Almost nothing beats butter, but these flavors do.
sweet popcorn in bowls on a blue patterned background
Credit: Meredith

A hefty pour of melted butter over top steaming kernels is certainly a welcome treat. The classic combination of butter, popcorn, and salt is nearly unrivaled, but it's not the be-all and end-all of popcorn flavorings. If you've got a hankering for a few crunchy kernels but want to shake up the flavors, take these ideas into account. They may not be your go-to each time you've got a movie night planned, but they'll certainly mix up the popcorn routine enough that you'll be thrilled you gave them a shot.

1. Garlic Bread

While the popcorn is hot, sprinkle the kernels with garlic powder or garlic salt. The seasoning will adhere to the kernels and infuse each bite with savory garlic flavor. Add a few pinches of shredded Parmesan cheese, too. The cheese will turn nice and tender amid the popcorn's heat. For a bit of freshness and color, chop some fresh parsley, leftover from dinner or straight from your windowsill, and mix it into the popcorn.

Get the Recipe: Garlic Bread Popcorn

2. Cinnamon-Sugar

The beloved combo of cinnamon and sugar isn't reserved for your morning tea or for your oatmeal. You can turn up popcorn's sweetness by layering in ground cinnamon and white sugar. (If you like the molasses notes of brown sugar, use it instead.) For an easier mix, combine 4 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon in a bowl or empty shaker. Shake or stir to combine, and then sprinkle over your hot popcorn. For a little extra crunch, toss in some peanuts or bits of granola.

3. Ranch

Love the creamy, tangy flavor of ranch salad dressing on everything from chips to chicken? You'll really enjoy it on hot popcorn kernels. You can shake dry Ranch seasoning across the top of freshly popped kernels, and give the bowl a toss.

4. Buffalo

You might be tempted to combine the ranch and this idea — warm, tangy Buffalo seasoning — and we wouldn't even try to stop you. Dry Buffalo seasoning mix is easy to find in the spice section at the supermarket. It has all the tangy and vinegary pop of the wet wing sauce but without the sticky-fingers mess.

5. Seafood Seasoning

You may be familiar with Old Bay if you've ever been elbow deep in a stockpot of shrimp, crab, corn, and potatoes. But the beauty of this mix, which is made from 18 different herbs and spices, is that it goes great on everything from poultry to, yes, even popcorn. After you've popped some kernels, sprinkle the seasoning atop the steaming popcorn. It's up to you if you serve the popcorn with a side of crab cakes.