How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Have you ever done it? Have you ever popped your own popcorn on the stove? That’s the way we used to do it when I was little (shortly after electricity was invented and before microwaves began invading people’s kitchens). It’s the best way to pop perfect popcorn, all kernels popped and none of those ingredients that you can’t pronounce on the side of the microwave popcorn bag.

Popcorn Popped on the Stove

Here’s how to pop popcorn on the stove:

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

You need three things: Canola or vegetable oil, sea salt and popcorn (I think the Orville Redenbacher brand works best). You might wish to have butter or some other kind of seasoning to toss with your popcorn. I’m going to give you all kinds of recommendations for how to jazz up your popcorn at the end of this post.

Choose a pot that has a pretty large surface area.  Mine was 5-inches deep and 9-inches across.  You don’t want the popcorn kernels to be crowded too much or piled on top of each other.  Before you get started, make sure you have a lid that fits on the top of that pot 🙂

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

You’ll need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  I used 3 to 4 tablespoons for 1 cup of popcorn.  Add the oil to a COLD pan.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Add your popcorn kernels to the COLD oil.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Make sure the kernels are all coated with oil and are sitting in a shallow puddle of it.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

They should be all spread out in the pan like this- not piled on top of each other.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Add a little bit of sea salt to the coated kernels.  I like to add salt in the cooking process, and sometimes I add more after it’s all popped too.  You can skip this part if you prefer to add it after.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Turn the heat to medium and heat up the kernels and the oil at the same time.  Shake the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the heat to all sides of the kernels.  Keep shaking it back and forth.  It’ll be a little noisy.  Your spouse may tell you, “Shhhhhhh!” because he can’t hear the TV.  Not that my spouse did that or anything.  I’m just sayin’.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Eventually (a minute or three or four later), the first kernel will pop.

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Get the lid on your pot quickly because that popped kernel has a whole lot of friends who are going to begin popping almost immediately.  Keep sliding the pot back and forth over the heat until all kernels are popped.  Tell your spouse to go hang out in the backyard if he’s still griping about the noise.

Popping Popcorn on the Stove

In just a few minutes, the popping sounds will slow down and come to a halt.  Remove your pot from the heat, and you’re ready to jazz up your popcorn for consumption!

Popping Popcorn on the Stove

You can certainly top your stove-popped popcorn with a generous amount of melted, salted butter.  Sometimes I love it that way best.  But I’m going to give you a whole lot of suggestions for making regular old popcorn way more delicious.  I’ve gotta thank my Facebook followers for those suggestions, since they left me like a gazillion ideas for serving up popcorn in super cool and delicious ways.  Here are the suggestions that sounded best to me:

A few sweet (dessert) suggested add-ins:
1.  chocolate syrup + peanut butter
2. caramel
3. mix in junior mints, hot tamales, chocolate chips, reeses pieces, m&m’s or sugar babies
4. maple syrup
5. melt marshmallows with brown sugar and butter and mix in

And the savory suggested add-ins:
1. sea salt + freshly ground pepper
2. maple and bacon
3. Parmesan + freshly chopped rosemary
4. butter + cajun spice + brown sugar
5. fajita seasoning
6. cayenne pepper or tabasco
7. Parmesan and pepper
8. butter-flavored olive oil
9. ranch seasoning
10. white truffle oil + Parmesan
11. brewers/nutritional yeast
12. chili oil + garlic powder + curry powder
13. cheese packet from a macaroni & cheese box
14. Old Bay Seasoning
15. Dill pickle seasoning (not sure I’ve ever seen that)
16. Meat tenderizer (what??  Really?)

Bowl of Stove Popped Popcorn

See how easy it is?  And how many fun things you can add in? Kids go nuts over stove popcorn too since the whole “popping” process is noisy and scientifically amazing. And man, it tastes waaaaaaaay better. Please tell me that you’ll end the microwave popcorn madness.  It’s just as easy to do on the stove, it pops up perfectly and with just three ingredients- you know what’s in your popcorn.  It also makes for good snuggle, TV/Movie-watching time on the couch.  Now go pop away!

5 from 5 votes
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How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Doing it the old-fashioned way!

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword how to pop popcorn, poporn on the stove
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings (24 cups)
Calories 139 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 cup popcorn kernels
  • sea salt, optional
  • melted butter or additional mix-ins, optional

Instructions

  1. Take out a pot with a large surface area (one that has a matching lid). A 5-inch deep, 9-inches across pot is perfect for 1 cup of popcorn.

  2. Pour in the oil and then add the popcorn kernels. Sprinkle in a bit of sea salt, if desired. Shake the pan around to evenly distribute the kernels and coat them with oil. The pan should be big enough so that the kernels are not over-crowded and/or piled on top of each other.

  3. Turn heat to medium and begin to slide the pot back and forth over the burner. Keep sliding/shaking the pan back and forth to evenly distribute the heat to all sides of the kernels. Eventually (3-5 minutes later), the first kernel will pop. At this point, put the lid on the pan. Keep sliding/shaking the pan back and forth and the other kernels will begin to pop. Keep that pan moving back and forth until the popping slows down and the kernels are all popped. Remove the pan from heat.

  4. Toss popcorn with melted butter and/or other seasonings, and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • A few sweet (dessert) suggested add-ins from RecipeGirl readers:
    1.  chocolate syrup + peanut butter
    2. caramel
    3. mix in junior mints, hot tamales, chocolate chips, reeses pieces, m&m's or sugar babies
    4. maple syrup
    5. melt marshmallows with brown sugar and butter and mix in
  • And the savory suggested add-ins from RecipeGirl readers:
    1. sea salt + freshly ground pepper
    2. maple and bacon
    3. Parmesan + freshly chopped rosemary
    4. butter + cajun spice + brown sugar
    5. fajita seasoning
    6. cayenne pepper or tabasco
    7. Parmesan and pepper
    8. butter-flavored olive oil
    9. ranch seasoning
    10. white truffle oil + Parmesan
    11. brewers/nutritional yeast
    12. chili oil + garlic powder + curry powder
    13. cheese packet from a macaroni & cheese box
    14. Old Bay Seasoning
    15. Dill pickle seasoning (not sure I've ever seen that)
    16. Meat tenderizer (what??  Really?)
Nutrition Facts
How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove
Amount Per Serving (1 serving (3 cups))
Calories 139 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 1mg0%
Potassium 56mg2%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 2g4%
Iron 0.6mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Things to make with Popcorn...
Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

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Comments

  • Demeter wrote:

    It wouldn’t be movie night without a big bowl of popcorn and this fits the bill perfectly! So glad we decided to give it a try because it was a total winner!

  • Krissy Allori wrote:

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  • Sarah Skaggs wrote:

    I felt like this was intimidating but these step by step instructions are perfect! Thank you! Love stove popped popcorn!

  • Kristyn wrote:

    This is my favorite!!b My mom would always make popcorn on the stove, growing up & we loved it!! So much better than the bagged/microwaveable kind!

  • Ashley F wrote:

    I always felt nervous about making popcorn on the stove but your tips worked like a charm! Turned out perfectly!

  • Diane Reiner wrote:

    My mother’s favorite way to make popcorn was to toss it with lite soy sauce and parmesan cheese. The popcorn was deliciously coated with with the soy sauce, then the parmesan adhered perfectly to the popcorn.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Sounds great!

  • Anita wrote:

    Thank you! I received organic popcorn on the cob from my CSA and wanted to make it on the stove. It was AMAZING. We gave up microwave popcorn & switched to a plant-based, organic when possible diet, & this snack hit the spot for movie night!