Nigella Lawson’s Party Popcorn

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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 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 or treat for family movie night.


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 popcorn 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 second 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 so I reduced the amount significantly here.

My Recipe Videos

Nigella's Party Popcorn

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 popcorn, then set the lid on top.
  2. Wait for the popcorn 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 popcorn evenly. Pour into bowls or popcorn bags and serve.

Reviews & Comments

  • 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!

    • — Marc on June 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Diane on January 8, 2018
    • Reply
  • Finally tried this popcorn tonight. Delicious and addictive for sure.

    • — Dana on June 21, 2017
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  • 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!

    • — Sandy on June 18, 2017
    • Reply
  • 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

    • — Dana on June 16, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Dana, Thank you! An air popper will definitely work. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2017
      • Reply
  • SO good!

    • — Cristine on November 25, 2015
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this several times and it is the perfect balance of sweet and spicey! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • — Rebecca on August 27, 2015
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  • Super yummy! It was gobbled down by all my guests.

    • — Lisa on June 20, 2015
    • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Kim on March 25, 2015
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, Glad you enjoyed. It will never be perfect, but if you slowly drizzle and toss it helps 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2015
      • Reply
      • hi do you hve a carmel popcorn recipe?

        • — morgan on April 24, 2015
        • Reply
        • Hi Morgan, Unfortunately, I don’t but I will add it to my list. Stay tuned 🙂

          • — Jenn on April 24, 2015
          • Reply
  • 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!

      • — Jenn on March 24, 2015
      • Reply
  • 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.

    • — Diana Knight on July 17, 2014
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  • very good recipe my kids loved it! This was super easy to make.

    • — mary willis on July 7, 2014
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  • 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!

    • — Karen on May 4, 2013
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  • Do NOT like caramel corn – this sounds way better – gotta try it thanks!

    • — Leslie on April 27, 2013
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  • 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 🙂

    • — Kelly S on April 26, 2013
    • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Rebecca on April 25, 2013
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, You can just leave the cumin out. The recipe calls for regular paprika, but I bet smoked would work too.

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2013
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  • 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?)

    • — Allie on April 25, 2013
    • Reply
    • I know! I thought it must be a typo as well, but it’s printed that way online too. Anyway, glad you liked it!

      • — Jenn on April 27, 2013
      • Reply
    • The recipe I’m reading only calls for 3/4 tsp salt, not 4! Which is correct?

      • — Carolyn Stranges on April 8, 2016
      • 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.

        • — Jenn on April 9, 2016
        • Reply
  • 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!

    • — Kelly on April 25, 2013
    • Reply

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