How to Make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

My favorite quick and healthy snack, super easy Stovetop Popcorn is super simple to make in just a few minutes. Homemade popcorn is so much better than the microwave popcorn packs you get in the store because it doesn’t contain chemicals or preservatives. Just pure, crunchy, perfectly popped corn kernels!

Stovetop popcorn in a stainless steel pot with a glass lid.

In the mad rush of life, I used to eat microwave popcorn every single day.  It was my go-to snack in the office. Then people started burning popcorn in the break room and management decided to ban it.  Which was a good idea, in hindsight, because microwave popcorn supposedly has a lot of chemicals in it that’s not exactly healthy. 

I’m not an expert but it kind of makes sense to me because what is exactly in that bag with the popcorn…..I just don’t know. And while I went through popcorn withdrawal every single day for a month after the ban, I did some research on the internet that totally supported the microwave popcorn/chemical theory.  And again….I’m not an expert but if it’s on the internet, isn’t it true?

So, I saved my popcorn noshing for home and went back to making my popcorn on the stovetop in a big ole’ pot. The way it was meant to be made. Right? And honestly, it’s not much more difficult to make popcorn in a pot on the stove top.

Closeup of popcorn in a pot with a glass lid.

Aside from being easy to do, stovetop popcorn is MUCH MORE cost effective because you can get a bag of popcorn kernels for less than $3 and it will last you months!!!  Whereas, a box of 6 microwave popcorn bags can run you well over $6…..and in my house, that will be gone in less than 6 days.

You can also make your stovetop popcorn in vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil…..the list goes on and on.  And my personal favorite it bacon fat! Yes, that jar of bacon grease you’ve been saving in the fridge for a rainy day……use that puppy to make a batch of ultra flavorful stovetop popcorn!

Popcorn kernels in a clear canister with a white lid.

How to Make Popcorn on the Stove

Making homemade popcorn on the stove is so simple to do and you really only need two ingredients…….popcorn kernels and oil.

To make popcorn on the stove: 

  1. Put enough oil in a large pot to just cover the bottom completely.
  2. Add two kernels to the oil and place the lid on the pot.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat until the two kernels pop. 
  4. Remove the popcorn and add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pot. Replace the lid.
  5. Cook the kernels until they begin to pop, approximately 2-3 minutes. 
  6. Shake the pan, occasionally, to help any unpopped kernels fall to the bottom of the pan. 
  7. Continue cooking the popcorn until the popping slows down, popcorn usually takes about 5 minutes total to pop completely.
  8. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt or other seasoning as you prefer.

Two popcorn pieces in a pot of oil.

What Oil to Use for Stovetop Popcorn

My personal favorite, as I mentioned before, was bacon grease. I always save my bacon fat whenever I bake my bacon so I have plenty stashed away for making popcorn all the time. 

Here are a few other oils I like to use for popping popcorn on the stovetop:

  • Canola Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Ghee (Clarified Butter)
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Walnut Oil

Cooking times will vary for each of the oils listed above so keep an eye on your pot and if the oil starts to smoke, turn down the heat. You will also need to watch the color of your kernels….if they get dark before popping, turn the heat down.

overhead shot of popcorn in a stainless steel pot.

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn without Oil

You can also make your stovetop popcorn without oil. Air popped popcorn is super easy to make, too, but you MUST use FRESH popcorn kernels only. 

And this is why….popcorn kernels contain a small amount of water inside the shells. When the popcorn kernels are heated it creates an energy that makes the water molecules vibrate inside the shell. The longer the kernels are heated, the faster the molecules vibrate which creates an immense amount of pressure inside the kernel.

Once the pressure builds to a point where the kernel shell can’t contain it any longer, the kernel will POP!

Because fresh kernels contain a bit more water than older kernels, it’s easier to air pop your popcorn without using oil. Older kernels that have been sitting on the shelf for a bit of time and have been exposed to air tend to dry out.

Added oil is not always needed to pop your popcorn, it’s more for added flavor and to coat the outside of the kernel to help keep it from burning.

Stovetop popcorn in a red bowl on a blue background.

To make your Stovetop Popcorn without Oil:

  1. Add enough kernels to cover the bottom of a nonstick skillet with a tight fitting lid. Replace the lid.
  2. Cook the kernels until they begin to pop, approximately 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Shake the pan, occasionally, to help any unpopped kernels fall to the bottom of the pan. 
  4. Continue cooking the popcorn until the popping slows down, popcorn usually takes about 5 minutes total to pop completely.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt or other seasoning as you prefer.

Popcorn in a red bowl with popcorn salt being put on top.

EASY Recipes Using Popcorn

Bunny Bait Snack Mix in a white ceramic bowl with a small bunny on the side.

Want even more easy recipe ideas? Follow us on Instagram!

Popcorn in a stainless steel pot.

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: popcorn, stovetop popcorn
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 215 kcal
Author: Kellie

Skip the overpriced microwave popcorn bags and cook your popcorn the old fashioned way! Stovetop Popcorn is ready in just 5 minutes and can be made with or without oil.

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp canola oil plus more, if needed
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels plus more, if needed.

Instructions

  1. Put enough oil in a large pot to just cover the bottom completely.
  2. Add two kernels to the oil and place the lid on the pot.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat until the two kernels pop.
  4. Remove the popcorn and add enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pot. Replace the lid.
  5. Cook the kernels until they begin to pop, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  6. Shake the pan, occasionally, to help any unpopped kernels fall to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Continue cooking the popcorn until the popping slows down, popcorn usually takes about 5 minutes total to pop completely.
  8. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt or other seasoning as you prefer.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make Stovetop Popcorn
Amount Per Serving
Calories 215 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 112mg3%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 0g0%
Protein 4g8%
Iron 1.2mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

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