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Curling up on the couch for movie night has never been tastier. This Italian pesto popcorn recipe is the perfect salty snack that combines herbs and cheese over freshly popped corn kernels. It's a light but an ultra-satisfying weekend (or anytime) savory treat!
This recipe was originally published in 2011. We've updated the post with some new photos and more information, but we've left the delicious recipe exactly the same.
How to make pesto popcorn
This pesto popcorn recipe is so flavorful and easy to make. Using the stovetop method, start by warming the oil and test it by dropping in one or two kernels. If they sizzle, you're ready to go! Be careful not to over pop it. You'll know the popcorn is done when the popping slows down and you hear 1-2 seconds between pops.
Use your favorite homemade or store-bought pesto, or try our easy everyday pesto. If you're shopping for a store-bought pesto, check out the deli for a fresh version, or you can always find a glass jar of it beside the pasta sauces.
You could also try a sun-dried tomato pesto or add a touch of grated lemon zest for a different yet flavorful spin.
Which oil should I use?
Most vegetable oils will work such as canola or sunflower but coconut, avocado oil, and even ghee (clarified butter) work well, too. Avoid using butter for cooking because it will burn at high heat.
Can I use an air popper or microwave popcorn?
An air popper is a wonderful and healthy alternative to the stovetop method. If you're using microwave popcorn, avoid the buttered variety. The butter will add too much moisture and the recipe uses pesto and other seasonings for adding flavor.
What kind of parmesan works best?
While we love parmesan for its salty and nutty flavor, you can also use grana padano or pecorino. They each will have a slightly different flavor but work equally well for this recipe.
What about store-bought grated parmesan?
It will change the flavor and texture of this pesto popcorn slightly but the store-bought grated version can work, too.
How long does it last?
For optimal crunchiness, this pesto popcorn is best eaten right away.
Make it a gift
Pesto popcorn makes a fun gift with a delicious Italian twist. Since this recipe is best eaten right away, try making a ‘popcorn package' by wrapping some un-popped corn kernels along with a small jar of pesto and grated parmesan on the side. Write out the instructions on a card and surprise a friend you think would love the delicious combo of pesto on popcorn!
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
- Sea salt (to taste)
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add 2-3 popcorn kernels and cover the pot.2 tablespoons cooking oil, ½ cup popcorn kernels
- When you hear the first popcorn kernel pop, add the rest of the kernels and put the lid back onto the pot. Once the popcorn starts popping, gently shake the pot back and forth on the element – this helps prevent the popcorn from burning. When the popcorn stops popping, immediately remove the pot from the heat and pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
- Drizzle the pesto over the popcorn, add the parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of salt, and toss to coat.2 tablespoons pesto, 2 ounces grated parmesan cheese, Sea salt
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.