This vegan popcorn is super easy to make, is relatively nutritious and makes for a healthy snack. It’s also naturally gluten-free.
Popcorn can either be a healthy snack or a butter- and calorie-laden nutritional disaster. It all depends on the oil, the seasonings and the toppings. Today we have a healthy popcorn recipe, which is seasoned with nutritional yeast to add even more benefits.
Popcorn is a widely popular snack – and for good reason! It’s cheap, easy, and nutritious. It’s perfect for movie night, a picnic at the park, a handy happy hour treat, or munchies on the road.
If you haven’t made homemade popcorn, you’re missing out on a fun experience that will have you eating the best popcorn that you’ve ever had. It’s a super snack that can be savory or sweet depending on how you dress it.
- Refined coconut oil – the smoke point is higher than unrefined, which is why I recommend it
- Popcorn kernels – just plain kernels with nothing added
- Nutritional yeast – I used the one from the company Foods Alive. I chose it because it had the best reviews and is non-fortified.
- Garlic powder
How to pop popcorn on a stovetop:
- Place a large saucepan with a heavy bottom over medium heat.
- Pour just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add two popcorn kernels. Cover the pot with a well-fitting lid, and wait until those two kernels pop. It takes only a couple of minutes.
- While you wait, get a large serving bowl ready, and set it near the stove. This way you’ll be prepared to dump a little out if you’ve added too many kernels.
- Once those two kernels have popped, turn the heat off, remove the lid and cover the bottom of the saucepan with the remaining kernels. Don’t add so many that you have a double layer because it will be flying everywhere. A nice solid layer is what you want for the perfect big batch.
- Cover the pot again with a lid, turn the heat to medium, and shake the pot to give those kernels a little breathing room. They’ll be dancing around in no time.
- It’s important to continue to shake the pot, moving it around — back and forth, so the popcorn cooks evenly and thoroughly. If not, you’ll get burned kernels at the bottom of the pan.
- Once the kernels start to pop more rapidly, tip the lid a little to let out a little steam.
- Continue to shake it throughout the popping process. It will start out slowly and then crescendo like an exploding drum solo. Once you hear that pause near the end, just keep it on the burner with a couple more shakes and shimmies to get those last kernels popped. And you’re done!
By the way, those unpopped kernels at the bottom of the pan, they’re called spinsters. 😂
If the lid rises and popcorn overflows, just dump a little out in the serving bowl and continue with the popping process.
Now it’s time to season the popcorn!
Vegan popcorn toppings:
For this healthy vegan snack, I seasoned the popcorn with nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt. It’s simple and tastes great.
If you’re looking to put on a show, then I have some ideas for you to try.
For any seasoning combination, take any liquid and a spritz bottle, and mist the popcorn. Then sprinkle it with seasonings, toss it to coat it well, and repeat.
- Nutritional Yeast, also known as nooch, is great on popcorn: it’s cheesy and buttery, it’s vegan and gluten-free, and it makes popcorn sing. If you haven’t yet tried nutritional yeast on your popcorn, I highly recommend it.
- Keep it southern by using vegan butter, salt, and a little cracked pepper.
- Instead of salt, try liquid aminos, like Braggs, with nutritional yeast, and garlic powder.
- Like it spicy? Add a little chili powder, tabasco sauce, or Cajun seasoning to the mix.
- Like it citrusy? Spritz a little lime juice, and add a little lemon pepper and salt. Or use taco seasoning or smoked paprika with lime juice.
- Like it aromatic? With olive oil, lightly spritz the popcorn with an oil sprayer and add Italian seasoning. Or go mild with fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, dill or thyme.
- Like a sweet drizzle? Add a smidgen of maple syrup over the popcorn, toss and top with a little cinnamon.
- Or maybe add a little protein by dribbling on a little homemade peanut butter?
- Popping for a party? Make a popcorn bar with an impressive spread of toppings and seasonings, and let them tweak their own flavor combinations. Just grab a bag, season and shake, then sprinkle on toppings.
However you like your popcorn will always be the best way to serve it! 😉
Is nutritional yeast good for you?
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that comes in thin flakes or dry powder form. It’s a yellow savory seasoning that is rich in vitamins, protein (2 tablespoons contains 9 grams) and fiber. It’s known to taste a bit like parmesan cheese, but it adds so much more than just taste.
It’s a good source of trace minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium. You can even find some brands fortified with B-12.
It’s easy to find in bulk sections of your favorite store and sometimes in traditional grocery stores. Of course, you can always find it online.
It’s naturally gluten-free and almost always vegan. Nearly all brands of nutritional yeast are vegan, but always check your labels to make sure.
Is popcorn healthy?
Popcorn is a whole grain food that’s filled with nutrients.
It’s a good source of potassium, vitamin B1, B3, and B6. It’s high in iron (even more than spinach), magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese.
It’s low in calories, a good source of plant-based protein, and it’s extremely high in fiber. It also has more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.
Is popcorn gluten-free?
Yes, popcorn is naturally gluten-free, and that’s why I like to make my own. If you buy pre-popped popcorn there could be trace amounts of gluten depending on the processing procedures, flavorings or additives.
It’s always best to look at the ingredients of any seasonings you choose, too.
Making your own popcorn is the best way to ensure it’s gluten-free.
Which oil is the best?
You need an oil with a high smoke point because the pot is going to get really hot. Therefore, olive oil is not a good choice. I used refined coconut oil and I think it’s perfect and doesn’t have any coconut taste to it.
Other oils with high smoke points are avocado oil, grapeseed oil and canola oil.
Do I have to use oil?
Yes, if you are cooking popcorn on the stovetop. And if you want the seasoning to stick, you also need to use oil.
But you can make popcorn in a small paper bag in the microwave and not use any oil. Just add the popcorn to the paper bag and fold over the top a couple of times.
Put the bag of kernels in the microwave set on high for about 1.5 to 2.5 minutes. Once the popping has stopped, put the popcorn in a large bowl and season. You don’t want burnt popcorn, so don’t walk away. Listen to the popping kernels, once you hear a slight pause, it’s time to take it out and enjoy!
Another method of popping corn without oil is using an air popper. I don’t have one because honestly, I don’t have any space left in my kitchen for another appliance.
If you use an oil-free method, you’ll need to spray the popcorn with some oil or drizzle some melted refined coconut oil or vegan butter on the popcorn. If you don’t, the seasoning won’t stick.
Can I pop popcorn in an air fryer?
It seems there’s always something new every day to cook in the air fryer, but popping corn isn’t one of them.
Yes, you can pop kernels using an air fryer, but it will take a lot of trial and error. And I don’t recommend it!
It can destroy your air fryer and for that reason, I say, keep it simple and use a proven method.
What to serve with popcorn?
Well, besides an assortment of seasonings and toppings, I can’t think of anything to serve with popcorn other than drinks, so here’s my list.
- This Herbal Green Tea is a nice refreshing drink for the whole family.
- If you prefer an adult drink with movie night or happy hour with friends, try this Gin Margarita, it’s light and refreshing.
- This Honey Sweetened Lemonade isn’t vegan, but it’s a great drink to serve this summer.
- If you prefer soda, but don’t want the sugar and other junk, here is a great video on how to make Natural Fruit Soda.
- For all the curious science kids, I found an interesting podcast from But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids that describes how the corn kernels pop!
That’s it! I hope you’ll love this popcorn, and if you decide to make it or any recipe you find here, I sure would love to hear about it. Just snap a pic 📸and tag #texanerin on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter so I can easily find them. Have fun!!
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 8 cups popped corn
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or more, if desired)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons melted refined coconut oil or vegan butter
To pop the corn:
If your seasoning doesn't stick:
- Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.
- Place a large pot or saucepan (that has a lid) with a heavy bottom over medium heat.
- Add the oil to the pan and add two popcorn kernels.
- Cover the pot with a well-fitting lid and wait until those two kernels pop. It should take only a couple of minutes.
- While you wait, get a large serving bowl ready and set it near the stove.
- Once those two kernels have popped, turn the heat off, remove the lid and cover the bottom of the saucepan with the remaining kernels.
- Don’t add so many that you have a double layer because it will overflow. A nice solid layer is what you want for the perfect big batch of popcorn.
- Allow the kernels to rest about 60 seconds so that your oil doesn’t get too hot before the kernels are ready to pop.
- Cover the pot again, turn heat to medium and shake the pot to give those kernels a little breathing room.
- It’s important to continue to shake the pot moving it around, back and forth, so you get perfectly even popped popcorn instead of burned kernels at the bottom of the pan.
- Once the kernels start to pop rapidly, tip the lid a little to let out a little steam. If the lid rises and popcorn overflows, just dump a little out in the serving bowl and continue the popping process.
- Continue to shake it throughout the popping process. The popping will start slowly then build. Once you hear a pause near the end, just keep it on the burner with a couple more shakes to get those last kernels popped and you’re done.
- Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the seasoning over, put on the lid and give it a good shake. I don't have issues with the seasoning sticking, but if you do, do the next step:
- Drizzle the melted fat over the popcorn, put on the lid, and shake vigorously until the popcorn is coated in the fat.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the melted fat over the popcorn. Give the pot a shake to coat the popcorn in the fat.
- Sprinkle on half the seasoning. Give it another shake.
- Drizzle on the remaining fat, shake, and then the seasoning and shake.