Everyone in our house love bacon, and this popcorn treat is a favorite. This Bacon and Chive Popcorn recipe brings the aroma and flavor of bacon, mixes in the crisp flavor of chives, and heats it all up with cayenne. A nearly perfect combination!
You’ll definitely want to use real bacon for this one – bacon bits might be OK sprinkled on a salad, but are too dry for a popcorn mix and end up at the bottom of the bowl. Bacon bits also don’t bring the full flavor of bacon to the popcorn, and you’ll need the drippings from cooking bacon to really make the flavors pop. And don’t try and use turkey bacon either! It just doesn’t have the same flavor.
You can dial-down the heat by using less cayenne, but don’t eliminate it entirely as it really adds to the flavor. If you’re out of cayenne, try some chili powder. I recently picked up some ground chipotle pepper, and found this really added flavorful, smoky taste that is amazing.
6 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Cook the bacon until crisp, lay out to drain on paper towel, then chop into small pieces. Take 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings from the pan, combine with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and drizzle over 16 cups of freshly popped popcorn.
Add the bacon, chives and toss. Sprinkle with the cayenne and salt to taste, and toss some more.
Black Jewell sells a variety of specialty popcorn kernels, and their Original Black is one of their most popular. But are the smaller kernels of this gourmet popcorn worth the premium price?
Original Black is the product Black Jewell started with in small Illinois farm back in 1963. Still family owned, the company now offers 5 varieties of popcorn kernels (Original Black, Crimson Jewell, Native Mix, Mayan Gold and Pearly White), and 4 types of microwave popcorn (Natural, Butter, Kettle and No Salt/No Oil), all certified non-GMO. The product packaging and web site do not claim that their products are 100% organic.
Popping the Corn
In our testing, we popped several different batches of Original Black using air poppers and on the stove top. Each time, we had very few unpopped kernels left.
Using an air popper with Original Black can be a challenge. Since the kernels are smaller and lighter than regular popcorn, they have a tendency to fly right out of the popper, unpopped! Black Jewell recommends using a popper with reduced airflow, but we found that tipping the popper backwards a bit until popping starts in earnest was successful.
The popped corn is definitely smaller in size than normal popcorn, and this is part of the attraction of Original Black. The company claims that their popcorn is “virtually free of hulls” and we did find this to be true. If you are sensitive to the hulls in popcorn, or are bothered when they stick in your teeth, you may want to try a Original Black for this reason alone.
While the kernels are black, the resulting popcorn is white. The popcorn has a very pleasing crisp feel to it, and a very light flavor as well.
Overall, our tasters enjoyed the flavor and texture of Black Jewell’s Original Black popcorn. A healthy snack which nearly eliminates the hulls. The only negative is the cost – this gourmet popcorn costs 2-3 times as much as other non-GMO popcorns. Is it worth it? Try for yourself and let us know in the comments!
Orville Redenbacher’s Stirring Popper by Presto (05204) is the latest in a long line of oil poppers from the manufacturer. Does this model live up to Orville’s presumed standard for popcorn perfection?
The stirring popper includes a solid base with a non-stick heating surface and a stirring rod to agitate the kernels during the popping. This also helps to prevent the popped corn from scorching. There is no power switch, so the heating element is controlled by plugging the unit in. The popper includes a popping cover to contain the popped corn (up to 24 cups), which has a butter melter on the top. A snap on cover is included as well, so the dome can be used as bowl after popping completes.
We tested Orville Redenbacher’s Stirring Popper by Presto by adding 3/4 cup yellow popcorn kernels and 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil, per the instructions. After affixing the dome to the base and removing the “butter melter cover”, we plugged it in. Presto indicates that there is no need to pre-heat the popper.
The butter melter is a round area on the top of the popping cover which is perforated to allow melted butter to drip onto the popped corn. Per the instructions, the cover should be removed during popping to allow steam to escape regardless of whether any butter is being melted.
Popping started within 3 minutes, and continued for about 3 minutes before popping slowed to 2-3 seconds between pops. At this point, we unplugged the popper, replaced the butter melter cover, and flipped the entire unit over. Then, we lifted off the popper base to reveal 24 cups of fresh popped popcorn!
The popcorn was well popped, with only a few kernels remaining. In our first test, some popcorn was lightly over-cooked. In subsequent testing, stopping the popping process a little earlier avoided this. This is not difficult to do, but it does require practice and attention.
A more significant issue was the quality of the popped corn. Each time we tested Orville Redenbacher’s Stirring Popper by Presto, the resulting popcorn was somewhat tough and chewy. This was with the steam vent open, and no butter in the melter. We tested with yellow and white varieties of popcorn, and adjusted the oil amount within the range specified by Presto.
Clean up of the popper is a relatively simple, although manual, process. The stirring arm is attached to the base with a large knob. It easily unscrews, and both pieces can be washed with soap and water. The heating surface of the base is non-stick, and just needs to be wiped down. The popping cover/serving bowl must also be washed by hand, as none of the parts are dishwasher safe.
Presto includes an instruction manual with recipes, and a one-year warranty.
Orville Redenbacher’s Stirring Popper by Presto delivers 24 cups of popcorn quickly and easily. Cleanup is average among oil poppers. Our biggest concern is with the mouthfeel (is that a real word?) of the popcorn, as it was tough and chewy in every test.
In our house, the kids are often making the popcorn on movie night. The need to carefully attend the popping to ensure it doesn’t overcook, and the process of flipping the popper over when finished are two more issues we have with Orville Redenbacher’s Stirring Popper by Presto.
Many recipes call for grinding spices or herbs before or after mixing them together. What if you don’t have (or want) a dedicated grinder?
Mortar and Pestle
One common option is a mortar and pestle. This timeless piece of kitchenware can be used for crushing small amounts of herbs or spices, and even double as the mixing bowl for most popcorn seasoning recipes. It can also be used for making pesto and even guacamole!
A mortar and pestle is simple, inexpensive and dishwasher-safe.
If you’re a coffee aficionado, you likely have a coffee grinder available. I don’t recommend using a burr grinder(generally, you add the beans to the top, and ground coffee is deposited in a chute below the grinding apparatus), as the herbs and spices are much smaller than coffee beans, and the flavors will intermingle (coffee flavored popcorn? I might have to try that . . ) But if you have a simple blade-type grinder, you will find this a great convenience. The inside of most blade grinders are stainless steel, and should clean up easily too.
Spoon and Bowl
Finally, if you’re halfway through the recipe, and need to grind the mixture, try a spoon. Spread the spices across a large plate or shallow bowl, and use the back of a silverware or stainless-steel soup spoon or serving spoon. Use a rolling motion with your thumb firmly in the bowl of the spoon. It can get a bit messy, but you should be able to grind just about any herb or spice.
And think about the mortar and pestle . . . You never know what you might need it for next!
Spike your next event with the great taste of barbecue! This delicious mix brings two snacking favorites together, and is simple to make. Regular barbecue chips work well, as their “crunch” matches the popcorn. Using “kettle cooked” chips brings a little more variety, and the chips are less likely to break apart when being mixed.
Melt the butter in a small pan on the stove, and stir in the spices. Place your freshly popped popcorn in a large container. Slowly drizzle the butter and spice mixture over the popcorn, pausing frequently to toss the mixture. Add in the crushed barbecue chips, and toss lightly to mix everything together.
When serving, keep a stack of napkins nearby. Just like real barbecue, this can be messy!
Everyone loves fresh popcorn! And the delicious aroma of corn popped on the stove is unbeatable. Perhaps your popper is on the fritz? Or maybe you can’t find all the pieces?
Don’t worry – if you have the kernels, I’ll bet your kitchen already has everything else you need for a great snack!
If you can’t find a large pot, improvise! You can try a wok covered with aluminum foil (poke holes for the steam to escape). Or perhaps a large stainless-steel mixing bowl (with an aluminum foil cover, and tongs or oven mits to hold it – be careful!)
Once the pot is up to temperature and the kernels have been added, the popping should take about 2 minutes. Shaking the pot over the burner will help the evenly heat the kernels, and prevent the popped corn from burning. By shaking, I really mean “sliding the pot back and forth on the burner, just enough to keep the kernels moving.”
I also recommend finely ground salt, as it sticks to the popcorn better. This is available a “popcorn salt” or also as “picking salt”. You can also make it at home using a food processor (use the “pulse” button 6-7 times) or a blade coffee grinder (we use one in a lot of popcorn seasonings)
1/4 cup of cooking oil (peanut or coconut oil if you have it, otherwise vegetable oil will do)
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1/2 teaspoon salt (finely ground, “popcorn” salt works best)
3 tablespoons of butter, melted (if desired)
Heat the oil, salt and 3 popcorn kernels in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the 3 kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, and cover the pot. Shake continuously until popping slows down (usually about 2 minutes). Try to leave the lid open a small amount to let steam escape. When finished, pour into a large serving bowl immediately.
Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn slowly, tossing frequently to mix. Or try one of the many other seasoning recipes on SnackZest!
Several people in our household like a popular “Cool Ranch”-flavored junk food, but I’d rather not spend money on tortilla chips sprayed with some weird chemical concoction. After a bit of experimenting, we went beyond the flavor of the pre-packaged stuff. The bold flavor of real spices in this seasoning is sure to win over “Cool Ranch” fans!
3 teaspoons buttermilk powder (found in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
Mix all the spices and the buttermilk powder together thoroughly in a small bowl. Place your freshly popped popcorn in a large container and drizzle with olive oil or melted butter (if air-popped). Add the spice mixture evenly, and toss.
The West Bend Clear Air Popcorn Machine (89013) is one of the most stylish appliances for popping corn. The contemporary look of the popper matches well with other stainless steel kitchen appliances, and the clear chamber uniquely provides a view into the popping action.
The Clear Air Popcorn Machine has a compact, silver-grey base which includes a power switch and a cord storage area underneath. The main chamber is clear, glass lined, and permanently affixed to the base. In addition to providing a view, the glass also acts a sound insulator, making the Clear Air Popcorn Machine the most quiet air popper we’ve tested.
In our test, we added kernels to the fill line marked near the bottom of the chamber. The popper takes 1/2 cup of corn, but there is no measuring cup included. Once plugged in, the unit finished popping in approximately 3 minutes. There were a few unpopped kernels in the bowl, but only slightly more than average.
In repeated testing, we found two issues with the West Bend Clear Air Popcorn Machine. When adding kernels to the chamber, it can be hard to see the fill line depending on the lighting in your kitchen. We slightly overfilled the chamber on two occasions, and both times the kernels began to burn and produce smoke. When overfilled, the updraft of air is not sufficient to agitate the kernels.
The other issue we experienced was with the chute. The chute on this popper is plastic, and rests atop the popping chamber. It has a very small lip to hold it in place, and can be knocked off easily. It will not fall off unless bumped. This happened a couple of times when moving the bowl or adjusting the popper, blowing popcorn all over the counter each time.
West Bend provides an instruction manual and a one-year warranty. There is no measuring cup or butter melting capability included.
The West Bend Clear Air Popcorn Machine is one of the quietest and most stylish poppers we’ve tested. The compact design and low noise output make it a nice addition to smaller kitchens or apartments. The only two issues we experienced with the appliance are easily avoided.
West Bend is well known for kitchen appliances, offering everything from coffee makers to slow cookers. The company currently offers a total of 8 popcorn poppers for sale, including oil, hot air, and “theater style” devices. The West Bend Air Crazy Hot Air Popcorn Popper (82418) is inexpensive and widely available, so how does it compare?
The Air Crazy is a compact unit, intended to be stored out of the way when not in use, and the retractable power cord helps. The power switch is another nice feature, which more expensive units often lack. A measuring cup in the top chute doubles as a butter warmer. The top chute and measuring cup are both dishwasher-safe.
Hot air poppers use a heating element and fan to heat warm air, and blow it up through the kernels. Once popped, the corn should push out through the chute into a waiting bowl. West Bend recommends a 4QT bowl to hold the 16 cups of popped corn.
For our test, we filled the measuring cup all the way (1/2 cup of kernels), plugged in the popper, and turned it on. Our bowl was filled and the popper finished in just under 3 minutes, a bit slower than other similar units (2-2 1/2 minutes is normal). There were a few more unpopped kernels in the bowl than average, but not a significant amount.
West Bend provides an instruction manual for the use and cleaning of the popper, and a one-year warranty. We did not try melting butter in the measuring cup, but the directions do recommend starting with softened butter.
The power switch is a nice feature, and made the popper much easier for the kids in our family to use. The retractable power cord helped with stowage.
The West Bend Air Crazy Hot Air Popcorn Popper is quieter and more compact than most competitors. It does take a little longer to pop a 1/2 cup of kernels than other similar units, but offers several convenience features not normally found in this price range.
Presto is one of the biggest names in popcorn poppers, and the Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper (04860) is one of the most popular. But how does it perform? Will it work for you?
The PopLite is a basic air-popper, with a measuring cup in the top chute which doubles as a butter warmer. The chute and measuring cup are not dishwasher-safe.
Hot air poppers heat popcorn kernels from below, with an updraft airflow which pushes the popped corn out the chute and into your waiting bowl. Occasionally, an unpopped kernel will bounce out with the popped corn. We found that this happened much less with the Presto PopLite than with other similar poppers. In our tests, the PopLite came very close to the manufacturer’s claimed 18 cup output, and left very few unpopped kernels.
No oil is needed in the cooking process, and for that reason, some people find air popped corn to be dry. This is easily addressed by drizzling melted butter or spritzing olive oil or other light oil-based topping after the popping is complete. The PopLite can even help, as the kernel measuring cup on the top of the chute serves double-duty by melting butter if you don’t mind the additional cleanup.
In our testing, the PopLite turned 1/2 cup of kernels into popcorn in approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This in on par with the best air poppers, as fast microwave popcorn, and twice as fast as oil-based poppers.
The PopLite is slightly louder than average for an air popper.
Presto provides a manual on the use and cleaning for the popper, and a one-year warranty. There is a cup on the top of the chute for measuring a 1/2 cup of kernels and melting butter if desired.
The Presto PopLite does not have a power switch, so starting and stopping the process requires plugging and unplugging the power cord from the wall. This is inconvenient, and could be a concern for those with children who may use the appliance.
The Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper is a no-frills performer that efficiently makes excellent popcorn. There are almost no unpopped kernels left, and very little cleanup required when the PopLite is finished.
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