Movie theater popcorn is a phenomenon that has left many movie-goers wondering how they get it so deliciously crave-worthy. It’s fluffy, buttery, perfectly salty, and smells absolutely irresistible. What’s the secret? It is quite simple; they use a seasoning mix—Flavacol.
So, here is how to use Flavacol to make movie theater popcorn at home for a fraction of the cost.
What Is Flavacol?
Defining Flavacol is both easy and complex at the same time. At its core, it is simply seasoning salt used at movie theaters to give popcorn that distinct flavor and aroma you keep craving, but the composition itself of Flavacol is somewhat tricky.
The ingredients are just four: salt, two types of yellow dye to give popcorn the distinctive color, and artificial butter flavor. The caveat is that no one knows what said artificial butter is made of, as it is a well-kept secret fiercely guarded by Gold Medal Products Co., the creators, and manufacturers of Flavacol.
But beyond a flavor that no one can replicate accurately, Flavacol’s secret also lies in its texture. The fine powder is made of fine flakes of crystals that stick to most surfaces at ease, therefore Flavacol can coat every crevice of popcorn with perfect flavor.
Although Flavacol is full of flavor, when it comes to nutrition, it contains NO calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. The only impact this flavoring may have on your diet is high sodium content.
Where To Buy Flavacol?
As Flavacol is still largely unknown to the general public, you can’t really find it in many grocery stores and supermarkets and have to buy it in bulk from wholesalers instead. However, you can get a single pack of this popcorn seasoning here on Amazon.
Also, if you are like me and would rather avoid artificial ingredients, try the Premier Flavacol (below). It still gives you the salty and buttery flavor and aroma, but without any artificial colors or flavors.
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Although I do appreciate it being all-natural, I don’t think it gives you quite the same authentic movie theater popcorn experience as the original Flavacol.
How Do Movie Theaters Use Flavacol?
Flavacol is the stuff that makes movie theaters smell like movie theaters. The scent is intense, and it’s what lures people to buy popcorn and other snacks before a movie.
The cooking process for popcorn is nearly the same in all cinemas. The fat used to cook the kernels is coconut oil, sometimes tinged orange for a yellowish hue that makes popcorn look more buttery. As the kernels soak in the coconut oil, it is time to add the Flavacol—just a little bit goes a long way.
Afterward, some movie theaters add some additional “butter-flavored” topping on the popcorn for extra flavor, mostly made of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, beta-carotene, synthetic preservatives, and “artificial butter flavor” that may or may not be Flavacol.
What Oil Do You Use With Flavacol?
The preferred oil by movie theaters is buttery-flavored coconut oil. Since it has very low water content, it does not make the popcorn soggy. It also enhances color and flavor without adding distinctive coconut notes.
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However, you can use any neutral oil you prefer at home, including rice bran oil, canola, or vegetable oil. Make sure it does not have a strong flavor that may interact with Flavacol and affect the final taste of your popcorn.
If you really like your butter, use ghee or clarified butter instead of regular butter.
Clarified butter is excellent for high heat cooking because the milk solids have been removed, leaving pure butterfat with a high smoke point. This means that you can safely make your popcorn without smoke or burning and achieve a crisp and buttery result.
Read More Here: How To Make Popcorn With Butter Instead Of Oil.
How Much Flavacol Do You Use In Popcorn?
With Flavacol, a little goes a long way—a really, really long way. Since the flavor is so potent and concentrated, it’s best if you use way less than you think you need to.
To put it into perspective, the Popcorn Supply Company suggests that you use only half a teaspoon per each four oz. of kernels, (approximately ½ cup). This means that half a teaspoon of Flavacol is enough to coat 16 cups of popped popcorn perfectly.
As a result, if you decide to purchase a carton of Flavacol to keep at home, odds are you will never have to repurchase another one.
So, When Do You Add Flavacol—Before Or After Popping?
That’s the big question, but the answer is easier than you might think—do it however you prefer!
Movie theaters usually add the Flavacol before the kernels pop, coating them throughout before pouring them on the machine. However, others choose to add the Flavacol as the kernels are about to pop.
My suggestion for using Flavacol at home is to coat the kernels with Flavacol and oil while heating on the pan. This ensures perfect coverage and coating without any mess, and it’s the easiest approach.
However, some people prefer to sprinkle Flavacol on popcorn once kernels have popped, and it’s not a technique without merit. You see, Flavacol has a design that allows the particles to stick to any surface at ease—just ask jaded movie theater employees about it.
As such, it is as easy as to put your popcorn in a bag, a little bit of Flavacol, and shake energetically to distribute it evenly. It’s a bit harder, but it may work if you forget to include Flavacol at the start.
Many people also love to sprinkle a little bit of Flavacol on top of their popcorn for extra flavor—I wouldn’t do it due to the high sodium levels it has, but some swear by the technique.
Can You Use Flavacol With Air Poppers?
Technically you can—sprinkle it after the kernels have popped in the Air Popper and shake it a bit to coat them evenly. The same technique could be applied to microwave popcorn. However, the coverage may not be as good as using the oil method.
Another option is to coat the kernels beforehand, but the Flavacol may not stick as well without oil. You can also sprinkle your kernels of popcorn with a fine mist of oil and then toss in the Flavacol for a bigger chance of even flavor distribution.
Here Is How To Make Movie Theater Popcorn At Home
Easy Flavacol Popcorn Recipe For Your Stovetop
It turns out that after purchasing Flavacol, making popcorn on your stove is the easiest and fastest way to get high-quality, movie-like snacks with no effort.
- ½ cup popcorn kernels.
- 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil.
- ½ teaspoon of Flavacol.
- In a heavy-bottom pot or pan, warm up the oil on medium heat.
- Add two or three kernels to the oil to test the temperature, wait until they pop. Once they do, this is a sign that the oil has reached the perfect temperature and your cue to add the kernels.
- Dump the rest of the kernels in the pot, making sure to spread them evenly.
- Add the Flavacol right after and quickly mix it with the oil and the kernels to coat them perfectly.
- Keep mixing until you hear the first kernels pop, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving a small cap for the steam to escape.
- Shake in every few seconds to help all the kernels pop.
- Once the popping stops, remove the pot from the heat and serve the popcorn immediately after.
- Add additional toppings as you deem appropriate.
Pin This Flavacol Popcorn Recipe
In conclusion, by following these simple steps, you can make your own delicious movie theater-style popcorn at home at a fraction of the cost compared to the cinema. So what are you waiting for? Get popping!