Popcorn is a go-to snack in our house. In part because it is a healthier snack option, in part because it is a cost-effective and simple snack solution when you’ve got increasingly hungry kids to feed, but if I am being honest, it is really mostly because I looooove popcorn and so I make it for me just as much as I make it for the kids.
Over the years I have experimented with lots of different toppings: garam masala, za’atar, chili powder, cinnamon, parmesan, and nutritional yeast are some of my favorites. But in honor of Cinco de Mayo this year I wanted to push the envelope and try something different: Mexican Street Corn-Style Popcorn.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mexican Street Corn (Elotes), it is a wonderful concoction of grilled corn that is then slathered in a creamy, citrusy dressing and then topped with salty cheese. In other words: heaven. If you ever have the chance, definitely get it! But I wanted to try to find a way to put that creamy, citrusy, smoky goodness onto popcorn as a fun and festive snack.
Now, I do have to warn you that this popcorn is just a tad addictive. Even last night, after having dinner and dessert, I reached into the leftovers bag for “just one more bite” and found myself shoveling handfuls into my mouth, with my husband pushing me aside to get his hand in the bag too! So when you make it either prepare to ruin your dinner, exercise great restraint, or serve it to a larger group.
A note on popping popcorn yourself: for those of you who have never made popcorn from the kernel before, don’t worry! It is very simple to do and, like so many other foods, once you have made the homemade version, the stuff that comes in a bag just won’t seem worth it. But, if that feels too scary, then buy the store stuff (you’ll need 6-8 cups), as plain and unseasoned as you can get, and then use the dressing to top it off.
- 1 Tablespoon coconut or canola oil
- ¾ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over a medium-high heat. If using coconut oil, let it completely melt. Add 3 or 4 popcorn kernels and put the lid on the pot.
- When the kernels start to pop, pour in the rest of the kernels and put the top on again. Swirl the kernels around so that they get coated in oil. Let the popcorn start popping and shake it occasionally to allow the un-popped kernels to sink to the bottom.
- While you wait for the popcorn to pop, combine the melted butter and mayonnaise in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- The popcorn is done popping when there is about 1 second between pops.
- Dump the popcorn into a large bowl and pour the lime zest, chili powder, and salt on top. Mix gently, just to spread out the toppings a little bit.
- Pour the butter and mayonnaise mixture on top and then stir well, I just used my hands, to make sure everything is well coated.