This is the real secret to making movie theater popcorn at home (2024)

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There’s just something about movie theater popcorn that makes it taste amazing. It’s salty, it’s buttery — it’s a real treat. However, no matter how many times you’ve tried adding butter and salt to your popcorn at home, it never tastes the same. Even the bagged “movie theater butter” microwave popcorn can’t get it right. So, what’s the secret? The flavor all comes down to one ingredient: Flavacol.

You’ve likely never heard of Flavacol because, really, only movie theaters use it. Essentially, it’s butter-flavored salt. It’s a really fine, bright orange powder that adds that buttery flavor you crave and the signature yellow color. If the yellow dyes don’t freak you out, it’s downright delicious.

The trick is to combine your Flavacol seasoning with an oil — coconut oil, vegetable oil or even olive oil — while popping your corn. The oil prevents the powder from burning and distributes it a bit, so you coat all of the kernels with the buttery, salty flavor.

So, where do you get Flavacol? Amazon carries a 35-ounce carton of it for less than $10. However, after a few taste tests, I suggest getting the Flavacol seasoning and butter-flavored popcorn topping combo for $18.95. If you ask for extra butter on your popcorn at the movie theater, this butter-flavored topping (aka butter-flavored soybean oil) is for you.

Also, keep in mind that a little Flavacol goes a long way. You can always add more if you think you need it.

My personal trick is to mix two tablespoons of whatever oil I have with one teaspoon of Flavacol in a pot over medium heat on the stove. When the oil is hot, I add just a couple of kernels to the pot and put on the lid. Once they’ve popped, I add two tablespoons of more popcorn and put the lid loosely back on.

After all the kernels are done popping, I pour the popcorn into a bowl. Then, I add the butter-flavored topping. If you really like salt, you could taste test it and add a little more Flavacol if you think it needs it.

Seriously, you can have real movie theater popcorn every day. It’s so easy and definitely a game changer for movie nights at home.

If you liked this article, check out everything you need to plan the ultimate movie night in.

No popcorn is complete without the taste of butter.

$20 at Amazon

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This is the real secret to making movie theater popcorn at home (2024)

FAQs

This is the real secret to making movie theater popcorn at home? ›

The trick is to combine your Flavacol seasoning with an oil — coconut oil, vegetable oil or even olive oil — while popping your corn. The oil prevents the powder from burning and distributes it a bit, so you coat all of the kernels with the buttery, salty flavor.

How to make popcorn at home taste like movie theater popcorn? ›

Flavor with butter and salt.

Pour half of the butter or ghee over the popcorn, cover, and shake the pot to coat. Pour the remaining butter or ghee over the popcorn and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon finely ground kosher salt, table salt, or popcorn salt. Cover again and shake. Serve immediately.

What popcorn seasoning do movie theaters use? ›

The flavor all comes down to one ingredient: Flavacol. You've likely never heard of Flavacol because, really, only movie theaters use it. Essentially, it's butter-flavored salt. It's a really fine, bright orange powder that adds that buttery flavor you crave and the signature yellow color.

What are the ingredients in movie theater popcorn? ›

According to Extra Crispy's Stacey Ballis, who has manned a movie theater concession stand and knows exactly how movie theater popcorn is made, movie popcorn is actually made with Flavacol and “Butter Flavored Topping.” Flavacol is the yellow powder that's tossed over the popcorn while it pops, to make it salty and ...

How do they make movie theater popcorn so good? ›

While butter flavor is involved, there's no actual butter in most movie theater popcorn. Instead, these two key ingredients give movie theater popcorn its signature taste and smell: popcorn popping oil and popcorn seasoning. Yup, it's that simple.

How to use flavacol at home? ›

There's no sacrificing flavor! Flavacol offers its incredible buttery taste without the addition of MSG. For optimal taste, blend ½ tsp of Flavacol with 8 oz of popcorn kernels and oil before popping. This simple step ensures each kernel is thoroughly coated for that amazing buttery taste throughout each batch.

How to make old fashioned movie theater popcorn? ›

Place a 6-quart or larger stockpot over medium-high heat and melt coconut oil; add popcorn kernels in a single layer and cover with lid. When kernels start popping, start shaking stockpot from side-to-side until the popping nearly ends (slows considerably with long pauses between pops).

What is the difference between homemade popcorn and movie theater popcorn? ›

Most commonly, it is all in the way that the kernels are prepared and popped that helps the finished product to taste the way it does in the theater. Some place their kernels in coconut and canola oil before popping them, which gives them a unique taste and helps make them sweet.

What kind of butter do movie theaters use? ›

Movie theaters use butter-flavored oil, which has a lower water content than butter so it makes popcorn less soggy. Real clarified butter has the same effect.

What is Flavacol made of? ›

there IS a “secret ingredient”. Or, more precisely, a sort of “trade secret”; and that's Flavacol. What's in it? “Salt, artificial butter flavor, FD&C Yellow #5 Lake (E102) and Yellow #6 Lake (E110)”.

What brand of popcorn does AMC use? ›

Pop Weaver Popcorn Kernels - Weaver Gold 50-lb Bag - Butterfly Style Popping Corn. This is the brand and type AMC theaters use for their popcorn. It is formulated to pop larger with more crevices to “grab” the seasonings.

What brand of popcorn do movie theaters use? ›

Flavacol Popcorn Seasoning and Buttery Flavor Popcorn Topping Combo.

How to make movie theater popcorn at home? ›

Movie Popcorn:
  1. Place 3 tbsp Popcorn Butter in a large 10L/10qt lightweight pot over medium heat (medium high if weak stove).
  2. When the butter is almost melted, pour in Yellow Colouring, if using. ...
  3. Add kernels, shake quickly to spread across the base, then clamp lid on. ...
  4. Shake briefly once after 30 seconds or so.
Aug 3, 2018

How unhealthy is popcorn from the cinema? ›

At about 35 calories per cup, air-popped popcorn is a whole grain and offers 1 gram of fiber per cup. But these benefits can be nearly canceled out. A large tub of movie-theater popcorn can ring in at more than 1,100 calories and contain 1,500 milligrams of sodium and 50 grams of saturated fat.

What is the butter topping in movie theater popcorn? ›

Movie theaters use butter-flavored oil, which has a lower water content than butter so it makes popcorn less soggy. Real clarified butter has the same effect. To make it, melt 2 sticks butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.

What is the best oil for movie theater popcorn? ›

Coconut oil is the most popular oil used for popcorn machines, especially at movie theaters. You can often find coconut oils with butter flavoring, which helps create that classic movie theater taste.

What is flavacol made of? ›

there IS a “secret ingredient”. Or, more precisely, a sort of “trade secret”; and that's Flavacol. What's in it? “Salt, artificial butter flavor, FD&C Yellow #5 Lake (E102) and Yellow #6 Lake (E110)”.

What is the difference between movie theater popcorn and regular popcorn? ›

However, movie theater popcorn is quite different: portions tend to be huge, it's popped in oil and often served with extra buttery topping.

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