Dig into a big, fluffy bowl of infinitely snackable Black Pepper Parmesan + Olive Oil Popcorn! All the flavors of Cacio E Pepe. Spicy, earthy black pepper. Salty, sharp parmesan cheese. And plenty of slick, aromatic, and fruity olive oil to make this the BEST flavor combination ever!
Black Pepper Parmesan + Olive Oil Popcorn
As an avid homemade popcorn maker, I’ve tried just about every kind of seasoning. But my favorite combination is this: Black Pepper, Parmesan Cheese, and Olive Oil Popcorn!
Pebbly chunks of black pepper, crushed into oblivion. Good olive oil, to keep things slick and rich. And a generous handful of parmesan, for that indulgently sharp and salty bite.
A Cacio E Pepe-inspired popcorn that’s salty, earthy, rich, and decadent! Unexpected but so delicious and unique. Gives humble, homemade popcorn a gourmet kick. Equal parts salty, peppery, and floral. Black Pepper Parmesan and Olive Oil Popcorn is all kinds of salty, snacky deliciousness!
- Popcorn Kernels. Look for regular popcorn kernels (not the microwaved kind) in the snack and chip aisle at the grocery store.
- Black peppercorns. Grind down black peppercorns to dust with a mortar and pestle. The intense, peppery flavor is so good! I love the dusky fragrance and slightly nubby texture.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Good olive oil makes all the difference. Use a fruity, floral olive oil to balance the pepper.
- Parmesan Cheese. There is no comparison to real Parmesan Cheese. Freshly grated, real parmesan cheese takes this popcorn to another level. You can use the pre-grated kind found in a plastic can but it won’t taste the same.
- Finely ground salt. Kosher, mineral, or sea salt all work. But the salt needs to be finely ground, to cling to individual kernels. My suggestion is to add salt gradually, to taste. Similar to potatoes, popcorn requires more salt than you think. But once oversalted, it’s hard to adjust.
PRO Tips for Homemade Popcorn:
A few tips for the perfect stovetop popcorn:
- Stainless steel works best. Stainless steel evenly distributes heat. If the pot gets too hot, the kernels will burn. If the pot doesn’t get hot enough, the kernels will pop into small, hard nuggets. (Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Ovens also work great for even heat distribution. But I’ve found them heavy and cumbersome — shaking the pot takes more effort and it’s not as easy to empty popcorn into a bowl.)
- Use a large pot, preferably with a glass lid. Popped popcorn expands enormously! You will need a larger pot than you think. Also, if you have a glass lid — it’s fun to watch the popcorn pop, although not totally necessary.
- Heat on medium. Don’t be tempted to use high heat! You’ll end up with burnt kernels. Use medium heat and wait (patiently) for the pot to get hot enough.
- Don’t skimp on the oil. The kernels need oil to pop into fluffy, light kernels. The bare minimum is 2 Tbsp for 1/2 cup of kernels.
- Shake the pot. When the popcorn starts popping, shake the pot! All the unpopped kernels will sink to the bottom while the popped kernels rise to the top. Shaking the pot will ensure even popping.
- Transfer popcorn immediately. Once the popcorn is done, transfer to a serving bowl. Time is of the essence! Even residual heat from the pot can scorch popcorn.
- Season warm popcorn. Add the seasonings and spices while the popcorn is still warm. Everything sticks better.
More snack recipes:
- Sweet and Salty Popcorn with Chili OIl
- M&M CandyPop Popcorn
- Black Sesame Mochi Cake
- Salted Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
- Spicy Sweet Potato Fries + Chipotle Aioli
Black Pepper Parmesan + Olive Oil Popcorn
- Stainless Steel Pot
- Mortar and Pestle (or ziploc baggie and rolling pin)
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (any neutral kind works)
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tsp black peppercorns (2 tsp for strong pepper flavor, 1 tsp for milder pepper flavor)
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- finely ground salt, to taste
- Prep the seasonings. Finely grate the parmesan cheese, bash the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to dust, and place the extra virgin olive oil and salt on the counter. Also, take out a large serving bowl and mixing spoon. (If you don't have a mortar and pestle, bash the peppercorns in a ziploc baggie with a rolling pin until evenly ground. A few chunky pieces are OK.)
- Preheat pan. Heat oil in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat. Be patient! It will take a few minutes. Once you see a few wisps of smoke, it's ready. (If there's a lot of smoke, it's too hot; remove from heat and cool.)
- Pop popcorn. Add the kernels and cover tightly with the lid. Shake the pan to evenly coat the kernels with oil. Wait for the popcorn to start popping.
- Tips: When the popcorn starts popping, shake the pot and slide back and forth over the burner. All the unpopped kernels will sink to the bottom while the popped kernels rise to the top. Shaking the pot will ensure even popping! The popcorn is done when the popping slows down to 10 seconds between pops. Remove from heat and dump the popcorn into a large bowl.
- Add seasoning. Add parmesan cheese and ground peppercorns. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss immediately with serving spoon. Add salt to taste, mixing well between each sprinkle. When ready to serve, add a little extra parmesan cheese and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top. Enjoy!