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 we are currently binging on Netflix. Okay, and maybe a locally brewed beer as well. Instead of popping for the microwaveable stuff, 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 recipe uses no chemicals and less salt than the store-bought stuff, but tastes so much better. Keep reading for how to make popcorn!

Related: Herb Popcorn

How to Make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

Stovetop popcorn ingredients

The ingredients for homemade stovetop popcorn are super basic, though you can dress it up however you’d like. For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Yellow popcorn kernels
  • Vegetable oil (you can also use coconut oil)
  • Popcorn salt or finely ground salt (we make our own by grinding down kosher salt in a mortar and pestle until it’s light and powdery)

That’s it! In terms of equipment, you’ll also need a large saucepan with a lid. We’ve found it’s easiest to have a dedicated saucepan for the job, so we don’t have to worry about trying to keep it too clean. Ours has little drain holes in the lid that works perfectly for letting the steam out, which is crucial for making it fluffy.

Related: Chocolate Chip Popcorn Cookies

How to make popcorn

Making stovetop popcorn is surprisingly easy, and it’s done in less than 15 minutes. How to make popcorn? To start, you’ll need to heat a few tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil in a tall pot. Add a few 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 kernels and the salt.

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!

What’s the best oil for popcorn?

When making stovetop popcorn, it’s important to use an oil with a fairly high smoke point. For this recipe, we typically use canola or vegetable oil, since both have high smoke points. But for a more authentic movie theater flavor, you should use coconut oil. You only need 2 tablespoons of oil per half cup of kernels, so this popcorn won’t taste greasy!

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 finely ground kosher salt if desired, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper for a savory snack.
  • Butter and cinnamon: Melted butter is a classic 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: 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 so it’s still melted when you dig in.
  • Nutritional yeast: This cheesy vegan topping makes for delightful savory 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, freezing helps it to stay fresh for a long time. And because popcorn never fully freezes, you don’t have to worry about thawing it out.

We like to make a big batch of popcorn and store it unseasoned in the freezer for when a snack craving hits. Then, we let it sit on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before eating it. However, I’ve eaten it straight from the freezer before and it’s also great that way.

Looking for more healthy snack recipes?

Outside of this stovetop popcorn, here are a few more of our favorite healthy snack recipes:

Looking for more healthy corn recipes?

Of course, so much more can be made with corn than just this fluffy, movie-watching snack! Here are some of our favorite recipes made with corn:

This recipe is…

Vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

Print

How to Make Popcorn


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 11 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

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!


Scale

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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!

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

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

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog 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 recipe 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.

12 Comments

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    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
      Sonja
      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
    Kimberley
    February 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

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

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

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

  • Reply
    Leah
    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
    Jacqui
    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
    Lauren
    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
    Katie
    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
      Alex
      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
    Katrina
    February 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

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

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    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
    Shani

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