Stovetop popcorn is so good and so easy to make that you'll never want to buy the store-bought microwave stuff again.
It's unfortunate to me that I've wasted so much of my life eating store-bought microwave popcorn when stovetop popcorn is SO much better and healthier.
I don't want you to waste another moment of your life with second-rate popcorn either, when you could be eating the good stuff with such a simple recipe!
Stovetop popcorn is easy to make, fresh, crisp, and healthy. It's a homemade whole grain that passes as a healthy snack for adults and kids.
All you need is a few basic ingredients, a large pot, and these tips I'm sharing to make the most amazing popcorn of your life!
Which Cooking Oil to Use for Stovetop Popcorn
It is generally recommended to use a cooking oil with a high smoke point when popping popcorn.
Smoke point refers to the temperature at which the oil starts to burn and smoke. When an oil hits its smoke point, it begins to break down, burn, lose beneficial nutrients, and can even create harmful free radicals.
Smoke points of cooking oil can vary. However, usually the more refined an oil, the higher the smoke point.
High smoke point oils include avocado oil, canola oil, corn oil, and grapeseed oil.
Don't fear if you're looking to use less refined oil! For the purposes of popping popcorn, olive oil and coconut oil (with smoke points 410°F and 350°F respectively) are both acceptable for this purpose.
How to Season Stovetop Popcorn
Stovetop Popcorn can be seasoned in SO MANY WAYS. Sweet to savory, homemade or store bought.
If we do store bought seasoning, we usually buy Kernel Seasons (which you can get from Amazon here, or you can find the basic flavors at most grocery stores. I've seen it at our local mom-and-pop stores, Walmart, and Meijer.) Our favorite flavor is the white cheddar.
Here are some of our favorite homemade seasoning flavors:
- Classic butter and salt: Can't go wrong with this classic. Just melt some butter in a microwave-safe bowl, then pour it over the popcorn and add salt. We started using popcorn salt recently, and it's even more amazing.
- Truffle Salt: For a little extra luxurious, don't-want-to-share flavor.
- Fresh cracked black pepper and olive oil: A little different than the norm, but still really good.
- Nutritional yeast: Gives popcorn a cheesy flavor without any weird additives. Plus, it's vegan friendly!
- Add a little spice: Try sprinkling a little cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or even a little curry for an extra kick.
- Sweeten it up: Maple syrup or honey and cinnamon-sugar make an excellent sweet popcorn topping. Mix 2 parts butter with one part honey or maple syrup. Then sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top. You can also toss in a few chopped walnuts or pecans! Or if you love caramel corn, try this easy oven baked version.
- Premade seasonings: Add a little taco or ranch seasoning for an old favorite used in a new way.
More Snack Recipes You'll Love
- Oven Baked Caramel Corn - one of my favorite things to do with popcorn. Sweet, crunchy, and delicious!
- Homemade Tortilla Chips - these are the best! Crunchy, salty, and way better than store bought.
- Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels - for all the sweet-and-salty lovers out there!
- Toasted Pumpkin Seeds - possibly the best part of Halloween. I used to make these with my mom and grandma, and now I'm sharing their recipe.
- Greek Nachos - a seriously delicious epic snack with gyro spiced meat, pita chips, whipped feta, and hummus! Yum!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons butter melted (optional)
- Salt to taste
- In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add oil and 3 popcorn kernels. Wait for kernels to pop (may take a few minutes as the oil needs to heat up). Place a large serving bowl nearby.
- Once your three kernels have popped, add the remaining kernels. Cover and gently shake the pot to evenly distribute the kernels and cover them with oil. If your lid does not have a venting hole, tip it slightly so that the steam can be released. If your pot starts overflowing, dump some into a serving bowl and allow the rest to cook.
- Continue cooking until the popping slows to about one pop every 3-4 seconds. When done, transfer immediately to the serving bowl.
- Toss with butter if desired. Salt to taste.
- Use a large, heavy-bottomed pot. A "too thin" pot won't distribute heat evenly (think dollar store quality). However, it's not a good time to pull out the cast iron either. A thick cast iron will retain too much heat and will fry and burn the popcorn. Also choose a large pot so that all 10 cups of popped popcorn will fit. My well-loved 6-quart ceramic coated pot does the trick every time.
- Leave the heat at medium. Oil can burn really easily at higher than medium heat. If the oil smokes, even a bit, the popcorn will also taste burnt.
- Start with three popcorn kernels to test the temperature. Once the test kernels pop, the oil is hot enough to pop the remaining popcorn.
- Keep the serving bowl nearby. While the oil is heating, get a large bowl to keep nearby. This way you can dump the popcorn in quickly if the pot starts to overflow and when the popcorn is done popping.
- Tip the lid to keep the popcorn crisp. If your pot lid does not have a venting hole, tip the lid back just a tiny bit (not enough to let any popcorn escape) to keep the popcorn crisp and prevent it from steaming.
- If the popcorn starts overflowing from the pot, quickly remove the lid and dump some into the serving bowl. Then cover again and return to the heat to finish popping the remaining popcorn.
- Season with salt carefully. Start with a little and taste test before adding more. You can add more if needed, but you can’t take away too much.
- Store popped popcorn in a zip bag or container with a lid at room temperature for up to a week.
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