Nigella Lawson’s Party Popcorn

4.5 stars based on 13 votes
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A little sweet and a little salty, Nigella Lawson’s party popcorn is downright habit-forming.

nigella's party popcorn

Leave it to Nigella. I used to love my popcorn topped with just a little butter and salt but now that I’ve had her party popcorn, I don’t want it any other way. Slightly sweet, salty, and spiced with an exotic blend of cinnamon, cumin, and paprika, this stuff is downright habit-forming.

The recipe is adapted from Nigella Express, one of my favorite cookbooks, and it takes less than fifteen minutes to make. As the name implies, it’s perfect with cocktails but don’t wait until you’re entertaining to make it — it’s just as delicious as a snack for family movie night.

What you’ll need to make Nigella’s Party PopcornpopcornHow to Make Party Popcorn

Begin by heating the oil and popping corn in a large pot. Don’t be tempted to increase the quantities — the kernels should be in a single layer to ensure even popping.

Cover the pot with a lid and wait for the kernels to start popping. As it pops, shake the pan gently now and then to keep the kernels moving. When the popping slows to 2-3 seconds apart, remove the pan from the heat.


Next, melt the butter in a small bowl and add the spices, sugar, and salt.


Stir to combine.


Then drizzle the mixture over the popcorn, stirring as you go so that it coats the popcorn evenly. It will clump in some spots — that’s okay.


Continue tossing the popcorn until it’s well coated.


Then transfer to serving bowls or popcorn bags and enjoy.


Note: The original recipe, as published here, calls for 4 teaspoons of salt. That’s way too much salt (and possibly a typo) so I reduced the amount significantly here.

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Nigella's Party Popcorn

A little sweet and a little salty, Nigella Lawson’s party popcorn is downright habit-forming.

Servings: About 20 cups
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup popcorn kernels (I like Pop Secret Jumbo Popping Corn)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Pour the vegetable oil into a very large pan over medium-high heat. Add the kernels, then set the lid on top.
  2. Wait for the kernels to start popping, then shake the pan gently now and then to keep the kernels moving. When the popping slows to 2-3 seconds apart, remove the pan from the heat.
  3. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the cinnamon, paprika, cumin, sugar and salt. Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the popcorn, stirring as you go so that it coats the everything evenly. Pour into bowls or popcorn bags and serve.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This was amazing! A hit with family and friends easy to make! Will be a good go to recipe.

    • — Msmoo on February 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Love this, except way too much cumin for me, I only used a half teaspoon and threw in some ground ginger the second time I made it and it turned out great!

  • This makes a fairly large amount of popcorn, and the ratio of popcorn to buttered mixture topping is off in my opinion. This needs less cooking oil in my popcorn popper, but it needs way more butter as far as I’m concerned, and more of the spices and more sugar. I wanted it sweeter and spicier and in fact also added some cayenne to this. The flavors are good together, once I got them adjusted for that much popcorn. I would double or triple the buttered topping for that amount of popcorn, make it a bit sweeter and add some cayenne.

  • Finally tried this popcorn tonight. Delicious and addictive for sure.

  • Another “repeat it!” recipe! Love the combination of flavors, and it really is addicting. After popping corn, I always put it in a brown grocery bag that I’ve cut down a few inches. That’s when I top with melted butter and salt and just shake it up. So with this recipe I did the same – spooned on the butter/spice mixture, stirred a bit when doing that, and then just shook it up! Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Hi Jenn. I absolutely love your recipes. Everything I have tried has been delicious. We use a hot air popper for our popcorn. Would it matter if I used the air popper rather than a pot on the stove? Thanks

    • Hi Dana, Thank you! An air popper will definitely work. Hope you enjoy it!

      • Do you use sweet or hot paprika?

        • — Christine Gibson on March 28, 2021
        • Reply
        • I use sweet paprika, but feel free to experiment with some hot paprika if you’d like. 🙂

          • — Jenn on March 28, 2021
          • Reply
  • SO good!

  • I’ve made this several times and it is the perfect balance of sweet and spicey! Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Super yummy! It was gobbled down by all my guests.

  • Made these for a snack. Great flavor! I have to figure out how to distribute the seasonings so that most of the popcorn is coated.

    • Hi Kim, Glad you enjoyed. It will never be perfect, but if you slowly drizzle and toss it helps 🙂

      • hi do you hve a carmel popcorn recipe?

        • Hi Morgan, Unfortunately, I don’t but I will add it to my list. Stay tuned 🙂

  • Regarding the Party Popcorn (which I plan to make and serve at my upcoming gathering), can this be made ahead? If so, how much ahead of the actual party? I like to leave as much prep as possible well before the event!

    • Hi Peggy, I would say it’s fine to make it earlier in the day before your event but not the day before. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • I was anxious to try this recipe, it sounded so good. I had hoped for a richer flavor. I found the flavors to be too subtle for my taste, but a light snack just the same.

  • very good recipe my kids loved it! This was super easy to make.

  • This was over the top fantastic. My hubby and I gobbled down an entire bowl in minutes! Thank goodness there wasn’t another another bowl. It would have also disappeared!

  • Do NOT like caramel corn – this sounds way better – gotta try it thanks!

  • Delicious! We keep saying that we need to step away from the bowl, but it’s impossible! Thanks for sharing such a yummy recipe – I never would have thought to combine those spices with popcorn, but it totally works 🙂

  • I’m not a huge fan of cumin. Is there another spice that would work? Also, is it smoked paprika or regular? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Rebecca, You can just leave the cumin out. The recipe calls for regular paprika, but I bet smoked would work too.

  • As I type this, I am on my fourth bowl of Party Popcorn. Addictive, indeed! I am so glad you shared this recipe, Jenn. (I couldn’t imagine this with 4 teaspoons of salt—could that have been a typo in Nigella’s book?)

    • I know! I thought it must be a typo as well, but it’s printed that way online too. Anyway, glad you liked it!

    • The recipe I’m reading only calls for 3/4 tsp salt, not 4! Which is correct?

      • — Carolyn Stranges
      • Reply
      • Hi Carolyn, The correct amount is 3/4 teaspoon. The original recipe from Nigella Lawson has 4 teaspoons, which I think has to be a typo.

  • Yum! Sounds so good! Our family loves homemade popcorn, and I’m always looking for new flavor combinations to mix it up. Can’t wait to try this out!

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