Popcorn doesn't need to be an excessively greasy and salty movie theater snack. There is now an endless range of flavors, from simple to complex, weird to wild, sweet to savory. Today, we're interested in gourmet popcorn flavors.
So, what are gourmet flavors anyway? That depends a bit on who you ask. Some companies go as far as calling cheddar gourmet, which seems like pushing it.
Here, we're focusing on the interesting and exotic flavors – particularly those that are nuanced or complex. Many of these flavors would be tough to make at home, but not impossible.
Many of the combinations may already look familiar, as they're regularly used by large popcorn brands. Some even turn up in popcorn of the month clubs. These clubs often ship out surprise flavors each month, giving you the chance to try new and exciting popcorn that you’d never have chosen yourself.
You could even use some of the popcorn to make a popcorn bar at your next party.
Chili Chocolate Caramel
There's a lot going on flavorwise with this popcorn, although the creation process is pretty simple. It often starts off with just caramel popcorn. This is then drizzled with chili chocolate.
It's a decadent flavor, whether the chili's sharpness contrasts against the chocolate's creaminess and richness.
This would be an easy flavor to make at home, as there are plenty of caramel popcorn recipes. You could even just buy caramel popcorn. The chili chocolate drizzle could be as simple as getting some chili chocolate from the store and melting it.
Caramel And White Chocolate
Here's a gentler flavor combination, one that's no less delicious. It doesn't need much explanation, either. You all know what white chocolate and caramel taste like.
This is an excellent choice if you want something gentler than milk chocolate. Plus, caramel and white chocolate simply feels decadent. It could work as a treat for yourself or a gift.
Goat's Cheese And Black Pepper
I love this flavor combination, as it gives you a savory treat that is a little out of the ordinary. The black pepper and goat's cheese are both fairly nuanced, so this isn't an overwhelming flavor.
The subtle taste isn’t a bad thing. Popcorn doesn’t need to be bold and vibrant to be delicious.
Cheddar And Smoked Paprika
Paprika has a delicious smoky flavor that isn't intense at all. It's a great way to make cheddar popcorn a bit more interesting.
You don't just need to stick with regular cheddar either. Smoked paprika would be just as good with white cheddar or with more complex flavor combinations.
White Chocolate Raspberry
Here's another white chocolate flavor. Any berry would work, but raspberries are particularly good, as they have a sharpness to them.
This is also a fairly common gourmet flavor combination. You may find it in some local stores and when you order online.
Truffles are always decadent, so adding truffle salt and truffle oil to your popcorn is an easy way to make it much more amazing. There are plenty of recipes for doing this at home, so you can easily make your own version.
You could add extra ingredients to make the popcorn even tastier. Parmesan cheese is a popular choice or perhaps parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Black Truffle With Lemon Peel
Plenty of companies play with the idea of truffle popcorn. Combining black popcorn with lemon peel is an exceptional approach, as the lemon peel offers such a bright flavor.
If you don’t have lemons at home, why not try using orange peel instead? Oranges would slightly change the flavor profile, while still giving you a delicious treat.
Caramelized Ginger And Lemongrass
Here's an interesting combo that's common enough in Thai and Vietnamese cooking, but isn't normally used on popcorn. Still, popcorn doesn't have much flavor of its own, so you should still end up with a tasty snack.
Most versions use caramel popcorn as the base, which provides a sweet edge that's nicely contrasted by the sharpness of the ginger and refreshing tones from the lemongrass.
Caramel Chocolate Drizzle
This is more of a classic gourmet popcorn flavor. The simplest version is just caramel popcorn that has been drizzled with milk chocolate. The chocolate hardens, creating an excellent texture contrast.
Many companies add their own spin to the idea, like using a combination of milk and white chocolate or even milk, white, and dark chocolate. Plus, because the approach is straightforward, you could easily make the popcorn at home.
Peppermint Bark Caramel Popcorn
This popcorn follows a similar theme to the previous one. The big difference is that you're including peppermint as well. It would be particularly good as a Christmas treat – if you can wait that long.
One approach is to make caramel popcorn, them mix it with crushed candy canes and drizzle over melted chocolate. You could also find peppermint flavored chocolate and just use that.
Lemon And Poppy Seed
Lemon and poppyseed muffins are popular, so why not use the same flavors on popcorn? Some companies have done exactly this and there are plenty of recipes as well, including this one from godairyfree.org.
There are two general styles. One keeps things simple with just the poppy seeds, lemon, and a little butter. Another attempts to glaze the popcorn, which often involves using egg white and sometimes sugar as well.
The sugar will give the popcorn some sweetness, making it even more similar to lemon and poppyseed muffins. However, they could easily get too sweet, which is something to watch out for.
Cinnamon Baked Apple
Mmm…. cinnamon and apple. Hard to beat, right? It's easy to imagine this combo being used for fall treats.
Many people make this flavor combo at home by using cinnamon or apple pie spice and dried apple chips. You can also blend dried apples with cinnamon and sugar to create an apple cinnamon powder. The powder would give you a more even distribution of apple flavor.
Herbal Popcorn Blends
Herbal blends are a fantastic way to make popcorn taste amazing, while also creating a healthy treat. A good choice of herbs even means that you can skip the salt or sugar entirely.
There’s plenty of room for experimenting here too. Garlic, dill, and rosemary are candidates, but there are dozens of common herbs, not to mention plenty of uncommon ones. Why not experiment with your favorites and see what you come up with?
Spiced Herb Popcorn
If regular herbed popcorn isn’t interesting enough, how about adding a spicy kick into the mix? This isn’t difficult to do and adds an extra layer to the flavor of your popcorn.
You can also play around with exactly how intense the spice should be. Do you want it to just add a little warmth to your popcorn or are you looking for something to knock your socks off?
There are plenty of recipes out there, in case you want to make this at home. The one from Two Kooks in the Kitchen is a perfect place to begin.
Lavender And Chai Tea
Lavender and tea aren't traditional dessert ingredients, but they are trending ones. Using chai tea rather than black tea takes things a few steps further, giving you some warming spices in the mix.
Lavender has a delicate flavor, so it's the chai that you'll notice the most in this combination. The lavender does add some subtle complexity though, so it's well worth including.
Creme brûlée is an elegant dessert, but it doesn't need to stop there. You can also use it as a popcorn flavoring. Doing so might even be easier than actually making creme brûlée.
Plus, like most flavors on this list, you should be able to find a few companies that make creme brûlée popcorn. Who knows? You might even find some other interesting flavors at the same time.
Honey Lavender Lemonade
We talked about lavender and chai tea before. This combination relies on lavender too.
Lemonade doesn't have the same intensity as chai tea, so the lavender should shine through much more strongly. Besides, doesn't honey, lavender, and lemonade just sound like an amazing combination?
Cardamon is a fragrant warming herb with a slight sweetness. It’s a fantastic way to make your popcorn interesting without creating an overpowering flavor.
The question is what to pair it with. Vanilla and cardamom is an unusual choice, yet it’s a combination that works well. Both ingredients give you a little sweetness, so you get a dessert-like flavor that’s not overwhelmingly sweet.
Maple Bacon Popcorn
I thought about including bacon on the list of weird popcorn flavors. Honestly though, bacon is included in so many dishes that no bacon combination is strange anymore.
Maple bacon is a particularly delicious combo. So, why not make a popcorn version? Some will even use bacon pieces to make the flavors even better.
Speaking of bacon, what about chocolate bacon popcorn? After all, chocolate covered bacon is already a thing.
The simplest version of this treat involves mixing cooked bacon in together with your cooked popcorn, then drizzling popcorn over the top.
A more complicated recipe involves cooking the popcorn in bacon grease and using a selection of spices to make the flavor even more complex. You could even use bacon and popcorn with caramel popcorn.
Kentucky Salted Bourbon
I love the idea of this popcorn. It's regular caramel corn, except that it's also been spiked with bourbon and tossed in sea salt.
The bourbon adds a rich booziness to the popcorn, while the sea salt provides an amazing salty contrast.
Parmesan And Garlic
Parmesan and garlic seems to one of the most common gourmet popcorn flavors. That’s not surprising, as the ingredients are both common, but also work incredibly well together.
This is also a good crowd pleaser, as most people should enjoy it.