Lemon, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn

Lemon, parmesan and black pepper popcorn - cookieandkate.com

I grew up on stovetop popcorn. Microwave popcorn was a novelty that we found at our friends’ houses, along with cable television, trampolines and Nintendos. My best friend up the street had all of those things, plus a swimming pool and a backyard rabbit named Rosie. She had it good. Needless to say, our house was never the most popular house on the block, but we definitely offered the best popcorn.

popcorn kernels

Stovetop popcorn is still my salty-crunchy snack of choice. If you haven’t ever popped popcorn on the stove, I challenge you to try it this holiday season. It’s easy. It’s super tasty. And it’s so cheap that it makes those four-dollar bags of chips look like highway robbery.

Perhaps my favorite quality of stovetop popcorn is that you can make as much as you want to eat right away. No need to worry about polishing off a whole bag of chips. Popcorn is waiting in your pantry whenever the craving strikes.

popped popcorn with lemon, parmesan and pepper

The other day, on a whim, I grabbed my Microplane grater and gussied up my popcorn with some lemon zest, Parmesan and black pepper. The combination elevated my humble stovetop popcorn to gourmet status. So good.

If you’re looking for more popcorn flavor inspiration, check out my peppermint bark popcorn (perfect for holiday parties and gifts) and a fun chili and dark chocolate option here. What are your favorite popcorn toppings?

Lemon, parmesan and black pepper popcorn recipe at cookieandkate.com

Lemon, Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn
5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
A simple and inexpensive gourmet snack. This is a loosely written recipe; you can eyeball the amounts of oil and popcorn kernel and adjust toppings to taste. Olive oil has a lower burning point than vegetable oil, so don't raise the heat higher than medium-low.
  • ⅓ to ½ cup popcorn kernels (enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan in a shallow layer)
  • Zest of 1 small lemon, preferably organic
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Fine grain sea salt, to taste
  1. Place a large serving bowl near the stove. Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid (if you have a medium-sized Dutch oven, it’s perfect for this). Turn the heat up to medium-low, add 2 kernels of corn, and cover.
  2. Once the kernels pop, remove the pan from heat and pour in the remaining popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and give the pot a little shimmy to distribute the kernels evenly. Let the kernels warm for one minute.
  3. Cook over medium-low heat, shaking the pot occasionally. Once the kernels start popping like crazy, crack the lid just a smidge so the popcorn stays crisp. Cook until the popping sound slows to about one pop per every few seconds. Remove the pan from heat and dump the popcorn into the bowl.
  4. Use a Microplane or other small grater to grate some lemon zest and Parmesan over the bowl of popcorn, to taste. Add pepper and salt, to taste. Serve!
  • I prefer to use organic, yellow popcorn kernels. Look for them at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and in health food store bulk bins.



  1. says

    Stovetop popcorn is THE way to go! We always pop it that way and as a broke college student, it was a lifesaver snack for me. We’ve been popping ours with coconut oil lately- you won’t believe how good it is!
    I love the lemon zest you used here; have never even thought of adding lemon to our popcorn but now I absolutely have to give this a try.

  2. says

    This savory play on popcorn sounds fabulous! I feel like everyone is doing it sweet these days (which is awesome, don’t get me wrong)…but I love me some saltiness too!

  3. says

    ha, we didn’t have cable tv or microwaved popcorn either :). Although my mom had (and still has) this very 70’s yellow electric popcorn popper.

    lemon zest + parmesan, yes please!

  4. Amie says

    I love the recipe! I’d just like to let you know that parmesan isn’t vegetarian, because it must contain calf rennet to be labelled “parmeggiano reggiano”. Of course, you can just substitute it with a parmesan-style vegetarian cheese, but I’d like to get the word out for all those vegetarians whose motivations are for the better treatment of animals, so that they can avoid it.

    • April says

      It is incorrect to assume that all parmesan cheese is made with rennet. I purchase block and shredded parmesan that does not contain it. The best way to know for certain if any cheese contains that enzyme is to contact the manufacturer, especially if the label lists “enzymes” as an ingredient.

  5. says

    This sounds incredible and perfect for a baby shower I’m throwing in Feb. I doubt this stuff ever lasts long, but do you know how long it would stay fresh? There’s also a maple brown butter rosemary one I’m contemplating, but same question. Any ideas?

    • says

      Claire, I have been the worst at responding to comments in a timely manner lately. I’m so sorry. I think the popcorn will taste good on the day you make it. You can always bag it for later, but it loses a bit of crispness and some of the fresh flavor. It takes about 5 minutes to make so if you made it soon before the party, I think it will go over great!

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