5 Surprising Popcorn Toppings for Your Oscars Party

With the Oscars approaching, we've had TV-friendly food on our minds. An elegant spread of canapés may be some people's perfect Oscar Sunday plan, but we can't think of anything we'd rather curl up on the sofa with than a big bowl of popcorn.

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In keeping with the spirit of Hollywood's grandest awards ceremony, we're in favor of popping corn the old-fashioned way on the stovetop. The surprisingly foolproof method is also a magical ritual: standing over the heat with oven mitts on, shaking a big heavy pot and waiting for that special sound to begin echoing under the lid. But no matter how you do it - over the stove, with an air popper, or in the microwave - popcorn is always more fun with extra toppings.

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Our test kitchen team put their heads together and dreamed up five unexpected (and dangerously addictive) variations to spice up your Oscar-(or movie)-watching experience. Choose your favorite topping, and then use our basic popcorn recipe to get popping!

RECIPE: Citrusy Chile-Chocolate Popcorn
Orange zest lends depth to this sweet popcorn topping, inspired by the chile-chocolate flavors of Mexican hot chocolate.

4 ½ tbsp. Mexican chocolate, grated
1 ½ tsp. Mexican cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. orange zest
1 ½ tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter, melted
6 cups basic popcorn

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients.

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RECIPE: Creamy Coconut Caramel Corn
A smooth sauce made from sweetened condensed milk finds a textural counterpoint in nutty toasted coconut in this riff on classic caramel corn.

1 14 oz can sweetened and condensed milk
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
6 cups basic popcorn

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Pour the condensed milk into a very large, microwave-safe bowl. (The milk will rise and fall as the microwave cycles; in a small bowl, it will spill over.) Microwave, uncovered, at 50% power for 4 minutes. Stir, and return the bowl to the microwave for 12 minutes at 30% power, stirring occasionally. When finished, the condensed milk should be a light golden color with flecks of dark caramelized sugars.

2. While the milk is caramelizing, toast the coconut: cook the coconut in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it darkens to golden brown.

3. Toss the popcorn with the caramelized condensed milk and toasted coconut, and spread in a single layer on parchment-covered baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through and stirring occasionally.

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RECIPE: Maple-Bacon Popcorn
Smoky bacon, sweet maple, and a kick of black pepper make for an entirely addictive bowl of popcorn.

1 tsp. olive oil
1 pound thick-cut bacon
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
6 cups basic popcorn

1. Preheat an oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon strips and cook until crisp, turning occasionally. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.

2. Crumble bacon. Toss bacon, drippings, maple syrup, black pepper, and salt with popcorn. Spread popcorn mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

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RECIPE: Savory Kimchi-Nori Popcorn
A mix of intensely umami Asian flavors makes this popcorn heartier than most. Great as a snack, try it also as a side dish or as part of an appetizer spread.

1 ½ cups kimchi, finely chopped
6 tbs. sesame seeds, toasted
6 tbs. sesame oil
3 tsp. sriracha
6 cups basic popcorn
1 5-inch strip sushi nori, finely chopped
6 cups basic popcorn

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss together kimchi, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sriracha, and popcorn.

2. Spread popcorn mixture in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets; bake for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, rotating trays halfway through.

3. While popcorn is still warm, sprinkle with chopped nori.

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RECIPE: Mexican Corn on the Cob Popcorn
Inspired by the flavors of elote, Mexican corn on the cob, this popcorn topping mixes bright lime zest with spicy chile and salty cheese.

6 tbsp. lime zest (from about 6 limes)
8 tsp. crumbled cotija cheese
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter, melted
6 cups basic popcorn

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients until are evenly distributed.

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