So, here is one thing you might not know about me yet. I LOVE popcorn. Like, unnaturally. Like almost or equal to the amount of love I have for peanut butter.
When I was a junior in high school, New Years was a big deal to me. I saw it as a time to reinvent myself, to become more of the person I knew I was. Oh, teenagers. But I made a list of resolutions, with things like “wear more bright colors” and “learn how to make popcorn on the stove”. And so, on New Years Eve, with my high school besties gathered at my friend Alex’s house, I taught myself how to make popcorn on the stove. It isn’t hard. A 16 year old can do it.
Sure, I’ve tried making popcorn other ways. The air popper I have had since childhood. The good old paper bag in the microwave trick. ACTUAL microwave popcorn (lets not talk about it). But my current favorite method of making popcorn at least four nights a week is this classic – stovetop. It’s old fashioned but it really makes THE BEST popcorn.
Also it requires minimal equipment, which is good for everyone. All you need is a large pot (I usually use a 5 quart nonstick dutch oven), some oil and some popcorn. And some butter. I mean. I’m sorry. It just isn’t popcorn without butter. Truth be told, I made this for years without adding butter. I thought “Hey, it already has oil! It doesn’t ALSO need butter!” But I was wrong. So, so wrong. I’ll have you know that I have LOST weight while eating this buttered popcorn almost nightly. So….it’s pretty much diet food, is what I’m saying.
One thing that I have a strong opinion about is the type of popcorn you use. You guys. There is some BAD popcorn out there. Like really bad. Like, “WHY am I eating cardboard right now?” bad. First of all, you need to get white popcorn. Just, stop eating yellow popcorn, it doesn’t even compare. I don’t want to fight about it, just trust me. SECOND of all, the brand matters in this case. To be honest, I usually buy the Kroger brand from Fred Meyer for $1.59 a bag. I actually don’t like the big guys here. Their popcorn is always tasteless. So, if you can get the Kroger brand of white popcorn, give that a try. It is better when it is fresher, so we store it in an airtight jar after opening the bag. If you try a popcorn and it tastes like cardboard, don’t despair – it is the popcorn, not you. Find a different popcorn to try, and never buy that bland cardboard popcorn again.
Making popcorn on the stove is simple and fast. I normally don’t measure anything, but I did an experiment with measurements for you guys. A large 5 quart dutch oven is what I used for this. You can use a smaller pot, but be sure to scale down if you do. ALSO, I will say that I find the 5 quart dutch oven seems to produce optimal results.
If you want to just eyeball it, pour oil into the pot, enough to entirely coat the bottom of the pan (not pooling, just coating). Drop three kernels into the pot and put the lid on. Turn the heat to high ( I usually put it on 9 out of 10, so just under the highest setting). When the three kernels have popped, the oil is hot, so it is time to pour the rest of your kernels in. Pour enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin, single layer. Put the lid back on because they will all start popping shortly.
The kernels will start popping. Shake the pan a few times to keep the popcorn from burning (although, in my experience, if you keep it just under the high heat you don’t need to shake it constantly and it won’t burn). When the popping slows down to a few pops, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (You want to get it out of the pot quickly because it is retaining heat and can burn the popcorn if you leave it in there). Using the residual heat from the pan, melt butter. To keep the butter from burning, I wait a few seconds between removing the popcorn and putting in the butter. ALSO, when you put the butter in, constantly turn the pan to move the butter around the bottom of the pan. As soon as it is melted, pour half of it onto the popcorn, salt the popcorn and toss it. Then pour the other half of the butter, salt and toss again. It is important that you don’t leave the butter sitting in the pan too long or it will start to burn.
If you would prefer some actual measurements to get started, I have listed some below that are a solid place to start.
How to make popcorn on the stove
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels I very much recommend white popcorn
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- salt to taste
- In a cold pan, pour the oil and 3 popcorn kernels. Cover pan.
- Heat the pan over high heat (just under the highest setting, 9 out of 10)
- When all 3 kernels have popped, pour in the rest of the kernels and cover. As the kernels start to pop, shake the pan a few times.
- After the popping slows down to a few pops, remove from heat and immediately transfer popcorn to a bowl.
- Let the pan cool for a few seconds, then place the butter in the pan to melt using the residual heat. If there is not enough residual heat left, melt over low heat. Turning the pan constantly, melt the butter, being careful not to burn it.
- When butter is melted, pour half of it over the popcorn. Salt the popcorn, then toss to combine. Pour the other half of the butter on the popcorn, salt again, and toss again.
- Now it is ready to eat!
The 3 kernel thing is from Alton Brown
Are you a popcorn lover? I have a special recipe involving popcorn coming up tomorrow that you for sure do NOT want to miss. Be sure to sign up for my email list or follow me on pinterest so you don’t miss it!
Robert H says
I’m glad to see the temperature is easy to figure out. I’ve been popping with an Instant Pot and my wife and I are hooked. However, now you’ve shared a recipe for everyone with a stove and 5 qt pot. Love it!
Cool and thanks for sharing but what’s with all of the CAPS?
Natalie B. says
Perfectly popped stovetop popcorn!! Third time popping this week with different recipes and this was the BEST! Nothing burnt. I was in amazement as I happily ate my bowl of deliciousness. I subbed the oil for coconut oil and skipped the butter. 😋
Hi Natalie – Yay, so happy to hear that! It is delicious with coconut oil too 🙂
Can I use a teflon pan for popping
Hi Deb, I think that would be fine! I use a large non stick dutch oven. You just want to make sure it is big enough so you have room for the popcorn. The one I use is 5 quarts.
My husband bought me a Whirley Pop when we were dating. Oh my! Easy popcorn. You HAVE to have butter and salt! Otherwise, why bother!? Microwave popcorn is now scary to me! We use fresh organic popcorn. It rarely leaves any kernels.
I eat mainly low carb, but you and your site are fun…I’m in.
Yes, I totally agree about butter on popcorn! I have never tried a Whirley pop but I heard they are great. I have a mix of recipes on the site, but lots of them are low carb, so I hope you find some that work for you. Thank you Robin!
That’s pretty much how I made popcorn growing up….it sounds so good when I read this! By the time became a mother I most likely moved onto the hotair popper when I could~”progress”~?
My Hubby’s family also used a similar method, which he’s been mentioning a lot lately. I think I’ll surprise him & try your recipe!
Thanks for sharing~
It is my favorite way, and it is really easy too!