The Best Salt Substitutes for Popcorn

  • Author: Sue Dorrens
  • Published: February 11, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.

If you’re watching your salt intake but want nothing more than a delicious, fluffy bowl of buttery popcorn kernels, what can you do?

Is there a good salt substitute for popcorn?

Yes, there are many great salt substitutes for popcorn. Even if you’re not watching your salt intake, you should try some flavor combinations to elevate snack time to an unseen level.

What Can You Use Instead of Salt on Popcorn?

You can create many seasonings and flavor combinations for popcorn that don’t involve salt. You can choose a savory flavor profile, make it spicy, or even go for something sweet. No matter which way you decide to go, there are endless options to try.


This isn’t an exhaustive list, either. There are thousands of options to try! Think about the flavors you enjoy when you eat food, both with meals and snacks. Popcorn absorbs flavors well, and you can apply pretty much any seasoning or flavor combination with great results.

Make it Savory

Savory popcorn can be surprisingly decadent and crave-worthy. It can satisfy that salty snack urge without even using any salt. Cheesy popcorn is usually a good choice for a first-timer, and common flavors seen in other snacks, such as salt/vinegar and Italian seasonings.

Here are some savory flavors to try:

  • Everything bagel seasoning or plain sesame seeds
  • Parmesan cheese & fresh parsley
  • Nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese)
  • Italian seasoning & garlic powder
  • Parmesan ranch
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (or grated lemon zest & cracked pepper)
  • Truffle oil (or fresh truffles if you have them)
  • Orange zest, fresh rosemary & garlic powder
  • Smoked paprika, garlic powder & onion powder (BBQ flavor)
  • Honey mustard
  • Salt & vinegar

Want a genuine BBQ flavor? Check our article on how to pop popcorn on a BBQ.

Make it Spicy

Thinking about adding some zing to your popcorn bowl? Add some spicy flavors to make it exciting!

Popcorn is the perfect blank canvas to create whichever spicy taste you seek. It may sound strange, but spicy popcorn is a brilliant combination of flavors and textures that your taste buds (and brain) will thank you for later.

Here are some spicy ideas:

  • Cajun spice blend (or make your own with garlic powder, cumin, basil & cayenne)
  • Paprika (preferably smoked paprika) & chili powder
  • Hot sauce (any tomato and vinegar-based type)
  • Honey, chili powder & cayenne pepper
  • Cocoa powder & chipotle seasoning (or cayenne pepper)
  • Wasabi powder & sugar (any kind of sugar)
  • Wasabi & ginger
  • Lime zest, cumin, chili powder & chili flakes (chili lime)
  • Lime zest, curry powder, basil & cayenne (Thai spice)

Make it Sweet

Sweet popcorn is a great idea because it combines the best parts of snack time with the attractiveness of a dessert. It kills two birds with one stone, so to speak. If you’re feeling extra creative, you could combine sweet and spicy flavors to create something special.

Here are some sweet choices:

  • Cinnamon & sugar (any type of sugar; you could even use maple or coconut sugar)
  • Melted chocolate (preferably dark chocolate)
  • Maple syrup (add a little bit of olive oil too for a caramel flavor)
  • Cocoa powder & marshmallows
  • Cocoa powder & cinnamon
  • Peanuts & chocolate chips
  • Melted chocolate & peanut butter
  • Honey, granola & cinnamon
  • Sugar & pumpkin pie spice (or apple pie spice)
  • Melted chocolate, marshmallows & graham crackers

What is the Healthiest Substitute for Salt?

Any seasonings you use instead of salt are healthy; there isn’t one that’s the best in particular.

That said, though…

The spicy options tend to be the most healthy, as they don’t contain as much fat and sugar as the other options. The next best would likely be the savory options, as they offer more fat but not much sugar. Last would be the sweet options with fat and sugar, although they aren’t really bad.

Do They Make Unsalted Popcorn?

popcorn flavor alternatives

There are many varieties of unsalted popcorn. You can likely find many versions at your local grocery store. Of course, you can also make unsalted popcorn from scratch without much additional effort.

Big brands such as Pop Secret, Newman’s Own, and Black Jewell offer no salt varieties. Many of these brands also offer no-oil and no-salt versions if you want a plain kernel.

Don’t worry about struggling to find these no-salt popcorn bags. Simply go where you normally purchase your popcorn and look for the term ‘unsalted.’ You might be surprised how many high-quality options there are without maxing out your daily sodium intake.

What Popcorn Has the Least Salt?

Any popcorn you make from scratch will have the least amount of salt compared to anything else. Purchasing a no-salt variety from the store will be the next best option, followed by any low-sodium choice.

You can find these no-salt and low-sodium popcorn varieties in microwave popcorn bags and pre-popped popcorn snacks. Both types are readily available in most grocery stores.

So don’t fret.

If you’re looking for a good salt substitute for popcorn, you’ve got a lot of options at your disposal. You can opt for savory flavors, spice it up, or even make it sweet for a snack/dessert combo that will rock your world.

You are the boss, so think about which flavors you like on other foods and go wild. Try one, or try them all, and bring your popcorn game up a few levels.


popcorn with hot sauce

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