The Ultimate Showdown - What's the Best Way to Taste Popcorn?

Popcorn Showdown

This is what you can expect in our article about popcorn:

  • Never add sugar to the popcorn machine
  • Sweet popcorn is not less healthy than salty
  • Puff corn and flavor-neutral oil are prerequisites for DIY popcorn
  • Funny and tasty popcorn trends from TikTok taste great in real life too
  • Unique popcorn varieties without the need for DIY are available from Everly Grace and Joe & Seph's

Popcorn - the ultimate comfort food. Nevertheless, a big question always remains. Does popcorn taste better sweet or salty?

We want to know: sweet or salty?

It's one of the biggest and probably most controversial questions of humanity: sweet or salty popcorn - which one tastes better? Okay, it's not that dramatic, but the question of which flavor suits the white flakes best remains a perennial favorite. And opinions vary widely. While in many English-speaking countries, people prefer salty popcorn, we are more accustomed to sweet popcorn here in Germany.

Sweet popcorn is traditionally made in two ways. Cinemas and theaters use special machines that allow the kernels to pop and caramelize with the typical crispy layer of sweet sugar at the same time. However, most commercially available popcorn machines for home use are not suitable for this production and can become sticky or even break down when attempting to caramelize the popcorn. Instead, fans of DIY popcorn should first completely pop the kernels (whether in a popcorn machine or a pot) and then sweeten them directly in a snack bowl or in a separate pot. Powdered sugar is ideal for this, as it easily adheres to the popcorn and provides a pleasantly light sweetness, even if it doesn't form the caramel or toffee layer typical of cinemas.

By the way, the belief that salty popcorn is significantly healthier than the sweet version is a myth. In fact, salty popcorn usually has more calories than sweet popcorn. The reason for this is that the majority of the calories in popcorn come from the oil, not the sugar. While the additional calories from sugar are eliminated in salty popcorn, more oil is typically used in its preparation. In the case of cinema popcorn, the caramelized sugar sticks to the popcorn almost automatically, while with salty popcorn, you rely on the oil to not only pop the popcorn (for which relatively little oil is needed) but also to fix the salt on the flakes.

Make Gourmet Popcorn Yourself

All popcorn varieties, whether from the cinema, the supermarket shelf, or DIY, require the right corn and oil types to pop properly (unless it's popcorn from the Air Fryer). For popping, whether you make popcorn yourself or go to the cinema, only puff corn is suitable. It has a particularly hard shell and contains a lot of water. When heated, this combination allows pressure to build up inside the kernel due to the evaporating water and the robust shell, until the kernel literally explodes. To reach the desired temperatures, traditional flavor-neutral oils with high smoke points, such as canola oil, are used. If the popcorn doesn't need to be vegan, butter works especially well, especially with sweet popcorn, as it harmonizes very well with the sweetness of caramel.

Especially high-quality popcorn varieties, like American Heritage Popcorn from old seeds, have hard but particularly thin shells. These allow the corn to pop but literally melt on the tongue while eating, avoiding the annoying sensation of shells that you know from the cinema. While popcorn also tastes good from the pot, DIY popcorn is particularly easy to make with specially produced machines for this purpose, such as the Whirley Pop Popcorn Popper.

For a special flavor kick, there is a whole range of delicious popcorn seasonings and spices, from sweet to spicy or with aromatic herbs. There are almost no limits to the possible flavor combinations.

Gourmet Popcorn Meets TikTok Trends

But besides the classic sweet and salty varieties, there is a whole world of other delicious ways to enjoy gourmet popcorn. TikTok & Co. are setting the trend:

Parmesan Garlic Popcorn à la Italia

A little trip to Italy can be tempting, especially if you can make yourself comfortable on your own couch, at least in a culinary sense. For the popular DIY Parmesan Garlic Popcorn featured on TikTok and Instagram, you can enhance your freshly popped kernels with one of our mediterranean spiced seasonings like Sonoma Pepper Seasoning, Cracked Pepper Asiago Popcorn Seasoning, or Tangy Dill Pickle Popcorn Seasoning from Urban Accents.

For even more garlicky notes, a pinch of Bourbon Smoked Garlic Salt by Bourbon Barrel Foods works wonders. And a few drops of Roasted Garlic Oil from Stonewall Kitchen will make garlic lovers' hearts soar. Enhance your popcorn with freshly shaved Parmesan for the finishing touch on this Mediterranean snack with Italian flair.

Marshmallow Almond Popcorn

This TikTok trend for DIY popcorn is a treat, especially for fans of sweet popcorn. The crispy buttery popcorn pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla flavors of vegan Dandies Mini Vanilla Marshmallows. To counterbalance the double dose of sweetness, simply add a few drops of Sonoma Syrup Vanilla Almond Syrup or Nielsen Massey Almond Extract to the mix. You'll have an aromatic blend that almost gives you a taste of the Christmas market but tastes incredibly good all year round.

And the best part: if you pop your popcorn in 100% plant-based oil, this sweet treat is completely vegan thanks to Dandies' 100% vegan marshmallows.

Bacon Maple Syrup Popcorn

This savory mix is not only a hit on TikTok but also an absolute highlight for us thanks to the many influences from the classic American breakfast when we make popcorn. Simply fry a few small pieces of bacon cubes until crispy while the popcorn is heating up and mix them into the finished popcorn for an extra salty touch.

For the special flavor kick in this recipe, the natural sweetness of maple syrup does the trick. Just drizzle maple syrup over the mixture at the end and mix well to ensure that popcorn flakes and bacon bits get an even golden coating. This recipe tastes especially good with the probably purest maple syrup in the world from Crown Maple, which, thanks to its absence of additional sugar or sweeteners, doesn't overshadow the buttery popcorn but skillfully enhances the salty notes of the bacon.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn

And finally, a typical American flavor experience that we don't want to miss in our popcorn thanks to TikTok's kitchen hacks. Pumpkin Pie Spice is a unique classic in American cuisine, not only in the popular pies during Thanksgiving. It has already taken the world by storm, even in coffee latte with its unique blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and a hint of pepper. And the next hit, where TikTok users and we agree, is aromatic Pumpkin Pie Spice Popcorn for DIY.

Instead of creating the mixture yourself, you can simply use our in-house, already perfectly blended and seasoned Pumpkin Pie Spice Seasoning. Just sprinkle some seasoning over the finished, still warm popcorn and shake well to evenly distribute the seasoning on the popcorn. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of Sonoma Syrup Pumpkin Pie Latte Syrup from California to the popcorn.

Don't miss out on this culinary highlight - try it yourself!

Joe & Seph's and Everly Grace – Gourmet Popcorn Without the DIY

If you want to try delicious and creatively unique popcorn flavors without much effort, you don't need to look far. We present to you the exceptional gourmet popcorn varieties from Joe & Seph's from London. Inspired by their love for typical American popcorn, the experts at Joe & Seph's have embarked on a mission to create a truly unique popcorn experience, not only in England. The result of their hard work is not only numerous awards and accolades but, most importantly, a range of truly unique and super delicious flavors. Thanks to their patented "Flavor Sequencings," versatile flavors are captured in crunchy caramel and are released step by step when you bite into the air-popped "Mushroom Kernels" (the extra-large pieces of popcorn). The result is a uniquely multilayered flavor experience.

Joe & Seph's range from classic flavors like Salted Caramel to chocolatey treats like Caramel & Belgian Chocolate or Peanut Butter & Belgian Chocolate to savory variations with cheese like Mature Cheddar or Goats Cheese & Black Pepper. For those who love fruity notes, Joe's confectioners have created flavors like Toffee Apple & Cinnamon or White Chocolate & Strawberry, and cake enthusiasts won't want to miss out on the Vanilla Cheesecake flavor.

A special highlight, inspired by British pub culture, is the Budweiser flavor. Other fine drops can be found in flavors like Prosecco or Caramel Macchiato & Whiskey. And for the Gin & Tonic flavor, Joe & Seph's collaborates with local producers for authentic London Dry Gin.

Popcorn Creations from Everly Grace's Gallery of Good Taste

If you want to try exquisite and delicious gourmet popcorn that's pre-seasoned and packaged Made-in-Germany, then reach for our Gourmet Popcorn Varieties from Everly Grace. Most of the varieties are coated with buttery caramel and infused with exotic accents such as espresso, coconut, speculoos, or raspberry. Other flavors, similar to classic salty popcorn, feature dry seasonings like Italian herbs or BBQ spice.

If you've developed a taste for it and want to learn more about the origins and sometimes quirky history of popcorn, simply continue reading in our blog on the topic.