular, and Cuisinart captures it with this powdered honey sriracha seasoning. 

The sweet and savory flavoring includes a mix of Thai chili peppers, garlic, honey, and vinegar, producing a well-balanced, powerfully flavorful product. It gives fresh popcorn a zesty boost of piquant, peppery flavor without the sogginess that would be brought on by using actual sriracha sauce.

11. Kernel Season's kettle corn

The flavor of salty-sweet kettle corn conjures up a sense of nostalgia, transporting someone back to childhood fun and frivolity. The old-fashioned treat, typically popped over an open flame in a caldron-like kettle, is served fresh and hot at carnivals nationwide.

Kernel Season's evokes such associations with its kettle corn seasoning. The powdered mixture includes brown sugar, cane sugar, natural flavors, and salt. It provides just the right amount of sweetness, with a hint of saltiness that stovetop popcorn loves. Dashing the seasoning over hot buttered popcorn will give it a butterscotch, salted caramel flavor that is delicious.

10. Furikake

The combination of nori komi furikake and popcorn may sound unusual. But it is utterly delicious. 

Popcorn is crunchy and nutty, as is sesame seed-filled furikake. However, furikake adds so much more; the Japanese seasoning blend, traditionally used as a topping for rice, includes umami-rich seaweed, sweet sugar, salt, and MSG, enhancing the umami flavors. At the end of the day, it is similar to an everything bagel seasoning but with a sweet, salty taste of the sea.

9. Blackstone pineapple sriracha seasoning

Blackstone provides a similar sweet and spicy flavor in its pineapple sriracha seasoning as Cuisinart's sriracha honey option. However, Blackstone's product has zero added salt, allowing the user to better control their sodium intake. 

Its intense flavor comes from the combination of chili peppers, garlic, vinegar powder, sugar, and natural pineapple. The pineapple gives a fruity tropical note to the sweet heat of the flavorsome earthy, herbaceous, garlicky spice mix.

8. Olde Thompson bacon salt

There is an addictive quality to crispy bacon. While frying, bacon has sweet, smoky, savory aromas, and that leads to buttery, fatty, smoky flavors when fully cooked. 

Olde Thompson captures those tastes and smells in its bacon salt seasoning, resulting in a blend that even vegetarians will love. Though the flavoring contains zero pork products, it delivers the essence of crispy, salty bacon with a note of sweetness and pepperiness reminiscent of candied bacon. Since it contains no meat products, the seasoning is shelf-stable.

7. Trader Joe's Seasoning in a Pickle

Americans are wild about the flavor of pickles. Tangy, salty, umami-rich pickle brine is finding its way into recipes for fried chicken, bloody mary cocktails, pickle juice vinaigrette, and popcorn. The salty, vinegary, herbal dill pickle flavors give the earthy, nutty snack a punch of liveliness. 

However, dousing fresh popcorn with pickle brine would result in a soggy mess. Instead, opt for a jar of Trader Joe's pickle seasoning. The flavoring provides an authentic, zesty, savory taste in a powdered form.

6. Frank's RedHot buffalo ranch

Like the original Frank's RedHot seasoning, the brand's buffalo ranch flavor has a spicy pop from cayenne pepper. The addition of herbaceous ranch dressing cools this heat. The combination is reminiscent of hot buffalo chicken wings dipped in ranch dressing. 

The ingredients include cayenne pepper, garlic, spices, salt, vinegar, and buttermilk powder. The buttermilk and vinegar give the flavoring a tanginess that cuts through the cayenne's spiciness, ensuring its flavors are balanced while adding a creamy texture. Though the seasoning has spicy heat, it isn't overwhelmingly hot, making it a great addition to popcorn.

5. Olde Thompson elote seasoning

A grilled Mexican street corn, elote is now a crave-able snack seasoning mimicking the taste of cooked corn on the cob slathered in crema or mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and chili powder, finishing with a spritz of lime. This flavor combination works as well on popcorn as it does on corn on the cob, since the two are essentially the same. 

Olde Thompson delivers this flavor combination in a shakable seasoning with sweet, spicy, cheesy flavors. Each jar's ingredients include chili pepper and chipotle, parmesan cheese, cumin, and cilantro, resulting in an authentic taste of Mexico. Cane sugar and sea salt enhance the combination, producing a well-rounded flavoring.

4. Kernel Season's white cheddar

Kernel Season's produces a wide variety of flavorings for popcorn, from frosted sugar cookies to churro to perhaps the best from the brand, white cheddar. The MSG-free seasoning contains real cheddar cheese, butter, salt, buttermilk, garlic, and onion. 

It has an authentic, sharp, aged cheddar flavor and super fine texture that easily coats air-popped or stovetop popcorn. The seasoning is available in two sizes, 2.85 ounces, and a mini 0.9 ounces. The latter is the perfect on-the-go companion for enhancing an in-theater popcorn-snacking experience.

3. Sabatino Tartufi truffle zest seasoning

Turn your movie night popcorn into a luxurious snack experience by adding Sabatino Tartufi truffle zest. It has authentic flavors of black summer truffles that are ground into a fine powder, perfect for sprinkling. 

Sabatino Tartufi fuels its highly aromatic flavoring with a powerful earthy aroma of wild mushrooms and freshly shaved truffle. Truffles and popcorn work well together since both have an earthy, nutty flavor. This product is so rich and flavorful that it's among the best ways to use truffles. Truffle fanatic? Intensify the taste by adding truffle butter to popcorn before sprinkling on the seasoning.

2. Blackstone parmesan ranch seasoning

Blackstone combines two favorite tastes into one flavoring with its parmesan ranch seasoning. Parmesan on popcorn and ranch seasoning on popcorn are both terrific, so it makes perfect sense that combining the two creates a popcorn win-win. 

This powdered seasoning has cheesy cheddar and parmesan, as well as tangy buttermilk flavors. These tastes mingle with herbs, garlic, onion, and just the right amount of salt and pepper. The spice blend lends a creamy texture to everything it tops, thanks to the inclusion of non-fat milk and buttermilk. It's great on everything, frankly, but especially popcorn.

1. Watkins white cheddar organic popcorn seasoning

Watkins white cheddar popcorn seasoning is robust and lively with layers of sharp cheddar, fresh cream, herbs, and spices. It finishes with a subtle hint of sweetness from adding powdered sugar to the rich, savory flavoring. 

Watkins popcorn seasonings are 100% U.S.D.A. certified organic, meaning production occurs in a manner good for both you and the environment. This combination of great taste and environmental consciousness makes Watkins white cheddar the best popcorn seasoning blend.

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