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Protein Popcorn: Low-Calorie & Customizable

Protein popcorn is going to become your go-to healthy snack.

You might not believe that high-protein popcorn could possibly taste good, but I’m here to prove it to you.

Protein popcorn in bowl

Trust me: my wife does not like the taste of protein powder, but she absolutely loves this high-protein popcorn recipe.

I’m going to share my three favorite flavors for protein popcorn, but the best part of this recipe is that you can customize the recipe to be absolutely any flavor you’d like. You’re only limited by your creativity, so get wild with it.

A whole batch of protein popcorn will be 4 cups for this recipe, which I estimate as 2 servings. But even if you decide to enjoy an entire batch in one sitting, it’s still a low-calorie treat, so there’s no harm!

 

Is protein popcorn actually healthy?

Protein popcorn on table

Just because something has protein added to it, that doesn’t always mean that it’s healthy.

In fact, there’s a company out there that sells protein popcorn, and it’s basically candy with some protein added to it.

I won’t name the actual company, but a single cup serving of their peanut butter popcorn contains nearly 300 calories and over 20 grams of sugar. With lots of corn syrup added to create a candy coating, it’s definitely not a low-calorie treat.

Our homemade popcorn contains only 50-70 calories per cup (depending on the flavor) and contains only trace amounts of sugar.

And since I know that you’re not going to stop with just one cup, you can enjoy an ENTIRE batch of protein popcorn, which contains 4 cups of popcorn, for about 200 calories and nearly 20 grams of protein.

I love enjoying this popcorn as a pre workout or post-workout snack. Since I workout first thing in the morning, I like to get some protein & carbs into my system around my workout, and this protein popcorn is the most delicious way to do exactly that.

 

What kind of popcorn should you use for protein popcorn?

I love making my own popcorn at home with an air popper. Not only is it the cheapest option, but then I can be sure that I’m using plain popcorn with nothing added to it.

Air popped popcorn

All you have to do is add unpopped kernels to the air popper and you have delicious plain popcorn in a few short minutes. You can also use the stove top or air fryer if you want to make your own quick popcorn from unpopped popcorn kernels you have in your home.

You can certainly use a bag of microwave popcorn, just be sure you are using plain popcorn and not popcorn with added butter. Since we’re adding our own flavors, we don’t need the additional butter.

If you don’t want to make your own popcorn, you can head to the grocery store and pick up some plain popcorn to make things super easy. I love Skinny Pop, but any comparable plain popcorn will do the trick.

 

How to make kettle corn protein popcorn

Protein kettle corn ingredients

If you want to level-up your movie night, making a batch of classic kettlecorn is a great way to do it.

Ingredient List:

Protein popcorn recipe

The Cake Pop protein powder flavor is absolutely perfect for this, but you can use a regular vanilla flavor as well.

All you need to do is add your popcorn to a large bowl and generously spray it with butter spray. You can use melted butter as well, but I wanted to keep the calories a bit lower for this recipe.

Toss the protein powder, sugar, and sea salt into the popcorn, and that’s all there is to it!

For 2 Cups of Protein Kettle Corn: 100 Calories, 1g Fat, 13g Carbs, 8g Protein

 

How to make chocolate protein popcorn

chocolate protein popcorn ingredients

Chocolate popcorn may not be something you’ve thought about trying before, but this just may be the best protein popcorn you’ll ever have.

Ingredients Needed:

Bowl of chocolate protein popcorn

The small amount of melted chocolate in this recipe helps the coating to stick even better, and getting bites of chocolate in your popcorn is an amazing addition.

You’ll mix the melted chocolate into the popcorn first, then give the popcorn a generous spray with butter spray to help the coating to stick even more.

Melted chocolate in popcorn

Then, mix the half scoop of chocolate protein powder in a bowl with the cocoa powder, sugar substitute, and salt, and toss it into the popcorn.

Mixing powder into protein popcorn

If you want extra chocolatey flavor, you can certainly add more chocolate to the popcorn mixture- I’m not judging!

For 2 Cups of Chocolate Protein Popcorn: 140 Calories, 4.5g Fat, 17g Carbs, 8.5g Protein

 

How to make peanut butter protein popcorn

peanut butter protein popcorn ingredients

If you love salty & sweet, you’re going to absolutely love peanut butter protein popcorn.

Ingredients Needed:

Bowls of protein popcorn

The PEScience peanut butter protein powder works so well in this recipe, but you can use powdered peanut butter (like PB2) in its place if you don’t have any peanut butter-flavored protein powder.

Combined with one tablespoon of peanut butter, there is so much incredible peanut butter flavor in this one.

I love drizzling additional peanut butter over the top of this popcorn before serving to really take this flavor over the top, too.

For 2 Cups of Peanut Butter Protein Popcorn: 145 Calories, 5g Fat, 15g Carbs, 10g Protein

 

Other flavors of protein popcorn to try

Chocolate protein popcorn

These are just three of my favorite protein popcorn flavors, but there is no shortage of delicious protein popcorn recipes you can make.

You can truly create any flavor of protein popcorn that you desire, but here are some ideas for you:

  • Use peanut butter protein powder and add chocolate chips to create a peanut butter chocolate protein popcorn.
  • Melt peanut butter and use chocolate protein powder for chocolate peanut butter protein popcorn.
  • Use vanilla or birthday cake protein powder and add sprinkles to make birthday protein popcorn.
  • Add cinnamon to vanilla protein powder (or snickerdoodle protein) to create cinnamon sugar protein popcorn.
  • Use peppermint or pumpkin spice protein powder for a delicious seasonal treat.

These are only a few examples, but as you can see, you can truly create any flavor you can dream up.

Make a bunch of unique batches of popcorn, seal them up in bags, and enjoy them throughout the week whenever you’re craving a sweet treat.

Leftover protein popcorn

If you make your own unique protein popcorn, please leave me a comment below so I can hear what you came up with!

 

Protein popcorn on table

Delicious Protein Popcorn (Low-Calorie)

Yield: 4 Cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Protein popcorn is going to become your new favorite snack. Ready in just minutes, it's the perfect way to hit your protein goals at the end of the day.

Ingredients

Classic Kettlecorn

Chocolate Protein Popcorn

Peanut Butter Protein Popcorn

Instructions

  1. Add plain popcorn to a large bowl and generously spray with butter cooking spray (any cooking spray works, but I like the extra buttery flavor from butter spray).
  2. If making chocolate or peanut butter flavor, melt the dark chocolate or peanut butter in the microwave and then drizzle it into the popcorn and give it a quick mix. It won't fully coat the popcorn, which is totally fine.
  3. Combine all of your dry ingredients in a small bowl, then add it to the bowl of popcorn while tossing.
  4. You'll find that powder settles to the bottom of the bowl. Spray the popcorn again, then toss to allow more powder to stick. I repeat this process a couple of times and the leftover powder ends up being very minimal.
  5. Enjoy right away or store leftover popcorn in a sealed bag or airtight container to enjoy throughout the week.

Notes

  • You can add more dark chocolate or peanut butter to your popcorn, which will help the powder to stick easier, I just kept it minimal in an attempt to keep the calories low.
  • When you use a generous amount of cooking spray, it does add some calories, but it's minimal. I don't include those calories in my calorie count because it's still a small amount. I have a post breaking down calories in cooking spray here.
  • Feel free to get creative with the flavors! Here are some ideas:
  1. Use birthday cake protein powder and add sprinkles to make birthday cake protein popcorn.
  2. Use a salted caramel protein powder with melted caramel for the ultimate sweet treat.
  3. Use snickerdoodle or cinnamon protein powder to make cinnamon sugar protein popcorn.
  4. Add crushed-up Oreo cookies and use a cookies & cream protein powder for an awesome Oreo treat.

Nutrition below is based on the peanut butter protein popcorn flavor.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 2 Cups (PB Flavor)
Amount Per Serving Calories 145Total Fat 5gCarbohydrates 15gProtein 10g

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Share The Love

Rachel

Thursday 23rd of February 2023

Do you know how many cups of unpopped kernals comes out to 4 cups popped? Wondering how much to measure out when I try this one :)

Matt

Friday 24th of February 2023

I didn't measure exactly because my air popper comes with a little cup, but the internet tells me that 2 Tbsp of kernels makes 4 cups of popcorn :} (apparently there's an official conversion here: https://www.popcorn.org/Recipes/Unpopped-to-Popped)

About Matt Rosenman

With over 15 years of experience in health and fitness, Matt Rosenman is the expert voice behind Cheatdaydesign.com. Matt’s philosophy is simple: no foods are off-limits, and a healthy lifestyle shouldn't be complicated or restrictive. As a former certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Health Behavioral Sciences, Matt brings well-rounded expertise to his blog. From revamping classic recipes with a nutritious twist to breaking down fast food menus, his goal is make healthy living less confusing for everyone. Featured in major publications and with a strong following on social media, Matt is committed to making “healthy” uncomplicated—no matter where you are in your health journey. Join Matt on his mission to simplify health without sacrificing flavor. Learn More

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