Perfect Popcorn

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

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


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


1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat. If you are using coconut oil, allow all of the solid oil to melt.


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

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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.

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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, 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. Note that if you let the butter get just a little bit brown, it will add an even more intense, buttery flavor to the butter and to your popcorn. (Here's more info on how to brown butter.) Just drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute.

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.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • israel


    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)

    • MFB

      israel – The kernels must be only one layer deep – every kernel must rest on the bottom of the pot. And the pot must be big/deep enough to hold all the kernels AFTER they have popped. So, use a bigger pot and more kernels and/or make a second batch. I’d follow the timing given in the recipe.
      (When a few kids were over to watch a movie, I would often use a 5 or 6 quart pot, eyeball measure the oil, add enough kernels for just under one full layer – and also make a second batch :-) )

  • Elise

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

  • 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.

  • Tracy

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • adam

        yes! i just did the coconut oil and it turned out marvelous, as i have removed all other cooking oils from my kitchen ;) the batch only had a couple unpopped….since i just made a ‘personal batch’ i only used about 1/4 cup of kernels lol…..and 2 tbsp of coconut oil. but came out great

  • 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.

  • 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!

      • larry

        Yeah, but not long ago wasn’t also all over TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. that coconut oil and saturated fats are BAD? Maybe what we’re being told now are lies about how it’s suddenly healthy. Or maybe nobody really knows.

    • tunie

      Raw saturated fat is fine, it’s cooked/processed saturated fat that we want to avoid. That’s where the confusion lies. When that info was released in the 60’s, no one (other than hippies), least of all the Dept. of Health, realized just how damaging processed oils were. Now we know.

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Janet K.

      Angel, you might just have gotten a bad model. I used a hot air popper for years and never had that problem.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

      • Sally

        Wow, 3 of the 63 people who don’t own microwaves all in one spot! I had a microwave but gave it to my daughter when she moved away from home. I found I used it more to hide food from the cat than for anything else. (The cat went with her, too.)

        I made kettle corn this way, too. When I add the popcorn to the pan I add 3 tablespoons sugar and a pinch of salt and shake the pan while counting off the 30 seconds. I just keep the pan moving and it turns out great.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Marjorie

      I use an old pressure cooker too; can’t beat it as it’s real heavy; much better quality than the new ones.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • Elise

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

  • 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……

  • Lance Robinson

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

  • Dave

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

  • 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).

    • Marjorie

      Yes, I do like the Stir Crazy, but I liked my old one better; my new one as the center thing that turns loose and you have to clean it….tastes much better than microwave and it stores for a long time in Tupperware….I use olive oil in mine.

  • 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.

    • a

      If the paper bags aren’t food safe/cooking safe, the paper content and glue might contain nasty stuff you don’t really want on your food.

  • Bill

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

  • 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!)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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, 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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.


  • 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’.

  • 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!

  • 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!)

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Julie

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

  • 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.]

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 ;)

  • 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.

  • Magnus

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

  • Kevin at TasteTV

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

  • Tom

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

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • charleen

    I have almost always popped popcorn as you suggested, my dad used to do it like that for all 7 of us 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

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!)

  • 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).

  • 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!

  • 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 ).

  • 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. =)

  • 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!!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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. :-)

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • VL


    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

  • 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.

  • 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:)

  • 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.

  • Charmaine

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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • Juice

    Tip: Use Agave Nectar for sweetness to taste.

  • Sara Lee

    It was worth it.

  • 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.

  • chloe

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

  • 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

  • Nicole

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

  • 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…

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • nancy

    Thank you u saved my pop corn night!!

  • 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… :)

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Asiya @ Chocolate & Chillies

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


    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Sherry Copeland

    Dear Elise, This is the first recipe that I made from your web site. We wanted to make “real” popcorn and it had been so long, that I had forgotten the amounts. I googled popcorn in 2008 and your site came up! I can’t believe I lived without it so long! This really is “Perfect Popcorn”! I love all your recipes,

  • Cameron

    This process worked flawlessly!
    I feel so cocky now. Finally I don’t have to get irritated about it. hehe

  • Trish Russo

    Thanks for kick starting my adventure into making my own popcorn! Your recipe is perfect! I played with 3 seasoning combos:
    1) smoked paprika and chili powder
    2) grated parmesan, garlic powder, red chili flakes, oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, & rosemary
    3) cumin, ginger, cinnamon, – wish I had some coriander but I was out!

  • Carla Barbera

    We sprinkle grated parmesan on our popcorn! I can’t eat popcorn without it now!

  • Jackie

    You mentioned using high quality popcorn kernels in your recipe. Can you recommend a brand or brands?

    • Elise

      I’m hesitant to endorse a particular brand but the last time I checked I think Newman’s Own had a good one.

  • Meghan

    Thanks for the post! I followed your instructions exactly and voila! Perfectly popped popcorn! I did as suggested, keeping lid slightly open to let out steam. I used 2tbspn of olive oil, put salt in pan, on induction stovetop on 7, and it came out great! Thanks again!

  • Landrey

    This was unbelievable. I just stumbled upon your website and this recipe is gold! I just used a regular pan with a glass lid (for the fun of it), I used a tablespoon of coconut oil, sprinkled with sugar and butter after. Using this method I had only 1 un-popped kernel! This was my first time using the stovetop method. I was planning to buy a whirly pop, but no need! This is amazing, I can’t wait to experiment with all the flavors in the comments…so happy right now!

  • David Bowman

    Hi Elise,
    I love popcorn and have adapted the way my parents made it in the 1960’s. Instead of oil, I now use Butter Flavored Crisco to have the butter flavor without the cholesterol. I also use a newspaper folded across the pad instead of a lid which lets some steam escape. When finished, take the newspaper off the pan and see the extra grease in the steam ring. Hope you try it.

  • Janet

    This recipe is so easy and all the kernels popped without burning. Very happy! Thank you for sharing and those posting more tips and variations!

  • Rachel

    Thank you so much! I have made popcorn on the stove-top nearly every night for years and those unpopped kernals were the bane of my existance! They drove me crazy. I love your blog and so many of your recipes – no idea how I missed this one for so long but I’m glad I finally did stumble across it because it works incredibly well! I use 1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil, 3 tablespoons popcorn, and then afterward I top with salt & freshly shredded parm cheese. Yum!

  • Paula

    Just delicious, did not burn, thanks :)

  • Crunchy Cake

    Why oh why didn’t I see this earlier? No more sucky popcorn for us! I just made some for our popcorn bar for our NYE party. It’s perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  • Bonitart

    Wow. Read all these and no mention of msg. Yes, msg. Try it just once, you will not die but you will think you went to heaven.

    It is all you need instead of salt and other spices for a simple unmatched popcorn pleasure.

  • Kyla

    Thank you for the much needed confidence! Years ago we unwillingly lived with the burnt stink of popcorn, not just in the kitchen but, throughout the house. That permeated smell is so foul it put us off the stuff entirely, that is, until now. I have a serious aversion to the microwaved cancerous nastiness , as well as the TOXIC -cell overstimulating- monosodium glutamate (MSG). Three Tablespoons of salted butter was a lovely treat and each piece was well coated. Myself, I threw on a smash of oregano that sticks quite nicely with butter, my sister takes hers with a bit of yeast or wasabi… She taught us to eat popcorn with chopsticks, as to keep from getting greasy. Thanks again.

    • Elise

      What a great idea to eat popcorn with chopsticks! Not only will it keep your fingers from getting buttery it will slow down your eating so you can enjoy the popcorn longer.

  • Kate

    I just wanted to say that this recipe was PERFECT! Your directions were all right on. I am a first time pop corn maker (28 years of doing it in a bag) and I will never go back! Thank you for sharing this!

  • Nathalie

    Thanks this worked perfectly for us after having so many failed… We will definitely keep doing our pop corn that way as for now :) We use olive oil btw.

  • Lynn

    My grandfather made popcorn like this, but he used a brown paper bag for the lid and popped it in an old pressure cooker pan. He always swore that was the secret.

  • Angelique

    My fiance browns the butter. It adds SO much flavor. I mean it’s night and day between regular melted butter and browned butter.

  • Charmin

    So how much salt does everyone add to the oil? I’d like to try that method, but since we always just shake away after it has been buttered I have no idea how much we use.

  • Chrys

    One of our favorite toppings is Bragg liquid aminos. It comes in a spray bottle, perfect for even distribution. It tastes like soy sauce.

  • JodyC

    I grew up with this style of popcorn too and have never done it any other way. One nifty pot I’ve been using for years and years is the Presto Deep Fryer (take the basket out). You can buy them at W–mart for about $15 or so. I use the same method as you, except taking it off the heat, and make perfect popcorn every time. Our kids grew up using the Presto and this method, and now each of them has one of their own pots. One of our sons gave a demonstration speech on making popcorn in college. The kids were in awe! Funny!

  • Bronwyn

    This is the recipe that first brought me to the Simply Recipes site several years ago. Ahhh :)
    It’s the only way I do popcorn now. Especially useful when using popcorn in science lessons at school!

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    This is exactly how my mom makes popcorn too. Perfect every time.

  • Michelle

    This is how my mom always made popcorn. I can’t tell you how many friends I have converted after showing them this method. And now my own children enjoy it as well!

  • Tim Donahue

    I use Bittman’s recipe for microwave popcorn. You use a paper lunch bag, popcorn, your own choice of fat, and salt.

    Works brilliantly, is cheap, and healthy.

  • Holly

    We recently moved and did not bring a microwave with us. My 21 year old son didn’t think it was possible to make popcorn without one and was grieving. He now loves popcorn made the “old fashioned” way. I had kind of forgotten how to make it and this post helps me a lot. Thank you Elise and mom.

  • Larry Hill

    I like this idea. It works! Just for your information, Trader Joes has organic popping corn. Most corn is GMO, and organic corn is hard to find.

  • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    I was pulled by the title. So was actually anxious to read the recipe! Fun. I do love my popcorn.

  • MKJ

    Hi Elise,
    Seeing your popcorn recipe today left me elated, because this is how I basically have made it all of my adult life, and dejected, because I could no longer take secret self pride that ‘Darn, NOBODY makes popcorn as well as I do’!
    I should have known that you did!
    The main difference, and I do use coconut oil, is that instead of holding the pan off the heat for the count of 30, I swirl the hot oil/popcorn over the heat to mimic the roasting popcorn smells from vendors of my childhood making hot nuts and popcorn. I do this for a couple of minutes for the corn kernels to turn a golden color. Then when the pan is set back onto the heat, the corn pops until they are all popped.
    I also release the steam by raising the lid frequently but will try the metal colander, as one suggested. I also add salt to the hot oil but will try some of the many terrific seasoning suggestions you all have made. Trish’s cumin-ginger-cinnamon combo may be the first one. And browned butter! And chopsticks! But tonight’s popcorn will be done with your 30 second hold technique; you have never let me down before! Thanks, Elise and Everyone!

  • ANNE {Anne's Scribbles and Doodles}

    I totally agree with this recipe! My mom loves freshly made popcorn that we only make them from scratch all the time ever since I was a kid. She told me that most people would get a popcorn maker or use their microwaves instead of this trick you’re sharing about. I’m glad that a lot of people still do this.

  • Barbara Lee

    Hi Elise, LOVE this recipe and all the comments and all your site!!. Here’s a wrinkle I didn’t see in any of the other comments. My Amish neighbors make the popcorn and set aside. Then in the iron skillet they popped in, they pour sorghum molasses and heat until thin (because its thick to start with). They they throw in a couple tablespoons of baking soda. It bubbles and froths. They pour this over the popcorn and toss. Mind you they make about a 5 gallon bucket of popcorn because it’s going to go fast and most families are 11 people and up. They toss this to coat and then throw in back in the oven and toast for a few minutes. This is like caramelized popcorn only lots better. Much much better. Then they post someone around the popcorn bowl for crowd control. A real yummer!

  • Cindy

    Hey…it actually worked!! Thanks!

  • Carole M.

    Made this tonight and it turned out perfect! Just like you said! Oddly, the kids didn’t like it. But I don’ t know it it was the oil pop corn or the butter. Will definitely try again. I love how fast a batch pops!

  • Hemlu

    This was the first result on Google search. So glad I checked it out – it turned out perfect. My son was one happy kid. Thank you Elise.

  • Rena

    We make popcorn using this method at least once a week. I recently started using a combination of canola oil and coconut oil. I put Lowry’s Season Salt on after I dump the popcorn in the bowl. This is the easiest and most successful method of popping corn I’ve ever used.

  • pavithra

    I’m popcorn lover…it’s really amazing….all are popped not one kernel is unpopped..this is the easiest method for doing popcorn…thanks for sharing this recipe…

  • Kristina C.

    I am a popcorn junkie – I’ve been making in on the stovetop pretty much weekly for over thirty years! My popcorn always comes out great! Elise, I’m going to give your method a try (taking the pot off of the stove for 30 seconds!)
    I use Smart Balance oil (blend of canola, soy and olive oils). I only pop Orville WHITE (soooo crunchy!) I top with best quality olive oil, salt and pepper! Addictive!

  • Katie

    WOW who knew there would be so many comments on a Popcorn thread!

    I love homemade popcorn and when I make it for my daughter and her friends they all rave about it! :D

    My favorite flavor is to add chili oil to the butter… it is spicy and oh so delicious.

  • Nana

    I don’t think the Whirly popper can be beaten for old fashioned popcorn. I love mine and have bought them as gifts for my grown kids. The bacon grease option is good too. When we were kids growing up in the fifties that is all we used. I don’t even recall having vegetable oil. It was lard for baking and bacon grease for frying and I am still here.

  • tess

    do you think ghee would work for the cooking oil?

  • James

    I am going to try this method, i have just finished a bowl of popcorn with many burnt ones. the thought came to me that the next time I have a roast I will use the fat off that to cook the popcorn.

  • em

    This certainly takes me back to my childhood! Unfortunately, my house has a glass top stove. Any suggestions?

    • Elise

      Hi Em, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with a glass top stove, just don’t shake the pan as much.

    • Melanie

      My husband and I make this recipe regularly on our glass top stove, and we just move the pan back and forth a bit, like Elise said. I can vouch that it works just fine, as I am eating some right now. :)

  • Brick

    This is the first time I’ve ever actually commented on any online recipe, but I just had to… Last night was the first time I ever made popcorn on the stovetop and I did it following these steps and it was fantastic. Never trying it any other way!

  • Vivien Tan

    I’m totally with Brick on this; it’s also my first time commenting on an online recipe but I simply had to show my appreciation. I pulled out a bag of raw popcorn I had bought recently on a whim and was just wondering how to pop corn on a stove. Never made it from scratch before. How lucky for me this recipe popped up *grin* in my search. I used coconut oil and salt and topped it off with chilli powder and grated parmesan. Perfection indeed!

  • Barbara Trollman

    I love these directions. I modified by using 2 TBs of coconut oil and 1 TB of organic ghee (Clarified butter) to cook the kernels in, which gives the popcorn a wonderful, genuine butter flavor. I also used 1/2 cup of high-quality popcorn kernels, because I wanted my popcorn to be less greasy.
    I use a salt grinder set to grind very finely, with Himalayan salt. This is the best popcorn I’ve ever had. :) Thank you!

  • Laura

    Perfect! Been a low-carber for some time now and felt like cheating for the first time. Since coconut oil and butter have contributed to me losing 10 of my goal of 30lbs, , this was perfect. I may gain a few pounds from eating this entire bowl of carbs all to myself, but it may be worth it. I purposely sought after a stove top method instead of my air popper so I could use a lot of fat and this was a gem of a find. Thank you!

  • Jon

    I just attempted making stove-top popcorn for the first time in my life at 22 following your recipe. It turned out great! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  • Audrey

    Ugh I completely messed this up! I know HOW can you mess up popcorn, esp. with such good directions.. but after the 3 popped I took my camera out (I had to use this recipe with pictures for a project) the kernels started popping as soon as I took the lid off! Long story short I burned my eye/lid

  • Judith Adamo

    Thank you for such an easy and perfect recipe. It was a pleasure!

  • lisa

    Tried this technique last night and it worked like a charm!!! Thank you so much for sharing! Added some coconut oil, vanilla, maple syrup, sea salt as a topping and voila – a sweet treat that was enjoyed by the whole family!

  • Reine

    Thank you very much for this recipe! It truly helped me!
    My addition: I really enjoy sweet popcorn and, to achieve that, I simply add 2 tbsp of sugar in the pot along with the 1/3 cup of kernels.The sugar is distributed evenly and they taste great! You can adjust the amount according to your personal taste. In my opinion, 2 tbsp (not heaping) are perfect for this recipe!

  • Mama Ashlee from What's In Your Mom Genes

    Thanks for this great recipe! Microwave popcorn is so toxic so it was nice to be able to include a recipe from scratch for my readers. I included it in my 30 Unique Date Night Ideas for Busy Parents post.

  • Rebeca

    Hi, this recipe was awesome! I loved it! One of the toppings I used was tapatio hot sauce. It’s good.

  • Sandi B.

    I just made this following the instructions. I used ghee instead of oil and there are only 3 unpopped kernels in the bowl!!
    Not a single burned piece either!

  • Ash

    Looks like this is an old website post…Just googled it, and just tried it works!!!!! I used coconut oil, 3 kernals till they popped, added the rest in at high temp, and BOOM chinese firecrackers going off….
    Not 1 burn pop corn.
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Ash from Australia

  • Sid Ush

    Yep. It’s true. every single kernal popped. Brilliant.
    As I took the pan off the heat for the 30 seconds and added the corn kernals to heat, I checked the temperature with an infrared thermometer. It read 130 degrees (Celsius).
    Thanks for this excellent tip.

  • Nick

    I burned myself, but otherwise it was really good! Tip: Make sure the lid opening is away from you so excess oil doesnt splatter

  • Jim Reamer

    I used to have a tool in which I placed a stick of butter. Then plugged it in and the butter would melt. Then i could squirt the butter on popcorn. Sound familar to anyone?

  • Tash

    Just tried this method, Worked Beautifully!!! So simple and so fast!!

  • diogo


  • Abraham Wesley

    I tried to make popcorn using corn seeds. it did not happen. I dont know which type of corn seeds are to be used. please help me .

  • Alejandra

    Than you for posting this recipe. The popcorn cooks perfectly and deliciously and I used a bag of kernels that I bought at Walmart . Great and simple recipe!

  • Dawn

    So delicious!! I used olive oil in a wok (loosely covered with aluminum foil), adding salt and cardamom to the oil. No burnt or unpopped pieces!
    Next time, I’m trying ground ginger and cinnamon; the combo ends up tasting like kettle corn. :)

  • Jennifer

    I love popcorn!!! Glad to find more popcorn addicts. I had been using microwave popcorn but always loved stove top popcorn-will be going back to this method. Thanks for the hints and that we can use coconut oil. Trying to be healthy. I love to put garlic salt on my popcorn. Another delicious alternative, throw some candy corn in-delicious!

  • Nat

    IT WORKS! :D :D
    I really count upto 30.
    I smear the seeds with the oil from the spoon to make it greasy. Now salt and other flavors stick easily (yeah! even my masala :P ) and spread evenly throughout. I’m loving it

  • Bob Lyons

    I just did this for the first time. And it came out exactly as you said. Every kernel popped and none of them burned. Thank You!… :D

  • Jamie

    Best homemade popcorn! I had already measured my oil and corn so I stuck with that (1/4 c corn kernels and 2 Tbls coconut oil) after reading your method and the tip about adding the salt to the oil I went with it. I added about half a tablespoon of sea salt to the oil. The popcorn was done perfectly and had a perfect salt distribution. So glad I found your site and can’t believe I had not tried to make popcorn from scratch sooner!

  • Denise RANKIN

    O! M! G! Best and easiest popcorn recipe EVER. So very fast and simple and every single kernel popped. Thank you. Very happy young customers watching their movie and enjoying perfectly popped pop corn :-)

  • Pamela

    Best. Popcorn. Ever.

    I followed your recipe exactly, using all coconut oil. My husband said it was the best popcorn he’d ever had.

    Absolutely amazing what a difference the 30-second respite from the heat made!

  • Celeste

    Looking for healthy way to eat popcorn. Tried your recipe PERFECT. Every single kernel popped n it tastes wonderful. Thank you.

  • Demon Lee

    Actually, if you want a really nice flavour popcorn, mix up some dark soy sauce with a copy of table spoons of sugar and heat slowly, as it starts to thicken add the corn in the quantity required – you get almost a BBQ flavoured Popcorn great for eating on its own, or instead of Crackers with a Chinese or even with a BBQ…!

    I should also add that popcorn is extremely healthy as it is a source of whole grain on its own without adding Salt/Butter or other ingredients and as Kids love making and eating it, it will fill them up between meals and a healthy alternative to other snacks…!

  • Ed/CT

    I just did this popcorn was perfect and crispy absolutely perfect .I am all set for the premiere of NCIS tonight .

  • David

    Wow, I’m surprised. Not a single burnt or un-popped kernel!

  • Mike

    Try adding some sliced jalapeño peppers to the oil. It makes the popcorn spicy, and you get some crispy fried pepper slices as a bonus.

  • B

    Best method yet, and easy as ever. Got perfect popcorn on my first try!

  • Carol

    So glad I found this recipe. I used coconut oil, added salt &a few drops of Tabasco to the kernels. Emptied the popped corn into a bowl & melted the butter in the same pot. Best homemade popcorn ever! Thank you so much!

  • Alisa

    I just used this recipe – with coconut oil- to make popcorn on the stove for the first time ever and it came out perfectly. Microwave popcorn packets would always give me headaches so I wanted to try something new. I prefer it much more this way and my boyfriend even enjoyed it as I didn’t have to add a lot of butter.

  • ash

    this was perfect. not one burnt kernel. will definitely be using this again.

  • summy

    Can I used butter instead of coconut oil or peanut oil? Do I have to soak the kernel in water before putting it in the pan.

    • Elise

      Hi Summy, butter will burn and if you soak the kernels in water they will splatter like crazy in the oil, so don’t do it.

  • Do

    So.. We tried your grandma’s recipe…

    (i think I should really stop cooking…)

    • Elise

      What the heck?

    • lee margaret

      Could it be the pan you used? I think you are supposed to use a “heavy-bottomed” pan… Elise’s recipe worked great for us–and we are terrible at cooking!!

  • Angela A.

    Just wanted to express my deep appreciation for this recipe. I have gone too many nights with burnt popcorn and eating chewy hard kernels. Seriously, I rarely write comments but the joy of seeing white fluffy popcorn and ZERO kernels actually brought such a feeling of gratitude that I have decided that I will come out of hiding to express my gratitude to everyone who brings me this much happiness.

    • iola cave

      I also have never commented before….. But thank you so much for this…. It’s been so long since I’ve had popcorn… I love it !!!

  • Ann

    I trieds tris and ended up with a perfect, evenly popped, completely unburnt popcorn on the first try! With and amazing number of 2 old maids per batch! thank you so much))

  • Tammy

    I am never buy microwave popcorn again this recipe was so delicious popcorn was so fluffy and soft when I added better it was better than the movies. My family loves it I love it and this is will be a new tradition for us!!

  • Steph

    I tried this tonight and doubled the recipe… but kept it off the heat for the 30 seconds and used a bigger pot. It came out perfect! So happy not to have the hard kernels at the bottom. Thanks!

  • Kathryn

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Worked perfectly! Now I can stop burning my popcorn kernels!

  • Ruth

    My goodness the last time I tried making popcorns I ended up with a disaster only half of the kernels popped I was soo dissapointed. Thank you for this movie time life saver!!

  • Lenora

    Perfect popcorn. I sent to my teen grandchildren.

  • Nicole in Tucson

    I have never been able to successfully make stove top popcorn until now.
    Thank you!



  • Jamie Sankey

    Will this work on an electric glass top stove? Have never had success making popcorn on it before. Thank you!

    • Elise

      Hi Jamie, it should work. The most important thing is to use a thick-bottomed pan so you have more even distribution of heat. You don’t have to shake the pan that much with this method which is a good thing with the glass top stove.

  • Nancy Maranto

    I’m so happy that I happened upon your method of making the most Delicious popcorn EVER. Like many of the other comments, I used coconut oil (with a pinch of sea salt added). I love the idea of adding salt to the oil; no trouble getting the salt to stick to the popcorn, AND the salt was so evenly distributed. Wonderful! I love this recipe and I’m forever grateful to you for sharing it! This is only the second comment I’ve ever written. It’s hard to believe how good this popcorn is, and everyone who likes popcorn should know your method. THANKS!

  • Joy

    For the people with glass top stoves: I also have a glass top stove. The recipe worked great. No problems. My stove is about fourteen years old. I mention this because technology continually improves appliances. The only thing I did differently is that when the kernels were mostly popped, I turned off the heat and kept the pan over the heating element gently shaking the pan until all were popped. Electric stove tops continue to be hot after turned off taking awhile to cool down so you can turn off the burner and keep cooking. I used to have a gas top which is instant hot and cools down fast. With electric, I often turn the burner off as food approaches being done. This keeps food from burning.

  • Janice G

    My family and tried to follow this simple recipe and it ended horribly! Instead of getting to enjoy a nice family movie night, we had to deal with the fire department and the fire the popcorn started. My daughter and I did everything according to the directions and there was still a fire! I don’t recommend this recipe for people who want to keep their houses!

  • AD

    This recipe turned out perfect! My son (who said he didn’t even want popcorn) wanted the whole bowl! I put salt in the oil, but also added more with 2 tbs of melted butter. I used a glass top stove and turned it off before the popping stopped. Thank you! No more microwave for me! Do you know what the nutritional information per serving is?

  • sam

    Fantastic. i’d run out of conventional oil so was looking for an alternative. Saw mention of coconut oil and remembered I had a jar at back of cupboard. Just tried it – fantastic result. Bowl of scrummy popcorn.

  • Ery

    Hi, great recipe. Do you per chance have a recipe for sweet and salty popcorn. Or would u recommend just adding sugar to the salt?

  • Milla

    Thanks you saved my movie night!! Burnt microwave popcorn….then burnt cornels in the pan, you were my last shot efore i ran put to the store!! Worked and what a treat! 10/10 for ease of the simplistic instructions and 10/10 taste!

  • Lucy

    Thanks! Finally I can stop buying popped or microwave popcorn.

  • Sarah

    Works perfectly! All kernels were popped to perfection. Thank you for this great recipe!

  • Stephanie

    I lover love LOVE this recipe! Worked perfectly the first time! No more microwave bags for me!

  • Mariepeth Thomason

    Thank you for posting this easy and fool proof method of making popcorn. I found this recipe yesterday and I have already made it 9 times. My family and I are ADDICTED to the popcorn with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

  • the dreamcatcher

    Tasty! Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

  • Lensman

    Absolutely perfect! I just made a batch of popcorn, every kernel popped, nothing burnt. Thank you so much for a simple, but great recipe. I will never have to buy microwave popcorn again. Many restaurants here in Ecuador serve popcorn as an accompaniment to soup…now I can too, with very little effort.

  • Roraigh

    i found that the popcorn would start popping as soon as i put them in after the cernal test, id take it off strait away as instructed, (my mom doesn’t put it back on)

  • Linda Berch

    My popcorn burned when using this method. I left it on medium high after returning it to the burner. My Mom would just shake it on about medium and wait until it slowed.

  • jimbobadger

    Funny, but I have used your site for years for countless delicious recipes.
    My favorites are bean/ham soup and guinness stew. And now Popcorn!
    Delicious! And, so much better than the microwave. Any of your readers
    have suggestions for the corn? Ie: gourmet, etc.

  • Marinella

    Perfect recipe!! Every kernel popped! Best method i have used yet! more burned popcorn and no more boring movie nights

  • Lita

    Scrumptious! Practically popped every kernel. Clear directions & great results. Thank you.

  • Jennifer

    My husband is a chef but I could burn water. I’m terrible in the kitchen but this recipe makes it possible for me to enjoy my favorite snack!

  • Jo

    Thank you for this great, idiot-proof recipe! I love popcorn but ever since we got a new stove I haven’t been able to stop my popcorn burning slightly. Problem solved.

  • Ann R.

    Wow! What a life saver. I live in a small Greek village, where most of the packaged stuff has the usual, shall I say Americanized, version, with lots of fat and even sugar. I’m vegetarian & wanted mine clean and clear–perfect was far from my expectations. I didn’t know WHAT to do with this little bag of corn kernels that carried no instructions, even in Greek. I found your recipe online, and it’s as though magic has arrived in my kitchen. I’m delighted and grateful!! I used Sesame oil, as that’s all I had besides Olive oil, and it seemed to do the trick; if I can find Grapeseed oil, I might try that next time. I can’t believe how easy this is and how sensational is the snowy popcorn in my bowl. A million thanks!

  • Christina

    OH MY GOODNESS! This technique is PERFECT!! This is the first time we’ve had awesome results!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (Can you tell I’m excited??)

  • Stacey

    I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and love popcorn. This way I can eat it again.

    • Rob

      Hi… I don’t know what this comment is supposed to mean. I’m a type I diabetic and popcorn, regardless of how you make it, still has carbohydrates and therefore matters for blood sugar. If you think cooking it this way makes it okay to eat without accounting for its carbs, you’re incorrect. If you account for the carbs (roughly 5g carbs per 1c popped popcorn) then you should be fine! Please don’t think popping it differently will change the carb content; if that was your thought you should ask for an appointment with a nutritionist when you have your next diabetes appointment because s/he likely has some information you could use to plan your food better.

  • Lily

    Thank you! Great recipe, easy instructions. Turned out great! Much appreciated.

  • Janet

    Thank you, thank you! Making this brought back memories of Dad popping us popcorn in the 1950’s using a metal popper with a swirly metal piece in the lid that he would turn to keep the popcorn moving.

    I wanted to get away from chemical laden microwave popcorn that doesn’t taste very good. I bought some organic popcorn and had no idea how to cook it in a pot on the stove. This worked wonderfully!! Yummy!

  • Daniela

    I made about 11 batches for a project and this recipe made the process flawless. I will never buy microwaveable popcorn again. Thanks for sharing!

  • Yeva

    Thank you so so so much because I literally tried it 2 times and I burnt it all but using your recipe, it turned out perfectly!