Perfect Popcorn

How to make a perfect batch of popcorn, with no burnt kernels. Easy popcorn recipe.

  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 quarts, a nice amount for two people, or for one hungry one.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
  • 1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
  • 1 3-quart covered saucepan
  • 2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.

3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it's fun to do with kids.) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.

With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.

5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.

6 Salt to taste.

Additional tips: From the comments section

a If you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops, the salt will be well distributed throughout the popcorn.

b Fun toppings for the popcorn - Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.

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Comments

  1. israel

    Hi!

    I am a popcorn addict and tried this recipe and it was PERFECT. Only downside is that I resent having to share the batch. Is there a version that would double the popcorn? (not sure whether I can simply double the ingredients and time the pot is removed from heat)

  2. Elise

    Hi Israel, I would double the ingredients, but not the time that the pot is removed from the heat.

  3. Angel Elf

    I recently purchased a hot air popper made by Toastmaster, model 6202, thinking that it would be more convenient and healthy way to enjoy my favorite snack. What a mistake. This thing throws hot unpopped kernels out of the chute and all over my kitchen. I have to run this thing tilted backwards just to keep most of the kernels in the machine and direct the popped corn into the bowl by moving the machine back and forth like a machine gun. One time the popcorn got jammed at the bottom of the popper and the corn started to smoke, I’m talking Mount St. Helens here. If I had not been in the room I’m sure the thing would have caught fire. I am going back to the old fashioned way. Thanks Elise for the tip.

  4. Tracy

    Man, this worked like a charm. Did I ever mention how much your site rocks? Thank you!

  5. Riian

    I use a similar meathod with olive oil with great results! All it needs is a little salt at the end…no butter necessary. It’s addictive watch out!
    Only changes are that I keep the lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape to prevent chewy kernels, and I keep the pan on the heat the whole time. Just have to watch it, once it slows down popping you remove it from the heat.
    Haven’t had a burned batch yet!

  6. Dave

    Just after adding the popcorn, I add a pat of butter to the pan. It gives a delicious butter taste to all the kernels.

  7. pam

    If you really like old-fashioned tasting theater popcorn, try making it with coconut oil. It is fabulous as well as very nutritious! Coconut has amazing health benefits, which you can discover by researching it online.

    • Francisca

      I will try the coconut oil as I have it at home, Pam. I had no idea that it could be used for the popcorn…. actually I also use it for my skin when I sunbathe instead of the awful sun creams.

  8. Don

    Want to change the flavor a bit? Before the corn pops add a few dashes of Tabasco (to taste). You might be quite pleased.

  9. dena

    Coconut oil? Healthy? um, yeah, sure …

    • Francisca

      Hello Dena, yes, coconut oil is very healthy so is palm oil! The advice to avoid saturated fats is old now! It has been on TV, newspapers, magazines, etc, at least here in the UK! Don’t believe all you are told because much of it are lies!

  10. Leslie

    I’m a big fan of the hot air popper as well. It was a big family tradition growing up to have air-popped popcorn on Sunday afternoons. Recently I found the exact model of popper my parents received as a pre-wedding gift (my grandmother thought they were going to elope and bought them a gift just in case), and that lasted over 20 years. It’s a Presto PopCornNow, and it is fabulous. The key is not putting too many kernels in at a time. And don’t use the butter melting thing — it’s just a pain.

  11. pablopabla

    I didn’t know that you need oil to pop the corn. Back in school days, my friends and I popped some corn in a wok (covered, of course) but without oil and it turned out okay. After popping, we placed them in a big pot, place some butter, cover the lid and shaked it a couple of times. Tastes great! It was for a food and fun fair and we sold about 80 packets in all! :)

  12. Erin

    Great post! Hopefully it will urge / inspire more people to toss out those nasty microwave packets. I’m a total popcorn addict, but like Tracy I like to use olive oil and I also add salt directly to the pan prior to popping the kernels. The flavor is amazing and I never need to add butter.

  13. Amy

    I was debating whether or not I should get one of those air poppers but after reading this I know I don’t need to. This looks fantastic! Thanks Elise!

  14. Rex

    I modified some tips from Alton Brown and I make my popcorn in a stir fry pan. The curved bowl shape theoretically brings the kernels up after they’re popped and farther away from the heat. I also cover it with my grease splatter guard, it keeps all the popcorn in but lets all of the steam escape. I tend to use corn oil to pop it, and add a little sugar and popcorn salt to the pre-popped popcorn.

    I’m definitely going to try this pre-heating method and some tobasco sauce.

  15. Adam Nelson

    Since salt doesn’t burn at stove temperatures, I add the salt along with the kernels. It seems to coat the popped corn more evenly, and sticks nicely, since the oil is already there.

    I haven’t tried the remove-from-heat method, but I’ve been making popcorn on the stove for almost a year now, and it always turns out well.

  16. Elise

    Hi Dena – Actually studies now show that coconut oil has, unlike previously thought, many health benefits. Check it out in Google. That said, we use grapeseed oil.

  17. Elise

    Hi Erin and Adam – I’ll have to try adding the salt in the pan the next time I make popcorn. Thanks for the suggestion. I can totally see how it would work.

  18. Deb Schiff

    Wow. This recipe totally brought me back to my childhood in my father’s house. He’d always take out the big white enabled pot and make popcorn the “old-fashioned” way, shaking the pot until the kernels had all popped into crunchy yumminess. Thanks, as usual, for your wonderful posts. Yours is one of my favorite blogs, Elise.

  19. StaceyS

    I never make a batch of popcorn without a few dashes of Tabasco…It just really gives the popcorn a fresh flavor without over powering it.

  20. Susan

    I lovelovelove popcorn and have had popcorn prepared this way more times than I can count! I’m 1 of 63 people in the world who does not have a m’wave but no need, this recipe never fails and is perfect. Sur la Table carries jars of high quality corn that are the yummiest I’ve found for making popcorn by this method. This is great sprinkled with chunky sea salt or with Brady Street Cheese topping from Penzy’s!

    • Francisca

      Susan, I am also one of the 63 people in the world who don’t have a microwave! Will never use one…… And true, no need of one to make popcorn!

  21. C

    Isreal, if you’re going to make more, I suggest using a bigger pan. The single-layer of kernels is important; it prevents creating a kitchen-full of popcorn!

    So good. We used to make this and dump it into a paper bag after – add salt (and chili powder!) and shake it up before serving. Delicious.

  22. Jess

    Funny you should mention this, but I made popcorn on Saturday using almost this method. I also added a mix of curry, salt, pepper, and cumin to the pan just as the popcorn started popping in earnest. It’s a modified version of a Two Hot Tamale’s popcorn recipe.

  23. Rebecca

    Angel Elf-

    I use a hot air popper at school, and one of the tricks I learned is to hold a linen dish cloth over the bowl and infront of the chute. It directs the popcorn down, as well as the hot air, and it doesn’t heat up near your hands. Then, when the popcorn’s done, you can cover it with the towel, and it’ll keep the popcorn warm while you melt the butter.

  24. Samir

    I like to add pepper as well. I bet seasoning salt would be really good as well. My mother likes to make popcorn in a pressure cooker, again, no burnt kernels. One other thing I do is instead of melting butter, I’ll use the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” spray. You can also use butter flavored cooking spray. A healthier alternative. Can’t beat olive oil though…

    • Francisca

      All those butter substitutes are not healthy at all. Maybe that was not known yet in 2007 but in 2014 no one can say they weren’t warned!

  25. emily

    Does it matter if you’re using an elecric burner vs. a gas burner? I have an electric stove now, but I’ll be moving soon and will have a gas burner. Any adjustments necessary?

  26. Aimee

    I am a total popcorn addict! In our house, its a “whole family” sort of treat–my husband and I sit on the couch, and our three dogs jump to catch pieces we throw to them. The measuring of the popcorn kernels is generally watched very solemnly by all three dogs before the excitement ensues.

    I look forward to making it this way–more popped kernels = more popcorn love to share!

  27. Elise

    Hi Emily – We’ve made popcorn this way both on a gas and an electric burner.

  28. Denise

    I too have used this method and it works great. If you don’t want to have to heat up your stove in the summer you can make your own healthy microwave popcorn. Use a brown lunch bag, 1/3 cup of kernels . Roll over the top of the bag and tape closed with scotch tape. Then just use the popcorn setting on your microwave.

    • Francisca

      Healthy? In the microwave? Funny how dietry advice has changed so much in just a few years……

  29. Lance Robinson

    I love those “Whirley-Pop” air poppers, they’re great.

  30. Dave

    Try using bacon fat sometime instead of oil- it’s delicious!

  31. JohnR

    Another option for those who dislike hot air poppers is the Stir Crazy from West Bend. I had this growing up, and I swear it makes some of the best popcorn I’ve ever had. Also, watching the popcorn popping and making all sorts of noise is fun for kids (and adults).

  32. Lena

    I use the microwave method too, just put 1/3 c of popcorn, salt, and 1T oil (optional) in a brown paper sandwich bag. crimp the edge shut by folding twice, and staple it once. (I initially doubted the safety of putting a metal staple in the microwave, but I’ve never had a problem with this, maybe because it’s just one). I’ve never tried scotch tape though.

    Anyway, microwave the popcorn for about 2.5 minutes or until done. You can add extra salt, and melted butter at the end. Or put seasoning like cayenne or chili powder in with the kernals before you microwave. Plus you avoid all the bad chemicals that come in store-bought microwave popcorn bags.

  33. Bill

    I do it this way, too. I usually add an unpeeled clove of garlic to the oil.

  34. Glitterati

    Elise, how perfect! Not having spent my formative years in North America, I pretty much assumed that microwave popcorn was the only way to get nice buttery popcorn. (But I HATE the smell it leaves, so I never make it) My roommate had an air popper, but it was a bit messy and the flavouring never stuck that well. Must try this on a movie night, thanks for the post! (And thanks to all the great commenters for your flavouring suggestions!)

  35. marshall

    Yay! This is EXACTLY the way my mom popped popcorn for my sister and me growing up. We still request it from her this way when we’re all together and (when I don’t use my Whirleypop for speed’s sake) that’s how I pop it as well. You are right. It is The. Perfect. Popcorn.

    I have to guess that you’re close to my age so I’m wondering if it’s a little trick our mom’s picked up in the 70′s? Perhaps from that JiffyPop package.

  36. Erin

    I’ve always been a stovetop popcorn kind of girl too. There’s no other way, as far as I’m concerned. I’m definitely going to try adding salt before the corn is popped.

    I just wanted to suggest my favorite popcorn topping: Spanish smoked paprika. I sprinkle it on with butter, salt, and parmesan.

  37. Linda in the Evergreen State

    The most popluar method of popping popcorn in my home is using our Westbend Air PopperyII. We also have a microwave popcorn popper. We have used the packaged microwave popcorn as well. Easy, easy clean up with an air popcorn popper. . I learned to use a extra large bowl with my air popper to keep the popped kernels in the bowl instead of flying out all over the countertop.
    I melt the butter in the microwave. Seasonings can be added to the butter in the microwave or toss the popcorn with the melted butter in the bowl then sprinkle the seasons. Which is my choice because I do not like too salty or seasoned popcorn.
    Popcorn should not be stale no matter which way you pop it. I made the mistake while trying to pop enough popcorn for 15 kids. Which makes me wonder about the microwave packets, how long has the popcorn been sitting in oil in those packets?
    Linda in Washington State

  38. Ginger

    Since no one has mentioned it yet, nutritional yeast on popcorn is great! It gives it a nice cheesy taste and most health food stores carry in in the bulk section. I am a popcorn addict and have always used the stove top – it takes no longer than a microwave.
    For all of you with those air poppers you hate, they can easily be converted to coffee roasters. Just add a 1/2 cup or so of green coffee beans (can find at http://www.sweetmarias.com), turn it on, (do this outside as the coffee shells float all over) and let it roast. Makes a delish cup of java.
    I am going to make some curry popcorn right now….or maybe sweet paprika…

  39. Leslie

    I love butter on my popcorn, but when you pour melted butter on popcorn, the popcorn gets soggy. I like to melt a couple of tablespoons of butter with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and pour it over popcorn. It coats the popcorn without soaking it. And it’s yummy.

  40. joy

    I’ve been making stovetop popcorn for years. I use a crank style popper. WhirleyPop is one brand. The pan is very thin so it heats very quickly and pops almost every kernel. As an added bonus, since there is a stir paddle in the bottom of the pan, it is great to make kettle corn. Just add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to the pan with the oil and stir like crazy.

  41. Susan from Food Blogga

    I’m with your mom; I love making popcorn the old-fashioned way. Though I’ve never counted to
    30, I do test the oil with a few kernels. I’ll be counting next time though, since it sounds like she has it down to a science. Plus, any excuse to eat more popcorn is ok by me.

  42. elizabeth

    I agree with Ginger–I always have my popcorn with butter, salt, and Brewer’s (nutritional) yeast! Ever since I was introduced to popcorn-eating this way in college, I haven’t gone back. :)

  43. AG

    I too use a wok to pop corn.
    A couple of teaspoons of sugar at the end makes it kettle corn.
    Unfortunately the darling woman I married over thirty years ago now has an allergy to corn so I have to pop mine when she’s not around.

    AG

  44. Mel

    Adding about a quarter cup of sugar before you return the pan to heat should give a pretty good batch of kettle corn.
    I haven’t made it in forever, but I believe that’s what my mom used to do. So easy and so much better than the microwaveable ‘kettle corn’.

  45. judy

    If you like to make sure your popped corn is light and crunchy, try this: I read that if you add a few teaspoons of water to your corn a few hours before you cook it and shake it around to coat it evenly it actually freshens it so that it has enough moisture to pop better. I live in Arizona and it is so dry here. This tip really works!

  46. Helen

    I was never really a big fan of home popped popcorn – always found it a bit plain. I just used to buy pre popped toffee stuff from Blockbuster. Then I moved somewhere I couldnt by prepopped stuff and had to start popping my own. My favourite topping has to be homemade caramel sauce, amde with butter and brown sugar – just leave it to cool for a bit before pouring it over your popcorn, and be ready with the napkins (its sticky!)

  47. anne

    Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack! A trick I picked up from my grandfather is to put the freshly popped corn in a paper bag, like the kind you get from a grocery store. You can add the salt or butter after it’s popped and easily coat the popcorn by shaking the bag. You get a few pieces soaked in butter, but we always fight over those anyway!

  48. KarenR

    What kind of pan is best? I’ve tried a similar recipe in the past (didn’t take it off the heat in the middle) and found it burned the bottom of the pan. Heavy bottomed? Aluminum okay?

  49. Melody Elliott-Koontz

    I have thrown ground flax seeds and garlic powder on my popcorn. Your post brings back lovely memories. My mom always made popcorn on the stove. She used her pressure cooker pan to pop in in..because it was heavy-bottomed (like me) and the corn wouldn’t burn. She also left the lid “cracked” to allow venting as the corn popped. I loved hearing her shake the pan on the stove.

    Great post..and great ideas.

  50. Julie

    If you like garlic, try adding fresh crushed garlic to the butter when you melt it.
    Delicious.

  51. Dave Grainer

    I too use anne’s technique of adding salt or flavorings in a large paper bag. It also absorbs some of the oil. I use very fine salt from my blender (fin sel). It seems to coat the popcorn more evenly than table salt and I use less. [I also recommend using the blender for sugar. It dissolves more rapidly in beverages and creams with butter easier.]

  52. Debbie

    We used to make popcorn this way when I was a kid. It tastes a lot better than microwaved popcorn. You’ve inspired me to try popcorn this way again. Thanks, Elise.

  53. Elise

    Hi KarenR – We use a thick-bottomed stainless steel 3-qt pan. Thick-bottom pans moderate the heat and probably do help with preventing burnt kernels.

  54. Cora

    I’m delurking, a must when I saw this post about popcorn! We always had stovetop from my great-grandfather’s crank style. It’s a much simpler style than the Whirlypop and the most amazing way to make popcorn. I’m sure the style pre-dates WWII, but if you can find one it’s the only way I make popcorn. I find the blades in the older versions thinner than the Whirlypop, which chewed up my popped kernels. Check thrift stores and e-bay and you can get one for a song. I’m so thrilled others make stovetop. For years my friends thought my family was weird until they ate the stuff. Converts one and all.

  55. amy

    My mom used a heavy aluminum pan, just for popping corn (4 quart?) She kept the popcorn in a glass jar in the regfrigerator with a balled up damp paper towel added. She never washed the pan. I’ve inherited the pan, still unwashed. Also the method used, which is the same except for the 30 second wait, and we’ve always lifted the lid once in a while to vent.

  56. Anonymous

    I like to add some sugar to the oil right before I add my popcorn, it makes the popcorn like that found at carnivals and whatnot. But I recomend using a pan that you do not care too much about as the sugar can carmalize on the bottom. That is why I have a special pan for popping corn ;)

  57. MarcusAnimal

    I place a paper towel over the popping pan which absorbs some of the oil and makes for a less oily feast. Also, I keep the lid slightly ajar for the steam to escape, and the paper towel keeps the popcorn from popping out of the pan.

  58. Magnus

    Try adding m&ms to popcorn…mighty tasty, especially after the chocolate melts inside the shell.

  59. Kevin at TasteTV

    Using the word “perfect” is like a bullseye for some people, but this does look like a good recipe

  60. Tom

    The only thing the microwave is good for is boiling water and melting your plastic food containers. Stovetop is the way to go.

  61. coreyjo

    Popcorn is the best! I’ve been making it sort of it the way you describe for years now – I think I read about it in a children’s book about popcorn by Tomie De Paola. Recently, though, a friend told me to try putting all the popcorn and the oil in together at the beginning and setting the heat to low so it simmers for a bit. Once the first pop is heard, turn it to med-hi and shake until it’s done. Works like a charm.

  62. Wen

    This is a great post, everyone loves popcorn. For those that eat the microwave stuff at work (I ate it almost every a.m. for breakfast)a coffee filter makes a perfect bowl and holds the whole bag or half if you are kind enough to share. Its cheap and no bowl to clean up. :)

  63. tom

    I use a similar recipe, except I use 1/2 cup of popcorn to 3 tablespoons of oil…and I use one tablespoon of sesame oil (spicy) to two tablespoons of corn oil…gives it a nice kick.

    Also, I don’t take it off the fire for 30 seconds, and I get no duds at all, either.

  64. GG Mora

    Hey, kids, try this at home: use duck fat or some good porky home-rendered lard to pop your popcorn in. No worse than butter in terms of fat intake (if you worry about that kind of thing) and delicious in ways you can’t imagine.

  65. missb

    Popcorn! The fifth food group! This is just how my Mom and I always made it. We used to use the TV Time pre-measured packets (oily goop on one side, salted kernels on the other) until it was discontinued and we discovered Orville Redenbacher which I still believe is the very best packaged popcorn available!

    I rediscovered stove popping (air poppers? Are you people nuts? Do you eat styrofoam peanuts, too?) just a couple of months go after finding Pop Secret “homestyle” microwave popcorn — a darn close match, flavor-wise– and realized what I had been missing: that faint stovey oil flavor. it’s essential.

    I pop corn just as you have described with one exception, I never remove the pan from the heat. However, I think that will solve my problem of duds when I pop in my cheap pans at home! Our new house (we’re living in both currently) has the good All-Clad pots my Mom gave me, which make PERFECT popcorn every time. My NYC Circulon pots do not compare. I can’t wait to try your method.

    Share 1/3 cup popcorn? Oh, no way, Jose. That’s all for me. When I pop for two it’s 2/3 all the way! And, of course, butter, salt and nutritional yeast! So good!

  66. Holly

    If you like kettle corn, cook as Elise says and then add Maltesers or another chocolate covered candy to the pan once popped and removed from the heat. Wonderful chocolatey goodness!

  67. Natalie

    Fabulous to find other popcorn addicts. I take my corn VERY seriously. ORGANIC popcorn tastes waaay better than regular as popping corn has the highest amount of pesticides of any crop!

    I use an old aluminum pot with 3 TBL flavored olive oil (garlic) and 1/2 C. popcorn for 2 people, 2 TBL. oil 1/4 C. pop corn for 1 person.

    Olive oil won’t smoke if you dump all the corn in at once and use med-med hi heat. I shake when the popping begins and let steam out as I’m shaking.

    But it’s my topping that really makes my popcorn a hit. Red Star Nutritional Yeast (NOT brewer’s yeast), little spray bottle of olive oil, Celtic sea salt, garlic powder and cumin. I mix the spices together while the corn is popping. Spray the hot popcorn w/ oil and pour on the mix. OMG delish!

  68. Linda in the Evergreen State

    HI Elise,

    I forgot to say Popcorn makes a great dipper for cheese sauce! Tom I almost agree about “what a microwave oven is good for” with the exceptions of making cheese sauce which is quite popular at my house and melting chocolate or making froth for an easy latte.
    Coffee is a food group where I live.

    Linda

  69. Malou

    Air-popped popcorn sure does bring back great childhood memories. If you wish to try a different kind of kick try mixing the cooked popcorn with some wasabi powder. :) It gives you a different kind of heat compared to Tabasco/hot sauce.

  70. charleen

    I have almost always popped popcorn as you suggested, my dad used to do it like that for all 7 of us kids.it used to be exciting waiting for the 1st pop,taking it off the heat then adding all the kernnels and back on,it was music to our ears.The only thing i do different is right after its all popped i put it into a large paper grocerie bag,add salt and butter,close it just at the top and shake it for a minute or two,everything is mixed up ,and every kernnel is evenly coated with butter and salt, you can add anything from garlic powder to chili powder, or what ever your fancy.mmm, now i have to go make some

  71. The Flower Lady

    This is my first time to your site. I really enjoyed reading every comment on your method of popping corn. I think it is a very good foolproof one. We buy popcorn by the 50 lb bag. We eat popcorn almost every evening. I used to use a heavy aluminum pan, until I found out that aluminum is bad for you. Now I have a heavy cast iron flat bottomed dutch oven with a cast iron lid, (I think it is a 3 Qt capacity)and only use it for popcorn. (never wash it) I have experimented with types of oil and our family likes the flavor of peanut oil the best, and olive oil second. I cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of oil and add 1/3 cup of corn and put it on the high flame burner and leave it till it stops popping. No shaking. It fills the pan up to the top and doesn’t burn nor leave what we always called “old maids”. I have found that if I use the hot pan and make a second batch it doesn’t pop as well, so I will try your method of taking it off the heat for 30 seconds and see if that works better on the second time around. I also like parmesan cheese and garlic powder on it, and sometimes add some blue cheese to the butter. I want to try the garlic clove in the oil suggestion. Sometimes I chop up green onion tops and add that to my bowl. Now I’m hungry for some popcorn. Here is a tip on garlic bulbs…I buy them in bulk and put them in the freezer whole and just pluck off a clove when I need one-they keep well and peel easily, no spoiling before I get a chance to use them up. Thanks TFL

  72. Ellen

    This really was perfect – very few “old maids” at the end. I reduced the oil (canola) to 2 tablespoons and it worked just as well and was a little less greasy at the end. We’re eating all kinds of popcorn now! Thanks!

  73. Myrtille

    Thanks for your tip! I did the removal thing and they came out perfect like yours.
    Here in France people prefer their popcorn sweet with caramel coating or just sugar.

  74. Chelle

    Mmmm, popcorn. Love stovetop popcorn. My aunt Marsha used to make the best marshmallow popcorn when I was a kid. Just think about making rice krispie treats(a tad of melted butter and jumbo marshmallows) but substitute popcorn. As I get older it’s a tad sweet for my taste but just a little marshmallow goes a long way. Too much can be a sticky mess. But for kids you can roll them into very large popcorn balls. (hint use wax paper)
    Savory popcorn sounds delish as well. Olive oil and garlic will be next on my list to try.

  75. Popcorn Fan

    So, I stay away from this site for a week, and look what I find! Popcorn! I was raised on home popped (oil, pan, etc) corn, and carry on the tradition myself.

    I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet, but one of my tricks for great corn is to throw a few cloves of whole garlic and a handful of dried chiles into the oil. I cook this over low/medium heat for 5 – 10 mins (don’t let the garlic burn!!), and then remove the garlic cloves. Raise the heat to high, and follow the recipe Elise has here.

    You get an AMAZING amount of flavor by simply pre-flavoring the oil. (my philosophy on any pan-frying / deep-frying task)

    Another trick I have always done is having a grocery bag as the repository for the popped corn, and I will always pop more than my medium size saucepan will hold. Just wait until the corn starts pushing the lid off, dump 3/4 into the bag, and return to the heat – shaking constantly.

    Gonna go and pop myself a batch right now!

  76. David

    Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe.
    I have been using it for about two weeks now and have had perfect popcorn every time!

    We used to use the microwave bags but I always felt uneasy about how healthy they were.

    Mixing the salt with the oil prior to popping is fantastic too.

    Thanks again from all the family.
    (The kids love it!!!)

  77. Sassysmom

    Does it make a difference with the kind of pan you use, ie aluminum, cast iron, stainless steel? Thanks and can’t wait to try your method as I’ve decided to quit microwave popcorn(I eat a bag a day).

  78. Seattle Mom

    I had never heard of microwaving the popcorn in paper lunch bags with oil and salt, so I had to try it. Delicious! A lot of the oil was soaked into the bag, so then I tried using an old microwave popper instead – simply a large plastic bowl with a vented lid and 4 little depressions in the bottom to put the oil in. It worked perfectly, too! I’m sure any large plastic bowl with a lid resting askew would work.
    We taste-tested using olive oil, bacon fat, and butter, and the bacon fat was a clear winner, followed closely by the butter. (Popped right in the butter and salt only, no oil added. Next time I make bacon, I’ll save more of the crumbly bits for popcorn popping) I needed only 1 – 2 tsps fat/oil/butter per 1/3 cup popcorn.

    I love stovetop popped corn, but the smell of the cooking oil permeating the house is sometimes too much for me. The microwave made popcorn that tasted just like the stovetop, but without the overpowering cooking oil smell. It didn’t taste at all like air-popped. And by cooking it directly in the butter, instead of adding it after cooking, it saves a LOT of calories with the same buttery taste.

    I have learned so much from this site! You people have the best ideas!

  79. Joe

    Just made some, and it was excellent! We have a pot with a glass top, and it was really cool watching the kernels pop ( every single one did, unlike the mess that usually results from microwave popcorn ).

  80. isabella

    We here love popcorn but just today, 2 months after you posted the recipe, we were able to try it. Please, tell you mom: perfect recipe, not even a single kernel left!!!

    Thanks. =)

  81. Rachelle

    Love this recipe. I found that adding the butter to the hot oil in the pan (right before adding the popcorn) not only infuses every popped kernel with rich, buttery flavor, but also avoids making the kernels soggy.

    Another one of my favorite ways to flavor popcorn is with lots of freshly ground black pepper and parmesan cheese. Yumm!!

  82. Raevynne

    This is the best way to enjoy popcorn. I just tried it out and I counted ONLY ONE KERNEL that was unpopped. Not only that but it took only 3 minutes to make!

  83. Pamela

    I followed these directions exactly and yes, just like all the others, it came out perfectly!

    I bought one of those big tins that has the 3 flavors of popcorn you normally see around the holidays…once all that popcorn was gone, I started popping mine on the stove (which I have never done, but wanted a more healthy alternative to that microwave stuff!). I can make 2 batches, fill up my popcorn tin and it resides by the couch ready for snacking at any time.

    There are lots of recipes and hints for preparing popcorn this way and I always seem to mess it up somehow! But, this was fool-proof. No unpopped kernels and it was just light and crunchy.

    I also, use a splatter guard rather than a lid but you might want to wear an apron as the oil does kinda splatter just a bit!

    Toppings for me? Butter flavored cooking spray, parmesan cheese (the kind you would sprinkle on your pizza)and garlic salt. But I want to try the brewer’s yeast. Happy popping!

  84. deb

    I appreciate the ideas about how to infuse real garlic into the oil & will try them.
    The thing I love is Wizard’s Hot Stuff/Piquante Sauce sprinkled over the popped corn. Great flavor for this dish, it’s more complex than tabasco, rich with a touch of fruit in addition to some heat. Then I add nutritional yeast which sticks to the corn much better with the sauce there if you’re not using extra butter on top.
    Also I use some or even all ghee (made with sweet butter) so the popping temperature is not a problem. Ghee can be used in any of the (not air) poppers mentioned.

  85. katy

    Made this your way last night — excellent! I used olive oil, and sprinkled nutritional yeast and smoked paprika on the popped kernels. I’ll never buy those silly bags again. :-)

  86. Sally

    I felt like a snack & made some burnt, horrible unpopped popcorn, threw that away & googled “perfect popcorn” & came across your recipe.

    … & the results? Perfect as advised. Thank you. I used olive oil, as that was all I had (not a high temperature oil, I know – but it worked fine, added the salt (direct from the sea from a village near me!) in the oil, threw in some cayenne pepper as it popped. Mmmm I’m still munching the bowl, but was so thrilled with the results that I had to post a comment immediately!

  87. Annie

    Thanks Elise! I was googling for homemade popcorn. I found your site and knew you would have a trustworthy recipe. Can’t wait to try it on movie night!

  88. Anna

    I’m a popcorn fanatic and have converted my office mates by having a “popcorn jar” on the desk (rather than a candy or cookie jar). I use a Presto Microwave Popper and it’s a charm. I use it everyday. Quick, easy, and makes *great* popcorn (with minimal unpopped kernals as long as the cardboard concentrator cup is relatively new). You can use it dry or with oil and it turns out great both way. I have found that each method of popping (microwave popper versus stovetop versus lunchbag) produces slightly different popcorn, but that just means more variety, right?!? With the discovery that microwave bagged popcorn may lead to “popcorn lung” I’m glad there are alternatives to making our favorite snack.

  89. Cynthia

    I’m not too good with recipes, and others I tried, I seemed to always burn a good bit of the popcorn. Not totally burned, but just enough that it tasted slightly of charcoal and crumbled when you ate it. I was very pleased to find your recipe with its concise directions that were easy to follow. One question though, how do you calculate 1 spoonful of butter from a bar? ^^;;;

    Usually sticks of butter are wrapped in wax paper with lines delineating tablespoon amounts if you cut the stick along the line. They think of everything those butter people. ~Elise

  90. Sarah

    I’m eating one of the best bowls of stove top popcorn I’ve ever made, thanks to you. Great recipe; taking it off for that 30 seconds seems to be key. No burns and crispy (took the suggestion and used a strainer lid with holes on to of the pot).

    And thanks to whomever suggested salt in the oil– I thought getting salt to stick to popcorn was one of life’s big mysteries!

  91. Maggie

    Just another vote for your recipe! I added salt, butter, and white sugar and it was fantastic. Can’t wait to experiment with the garlic oil, curry powder, and more! And it’s true, watching it pop through a glass lid is witnessing a little culinary miracle!

  92. Sherry H.

    Just got ready to make a batch of Spicy Cinnamon Sugar Popcorn and realized that I had never made popcorn on a stove-top. So I used the Food Blog Search tool and this recipe popped up (so to speak). Anyway, the popcorn turned out perfectly and then I did this (for each 1/2 cup of unpopped popcorn):

    Mix together: 3 tbsp. melted butter, 1 tsp. Asian hot chile oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    In a separate bowl mix: 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cinnamon (I used Vietnamese Spicy Cinnamon from Penzy’s)

    Drizzle butter mixture over the hot popcorn, toss, then sprinkle the sugar mixture over that and toss well. The sweet/salty/hot combo is addictive.

    Thanks for the great popcorn making instructions.

  93. Diana

    Do you have to use oil to make popcorn on the stove? Can you use cooking spray instead to get low calorie popcorn?

    Hi Diana, I know some people who don’t use any oil and they manage to pop the popcorn. This particular method however, requires the use of oil. ~Elise

  94. bob

    Wow – this is a great recipe. I used very old kernels and thinking it would be awful and was prepared to toss it out – but it really was perfect. So simple. I had never heard of the 30 second pause but it really seems essential. Like the recipe says – all kernels will pop, none will burn.

  95. mel

    I made this recipe, adding salt, butter, and brown sugar – it was amazing! Thanks so much! So easy, and just like you said, no kernels at the end!

  96. JDR

    Thank you SO much for posting these tips – I recently lost my air popper, so I decided to make popcorn “old school” style on the stovetop. I just burned through two pots (and nearly set my kitchen on fire) before I thought to look on the internet – thank goodness yours was the first site to come up on the search!

  97. Brittney

    I like to sprinkle lawrey’s garlic salt on it in place of regular salt. I still use butter too. It is to die for….mmmmmm…. Thank you for the tips!

  98. Star

    Fun for kids: Place OLD blanket on floor, and put the electric fry pan in the middle. Watch the kids go CRAZY as the popcorn flys ALL over!

  99. VL

    Hi

    I am newbie and never know how to prepare pop corns at home though I love it very much. I intend to try out your recipe, however, I need your advice on some of my doubts:-

    From your recipe, you said that “If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.” – Do you mean I put those pop corn into the melted butter and mix them while the pan is hot and the fire is off?

    Salt to taste. – When do I add in the salt? Do I sprinkle them over the butter-coated pop corns?

    Thanks so much for your advice.

    After you have removed the popped corn to a separate bowl, you can put some butter in the pan to melt it, then pour the butter out over the popcorn. Sprinkle salt on the butter coated popcorn. ~Elise

  100. Gwen

    To those concerned about genetically altered corn…popcorn does not fall into this category – one reason why I make it my whole grain staple.

  101. Yasmine

    Oh my god, this is amazing, I just tried it now and it’s PERFECT! they all popped, not one unpopped kernel left! and no burns.

    Hats off:)

  102. Rebekah

    Pracitcally every Sunday night of my teenage years, my mom would declare “popcorn night” because she didn’t want to cook! So, one of my favorite toppings was to put crushed garlic in the melted butter and spread that over the popcorn. Then, shred cheddar cheese all over. mmmmm… brings back memories! Thanks for the new tip, though, next batch of popcorn, I will try it.

  103. Charmaine

    This is a terrific recipe. Thank you for sharing your (and your mother’s) popcorn cooking “secret”!

  104. Ann

    I have been craving good popcorn lately and decided to give this recipe a try since you haven’t let me down yet. I loved it! So did my family. God, I will never make microwave popcorn again. Next time I’ll try some of the special toppings. Thanks, and thanks to your mom!

  105. Claude Funston

    One trick: I use a wide wire collander or kitchen sieve as the lid. It lets far more steam come out and results in drier popcorn. I use a deep pasta pot so no oil splatters out. Indeed, after the popping starts in earnest, the popped kernals keep the unpopped ones down so you don’t need a lid at all. Steam is the enemy of good popcorn.

    Great idea! ~Elise

  106. Claude Funston

    If you love cheese popcorn, you know that problem is that half of the parmesan cheese ends up on the bottom of the bowl. If you need to have that classic “cheese-corn” taste try this. Buy a Kraft Mac and Cheese — the cheap one in the box with the yellow cheese powder. Save the macaroni for another time and sprinkle the cheese powder on your popcorn. Decadent but delicious. Kids will love it.

    Also, use Orville Reddenbacher’s popcorn. Pops to the size of a small walnut!

  107. Doug

    If you love cheese popcorn, you can often find excellent quality powdered cheese (I prefer white cheese, but you can get standard orange too) in the bulk bin food area of your local health store.

    I second the nomination of Orville Reddenbacher.
    Conversely, it’s been my experience that Jolly Time is anything but…lots of “old maids” (unpopped kernels) at the end.

  108. kate

    Thank you so much for letting me know about this method. I was a big, big fan of microwave popcorn – and if was only after seeing a bag of popping corn in the supermarket that I thought… hmmm.. that’s a lot cheaper than my microwave stuff – but I thought you needed a popcorn maker to use it. Thanks to you it’s just me and my saucepan from now on.

  109. S. Mikayla

    Omigosh my friend and I got together tonight to watch a movie and I found your recipe. It was PERFECTION with Olive Oil and a light honey mustard spray dressing. I don’t have a microwave, so I usually just have popcorn at the movies or with my boyfriend at his place (with the microwave). This recipe is divine. Stovetop popcorn is just so…FUN! Thanks!

  110. Kate

    This sounds delicious. I don’t have a microwave, and in any case, microwave popcorn isn’t avaliable here in Belgium. We do find the old-fasioned kind, but sometimes it’s hard to get it all popped. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  111. Juice

    Tip: Use Agave Nectar for sweetness to taste.

  112. Sara Lee

    It was worth it.

  113. kate

    Thank you! I’ve been making my popcorn this way for years–mostly. I wondered if I could improve upon my technique, and I found your recipe. Thanks for two really helpful tweaks to my method: taking the pot off the burner for 30 seconds after dropping in the corn, and cracking the lid to let out steam. GREAT results.

  114. chloe

    Ripper recipe. Lets just say I have no regrets in counting out aloud by myself with the way this turned out!

  115. Debbie Kate

    yummy yummy yummy!!! I love popcorn, but was getting tired of all the leftover kernels from my ancient air popper and don’t want my son (who also loves popcorn) growing up thinking that popcorn can only be made in the microwave. So I did a Google search and found this recipe for stovetop popcorn… and I am SO happy that I did. The “count to thirty” trick really makes sure that almost all of the kernels get popped. The popcorn was easy and delicious and was a good project for me to do with my son. I never comment on recipes that I try online, but this was so good, I just had to

  116. Nicole

    Wowwww! Only one didn’t pop! What a great tip. Thank you!

  117. Cecelia

    I, too, thought this was absolutely perfect. Now, granted, I didn’t use ‘high quality’ popcorn kernels, and I used canola oil (it was all I had on hand), but it was still great. I’ve also done popcorn with some rosemary-infused oil and parmesan …. mmmmmm…

  118. Larry

    How disconnected are Americans from their kitchen that Microwave popcorn ever took a market hold in the first place?! Elise, thank you for bringing the stovetop method to the forefront again.

    I will echo a couple of things from the previous comments…I also keep the lid slightly vented so that the kernels don’t become chewy and damp. I’ve also been known to use both flavored oils and butter as part of the fat before the kernels start popping (rosemary and parmesan is a GREAT combination, as Cecelia mentioned above). I will have to try putting the salt in from the beginning tho…I like that idea!

  119. Chuck Warriner

    I like really healthy popcorn (cough! cough!), so I use bacon grease in the pan!! The flavor is amazing, and I guess my favorite because that’s the way my mother always made it. But last time I made popcorn, I tried your technique and found that it worked much better than just putting the kernels in the oil and shaking the pan over the heat. And, with bacon grease, you don’t need butter, nor nearly as much salt.

  120. Ignatz

    I have never made popcorn before in my life, and I just did according to these instruction, and it was PERFECT. I doubt I’ll ever buy bag popcorn or Jiffy Pop again.

  121. Sarah

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe. Cooked my popcorn perfectly. I added salt to oil to distribute… Great worked perfectly! The only downside to this recipe that I had.. was BUTTER… I love movie buttered popcorn and I melted the butter and added to popcorn BIG MISTAKE.. It made my popcorn soggy and greasy.. YUCK! I Tossed it. Will try a different approach tomorrow.

    • Elise

      Hi Sarah, oh, it only takes a little bit of melted butter to flavor the popcorn. Sounds like you added too much!

  122. nancy

    Thank you u saved my pop corn night!!

  123. Anitha

    I never tried popcorn on stove and tried it first time ever following your recipe. Wow… it turned out so good. I counted unpopped kernels and only 1 is left… I am so happy to have found out this recipe. Thanks so much. But my 6 year old son will definitely be disappointed. He asked me to prepare popcorn for 2 reasons… one to have popcorn ofcourse and the other reason is to play with unpopped popcorn… He would sure be disappointed when I say there are none unpopped kernels… :)

  124. Gennarose

    This is amazing!!! It worked perfectly the first time, and every time since! I eat popcorn probably more than I should now. It’s nearly faster than the microwave version, and definitely tastier (not to mention healthier). Thanks!

  125. Againstthegran

    I’ve always made popcorn on the stove, just the way my mother taught me, except when I worked in an office and the microwave was the option. Then I used the brown paper bag method (I won’t touch commercial microwave popcorn). I use organic popcorn to avoid GMO corn & pesticide residue, and I use a big heavy All-Clad saucepan. I find very few unpopped kernels (anyone else call these “Old Maids” when they were kids?).

    In recent years I’ve avoided vegetable/seed oils. I now pop popcorn in a mixture of ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. They add great flavor to the popcorn, and the stable fatty acids hold up to higher temps much better than vegetable oils.

  126. Asiya @ Chocolate & Chillies

    Is it necessary to shake the pan? I have a ceramic stovetop and can’t shake a pan on top.

    Thanks.

    • Elise

      Hi Asiya, shaking the pan helps. You could lift it off the ceramic stove top by an inch or two, shake it, and put it gently back down.

  127. Francisca

    Hi Asiya, I also have a ceramic stovetop and I just lift the pan like Elise says, no problem. I am new at making popcorn but mine is becoming crispier and crispier, really delicious! Thanks for the tips especially the bit about keeping the pan a bit open, that has made all the difference! I made several kinds of popcorn including with parmesan and chilli and mapple syrup, ground spice and cinnamon.

  128. Jane

    Thanks for this! I just tried it tonight and it came out perfectly! Didn’t burn and every single kernel was popped! I used coconut oil and it tastes like the old fashioned popcorn!