For Seasoning That Sticks To Popcorn, Pulverize Your Spices

There's nothing better than a big bowl of buttery popcorn on a snuggly evening — other than a seasoned version of those warm kernels. Whether your clan likes spicy, subtly herby, or sugary sweet concoctions, tossing dried seasoning on hot popcorn is more art than happenstance. It all comes down to the consistency of any spices you choose. Will they stick to the popcorn kernels or slide with abandon to the bottom of the bowl?

The size, texture, and dried configuration of individual spices may be random as packaged, but it's actually more controllable than you might imagine. That's because all those dried spices need to be powdered, which you can easily achieve at home. Pulverizing spices into a powdered form makes it more likely that the seasonings will adhere to warm popcorn, and the finer the grind, the higher the chance of that happening. 

If you have a spice grinder, you're well ahead of the popcorn game. Even a coffee grinder will do the trick; just grind any whole or chopped dried spices on the fine setting until they reach a powdery consistency. Remember to thoroughly clean the grinder after use, unless you don't mind your morning coffee tasting like spices. A food processor is a solid workhorse for spice grinding as well. Then there's the mortar and pestle method, which is even easier in some ways as it requires only a bowl, a pestle, and some good old-fashioned muscle power.

Helping powdered spices stick to the kernels

Even when using finely powdered spices to season popcorn, there's the possibility of them shaking loose before reaching waiting fingers and mouths. A few things can help prevent that, or at least lower the risk. Popping kernels in oil is a tried-and-true way to get seasonings to stick, especially powdered ones. It's best to add the spices right away, while the oil and moisture on the popcorn is still warm. Melted butter will have the same effect, so don't be shy about drizzling with abandon.

Try dumping popcorn from the hot pan into the waiting bowl a little at a time, tossing each layer with powdered spice. The hot pan will keep the rest of the popcorn and its oil coating warm until it's all gradually transferred and seasoned in the bowl. Hot-air popping takes away the oil advantage, though you can still spritz a very fine spray of oil or other liquids such as balsamic vinegar onto popcorn to encourage seasonings to adhere.   

If pulverizing spices into powder sounds challenging or time-consuming, remember that there's a thing called popcorn seasoning. Similar to popcorn salt or brining salt, it's already powdered for the exact reason you'd think: to make it stick to that warm popcorn in that great big bowl of yours. Pre-made kernel seasonings rob you of creatively concocting personalized popcorn flavors, but they're easy and come in classic and kid-friendly blends such as cheesy jalapeño, nacho cheddar, and caramel corn.