A bowl of sweet and spicy wasabi popcorn.

Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn

Have fun with your spices and make popcorn more fun! Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn is a perfect snack for a cozy night in!

A bowl of sweet and spicy wasabi popcorn.
Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn

Note: This recipe for Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn was originally published on February 12, 2012 as part of the Simple Sundays series here on Kitchen Confidante. It has been updated with improved kitchen notes, recipe annotation, and photography. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen!

Sweet and spicy wasabi popcorn in a bowl on a white table.

My dad proudly sliced through the packing tape with a utility knife as we all looked on in excitement. The carton was larger than our television, and inside was the future. I set eyes on our very first microwave with awe: a clumsy box with buttons that promised to heat, even to cook, saving time and energy. Wow.

Don’t look into it! my mom would beg us, as we would stare, mesmerized by the bowl of food rotating in the microwave. She was certain it could not be good for us. I was in elementary school and thought she was being too silly. But I still look away whenever a microwave is on, even today.

I may have a microwave, but I realize I use it for the most basic things: reheating leftovers, defrosting, boiling water, warming my cold cup of coffee. I never did bake a cake in it, as I imagined I might decades ago. (Correction: since I wrote this post, I have baked a Banana Caramel Mug Cake in the microwave!)

pice blend for Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn in a glass bowl.

Lately, I’ve noticed that my microwave doesn’t seem right. The door doesn’t latch all the way sometimes, leaving it to stop without warning once in a while. And last night, it began to hum a funny noise as I boiled some water. I hopped onto Facebook and thought I’d pick your brains:

Motivated by your comments, I have decided to start something I have long considered. I am going on a No-Microwave Diet. It shouldn’t be so hard, right? My resolve was first tested at lunchtime when I wanted to heat up some leftovers. One little sigh, and I pulled out a small pan and warmed my lunch on the stove. Yes! No more nuking! Success #1.

This afternoon, I tackled something I haven’t done since I was my daughter’s age: stovetop popcorn. Like everyone else, I have come to accept microwaved bags of popcorn as essential as liquid body wash. The days of Jiffy Pop and old fashioned popcorn were a very distant memory. But over the last couple of years, there has been growing awareness that microwaved popcorn is not exactly good for you. Toxins, from the diacetyl that coats the inner bag and imparts a buttery flavor, to the dyes in the bag print, have been receiving bad press.

When a microwave’s high temperatures cook the popcorn, it also heats and vaporizes the diacetyl, making it toxic. There is also concern that PFCs found in microwave popcorn may affect vaccine efficiency in children. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me anymore.

So, the last time I went shopping, I picked up some popcorn kernels. I’m going old school.

popcorn kernels in a glass

As I poured the kernels into the pot, I felt like a little girl again, the anticipation of hot popcorn resting in my own hands as I shook the pot vigorously over the heat. Each pop gave me a feeling of satisfaction and I couldn’t wait to give my old school popcorn some new school flavors. Potent wasabi powder and sugar-coated my popcorn with some grown-up zest, and I just loved each bite of sweet and spicy crunch. Success #2 (!).

A bowl of Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn.

This grown-up Sweet & Spicy Wasabi Popcorn is just right for an evening in – perhaps as a yummy treat for the Grammy Awards or a casual Valentine’s date night in with a movie. I think you will really love it.

So, tell me, do you have a microwave? Do you think you can live without it?

More Stovetop Popcorn Recipes

Since I wrote this post, I have revisited how to make perfect stovetop popcorn, where I address some popular popcorn myths, plus share some fun ideas and creative popcorn recipes for a healthy treat the whole family will love!

Easy Stovetop Popcorn + Popcorn Recipes to Spice Up Snack Time
Sugar & Spice Popcorn
Sweet & Spicy Wasabi Popcorn
Caramel Popcorn Affogato
Spicy Sriracha Popcorn
Baked Caramel Corn

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Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Popcorn

I found popping corn on the stove to take just as little time as making it in the microwave. The best part is getting to control fat and flavorings. As it is, popcorn is a healthy food, rich in fiber. So scale back on the butter (or leave it out altogether) and amp up your seasonings and have fun with your spices. It really is better this way!
A bowl of sweet and spicy wasabi popcorn.
Print This Pin This
5 from 1 vote
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 112kcal


  • 1 teaspoon granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder sifted, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter optional


  • Stir the sugar, salt, wasabi powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Coat a large pot with canola oil, place 2-3 popcorn kernels and cover. Place over medium-high heat. When you hear the kernels pop, add all the remaining kernels to the pot, replace the lid, and shake over the heat until all the corn is popped. When you no longer hear popping, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. 
  • Toss in the sugar-salt-spice mixture and butter (optional) and mix well. If you find that it's not spicy enough for you, sprinkle in more wasabi powder and/or cayenne pepper. Enjoy while toasty!


Calories: 112kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 405mg | Potassium: 37mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Iron: 0.4mg
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Original Photos



Recipe Rating

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  1. Noa

    My two cents? Prebagged popcorn is bad for you, but if you put plain kernels in a glass bowl with a glass lid or plate on top, and put that in the microwave, you get 100% fat free popcorn which is impossible on a stove top. Tastes great too.

  2. Kristen @ The Endless Meal

    I love spicy popcorn! Sometimes I add some hot sauce to the butter before I mix it together. I have some wasabi powder in my cupboard so will definitely try this next time!!

    Btw: I haven’t had a microwave in over a year now and I don’t miss it at all. Ok, maybe a little when I quickly need to melt butter or chocolate. I definitely don’t feel the need to go get one. You can do it too!

  3. Carie

    I just made this as a bed time snack to kick off the next 2 work free days! It was awesome! Now if I can just keep myself from going back to the kitchen and eating the rest…thanks!

  4. Kita

    My parents still don’t have a microwave. One broke years ago and they just never replaced it. I became so used to never having one it took a solid year before I used the one my boyfriend owns. It’s weird but it just doesn’t feel right and I rarely use it – even for leftovers. We all know pizza is 10000 times better reheated in the oven right??! This popcorn sounds like a total kick of flavor. ;D

    • Liren

      Such a good point – I’d rather eat cold pizza (which is delicious in its own right) as opposed to microwaved pizza. The oven is definitely the only way to go! I had this popcorn again last night, I do think I’m in love :)

  5. Tobias @ T and Tea Cake

    Good for you for getting rid of a microwave/ refrain from buying a new one! Like you did, I only heat up leftovers and defrost things in it (and sometimes carrying out silly ideas like how a molten Snickers may taste… teehee…).

    I have kind of a complicated relationship to wasabi. On the one hand, I love luv luv it, on the other, the spiciness ALWAYS crawls up my nose! So having something with it is always slightly masochistic – but SO worth it! ;)


    • Liren

      Tobias, I am laughing so hard, because I totally get that whole masochistic wasabi thing. I don’t know what it is, but I love when the spiciness just goes up your nose! Glad I’m not the only one :)

      And molten Snickers…oh dear, that sounds SO good.

  6. Liz

    Oh wow! That looks amazing! We already stove-top pop our popcorn, but I never thought of using wasabi powder. I cannot wait to make this!

  7. Lacy @ NYCityEats

    Oh my God, Wasabi Popcorn sounds amazing! I have to try this out for a couple reasons. A. because I absolutely love popcorn but I read an article about how terrible the microwave stuff is for you and B. because I love wasabi. Wasabi and popcorn together must be delicious!

    • Liren

      Isn’t wasabi awesome? Definitely try it, then, I think you’ll have so much fun making the popcorn :)

    • Liren

      I need to do more research on health risks and microwaves. Other than microwaved popcorn, I haven’t yet heard of any other adverse effects, though I would not be surprised at all. What really worries me is when a microwave seems to malfunction – are there microwaves seeping out?

  8. Denise

    I love wasabi on pretty much everything, but haven’t tried it on popcorn. Yet! because this looks like something I wanna eat asap:)

  9. Kim Bee

    I love this popcorn and applaud you for getting rid of your microwave. Stove top or air popped popcorn is the way to go. I love my microwave though. It’s called the no touch zone. The rest of the family knows not to touch any food in there as it’s the “mom did not take photos of these dishes yet so paws off” place. Lol!

    • Liren

      Ha ha, I love it! Maybe I will use it for a no touch zone too (except I’ll hide chocolate or something in it, lol) :)

  10. olivia

    I grew up with a stove-top kettle popper and wish I still had it. I have been intimidated by trying to pop on the stove with just a regular pot. Thanks for the inspiration; I will try making stove-top popcorn soon!

    We did not have a microwave in our old house and it felt liberating. Now in our new house, find ourselves re-heating on the stove-top or in the toaster as we have always done. We still rarely use the microwave, and I am glad.

    • Liren

      I wish I had one, too! Now I know what to get you for Christmas :)

  11. Tammy

    I gave up using my microwave for anything beyond boiling water for tea or coffee a long time ago. I have one of those microwaves installed above my oven that doubles as an oven fan and the only reason I keep it is for the above noted mug of tea and I think it might help a little bit with the resale value if we ever sell this place and move elsewhere.

    I love the fact I’m not the only one who likes spicy popcorn. I sprinkle mine w/ curry powder once in a while for the same reason. :)

    • Liren

      Mm, curried popcorn sounds so good – will try that next time :) Yes, you’re not alone. I love spicy anything!

  12. Mel (Sharky Oven Gloves)

    My previous flat came with a microwave and I only used it for defrosting things and very occasionally to re-heat some leftovers. It won’t bother me if my next flat doesn’t have a microwave (more countertop space, yay!), I’ll just have to try and remember to take things out of the freezer early enough so that they can defrost…
    I’m really intrigued by the combination of flavours in the popcorn, it looks delicious!

    • Liren

      I agree, I’ll have to really think ahead with meals, if defrosting will be involved!

  13. Vicki Bensinger

    My husband loves popcorn and wasabi. I on the other hand have trouble with wasabi. This would be a great treat to make for him. Great idea.

    As for your microwave, it’s definitely time to get a new one. IMO I love having one mainly for heating up leftovers or making hot tea. I couldn’t get rid of mine but you know whether you need it or not. If in doubt, take some time off from using it. If you can’t stand it then buy a new one!

    • Liren

      Hi Vicki, your husband will surely love this popcorn, then :) And yes, I want to see how long I can last w/o a microwave. There are moments I miss it, but so far, I’m hanging in there. Then again, it’s only been 3 days…

  14. Vicki @ WITK

    I’m all for the microwave free diet! I usually use mine to melt butter, which always turns into a big mess… I guess making microwave popcorn would be tricky without it though, I’ll have to perfect this stovetop technique!

  15. Cassie

    Your photos are beautiful, Liren! I’m so glad to read about your no microwave diet. My husband and I moved to a new home two weeks ago. We left our microwave in our old home and haven’t purchased one for our new home yet. We wanted to see how long we could go without one. I’ve melted butter, tempered chocolate, and heated leftovers on the stove, and honestly, I don’t miss it one bit. The popcorn sounds perfect too!

    • Liren

      Congrats on the new home, Cassie! If you can go w/o a microwave, so can I! Let’s see how long we can last :)

  16. Lisa { AuthenticSuburbanGourmet }

    Stovetop popcorn is the only way to go! I love, love the combination that you put together. Beautiful photos!!!! When we were little, my Mom used a cast iron dutch oven to make popcorn – it was my Dad’s before they got married. {to this date, that is still how she makes popcorn} She would add butter and salt and only use white popcorn kernals – it was just the best and one of many memories from my childhood. I made it recently with truffed butter and parmesan cheese and it was divine – not low on calories – yet a treat. I too can live without my micro – I think the only thing I use it really for is to melt things and defrost. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday Liren!!! :-)

    • Liren

      LOL, Lisa, I considered my dutch oven for a second…then thought to myself, shaking this thing will be a lot of work! Your mom must have had some strong biceps! I’ll have to try the truffled butter, sounds SO good :)

  17. Jessica

    Yay for stovetop popcorn! We switched from microwave popcorn to making it on the stove last year and it’s sooooo much tastier that way. And I love being able to flavor it myself! And you’re right – the first “pop” is so satisfying. My husband likes to use the microplane to grate parmesan on top. And I don’t feel so badly devouring a huge bowl of popcorn when I know I only used a teaspoon or two of olive oil to make it, instead of weird preservatives and chemicals and flavorings.

    As far as the microwave – I use it some, but I think I’d miss it if it was gone. Our old electric oven takes forever to heat up; sometimes I can quickly use the broiler to reheat something, but sometimes it’s just more energy efficient to use the microwave. Now if I had room for a toaster oven, I’d do away with the microwave entirely – but the microwave is built into the kitchen (we rent) and there’s no room for a toaster oven. And I’ll come clean – I love making steamed eggs in the microwave for breakfast sandwiches. :) So yes, I could live without it (I have in the past), but I’d want a toaster oven to compensate.

    • Liren

      I was craving parmesan but found that I was clean out! Hence the wasabi, but next time, I will be using parmesan in my popcorn for sure. I’m on Day 3 now of my no-microwave diet, and am also realizing how a toaster oven would be a wonderful replacement!

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