My Favorite Movie Snack: Homemade Popcorn with Yummy Mix-ins

I’m still not exactly sure how it happened, but last night I found myself standing in line to get into an early showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1. We’re not talking about the first midnight showing here, either. I was in my seat, butterbeer in hand, by seven o’ clock! I’m sure you can imagine just how thrilled I was!

Isolated as we are here, I fully expected to miss the movie altogether this weekend. Our theater is so small, that they only release five movies a week, and public expectations/popularity have little bearing on the choices they make. My relief was great when I learned that they were, in fact, releasing the film here this weekend! I got everyone into their HP tees, packed up some cauldron cakes, the fixins’ for butterbeer, and my favorite movie snack, and out the door we went.

That’s right, I’m one of those people. A smuggler. Someone who packs their own drinks and snacks to take to the movies with them. Sure, we may buy some candy or a soda once we’re there, but for the most part, I’m a smuggler. I don’t do it just because the treats at the theater are exorbitantly overpriced, although they are. I also do it because I like my popcorn better.

Yep, you heard me right. I pack my own homemade popcorn for the movies. Honestly, though, movie theater popcorn is awful, not to mention unhealthy. That’s why I make my own stovetop popcorn to take along. For those of you thinking that you could have microwave popcorn for a fraction of the work, you’re right, but this is really worth the extra work, and it’s super fast and easy anyway!

Homemade stovetop popcorn only requires a few ingredients, and aside from the actual amount of popcorn, they can be switched up, according to your taste. I like to use vegan margarine and salt. That’s it. But you can use real butter, oil, or a combination for the cooking, and you can skip the salt, add more or less, or substitute sugar or other flavorings (substitutions, etc. included below). My favorite salt substitute is to go sweet with some vanilla sugar.

Just put the popcorn into a heavy bottomed skillet set over medium high heat. Add the butter, and allow it to melt completely before sprinkling in the salt. By adding everything in this order, the popcorn kernels start warming up while the butter melts, so your butter isn’t completely burnt by the time the corn starts popping.

Now you just have to shake, shake, shake. I like to shake for 15 seconds or so, then rest for the same. Shaking constantly makes this take much longer. By resting occasionally, it only takes less than five minutes to get fresh, hot popcorn.

Leave the lid on the pan the entire time. Once the popping becomes spaced out (three to five seconds between each pop), remove the pan from the heat and continue shaking gently until the popping stops. Immediately remove the lid from the pan, once the popping has more or less stopped. I very, very rarely ever have any un-popped kernels.

Now for the fun part: the mix-ins!! Yep, we’re not having just plain old popcorn here! We’re adding sweets!! I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty, so this is a great snack for me!

Personally, my favorite mix-in is M&M’s…preferably Pretzel M&M’s, but Peanut are a good second choice. Of course, so are Plain, and Peanut Butter are delicious too. Oh, who am I kidding?! Any M&M’s are great here!

I prefer M&M’s because they’re chocolaty, and when you add them to the hot popcorn that chocolate melts, but their candy shell prevents them from being messy. If you’re willing to let your popcorn cool a bit before adding your mix-ins, then you can add chocolate, too, it just won’t be as warm. My favorite straight up chocolate mix-in is Rolos! Yummm!

The great thing about this is that you’re starting with a naturally vegan, naturally dairy-, sugar-, and gluten-free snack, so you can add anything in that you like to suit your own needs. There are lots of places that sell vegan and gluten- and dairy-free candies now, and sugar free candy is in every grocery store!

Another awesome mix-in, believe it or not, is cereal. My favorite is Cookie Crisp or Cocoa Puffs, but there are endless choices in the cereal aisle! I haven’t tried Fruit Loops yet, but I’d imagine they would be pretty tasty. Our boy’s favorite is to add mini marshmallows.

The hubster prefers to keep the popcorn as-is and add in flavors instead. His favorite is Vulcan Fire Salt. This is another place where the options are endless. You could sprinkle the popcorn with powdered chocolate milk mix, onion and garlic powders, or some maple sugar.

Have you ever mixed anything into your popcorn? If so, what’s your favorite mix-in? If not, what do you think would be great?

Whether you decide to add to your popcorn or not, it’ll be delicious, and it’ll be at least a little bit healthier than microwavable or movie theater popcorn. Plus, you can make it so your whole family can enjoy it. If you have a family member with  Celiac Disease or Diabetes, or maybe just high cholesterol, you can make a great snack for everyone, without taking away from anyone. Enjoy!

P.S. This is excellent washed down with Butterbeer, trust me.

Homemade Stovetop Popcorn
Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/2 cup popcorn of your choice
1/4 cup butter or margarine (I always use Earth Balance margarine)
2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil (I recommend that you don’t use peanut oil, lighter oils like canola work best)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, more or less to taste

Candy, cereal, or other mix-ins of your choice

To make the popcorn: Place the popcorn kernels in a skillet set over medium high heat. Add the butter (margarine or oil) and allow to melt completely, shaking the pan to coat the kernels. Once the butter is completely melted, sprinkle the salt evenly over the kernels, and cover with a lid. Shake the mixture frequently to combine the ingredients and prevent burning. Continue cooking and shaking until the popping sounds become infrequent, then remove from heat. Continue shaking gently until popping sounds cease. Immediately remove the lid. Stir in candy, cereal, or other mix-ins and serve.

Recipe by Darla


Leave a comment


  1. Alma says

    I love your popcorn!!! I'm so going to try it!!! and I'm definitely not buying popcorn at the cinema again!!! Homemade popcorn with M&M's… YUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Scarletta @ Scarletta Bakes says

    What a great idea – movie popcorn honestly grosses me out a little.

    I wonder how this popcorn would taste with my favorite cereal of all time: Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I will have to give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

    I am also eager to hear how your doggie treats turned out!

  3. theblogisthenewblack says

    I just noticed your Thanksgiving header- adorable! I love the idea of additions to popcorn. Moose munch is a fav snack of mine!

  4. Tastey K says

    I love adding things to my popcorn. The pretzel M&M's are fabulous. I used to use chocolate covered pretzels lol. I also add raisinets at times.

    As for cereal coco puffs, crunch berries and lucky charms. It's great!!

  5. april a says

    I've always been a little intimidated with popping the popcorn on the stove top, but you make it sound so easy that I might just have to try that tonight for family movie night… thanks!
    my little one loves M&M's in his popcorn… its his fav! =)

  6. Sugarbear says

    @Scarletta – I think cinnamon toast crunch would be DELISH! It made me remember that I love sprinkling cinnamon-sugar in sometimes too! And doggie treats will be up soon! I think they were a hit!

    @April a – I hope you try it! It's got so much more flavor than microwavable popcorn, and it really is super easy! 🙂

  7. Three Sisters Cupcake Company says

    but what did you think about the movie???
    I too was there, a smuggler myself I made Butterbeer cupcakes.
    I loved it!! Once again they didn't disappoint!

  8. Sarah Lou says

    oh heaven. Im a smuggler as well. But there are Pretzel MnMs where you live!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    wow. I think i need these. badly.

  9. Anonymous says

    what is pretzel m n m's – sorry im from scotland and have never heard of them but we have peanut ones normal choc ones n crispy over here – i love popcorn but was too scared to give it a go – gonna buy some tomo n make it for snackies x

  10. Sugarbear says

    @Three Sisters – I LOVED it!!! I don't want to say too much, so it won't be spoiled, but I thought it was excellent! Very close to the book, and very, very well done! My favorite, favorite, FAVORITE part was the telling of The tale of the Three Brothers! It was absolutely gorgeous! My least favorite part…when they first arrive back at Shell Cottage…such a sad scene! 🙁

    @Sarah Lou – The pretzel M&M's are soooooo good in popcorn!!! I'm not a huge fan of them on their own, but love them in popcorn!

  11. Sugarbear says

    @Anon. – Pretzel M&M's are just like Peanut M&M's except they have pretzels inside!! They're pretty new (they've only been out for a couple of months), so they may not be available everywhere yet.

  12. Stephanie says

    yum! I always make air popped popcorn and have it with just butter and salt

    I always have popcorn for dinner when my boyfriend is away, its easily my favorite food

  13. Heather says

    5 movies a week! That must be nice! Where I am there is only one movie released every three weeks, so I can go a good 6 months without a decent movie to see. And the city is over two hours driving distance (not including the snow). But I will definitely be making this treat the next time I go (hopefully sometime in the next three months).


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