Sustainability made simple

Popped Amaranth: How to Make & Use It

Popped Amaranth
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / NatureFriend

Popped amaranth is an easy and quick snack you can make at home. Plus, it’s loaded with nutritious goodness. Here’s some popular gluten-free alternatives for savory and sweet dishes.

Popped or puffed amaranth is made from the seeds of the amaranth plant. Amaranth is commonly referred to as pigweed. It’s a herby plant sometimes cultivated intentionally, but also found as a summer weed. 

Countries where Amaranth is cultivated:

  • Africa
  • India
  • China 
  • South America 

More recently, it has been cultivated in the Great Plains and Midwest. However, it can also be found as a weed all over the US.

Where pigweed grows:

  • Abandoned fields
  • Gardens
  • Cultivated and disturbed land

Varieties of blossoming amaranth can come in shades of red of varying sizes. What most amaranth plants share is their ability to produce small edible seeds. These seeds can be popped like corn and have various nutritional benefits. According to research, amaranth is high in:

  • Protein
  • Amino acids
  • Vitamin C and B

It is commonly eaten as roasted, milled, or popped amaranth. The grain can even be ground down to oil that can be used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. 

Is Popped Amaranth Eco-Friendly? 

Popped amaranth is great eco-friendly option.
Popped amaranth is great eco-friendly option.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / manfredrichter)

The answer to this question largely depends on how it is grown. For instance, where amaranth is considered an invasive weed, using the seeds is a good way to cut down on waste.

As one recent study notes, amaranth can be a way of combating food and nutrition insecurity. It can grow under extreme conditions, but it is often underutilized. Unfortunately, amaranth seeds are often imported to the US due to low demand. As a result, transportation from suppliers to sellers to consumers can cut a hefty carbon footprint.

Though this isn’t exclusively true. Some farms are driving their own amaranth markets by selling directly to local bakeries where it’s often used as a gluten-free substitute. But, with a little digging it’s likely you can find your own supplier. Especially if you’re based in the Midwest or Great plains. Alternatively, you have the option of doing a little foraging of your own.

Puffed Amaranth Recipes and Tips

Amaranth seeds need high heat to pop properly.
Amaranth seeds need high heat to pop properly.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Vitamin)

Puffing or popping amaranth is easy. It only takes 10 minutes to create this delicious gluten-free snack.


  • ½ cup of amaranth seeds
  • Salt and butter (vegan butter works too) to your taste


  1. Heat a wok over medium to high heat. Don’t add any liquid. 
  2. Slowly add your seeds little by little. Spread evenly.
  3. Your seeds should pop almost instantly. If they don’t, your pot wasn’t hot enough. Discard current seeds and turn up the heat.
  4. Once your seeds start popping, shake gently till all seeds have puffed out.
  5. Remove seeds and sift out unopened amaranth. 
  6. Repeat these steps till you’ve gone through all your amaranth. 
  7. Optional: Add to a bowl and season to taste.

A ½ of raw seeds will give you about 1½ cups of puffed amaranth. You can store your popped goods in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature and it will last 1 to 2 weeks. If you add butter, the popped amaranth will go mushy. So, don’t add any seasoning if you aren’t planning to eat it right away.

Now you’ve popped your amaranth, let’s explore some tasty recipe options:

Sweet Cereal and Breakfast Bar

Popped amaranth can easily be used in breakfast bars.
Popped amaranth can easily be used in breakfast bars.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / silviarita)

First of all, your puffed amaranth can go straight in your cereal bowl. Enjoy it with your favorite milk alternative and a sweetener of your choice. If you’re feeling daring, you can even make some breakfast bars:


  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter 
  • 5½ vegan marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 6 cups popped amaranth 


  1. Place the vegan butter on the hob and melt at low heat.
  2. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add vanilla extract and popped amaranth. Mix till the amaranth is well coated.
  4. Use a spatula to coax the mixture into a container. You can use wax paper or cooking oil on the container to prevent sticking. 
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Cut into slices and serve.

Your breakfast bars will last two days in an airtight container. Keep at room temperature. You can also freeze your batch and they’ll last up to 6 weeks. 

Savory Spiced Amaranth Recipe

Popped amaranth is a popular Asian street food.
Popped amaranth is a popular Asian street food.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / chosang)

Puffed rice is a popular Asian street food. Here we’ll be substituting in amaranth. 


  • 4 tablespoons oil of your choice
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, chopped
  • 3 crushed garlic gloves
  • 6 cups puffed amaranth 
  • ½ cup chopped nuts of your choice 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric


  1. Heat oil on low heat. Saute the onions, curry leaves, chopped chili, and garlic.
  2. Add popped amaranth and chopped nuts. Mix well.
  3. Add chili powder, masala, salt, and turmeric. 
  4. Mix and stir on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature. It will last up to a week.

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