Popcorn Salad is a retro party food that is making a comeback! While it may seem unusual, this delicious popcorn salad is sure to be a major hit at any potluck you bring it to. It’s full of mouthwatering ingredients like cheddar cheese, bacon, and honey – just to name a few! If this seems like an odd dish to you, I totally get it… but don’t knock it till you try it!

Popcorn salad is topped with fresh greens in a blue and white bowl.

Popcorn Salad

Vintage cookbooks from the 50’s to 70’s were chockfull of salad recipes… that weren’t really salads at all! Lately, there have been tons of videos of people trying various jello salad recipes and expressing their disgust or shock with them. While I totally get the shock factor with some of these retro recipes, I also feel the need to do my part and let the world know exact how delicious popcorn salad is!

At any potluck or party you go to, I’m sure you’ll see the classics like Guacamole and chips, Meatballs, Pigs in a Blanket, and other popular finger foods. That’s why I really love making this popcorn salad – it ALWAYS surprises people and garners a big reaction! Everyone asks questions about it, and even if they’re hesitant, they always try it. And guess what? Everyone always loves it, even the people who at first have an adverse reaction to it!

The combination of salty and sweet flavors is really what makes this popcorn salad so downright delicious. The sweetness of honey combined with the tanginess of apple cider vinegar with other ingredients like salty, savory chopped bacon is just insanely good, and addictive! You’ll be surprised at how quickly this popcorn salad disappears. When it comes to popcorn in general, it’s impossible to just have a few pieces.

Ingredients for popcorn salad are in a large white bowl.

How to Make It

This unique recipe comes together in just a few minutes! It’s an easy dish to throw together right before a party.

Mix. Add the carrots, peas, cheese, bacon and scallions to a large bowl. Mix everything together to fully combine. Also, while I prefer taking the time to fry up some fresh bacon, bacon bits also work if you’re on a time crunch!

Dressing is being poured over a bowl filled with ingredients.

Make the homemade dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, honey, celery seeds, salt and pepper until smooth.

Pour. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir to coat.

Popcorn is being added to a large bowl.

Add the popcorn! Right before serving, add the popcorn to the bowl and toss to combine. Serve immediately, and enjoy!

A large spoon is sitting aside a bowl filled with popcorn salad.

Can I make popcorn salad ahead of time?

Yes, but also no.

If making in advance, keep the popcorn in it’s own container or zip top bag until right before serving. Add the popcorn and toss to combine. Serve immediately, because the popcorn will start to absorb the dressing and lose its crunch, which is one of the best parts! Plus, nobody likes stale popcorn.

Can I make it vegan?

You sure can, and it’s easy to do!

These days, it seems like there are vegan alternatives to just about everything, and that’s pretty cool! To make this popcorn salad vegan, you’ll need to replace three ingredients – mayonnaise, bacon, and cheddar cheese.

While the cheddar cheese and bacon can be omitted entirely, I recommend finding vegan-friendly alternatives to them, because the flavor they both bring to the entire dish is amazing! The mayonnaise will definitely need to be replaced with a dairy-free alternative, because the dressing won’t be the same without it.

What else can I add?

I like this popcorn salad recipe just the way it is, because it has just enough ingredients without being over the top. However, there are still quite a few ingredients that would be delicious when tossed in there!

Some tasty additions include water chestnuts, sour cream (just add a few tablespoons to the dressing), chopped red onions, finely chopped garlic, and dijon mustard (also to be added to the dressing).

A spoon is placed next to a blue and white bowl filled with popcorn salad.

Have any extra popcorn on hand? Try out these delicious popcorn recipes!

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Popcorn salad is topped with fresh greens in a blue and white bowl.

Get the Recipe: Popcorn Salad

A retro classic, this midwestern Popcorn Salad is crunchy, savory and filling. You'll be surprised at how addicting this tasty side dish really is!
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 6 cups popcorn

Equipment

  • bowl

Instructions 

  • Add the carrot, peas, cheese, bacon and scallions to a large bowl. Toss to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, celery seed, salt and pepper until smooth.
  • Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir to coat.
  • Right before serving, add the popcorn to the bowl and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately

Notes

If making in advance, keep the popcorn in it’s own container or zip top bag until right before serving. Add the popcorn and toss to combine. Serve immediately because the popcorn will start to absorb the dressing and lose it’s crunch.
Calories: 721kcal, Carbohydrates: 80g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 38g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 338mg, Potassium: 384mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 2424IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 104mg, Iron: 4mg