Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

Greenletes / Recipes / Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

Homemade air popped popcorn with a cocoa topping is a healthy snack that has less than 100 calories. Easy 5-ingredient late night snack recipe!

Popcorn is one of those snacks that gets a bad reputation. Although bagged popcorn often has weird artificial ingredients, air popped popcorn is a quick and healthy snack you can make at home.

Popcorn is naturally a whole grain, making it a great pre-workout healthy snack for athletes. It’s also a nutritious after-dinner treat for late night snacking.

This recipe has a homemade cocoa and cayenne seasoning, making it a sweet, savory, spicy and salty snack. I know you are going to love this healthy chocolate popcorn just as much as I do!

Is popcorn healthy?

Popcorn is a healthy whole grain snack that satisfies your cravings for crunchy snacks. Because it’s a whole grain, popcorn is a natural source of protein and fiber to keep you full in between meals.

What turns popcorn into an unhealthy snack are the toppings. For instance, coating popcorn in tons of butter and salt can add unwanted calories and saturated fat.

In addition, kettle corn has plenty of sugar, as well as oil and salt. The best way to keep popcorn as a healthy snack is to air pop it and make your own homemade healthy toppings and seasoning.

How to make it in the microwave

It’s important to remember that there’s good-for-you popcorn, and then there’s not-so-great-for-you popcorn. Making air popped popcorn at home is the best way to keep it healthy. And it’s easy to do!

Put ¼ cup of popcorn kernels in a paper bag, stick it in the microwave and press the “popcorn” button. Most of the kernels within the bag should pop.

If there are leftover kernels, take the popped popcorn out of the bag and then repeat the process. When you’re done, add your toppings.

Can I make it on the stovetop?

Yes, you absolutely can and sometimes I use this method instead. The only caveat is that this requires some oil, which adds calories to the recipe.

In my book, some extra calories are perfectly fine. But it’s worth noting if you’re watching your weight.

To make popcorn on the stovetop, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Then add 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. Put the lid on the pan.

Shake the pan continuously until there are about 3 seconds in between pops. This will let you know all the popcorn has popped. A 1/4 cup of dry kernels makes about 4 cups of popped popcorn.

Ingredients for this Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

To make this, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

How to make Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Make the popcorn in a popcorn maker or on the stove top.
  2. In a bowl, mix cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, sugar and salt to make a spice mixture.
  3. Evenly coat the popped popcorn with the spice mixture.

Ingredient Swaps & Substitutions

In my opinion, the toppings are what make popcorn so tasty! This recipe has a simple sweet and spicy topping, made with cocoa powder, and a dash of cayenne, sugar and salt.

I love combinations or flavors, like sweet and salty together. And the little kick in the cayenne pepper actually brings out the sweet flavors of the cocoa powder, as well as the saltiness.

Of course, there are a ton of other healthy popcorn toppings you can use. Here are some of my favorites:

  • nutritional yeast and salt– tastes cheesy
  • parmesan and fresh parsley
  • cinnamon and sugar
  • chili powder and lime juice
  • everything seasoning
  • smoked paprika and salt
  • curry powder and cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • BBQ seasoning

The options are endless! If you have other popcorn topping suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

Pin this recipe for later!

5 from 7 votes

Spicy Cocoa Popcorn

Homemade air popped popcorn with a cocoa topping. Healthy late night snack that has less than 100 calories. Easy 5-ingredient snack recipe!

Course Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 98 kcal
Author Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD


  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt


  1. Make the popcorn in a popcorn maker or on the stove top. If using the stove top, follow the directions on the bag.
  2. To a small bowl, add the cocoa powder, cayenne pepper, sugar and salt. Stir the spices together.
  3. Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl. Coat with the spice mixture. Toss well until evenly coated.

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Cocoa Popcorn
Amount Per Serving
Calories 98 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 293mg13%
Potassium 94mg3%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 52IU1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  1. Abbey Sharp

    Haha typing this as I munch on some popcorn myself, love it!

  2. Tawnie Kroll

    5 stars
    We snacked on this last night while watching Grey’s and it was so yummy!! Thank you!

  3. Meme

    5 stars
    What a perfect nighttime snack! Easy to make delicious to eat!

  4. Emily Kyle

    5 stars
    Will be bringing this to girls’ night! Looks delish!

  5. Lindsey

    5 stars
    What a flavorful, delicious snack!

  6. Lorie

    5 stars
    I barely got any of this–my hubby gobbled most of it up. If he loves it, it’s a huge win!

  7. Liz Shaw

    5 stars
    Love the holiday flavor profile!

  8. Ruth

    Just what I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth, Thank You!

    • Ruth

      5 stars
      Just what I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth, Thank You!


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I’m Natalie Rizzo, an NYC-based Registered Dietitian.

My mission is to help everyday athletes fuel their fitness with plants.

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