This fiery snack gets its heat from two rockin’ roots. The first, wasabi (also known as Japanese horseradish), is best known as the ubiquitous green glob beside sushi, and it pack a powerful punch to the taste buds. The second, candied ginger, is a spice that goes from mild to wild. The two come together here as a wickedly wonderful pair.–Patrick Evans-Hylton

LC Wacky Heat and Sweet Note

Some folk swoon to this crazy melding of heat and sweet in this wasabi-ginger popcorn. Others, um, not so much. There’s only one way to find out! And we have yet to figure out a way to ensure the bits of candied ginger and wasabi peas remain evenly distributed, aside from first divvying the popcorn up into individual bowls and then simply sprinkling the chopped bits of heat and sweet on top. We’re open to suggestions.

Wasabi ginger popcorn in a white bowl on a green tablecloth, with a white sake bottle and cup in the background.

Wasabi and Ginger Popcorn

4.50 / 2 votes
Sweet, salty, and spicy wasabi and ginger popcorn will flat-out change your snack game for the better. Butter, candied ginger, wasabi peas, and black sesame seeds add tons of flavor.
David Leite
Servings14 cups
Calories836 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 3 to 4 quarts freshly popped corn, from a popcorn maker
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped (to steer clear of a sticky situation, dip a paper towel in a little olive oil and swipe the blade of the knife with it every few chops)
  • 1/2 cup wasabi-flavored fried peas, (optional)


  • Place the popcorn in a large, clean paper bag or a large pot. In a small bowl, combine the salt, sugar, and sesame seeds. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and wasabi until fully incorporated. Stir in the ginger and peas, if using.
  • Drizzle the butter mixture over the popcorn, fold over the top of the bag or cover the pot with a lid, and shake until the popcorn is coated. Sprinkle the salt mixture over the popcorn and shake a few times again to coat. Serve immediately.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 cupCalories: 836 kcalCarbohydrates: 163 gProtein: 27 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 6 mgSodium: 134 mgPotassium: 675 mgFiber: 30 gSugar: 4 gVitamin A: 473 IUVitamin C: 1 mgCalcium: 21 mgIron: 8 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Patrick Evans-Hylton. Photo © 2008 Lara Ferroni. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

A half-cup of kernels gave me 14 cups of popcorn, which is just shy of 4 quarts. More importantly, it kept the five of us supplied with popcorn while watching a movie on the couch. The stars here are definitely the wasabi and candied ginger, and the wasabi peas prompted a friend to call it the “Asian Crackerjack.” I don’t like my popcorn overly buttery, so 3 tablespoons was enough for a little butter taste. I actually preferred it with just wasabi peas and not the candied ginger, but my friends liked the sweet and salty combination. This is definitely going into the rotation on movie nights.

This recipe for wasabi ginger popcorn makes a concoction that’s more of a cocktail munchie than popcorn. It’s spicy, cool, piquant, and mysterious—as in, what are those black things on my popcorn and why do I keep eating them? There’s one thing I’ll try the next time I make it: Crushing the wasabi peas, so that they don’t fall to the bottom of the bowl. When you get a mouthful of sesame, ginger, wasabi, and popcorn, that extra degree of heat and texture from the peas gets lost if you missed picking one up.

Hot and spicy popcorn lovers, rejoice! This wasabi ginger popcorn is a creative way to use that extra wasabi paste kicking around. I actually preferred this popcorn without the wasabi-flavored fried peas. This was a very interesting and yummy snack, in that it had all kinds of things going on at once in each bite—from the crunch of the black sesame seeds (which look great in the popcorn, by the way) and the sweet-hot-spicy kick of the candied ginger. The melted butter and addition of sugar and salt tempered the otherwise hot wasabi paste a bit. The heat ratio really worked; it provided some kick, but wasn’t too spicy to mask everything else. Consider yourself warned of its addictive properties.

Although the introductory notes describe this as a “fiery snack,” it wasn’t actually that spicy. But it was addictive, delicious, and interesting enough to make again—and regularly—especially to warm up these blustery, snowy winter nights! The combination of wasabi paste (I used wasabi powder and mixed it into a paste myself), peas and candied ginger creates warmth. The resulting snack wasn’t spicy hot; rather, it was warm, with lots of interesting flavors and textures: the freshly popped corn, chewy little bits of candied ginger, crunchy wasabi peas, and the tiny popping of the black sesame seeds, which added flavor as well as visual appeal.

We wondered about using a bit less butter the next time, but only to lessen the popcorn’s greasiness—not for flavor reasons. Though the popcorn was a little greasy, and required some stacks of napkins, that didn’t stop us from returning to the bowl for multiple passes and devouring the batch with good speed.

The Wasabi Ginger Popcorn has a nice amount of tangy heat. With the wasabi peas adding to the punch, it’s zesty, but not overpowering. My only concern is that most of the goodies migrated to the bottom of the bowl.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Sure, Beth, that should work. You likely won’t need quite as much if you’re using the dry powder.