I haven't made it to the movies much this year, so I have a lot of catching up to do before the Oscars. I don't mind, though—my couch is comfier than theater seats and finding a movie on Netflix is better than shelling out for tickets. Best of all, watching a movie at home means trading overpriced concessions for homemade snacks. Forget about fake butter—at home you can flavor your popcorn with anchovies and garlic or matcha and white chocolate. Homemade chips and spiced nuts are great movie snacks too, and if you want something heartier we've got bagel bites and pepperoni knots. Keep reading for all 22 of our favorite movie-night snack recipes.
We love the convenience of microwave popcorn, but could do without the artificial flavors. The good news is that homemade microwave popcorn is practically as easy as the stuff from the supermarket. All you need is a paper bag, some neutral oil, salt, and of course popcorn kernels. Keep an eye on the bag as it cooks and don't be afraid to take it out a hair too early—the last few kernels will finish popping, and no one likes burned popcorn.
Bagna Cauda (Anchovy-Garlic) Popcorn
As tempting as it is to eat that popcorn straight from the bag, there's so much more you can do with it. In this recipe we toss cooked popcorn with garlic- and anchovy-infused melted butter in a nod to the Italian dip bagna cauda. If you're into bold flavors, this is the popcorn for you.
Brown-Butter Maple Popcorn With Pecans
Popcorn goes great with sweet flavors, too. Here we make an easy caramel with brown butter and maple syrup, stir in some crushed pecans, then pour it all over a bowl of popcorn. A big pinch of salt helps bring out the flavor of the caramel and a quick trip to the refrigerator sets the sweet glaze.
Matcha and White Chocolate Popcorn
For a sweet popcorn that's a little more subtle but just as delicious, give this Japanese-inspired recipe a try. Matcha powder and white chocolate are amazingly good partners—the chocolate cuts the matcha's bitterness and lets its grassy sweetness shine. White chocolate varies in quality, so head over to our taste test to make sure you get something good.
Extra-Crunchy Potato Chips
Making homemade potato chips is definitely more work than popcorn, but it's totally doable. The trick is to rinse your potato slices well and par-cook them in water spiked with vinegar. This gets rid of a lot of their starch, which helps ensure that they fry up super crispy without over-browning.
Za'atar Potato Chips
If you grew up in a Middle Eastern household you don't need to be told to put za'atar on popcorn because you already put it on everything. For the rest of you, try putting this woodsy spice mix made with sumac, sesame seeds, thyme, and oregano on your chips. Our potato chip flavorings all work on popcorn, too—make sure to toss the popcorn with butter or oil first so that the za'atar will stick.
Roast Chicken Dinner Potato Chips With Mushrooms, Lemon, and Thyme
The UK loves potato chip flavors that might sound pretty odd—sweet cured ham with pickle, anyone? In attempting to match the Brits at the meat-centric-potato-chip-flavor game we came up with roast chicken dinner chips flavored with lemon, thyme, and garlic. The "chicken" flavor comes from savory nutritional yeast, so these chips are actually vegan.
Chipotle Honey-Butter Potato Chips
Popularized in the States by NYC's Oiji, honey-butter chips have been a bit of a craze in Korea for some time. The version at Oiji is spiced with chili powder to make a snack that's pretty strange but phenomenally tasty. Our version replaces the Asian-style chili powder with smoky chipotle powder.
Smoky Candied Almonds
Making great spiced nuts requires a little more effort than toasting up some almonds with spices—candying the nuts with an egg white glaze gives them an even better crunch. For this recipe we make the glaze with brown sugar, smoked paprika, cayenne, Old Bay, and black pepper to mimic a barbecue dry rub.
Mexican Spiced Chocolate Pecans
These pecans get a double dose of chocolate from a combination of cocoa powder and dark chocolate, a complex sweetness from brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and just enough heat from half a teaspoon of cayenne. The resulting flavor is dark, intense, and a little more bitter than sweet.
Olive-Rosemary Spiced Cashews
Getting the most flavor out of these olive-rosemary cashews is all about one secret weapon: the microwave. We use it to dehydrate fresh rosemary that we then crush with a mortar and pestle to make a powder way better than any you'd buy in a store. We prepare oil-cured olives the same way to make a thick paste. A lightly sweetened glaze (made without any egg white to keep it subtle) balances out the savory olives and rosemary.
Bourbon Old Fashioned Glazed Pecans
Nuts are a classic bar snack, so why not just go ahead and combine your nuts and your cocktail? In this recipe that means coating pecans with a bourbon-spiked brown sugar glaze and mixing them with dried cherries soaked in—you guessed it—more whiskey. If you're not a big pecan fan, feel free to sub in whatever kind of nut you prefer.
Crispy Citrus-Candied Pistachios
These pistachios have an intense citrus flavor and super crunchy shell thanks to our fresh lemon syrup—because the syrup has so little water, it crisps up wonderfully. Rolling the glazed pistachios in powdered sugar keeps them from sticking together. We like organic powdered sugar for its subtle toffee flavor.
Sea Salt and Vinegar Peanuts
Can't decide between snacking on nuts or potato chips? This recipe gives you the best of both worlds by flavoring crunchy peanuts like salt-and-vinegar chips. The key is to soak the raw peanuts in apple cider vinegar before frying them, then finish with a generous amount of salt and a little more vinegar.
These Cheez-It clones are a little darker than the originals because we make them with cream instead of butter—don't worry, the rich, nutty flavor is worth the less-than-authentic color. Sharp yellow cheddar gets you closest to the classic Cheez-It taste, but manchego is a fun alternative.
Homemade Bagel Bites
Once we figured out how to make awesome bagels at home, it was only a matter of time before we shrunk them down and made homemade bagel bites. There's not much to it once the bagels are baked—just cut them in half, toast them lightly, and pile on the red sauce, cheese, and diced pepperoni.
Baguette Toast "Crackers"
We bought a lot of baguette crackers when I was growing up, and I was never quite sure why—they were totally bland. It's super easy to make far better ones at home. All you have to do is buy a baguette (even a crappy supermarket loaf), slice it thin, and bake it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Cheesy Smoked-Paprika Crackers
For something more flavorful, try these crispy biscuits made with smoked paprika, Parmesan, and sharp cheddar. The super short dough is made with nearly a 1:1:1 ratio of butter to cheese to flour, so it's incredibly light and delicate. If you under-bake the crackers they'll be too delicate, so let them bake long enough to get golden and crisp.
Extra-Crispy Bar-Style Tortilla Pizza
Homemade pizza isn't exactly the easiest snack in the world—unless, of course, you make it with a tortilla. But far from just a time-saving hack, using a tortilla is actually one of our favorite ways to make thin-crust bar-style pizza. If you've got the sauce on hand, this recipe comes together practically as quickly as finding the phone and ordering delivery.
Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots
This intensely flavored party snack is made by tossing knotted strips of pizza dough with pepperoni, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and butter and baking them in a cast iron skillet. We use two kinds of cheese, mixing Parmesan in with the knots and sprinkling on Romano before baking.
Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers
Making graham crackers at home is super easy and has the benefit of letting you use whatever shape of cookie cutter you want. Whole grain graham flour gives the crackers their signature wheat flavor—you can use whole wheat flour instead, but you'll lose out on some of the nuttiness of graham flour.
No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Bars
It can be challenging to make a homemade oatmeal raisin bar with the same pleasant chewiness of the store-bought variety. Melted marshmallows work, but that takes what could be a relatively healthy snack and puts it firmly in dessert territory. Our solution is to process the oats with raisins, which act as a glue to hold the bars together.
This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.