With a sharp peppery hit, fennel kick and spike of citrus, this popcorn is as delicious as it is simple.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (11 votes)


  • 3 tbsp (60 ml/¼ cup) olive oil (see Note)
  • 110 g (½ cup) popcorn kernels

Black pepper, lemon and fennel salt

  • 3 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • ¾ tsp raw sugar
  • 1 large lemon

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the black pepper, lemon and fennel salt, place the fennel seeds, salt and peppercorns in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast for 2 minutes or until fragrant, the salt begins to darken slightly and the fennel is lightly toasted. Frequently shake the pan so that you do not burn the spices. Roughly crush the salt mixture using a mortar and pestle. Finely grate the lemon rind directly over the spices to catch the oils. Combine using the pestle.

Heat the oil in a 3 or 4-litre saucepan (with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat until just before it smokes. Add a popcorn kernel to the oil to test if it is hot enough; if it spins, then the oil is ready (see Note).

Add all the popcorn kernels, swirl to cover the kernels with the oil, cover with the lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 1 minute 45 seconds or until the popping sounds have stopped.

Tip the popcorn in a large wide bowl and immediately toss with half of the seasoning until all the popcorn is well coated, then add the remaining half and toss again until well coated.



• For extra flavour, you can infuse the olive oil with lemon rind. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind of 1 lemon in large strips, making sure not to get any white pith. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until hot. Remove from the heat, add the rind and allow to cool. Remove the rind and use the oil to cook the popcorn kernels.

• The oil shouldn’t be smoking; if it is, remove from the heat until it stops smoking, then return to the heat.


Photography by Amanda McLauchlan, styling by Aimee Jones.


View more ridiculously tasty recipes from our Popcorn Cup collection to celebrate the World Cup.