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Tuesday 15 March 2011

Sluttishly Easy: Chilli and Lemon Popcorn

Popcorn is my new favourite snack food. It's quick, easy, incredibly cheap and low in calories if you're worried about that sort of thing. I whip up a bowl when I get home from work if I'm too starving to wait for dinner. It's great in idle moments when you want SOMETHING to eat but don't know what, and end up opening and closing the same cupboard doors in the hopes that the Snack Fairy will put some biscuits in there.

This recipe will have half of you rolling your eyes at the obviousness of it all, and the other half saying "wait, you can MAKE popcorn? For literally thruppence ha'penny?" 'Tis true - a 500g bag of popcorn kernels is about 70p and will keep you going for weeks. Once you realise how cheap it is to make, you'll balk at paying £4 for a box of stale salty-sweet stuff at the cinema.

Get your popcorn kernels at your local corner shop - the sort that sells everything - or else a health food shop or the dried lentils aisle in a supermarket. Heating the oil is the trickiest part of popcorn making, so don't be disheartened if it goes wrong the first time. Too cool and it won't pop; too hot and it'll pop so fast you'll end up with small hard pieces.

Chilli and Lemon Popcorn (serves 2)

You will need:
  • 40g of popcorn kernels (roughly)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Butter (optional)
  • Salt
  • Chilli powder
  • Half a lemon
Make it!
  1. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. You want to coat the bottom of the pan. Don't skimp on it or you'll end up with chewy popcorn. Add a teaspoon of butter for extra flavour if you like; the oil will keep the butter from burning.
  2. Wait until the oil is very hot but not smoking, and add a single kernel of popcorn to test the heat. Once it pops, you can add the rest of the kernels. Cover the bottom of the pan, put the lid on (preferably one with a hole to let the steam escape), shake well, then place on the heat.
  3. The kernels should slowly start popping after 10-15 seconds, rapidly speed up, then slow right down again. Shake occasionally to keep them coated in oil and stop the bottom ones from burning.
  4. When there's more than a second between pops, which should take about a minute, you're done. Take it off the heat and leave it to completely finish popping.
  5. Tip your popcorn into a large bowl, add salt and shake well. While still shaking the bowl, squeeze the lemon over it and then sprinkle over the chilli.
Serve with an ice-cold soft drink and something trashy on telly.


  1. My husband loves salty popcorn, I like sweet (odd, it's about the only sweet thing I like). I'll have to try this as we BOTH like chilli and lemon!

  2. I know you'll all think I'm silly, but I hate popcorn. It's cardboardy.

  3. Nooo, not if you use enough oil and eat it fresh, it isn't!

  4. I never use oil to pop my popcorn! I just put the kernels in a non-stick pan, put a lid on, turn the heat up to medium/high and keep shaking the pan until the popping dies down to one pop every five seconds or so. The only times I've burnt it have been down to me not paying attention, and it's never chewy or cardboardy. I love it plain, but lemon and chilli sounds fab too.

  5. Allie - ahaaa, a non-stick pan, that might be the answer. I end up scrubbing burnt kernels off my bog standard pan if I don't use enough oil.

  6. Interesting, ive always popped ours in the microwave-with lid of course! I love the sound of this one, im def a savory lover. We use Malt Salt usually but think i might have to try this one tonight..Thanks!

  7. You've got to keep shaking the pan, Sara - and non-stick probably is important! My pans aren't anything fancy but they are non-stick, and I get lovely crispy popcorn with no oil. It's fantastic as a completely guilt-free snack!

  8. Another point entirely, the Snack Fairy is USELESS, isn't she? She rarely ever visits.

  9. The Snack Fairy didn't even bother to tell me about non-stick pans, Sian. That's how rubbish she is.

  10. My Mum used to make popcorn from popcorn kernels when I was a kid. BEST FUN EVER. Be sure to use a lid though, otherwise they will go flying around your kitchen...

  11. My mum used to make popcorn like this for me when I was little but she'd put a pyrex dish over the pan, instead of the lid, so I could watch it popping.
    I'm very easily pleased.

  12. BadMissK - I always use a saucepan with a glass lid so I can watch it. It's better than telly.

    I am also easily pleased.

  13. I can join the easily pleased brigade and say that popcorn popping NEVER loses its entertainment factor. EVER. This recipe may just save my waistline.

  14. I'm with Siany, although it's the smell I can't stand! So that puts me off.

  15. I love making fresh popcorn but I never add oil to the pan - Maybe it would make it better!

    This recipe sounds amazing - the idea of putting lemon juice on the popcorn sounds so good that I'm going to try it tonight!


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