How to Turn Leftover Popcorn Into Breakfast
Don’t throw out that corny goodness
Giant tins of popcorn scream holidays. Typically cordoned off into three sections (butter, caramel, cheese), it’s not the kind of popcorn you’d find at a movie theater. It’s rounder, a bit more firm, and incredibly difficult to stop eating. Of course, when the tin is so big—the ones I got as a kid seemed at least three feet tall—it’s understandably difficult to finish off all that popcorn before it goes stale. To prevent that travesty, I’ve assembled some ideas for you:
Also known as popcorn and milk, it's absolutely the OG breakfast cereal. I first learned of the treat from Laura Ingalls WIlder’s Farmer Boy, a delightful book that you really should not read while hungry. Drop a few handfuls of tinned popcorn (I’d recommend the buttered or caramel-flavored, save the cheese for another use) into a bowl, then cover with a good pour of milk, whatever milk that floats your boat.
Though it’s pretty much impossible to make a popcorn pancake that pops so aggressively it flips the flapjack, you can definitely use leftover tinned popcorn in pancakes. Roughly chop a cup of popcorn (any flavor will work—yes, even cheese) and toss it with brown sugar and cinnamon, skipping the sugar if using caramel corn. Sprinkle the popcorn mixture over a pancake that has been poured onto a pan, then flip.
Popcorn Granola (and Granola Bars!)
Your favorite flavor of tinned popcorn can easily be tossed into your favorite granola or granola bar recipe instead of oats. Take into account that popcorn is much less dense than oats, so you’ll need more than double the amount of popcorn than the recipe calls for oats. Cheese popcorn might be weird here, but I welcome you to try it.
Popcorn eggs is a place where you can really let the cheese popcorn shine. Simply toss a few handfuls of popcorn into a bowl of beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, then scramble them up in a buttered nonstick pan.
For a recipe that’s a bit more complex, try Chef Daniel Patterson’s popcorn grits. A recipe that would work with any flavor of tinned popcorn, you’ll soak handfuls in water and butter, force the kernels through a fine mesh sieve and repeat, scraping all the runoff into a bowl, until you have a golden bowl of porridge.