Popcorn is a special treat any time of the year. Whether it be a family movie night, Oscar party, or a birthday extravaganza, a popcorn bar is the perfect addition to any event. A popcorn bar is an inexpensive and delicious hit with any crowd. You can make a gourmet popcorn bar with an array of spices and toppings, or keep it simple with a few popcorn varieties and snacks.
A homemade popcorn bar is not only a treat for guests, it’s also excellent party decor. Dress up your table with a fun tablecloth, wall decor and cute labels so guests can easily find their favorite popcorn flavors and toppings!
How to Make Popcorn
While you can purchase microwave popcorn, fresh popcorn is a delicious alternative. Check out our how-to below, or skip if you purchase pre-made popcorn.
Tip: this recipe makes about 10 cups, which is 10 servings. Feel free to double or triple the batch, depending on guest size.
- 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
- ½ cup of popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- ½ teaspoon salt for topping
- Optional: chocolate or caramel sauce
- Optional: 1 bag of melted white chocolate chips
- Using a popcorn popper or a 6 or 8-quart stock pot, set the burner on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Let your oil warm up, and then add three or four kernels into the oil. Wait for these kernels to pop.
- Once the kernels pop, add about ½ cup of popcorn kernels to your pot in an even layer.
- Keep on heat until popping begins. Then cover with the lid and remove from heat.
- Wait 30 seconds and return the pot back to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping slowly and then all at once. Gently move your pan back and forth over the burner until popping slows.
- Remove pan from heat. Remove lid and transfer into a bowl.
Setting Up Your Popcorn Bar
When it comes to setting up your popcorn bar, there are a few steps you can take to create the ultimate popcorn bar setup. Make sure to determine the space you’re working with, and decorate your bar once you finish cooking your popcorn. Using a variety of containers, display your delicious popcorn, sweet and savory toppings and any other themed decor to complete the look.
Tip #1 Determine your surface area.
Depending on how you choose to set up your popcorn bar, you may have a full table dedicated to popcorn supplies, or just a small section in a larger food display. This will determine how much seasoning and popcorn and how many toppings and serving containers you will use.
Tip #2 Choose a variety of containers.
Since you will be creating a range of popcorn types, consider using a few clear containers to hold your popcorn. Also have a large tub for regular popcorn for those who’d like to dress their popcorn on their own, or prefer it plain.
Tip #3 Create labels.
To differentiate your popcorn types, label your containers. Also consider place cards for your seasonings, candy and other miscellaneous goodies.
Tip #4 Decide on a theme or decor style.
Depending on your event or party, decide on a theme that fits the evening. For an Oscar viewing party, use gold and black accents and star cutouts for your labels. Try using wooden bowls and chalkboard materials for a rustic outdoor movie night.
Tip #5 Choose your toppings.
While you will already have popcorn recipes created, you’ll want to leave out additional toppings guests can choose. Consider having a few basic spices, extra butter and candy. A few liquid toppings such as caramel and chocolate sauce work as well.
Tip # 6 Have bags or bowls handy.
In addition to your popcorn and toppings, you’ll also want to keep bags or small bowls handy for guests to keep their popcorn in. Try this cute DIY and have simple brown lunch bags with guests’ names for a personalized touch.
Topping Ideas For Your Popcorn
When deciding on your toppings for your popcorn bar, you’ll want to think of what would go well with your unique popcorn recipes, along with what people could throw on top of plain popcorn. Get creative with your toppings. Try adding a sweet candy, yummy parmesan, or a spice from your cabinet to give your popcorn an extra kick. Check out our list below for other creative ideas.
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Curry powder
- Matcha powder
- Wasabi powder
- Brown Sugar
- Sunflower seeds
- Coconut flakes
- Chocolate nuts
Unique Popcorn Recipes
Salt and pepper is never a bad idea, but why not try a few fun alternatives? If you enjoy a savory option, try our rosemary, garlic and parmesan recipe, or for a little mix of sweet and salty, adventure with our wasabi cayenne pepper and brown sugar recipe.
For all of the following recipes, we suggest adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt and about ⅓ cup of melted butter.
- Rosemary, garlic, parmesan
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- Pinch garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- Matcha and dark chocolate (drizzled)
- 1 melted chocolate bar
- 2 tablespoons matcha powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- White chocolate and sprinkles
- ½ cup white chocolate chips (melted) +½ teaspoon of shortening
- 2 tablespoons sprinkles
- Wasabi, cayenne pepper and brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of wasabi powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Coconut and curry
- ½ teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted coconut flakes
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- Cinnamon sugar and vanilla
- ⅔ cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Creating the ultimate popcorn bar is a fun, easy way to spice up any event with friends. Whether you’re getting ready for the Oscars, preparing for a family movie night, or just celebrating good food with loved ones, you really can’t go wrong with whatever popcorn flavors you decide on. For more kitchen gear you can add to your bar, check out our kitchen and dining gifts.