If you’ve ever spent more than 20 minutes in a car with me, I’ve probably asked you something along the lines of “If you were a flavor of popcorn, which flavor would you be?” My answer: Taco Popcorn.

Taco cheese popcorn in a white bowl

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This taco popcorn:

  • Is zippy but not too spicy.
  • Is healthy but leaves you room to add a little butter.
  • Would pair beautifully with a Skinny Margarita.

All are qualities to which I aspire (as much as one can aspire to relate to a flavor of popcorn, anyway!)

If you love foods with a Tex-Mex twist, I know you’ll love this lightly spicy taco popcorn too.

The popcorn is flavored with a mix of classic taco spices such as chili powder, cumin, and cayenne.

In lieu of a store-bought taco seasoning packet, I mixed the spices together myself so that I could control the amounts and avoid the excess sodium you’ll find in many premade packets.

For a touch of brightness, I added fresh lime zest, which ended up being one of my favorite parts.

Finally, to give the taco cheese popcorn its “cheesy” taste, I topped it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, which sounds weird and scary but is actually delicious and high in B vitamins and other nutrients.

Combine its benefits with the fact that popcorn is naturally low calorie and 100% whole grain, and you have one seriously satisfying, healthy munchie.

Chili popcorn in a white bowl

5 Star Review

“Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe. My foodie and picky eater friends both enjoyed this one!!”

— Jordan —

How to Make Taco Popcorn

If you’ve never popped your own fresh popcorn, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is.

One tablespoon of oil and a few minutes on the stove are all you need for perfect, fluffy popcorn that you can flavor any which way.


The Ingredients

  • Popcorn Kernels. Once you’ve made these taco seasoned popcorn kernels at home, you’ll never want the store-bought kind again. Popcorn is rich in fiber, making it a filling and relatively healthy snack option.
Kernels in a measuring cup and spices in a bowl
  • Spices. A mix of chili powder, salt, cumin, dried oregano, and cayenne are what gives this popcorn its taco-like flavor. It’s a little spicy, a little smoky, and a lot delicious!
  • Coconut Oil. For cooking the popcorn kernels.
  • Butter. A drizzle of melted butter adds scrumptious flavor and helps the spices stick to the popcorn.
  • Lime Zest. Adds zip and citrusy flavor that pairs wonderfully with the spices.
  • Nutritional Yeast. The perfect way to add nutty, cheesy flavor without adding actual cheese.

The Directions

  1. Stir the spices together in a bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the kernels.
  3. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the popcorn to a serving bowl, drizzle the melted butter on top, and add the spice mixture, zest, and nutritional yeast. Toss to coat the popcorn. ENJOY!

Dietary Note

For vegan taco popcorn, swap the butter for a non-dairy buttery spread. Since the taco

Popcorn cooked in a skillet on the stovetop

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Storage Tips

For easy grab-and-go snacks, store portion-sized amounts of popcorn in small ziptop bags.

Mexican popcorn in a white bowl

What to Serve with Taco Popcorn

Stick with the theme and enjoy taco popcorn and salsa, or try it with one of these tasty snack recipes.

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Citrus Zester. An easy way to zest the lime for this chili popcorn.
  • Measuring Spoons. These double-sided spoons are great for measuring the Mexican popcorn seasoning ingredients.
  • Skillet. Ideal for making this Mexican popcorn recipe.

The Best Skillet

A high-quality, versatile skillet is essential in every kitchen. You’ll use this for so many recipes!

Easy “Cheesy” Taco Popcorn. Chili powder, fresh lime zest, and nutritional yeast make a delicious, healthy, dairy free party appetizer or office snack. Perfect for movie nights! #popcorn #tacopopcorn #dairyfree #healthysnack #healthyappetizer

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use the Spice Mixture on Air Popped Popcorn?

If you prefer to use an air popper for your healthy popcorn recipes, you can certainly still use the same stovetop popcorn seasoning.

Can I Use Another Seasoning Mixture?

If you’re looking to branch out from the taco-inspired seasoning mixture, you can use a different combination. I think Parmesan garlic popcorn, curry popcorn, and ranch popcorn (use the seasonings from my Ranch Crackers) would be delicious.

How Many People Will This Recipe Serve?

Typically, a serving of popcorn is about 2.5 cups. So, this recipe will serve about 4 people.

Easy “Cheesy” Taco Popcorn. Chili powder, fresh lime zest, and nutritional yeast make a delicious, healthy, dairy free party appetizer or office snack. Perfect for movie nights! #popcorn #tacopopcorn #dairyfree #healthysnack #healthyappetizer

Taco Popcorn

5 from 3 votes
Easy “Cheesy” Taco Popcorn, seasoned with pantry spices, fresh lime zest, and nutritional yeast. A healthy, flavorful snack or party appetizer!

Prep: 2 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 8 mins

Servings: 10 cups, approx.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (to make vegan, use a nondairy buttery spread)
  • Zest of 1 small lime
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast* optional

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, and cayenne. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Once hot and shimmering, add the popcorn kernels. Shake and shift the pan so that the kernels are in a flat, even layer.
  • Cover the pan and let the kernels cook until the time between pops is 3 to 4 seconds, shaking the pan every 20 seconds or so to keep the kernels from burning. The popcorn should cook in about 3 minutes.
  • Uncover the popcorn and pour into a serving bowl. Immediately drizzle with the melted butter, then sprinkle with the spice mixture, lime zest, and nutritional yeast. Toss to combine. Taste and add additional salt as desired.

Notes

  • *Nutritional yeast can be found in the health food section of many grocery stores or online. In addition to offering a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and protein, nutritional yeast adds a lightly salty, “cheesy” flavor to dishes. If you prefer not to purchase it, you can simply omit it or swap finely grated Parmesan cheese.
  • TO STORE: Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup (of 10)Calories: 71kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgPotassium: 72mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 321IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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25 Comments

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  1. Fabulous!! I added extra nutritional yeast because, in my opinion, popcorn isn’t popcorn without yeast. We loved it!5 stars

  2. Years ago a housemate introduced me to nutritional yeast and it’s truly delicious on popcorn. I encourage everyone to try it. I have no idea why it tastes so good but it does. He would sprinkle it straight onto his popcorn all the time. Im definitely trying this taco popcorn as soon as I get some kernels. Love the fact that making your own popcorn in a pan w your own seasonings lets you control the salt and also minimizes waste (microwave bags). Thanks for the idea Erin!