Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

Easy 6-ingredient homemade Sweet & Spicy Popcorn is a great holiday gift! Vegan, gluten-free & healthier than classic kettle corn, but just as good.

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

Hello everyone, Jack here, pinch-hitting for Jeanine. She’s been busy making this very popcorn, so she asked me to write about it.

Popcorn this time of year makes me think of something that has become a bit of an American tradition – gigantic multi-gallon tins of flavored popcorn. You know the kind – they’re the size of an oil drum, separated into three sections on the inside with a literal ton of popcorn inside. It seems like a good idea – popcorn is cheap, so why not preserve it in a sticky, sugary shell to enjoy over the entire month of December? Well, the reality is that I usually eat nearly half of it the first day, feel terrible, and then eventually throw out what’s left in February.

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

So naturally, Jeanine made her version a little bit healthier, but I can promise you that it’s every bit as addictive. It goes the sweet and spicy route, because why not? It’s sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne. It makes a great gift – that is, if you can keep from eating handfuls of it before packing up. (Sorry, Jeanine).

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

5.0 from 4 reviews

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn

  • 8 to 10 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the sunflower oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Place the popped popcorn into a 9x13-inch baking pan and pour the spiced mixture over the popcorn. Sprinkle with salt and stir to combine. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to airtight containers.



Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. bL

    So good I wanted to immediately make more!

  2. Lupe

    Hi, this sounds very good, but can I substitute sunflower oil with avocado oil?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lupe, yes, you can.

  3. Tracey

    This is sooooo good! Shamefully, I ended up eating it all in one sitting…yes people its that good! I can’t wait to try out some variations…I’m thinking adding a little cocoa powder? One can never go wrong with chocolate…lol!

  4. Cynthia

    Do you grease the baking dish?

    • Tracey

      I used a cookie sheet lined with parchment, worked out perfectly. Easy clean up too.

  5. Annette

    I made this for my boyfriend and he flipped over it. I didn’t have sunflower oil so I used sesame oil but it worked. This will be a staple in my house. Easy and delicious!

  6. Laurie

    Just made a batch of this, and my spouse is chomping it down while I type. Delicious! Light, with just enough coating to make it special without being heavy or greasy.

    I used avocado oil. which is basically tasteless. Searched all the microwaveable popcorn to find the least objectionable, which was Jolly Time “Simply Popped” with sea salt. No other flavoring. One 3.3oz bag was the perfect amount for this recipe (9 cups). Thanks so much for sharing, this is perfect for holiday gifting/sharing..

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Laurie, I’m so glad you loved it!

  7. Such a charming way to give holiday gifts this year! This looks so great!

  8. Shoshana

    Hi, I definitely want to try this for gifts this year…Could I sub the sunflower oil for coconut? Thanks

    • jeanine

      Yep – it’ll have a bit of a coconut flavor (which I think would be just fine – assuming you like coconut!)

  9. Allyson from consideringtheradish.wordpress.com

    This looks like it would make a fantastic gift, and I love the packaging. I’m not usually a caramel corn type of person, but the spice might sell it for me.

    • jeanine

      Me either – this is pretty lightly sweetened…

  10. Alex from acapitolcontessa.com

    This looks so great – I don’t have sunflower oil and probably wont be able to get some in time to gift this. Would grapeseed or hazelnut work just as well?

    • jeanine

      Yep, you could use grapeseed oil 🙂

  11. A slightly granola-esque approach to popcorn. Might sub the cayenne with crushed Sichuan peppercorns for an electric edge.

  12. brigette

    Hi, looks so yummy, how long will it keep for gifts?

    • jeanine

      up to about 2 weeks in an airtight container…

    • Ginger

      Could you add more cayenne to add more heat.? Would it mess it up too much?

    • jeanine

      yep, it’s super easy!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.