Have you ever wondered how to make popcorn on the stove? My Perfect Stovetop Popcorn recipe works every single time to make light, buttery popcorn, leaving no uncooked or burnt kernels.
When I was a kid, I always looked forward to going to the movie theater, knowing that I’d get to indulge in a huge bucket of rich, buttery popcorn. As I’ve gotten older, one of the reasons that I love popcorn, especially homemade stovetop popcorn, is that there’s something for everyone. In my family, we don’t always agree on snacks so popcorn is the perfect solution. I have sweet and salty, my husband has plain (just a little salt), and my daughter has savory – no compromise necessary!
Over the years, I tried a million times to make popcorn on the stove, the old-fashioned way, and I always ended up burning it (which is the worst smell ever) or jumping the gun and taking it off the heat before all of the kernels had popped. I resorted to the microwave variety when the craving struck, but I always found it too oily, so it never scratched the itch and I eventually stopped eating popcorn all together.
Then one day, I was watching Southern at Heart on the Food Network and Damaris made popcorn using a method that I have never seen before. She swore by it, and now so do I. Not only did I not burn the popcorn, all of the kernels popped, and I finally got a bowl of warm, buttery, chemical-free perfect stovetop popcorn.
What do you need to make stovetop popcorn? //
When it comes to making stovetop popcorn you only need 2 essential ingredients:
- Popcorn kernels
However, you’ll definitely want more ingredients, unless you’re happy eating unflavored popcorn that tastes like styrofoam packing peanuts. My personal favorite popcorn topping is salted honey butter (I’m a sucker for that sweet and salty combination), so I’ve included the steps for making honey butter as a bonus part of this recipe! To flavor your popcorn with honey butter, you’ll need:
- Sea salt
And while we’re on the topic of ingredients, I know there tend to be a lot of questions about using oil to make stovetop popcorn, so let me answer some of those first.
Do you need oil to pop popcorn on the stove? //
The short answer is yes, you do need oil. The oil helps distribute the heat evenly across the bottom of your pot or dutch oven, which helps all the kernels to pop at the same time. If you skip the oil, some of the kernels will probably burn, and the result will be popcorn that’s blackened and bitter.
What is the best oil to use for stovetop popcorn? //
You can pretty much use any oil that you like for making stovetop popcorn! I like using healthy and light tasting oils like coconut oil or canola oil. But vegetable oil, avocado oil, and sunflower oil will also work. I tend to stay away from olive oil, not because it doesn’t work, but because extra virgin olive oil can be more expensive, and I’d rather use that for dressings and sauces.
What is the ratio of oil to popcorn kernels? //
I recommend using 2-3 tablespoons of oil per 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels. You can adjust this to taste or to fit your calories.
What kind of pan should you use to make stovetop popcorn? //
Any heavy bottom large pot will do but my favorite is my old Dutch oven. A clear top is nice if you want to see the kernels pop!
How to make popcorn on the stove //
- Add the oil and 3 popcorn kernels to a large pot (I use my Dutch oven).
- Cover and cook over medium-high heat until all 3 kernels pop.
- Take the three kernels out of the pot.
- Take the pot off of the heat and add the rest of the popcorn kernels.
- Cover. This is an important step, you take the pot off the heat and cover to even out the heat and help make all the kernels pop at the same time!
- Wait 30 seconds (use your own timer). This should be enough time to even out the heat on the pot and the kernels.
- Put the pot back on the heat. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally until the popping slows down.
- After about 2 minutes, when the popping has slowed down, take the lid off of the pot. This lets the steam out and keeps the popcorn crisp.
- While the popcorn is popping, melt the butter and add the honey.
- Pour over the popcorn and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Toss until completely coated. You could also do this in a large paper bag.
Is stovetop popcorn healthy? //
Stovetop popcorn can absolutely be healthy, and is often a much healthier alternative to microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn is often high in fats and sodium and may contain other artificial ingredients. But when you make your own at home, you get to control what you put in your body!
Why stovetop popcorn is better than microwave popcorn //
Besides the fact that stovetop popcorn is guaranteed without chemicals, it’s also much cheaper to make than store bought microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn can cost up to 4 times as much as homemade popcorn made with plain kernels! And if you’re looking for yet another reason to try homemade stovetop popcorn, it can help reduce plastic waste, as the packaging of microwave popcorn is usually quite bulky.
The best popcorn seasonings and flavors //
I made a quick honey butter to pour over the popcorn because I love sweet with my salty. I used Maldon sea salt and love that some of the bites have big flakes of salt. So good. It’s my new movie night tradition.
Here are some other topping suggestions:
- Salt and pepper
- Nutritional yeast (sounds weird, but it is incredible on popcorn!)
- Dill pickle seasoning
- Ranch dressing powder
- Everything bagel seasoning
- Cheddar cheese (This is my daughter’s favorite.)
- Powdered parmesan cheese
- Curry seasoning
- Taco seasoning