Spiced Sweet Popcorn

4.5 from 2 votes
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Make movie night or snack time more fun with this spiced sweet popcorn with hints of saltiness and the numbing tingling sensation to keep you wanting more! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Spiced sweet popcorn in a bowl

What kind of movies do you like to watch? Whether they’re action-packed, sappy romances, super-scary, or hilarious comedies, you need a snack with some crunch and sass. That’s where this sweet popcorn with Sichuan peppercorns comes in. It’s a fun popcorn that tastes sweet with a slight salty and spicy flavor. By using Sichuan peppercorn oil, it gives a gentle numbing tingling sensation that will have you completely hooked. 

Sweet popcorn with Sichuan peppercorns

Sichuan peppercorn oil

There are two types of Sichuan peppercorns – red and green. Both are native to Sichuan and they have different tastes. The green variety is marked by its grassiness that delights the senses, while the red is more of a warm flavor with hints of orange. This Sichuan peppercorn oil is made with the green Sichuan peppercorns.

Green Sichuan peppercorn oil is very fragrant and numbing. It is much like extra virgin olive oil in the way you use it to finish dishes. It’s not something you pour into a pan to cook with. Only a little bit is needed to create this epic flavor for sweet popcorn. 

50 Hertz Sichuan peppercorn oil brings a floral bouquet you’ll notice in aroma first and then on your palate. It’s a nice tingling feeling on the tongue and lips. 

Sichuan peppercorn oil

Where to buy Sichuan peppercorn oil

It’s important to get the freshest Sichuan peppercorn oil possible because it loses its potency over a few months. If you use a very fresh oil, you only need a few drops to add a very strong flavor to your noodles and other dishes. Once it’s getting stale, you will need a lot of oil to achieve the same effect.

I highly recommend the Sichuan peppercorn oil from 50 Hertz.  


I always love sweet popcorn because that’s the type I always ate growing up in China. I was shocked to learn that the standard popcorn was salty when I moved to the US, and I still cannot quite wrap my head around it!

That being said, the caramel popcorn is super delicious but sometimes it is too sweet to my taste. That’s why this spiced sweet popcorn version came up. It uses less sugar with a mix of spices to balance the taste, so it’s very different from any other popcorn you’ve ever had!

Ingredients for making spiced sweet popcorn

Cooking process

The cooking is so easy that you can get your snack ready in a few minutes.

  1. Heat up the kernels in oil until the first kernel pops
  2. Cover the pot and cook until the popping slows down
  3. Stir in the spice mix to coat

That’s it! I think you can probably finish prepping and cooking during a single commercial break. 🙂

How to make popcorn step-by-step

Make this recipe when you’re ready to have a movie night. I also love making it as a snack for Chinese New Year so my guests have something to snack on while waiting for the dinner. It certainly keeps me going when I’m hungry before the big meal, and the sweet popcorn taste really hits the spot!

Homemade popcorn close up
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Make movie night or snack time more fun with this spiced sweet popcorn with hints of saltiness and the numbing tingling sensation to keep you wanting more! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}

Spiced Sweet Popcorn

4.5 from 2 votes
Make movie night or snack time more fun with this spiced sweet popcorn with hints of saltiness and the numbing tingling sensation to keep you wanting more! {Gluten-Free, Vegan}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese inspired
Keyword: chinese new year, party food
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Servings: 3 to 4 cups popcorns


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons unpopped popcorn kernels (*Footnote 1)
  • 1 teaspoon green Sichuan pepper oil (or olive oil, melted butter, oil of your choice )(*Footnote 2)

Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Gochugaru ground Korean chili pepper, or cayenne pepper


  • Mix together the spice mix in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add the oil and three popcorn kernels to a medium pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the first kernel pops, add the rest of the popcorn and cover immediately. Shimmy the pot to coat the kernels in oil. Cook until the kernel popping slows to one every 5 to 10 seconds, then turn the heat off. Let sit with the cover on for a minute.
  • Remove the lid. Drizzle in half of the Sichuan peppercorn oil, and sprinkle over the spice mix. Stir vigorously to coat. Taste the popcorn and add more Sichuan peppercorn oil, if needed.


  1. I used the “mushroom” type kernels, but the “butterfly” kernels will work as well.
  2. I highly recommend using Sichuan peppercorn oil if you have it or decide to give it a try. I almost hesitated to list it as optional because it’s a key ingredient to make this recipe special. However, we did develop the recipe in a way that the dish will remain tasty without the peppercorn oil. If this is your first time using Sichuan peppercorn oil, start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more once you’ve tasted it. Depending on the freshness of your bottle, the taste can be quite strong.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 95kcal, Carbohydrates: 7.2g, Protein: 0.8g, Fat: 7.3g, Saturated Fat: 0.6g, Sodium: 292mg, Potassium: 31mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2.3g, Calcium: 3mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

More game day recipes

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. DB says:

    This looks interesting. I’m looking forward to trying the chili oil

  2. Chelsey Bobby says:

    5 stars
    Really very very interesting recipes. All the items looking lovely & spicy. It’s so easy to make & delicious also. Love this idea. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  3. joslin webster says:

    Looks so good. Have you ever tried halfing the oil…then once cooking add a splash (1T) of water, then cover…shake…shake…

  4. Suzette says:

    4 stars
    Snacking on this right now, and had to leave a comment to say, it’s killer! Picked up a bottle of oil just to try this and it does add something special. Love how it has a slight numbing zing! Thank you for sharing! Will definitely bookmark this recipe for future use.

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