Super Bowl snacks: Mix up a popcorn bar

With just a few different kinds of seasonings and bowls of freshly popped corn, you'll have a fun and healthy alternative to offer Super Bowl snackers with this creative popcorn bar spread.

Courtesy of The Popcorn Board
A popcorn bar is a tasty treat to serve a snacking Super Bowl crowd.

The words "Super Bowl" and "snacks" are inseparable for most sports fans. A popcorn bar is an inexpensive, low effort, healthy, and flavor-packed way to keep your appetite satisfied and maybe reaching a little less for those bags of chips, chicken wings, and rich dips.

But since those are good, too, don't miss our recommended game day appetizer list.

Some things to remember when setting up your popcorn bar. First, think outside the box of regular buttered and salted popcorn. A bowl of bright white popcorn can deliver all kinds of flavors and it doesn't have to as complicated (or messy) as making caramel corn.

Second, make up as much popcorn as your household can handle because we are about to give a lot of recipes and you'll want to try all them. You've got the time, this is a football game, remember?

Third, keep it basic. There's no reason to stress about this. Check out Stir It Up! blogger Sarah Murphy-Kangas's style when mixing up cheesy bowl of popcorn:

Thyme and Parmesan Popcorn
From In Praise of Leftovers

1. Pop a bunch of white popcorn kernels in your usual way.  If you're a microwave popcorn kind of person, make sure you use the kind with no additives or flavorings.  

2. Dump the popcorn into a big bowl and drizzle melted butter over it.  

3. Chop a bunch of fresh thyme (at least 2 big tablespoons). Scatter thyme over popcorn, shake a bunch of dried parmesan from a can, and sprinkle some garlic powder to taste. 

4. Finely zest half a lemon over the top (this is where microplanes really shine) and finish with some kosher salt, tasting first to see how salty the cheese made things.

Wait, there's more

If you are looking for more ideas, The Popcorn Board is a nonprofit "funded by US popcorn processors to raise awareness of popcorn as a versatile, whole-grain snack." They shared their wealth of ideas for a popcorn bar with Stir It Up!. Use your favorite method for popping corn and then check out your pantry, you'll probably have most of these seasonings on-hand.

The directions for the following flavored recipes are the same. Simply combine all seasonings together in a small bowl. Lightly spray a larger serving bowl with butter-flavored cooking spray, this will help the seasoning stick to the popcorn. Add the popped corn to the serving bowl and gently stir to coat the popcorn (alternatively you can use 1 tablespoon of melted butter for 2 quarts of popped corn). Then sprinkle the spice mixtures on top of the popcorn. Mix thoroughly until all kernels are coated.

Set out your popcorn bar with smaller bowls or paper cups. Descriptive signs will guide your snackers to their favorite flavor combinations.

Tex Mex Popcorn
From The Popcorn Board

2 teaspoons ground chili powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Sweet and Spicy
From The Popcorn Board

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the mixture over 2 quarts of popped corn. Store the rest in an airtight container for future use.

Lavendar Provencal
From The Popcorn Board

2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence (with lavender)

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

Chili Lime
From The Popcorn Board

Here's a twist that requires baking the flavors together in the oven. Prepare one quart at a time to keep things manageable in the oven.

1 quart popped popcorn

1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast powder (or nutritional yeast; available in health food stores)

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Spread popped popcorn on a baking sheet.

3. Sprinkle yeast powder, lime juice, chili powder and salt over popcorn.

4. Heat about 7 minutes and toss just before serving. Serve warm.

Nacho Cheese
From The Popcorn Board

Makes about 2-1/2 quarts of popped corn

1/3 cup cooking oil

3 or 4 dried chilies

1 large clove garlic, cut into quarters

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1/3 cup unpopped popcorn

3 tablespoons hot oil

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place cooking oil, chilies, garlic and cumin seed in a small saucepan.

2. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes; let stand 10 minutes.

3. Strain.

4. Use 3 tablespoons of seasoned oil for popping corn; reserve the rest. (Any unused oil can be stored for future use.)

5. This makes about 2-1/2 quarts popped popcorn. Pour remaining oil over popped popcorn, tossing to coat.

6. Mix Parmesan cheese, paprika and salt.

7. Sprinkle over popped popcorn, tossing to mix.

BBQ Popcorn
From The Popcorn Board

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the mixture for each quart of popped corn. Store the rest in an air-tight container for future use.

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