Cannabis infused popcorn

Endless Poppabilities

Popcorn is more magical when medicated 

Popcorn is a marvelous snack for many reasons: It’s inexpensive, shelf-stable, tasty, nutritious and adaptable to your cravings and current pantry inventory. It’s also an ideal vehicle for cannabutter, either with a little salt or an endless variety of seasonings and flavors.

If all that weren’t enough, popcorn is mesmerizing. In a matter of minutes, a handful of humble kernels can metamorphose into a flavorful, fluffy cloud of cravable, snacktastic goodness. No wonder Americans consume 15 billion quarts each year.

How does this sorcery occur?

Whole-grain popping kernels may appear dry, but hidden inside each is a tiny measure of water. As kernels heat, that water turns into steam, which increases the pressure inside the kernels until their hulls finally burst, giving life to fluffy, starchy puffs.

Popcorn is grown in much the same way as other corn varieties, but its thicker hull and dense starch content make it the only one that pops. Kernels in the popcorn family yield two distinct shapes: snowflake (also known as butterfly) and mushroom. Snowflake pops larger and is what’s usually sold in movie theaters. Round, mushroom-shaped corn has a somewhat smoother, more uniform exterior that’s less likely to crumble and break. Most caramel and glazed popcorns use this variety. Home cooks can achieve great results with either type.

For the most tender, flavorful and fluffy popcorn, forego stale, prepackaged popcorn and chemical-laden, microwaveable products. Making your own from scratch on the stovetop takes less than 10 minutes, and you’ll be rewarded with a superior snack. As a bonus, homemade is far more environmentally friendly. Think of scratch popcorn as “slow” fast food.

After popping, add medicated butter, paying attention to your infusion strength, the dose it carries and portion sizes. Popcorn is one of those things that people tend to scarf mindlessly, which can cause problems when it’s rich in both flavor and THC.

Tips for Making Tender, Fluffy Medicated Stovetop Popcorn

  • Always store popcorn kernels at room temperature in an airtight container in a dark cabinet until ready for use.
  • Use a pot with a heavy bottom that absorbs and holds heat.
  • The type of oil you use matters. Use vegetable or canola oil for no discernible flavor. My personal favorite is coconut oil because of its high smoke point and delicate taste. Olive oil is especially nice for savory popcorn.
  • Heat oil with one or two kernels. Add the rest only after the oil is hot and the first kernels pop.
  • In order to prevent burning, keep shaking and moving the covered pot while corn is popping.
  • To keep popcorn crunchy, occasionally vent the lid for a second to allow steam to escape.
  • If your pot is overflowing but the corn has not finished popping, remove the lid, pour some of the popped kernels into a bowl and quickly return the pot to the burner to finish.
  • Add salt after popping.
  • Season oil-popped corn with nutritional yeast for a superflavorful vegan alternative. 
  • Instead of cannabutter, try cannasalt

Strain Notes

You can get great results with almost any strain of cannabis when infusing butter, but here are some tips to consider if you want to play with matching terpenes and flavors.

  • Try any type of “cheese” strain in Cheesy Brown Butter Popcorn, such as Blue Cheese or Pineapple Funk. 
  • A strain with spice notes, such as Jack Herer, will enhance the Jalapeno Lime Popcorn.
  • Pair a fruity strain such as Strawberry Fields with the Strawberry Chocolate Popcorn.

—By Cheri Sicard

Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels

Put oil and 1 or 2 kernels in heavy-bottomed pot. Cover tightly and place over medium-high heat. When kernels pop, add remaining popcorn; replace cover. Shake pan occasionally until popping starts, then shake continually until there’s an interval of 2 seconds or more between pops. Makes about 12 cups popped corn.

Photography by Matt Armendariz

Food styling by Adam Pearson

Prop styling by Amy Paliwoda