Around-the-World Coconut Popcorn Mix

February 13, 2010
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This savory, sweet, and spicy snack is like Cracker Jacks gone wild. There are some big flavors here, borrowing from Thai, Caribbean, Vietnamese, and Indian cooking. It's also spicy! So beware, and try not to watch weepy movies that'll cause you touch your eyes while you're eating this treat.

Popping the popcorn in coconut oil isn't strictly necessary -- substitute canola oil instead -- but you'll love the depth of coconut flavor you get from it. Also, if you don't have superfine sugar, whirr regular granulated sugar in a grinder, blender, or food processor until fine. —vrunka

Test Kitchen Notes

This is an awesome way to kick boring old popcorn up a notch into an entirely new stratosphere. Although it took me 3 tries to get the chili pepper/sugar mixture to melt properly, the end result was definitely a winner. I served it as pre-barbeque snack and everyone asked for the recipe. The spicy, salty, sweet combo is perfectly balanced and not at all cloying. Finding Thai chilis was somewhat of a challenge, but I think you could experiment with other kinds of peppers. Also, to avoid the melting fiascos I experienced, I'd decrease the sugar. —hurleyburley

  • Serves 4 to 8
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 to 4 Thai chili peppers, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, lightly roasted
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
  • 2/3 cup shredded, dried coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
In This Recipe
  1. In a large pot (at least 5 quarts), heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the popcorn and cover tightly. Once popping starts, vigorously shake the pot to distribute kernels. Once popping slows, remove the pot from heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. When it has warmed, add garlic and chili peppers just until they release their fragrance, about 10 seconds. Immediately add the sugar and stir several times to just melt the sugar. Pour over the popcorn.
  3. Add the peanuts, lime zest, coconut, black pepper, and salt, and toss well to mix.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ChefJune
  • kldesjohn
  • Michèle Marie-Waite Dotson
    Michèle Marie-Waite Dotson
  • vrunka
  • Beautiful, Memorable Food
    Beautiful, Memorable Food
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.