How to Make Popcorn on the Stove

This stovetop popcorn is ready in less than 15 minutes and can easily be made in bulk and stored for later. This page has all of the answers for how to make popcorn.

Step by step instructions for how to make popcorn Alex and I are popcorn fanatics. My favorite way to end an evening is with a bowl of popcorn and an episode of whatever TV show we are currently into on Netflix. Okay, and maybe a locally brewed beer as well. While I have a not-so-secret love for microwave popcorn, we’ve recently gotten into making it the old-fashioned way. We started out with the do-it-yourself microwave popcorn technique, but we were less than impressed. Stovetop popcorn is the way to go for us – sometimes it’s better to just go back to the way things used to be. This stovetop popcorn recipe uses no chemicals and less salt than the store-bought stuff, but tastes so much better.

We have a dedicated saucepan for the job, so we don’t have to worry about trying to keep it too clean. We’ve found one with little drain holes in the lid that works perfectly for letting the steam out (which is crucial for making fluffy popcorn). We prefer the flavor of yellow popcorn, but we are excited to try some of the more unique varieties found at our farmers market.

How to Make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

How to make popcorn

Making stovetop popcorn is surprisingly easy, and it’s done in less than 15 minutes. To start, you’ll need to heat a few tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil in a tall pot. Add a few popcorn kernels to the oil; you’ll know the oil is hot enough to cook the rest of the popcorn once those few kernels pop. Add in the rest of the popcorn kernels and the popcorn salt (you can use kosher salt as well, but popcorn salt really is the best. We make our own by grinding down some kosher salt in a mortar and pestle until it is light and powdery).

Give the pot a little shake to evenly distribute the oil, and then wait for the magic to happen! It’ll likely take a few minutes for the kernels to begin popping, but once they do make sure to stay by the stove. If the lid on your pot doesn’t have ventilation holes, tilt the lid to allow the steam to escape. If you trap the steam in the pot, your stovetop popcorn will be soft and sad-tasting. Once the popping slows to a stop, remove the popcorn from the heat, add toppings of your choice, and dig in!

How to Make Popcorn

Our favorite popcorn toppings

  • Olive oil and kosher salt: A drizzle of good olive oil goes a long way on this stovetop popcorn. Add a sprinkle of kosher salt if desired, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper for a savory snack.
  • Butter and cinnamon: Melted butter is a classic popcorn topping, but a dash of cinnamon takes it to the next level. Add less butter than you think you’ll need, because it’s easy to add too much!
  • Toasted coconut flakes & dark chocolate: While not the healthiest option, a drizzle of dark chocolate and a handful of coconut flakes is arguably one of the best ways to enjoy this stovetop popcorn. Add the chocolate just before serving the popcorn so it’s still melted when you dig in.
  • Nutritional yeast: This cheesy vegan topping makes for delightful savory popcorn. You can use regular shredded cheese as well, but nutritional yeast is easier to sprinkle over popcorn.

How to Make Popcorn

How to store popcorn

Stovetop popcorn is best enjoyed fresh, as leftovers go stale quite quickly. To store your homemade popcorn, seal it in a baggie or an air-tight container and pop it into the freezer. I know it sounds a little strange, but frozen popcorn stays fresh for a long time. And because popcorn never fully freezes, you don’t have to worry about thawing it out. I like to make a big batch of popcorn and store the unseasoned, unbuttered popcorn in the freezer for when a snack craving hits. I usually let the popcorn sit on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before eating it, but I’ve eaten it straight from the freezer before and it’s also great that way.

Looking for more healthy snack recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.


How to Make Popcorn

1 Star (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 1)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Want to know how to make popcorn on the stove? This stovetop popcorn recipe is ready in less than 15 minutes and can easily be made in bulk and stored for later. Perfect for snacking!


  • 1/2 cup yellow popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon popcorn salt (or crushed kosher salt)
  • 3 quart saucepan


  1. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 3 popcorn kernels to the saucepan. Cover and heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add a few shakes (around 1/8 teaspoon) popcorn salt to 1/2 cup popcorn kernels. The oil is ready when the 3 kernels in the pan pop. At this time, add the rest of the kernels with the salt, and cover again. Shake the pan to spread the kernels in a single layer.
  3. Let the popcorn pop for a few minutes, shaking the pan frequently. If steam starts to build up, lift the lid a bit to release it. As soon as the popping slows down, take the saucepan off of the heat and wait for all popping to finish. Enjoy!

Keywords: stovetop popcorn, popcorn, easy, simple, how to, snack

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    February 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    My husband and i love popcorn and make it almost every night. Our favorite way is using white corn, popping in olive oil, and lightly salting it!

    • Reply
      February 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Sounds yummy – we haven’t tried olive oil! It’s great to hear of other addicts like ourselves :)

  • Reply
    February 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I am also a popcorn fanatic! I like to put gomasio on it.

    • Reply
      February 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

      Interesting – I’d never heard of gomasio before – thanks for the idea!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    I have been making popcorn this way for so long and I find love it!! I have just started using coconut oil instead of veg or olive oil and find it gives it a great buttery taste without the added butter!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Honestly, I’ve never really gotten that excited about popcorn, but my husband loves it! He sometimes likes to put nutritional yeast on it for a cheesy flavor.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I am such a popcorn fanatic! And I must say white popcorn is so much better than yellow. Cook it in veggie oil and add a little salt and it’s perfect!

  • Reply
    March 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I just found your blog via Annie’s Eats. My husband and I LOVE popcorn…I turned him on to homemade (that’s all my mom made when we were kids) and now that’s all we eat! We use coconut oil to pop ours and it’s really good. The oil we get is organic, made by Spectrum and it’s for Med-High heat. Rest assured, it won’t make your popcorn taste like coconut at all. I can’t really explain how it’s different, but we used to use canola oil and now it’s coconut all the way! You should give it a try. :)

    • Reply
      March 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Interesting. We’ll have to try it!

  • Reply
    Adora's Box
    March 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    We cook our popcorn in a wok! It’s nice to see that you’ve posted this. Microwave popcorn is just foul.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    LOVE that photo! Makes me feel like getting ready for a movie night!

  • Reply
    May 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    this is a absolutely GREAT recipe thank you so much
    i was having so much trouble popping yellow popcorn but now that i have your recipe it is very simple and easy
    thanks again

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