Perfect Popcorn

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

Three bowls filled with popcorn recipes and a red striped linen next to it

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Making popcorn from scratch can be tricky. Not only do you want as many kernels as possible to pop, but you also want to keep the kernels from burning at the bottom of the pan!

Until my mother showed me her way of making stovetop popcorn, I usually took the easy way out and used (gasp!) microwave popcorn.


How to Make Perfect Popcorn

My mother's method of making popcorn not only pops almost every kernel, it also prevents the kernels from burning. She first learned this technique decades ago from the back of a popcorn box.

Her approach allows the popcorn kernels to come to an even temperature before popping, which results in much fewer un-popped kernels (usually none) and fewer burnt kernels (again, usually none).

Ever since we first posted this how-to in 2005, it has been one of the most popular recipes on the site. Enjoy!

Popcorn Toppings

Want something more than butter or salt on your popcorn? Try sprinkling with some grated Parmesan cheese! Smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, taco seasoning, or curry powder also make for fun and interesting toppings.

Have a favorite popcorn topping? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Red striped paper cartons overflowing with popcorn recipes

Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

Perfect Popcorn

Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 2 quarts

Make sure the inside of the pot is completely dry before heating the oil in it, or else the oil will sputter.


  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/3 cup high quality popcorn kernels

  • 1 tablespoon butter or more to taste, optional

  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil:

    Heat the oil in a 3-quart thick-bottomed 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:

    Wait for the popcorn kernels to pop.

    heat oil and add 3 to 4 popcorn kernels to the pot
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add the rest of the popcorn:

    When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer

    Wait for the popcorn kernels to pop
    Elise Bauer
    when the popcorn kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels in an even layer
    Elise Bauer
  4. Cover the pot, 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.

  5. 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.

    Simple Tip!

    As the popcorn pops, try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper and less tough).

  6. 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.

    Immediately empty popped popcorn into a serving bowl
    Elise Bauer
    once the popcorn stops popping, remove the pot from heat
    Elise Bauer
  7. Melt butter in the empty hot pan:

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

    melt butter for drizzling over popcorn
    Elise Bauer

    Simple Tip!

    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.

    Just drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss to distribute.

  8. Sprinkle the popcorn with salt to taste:

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
99 Calories
11g Fat
1g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 291mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 0mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 2mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.