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.

Here’s how you 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 🙂

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.

Add your popcorn kernels to the COLD oil.

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

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

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.

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’.

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

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.

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!

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?)

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!

Stove- Popped Popcorn

This method turns out popcorn that is popped... all of it! And it's so much better than microwave.

Yield: Roughly 24 cups (6 servings)

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Ingredients:

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup popcorn kernels (I prefer Orville Redenbacher)
sea salt (optional)
melted butter or additional toppings or mix-ins, as desired

Directions:

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.

Tips:

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?)

Source: RecipeGirl.com

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Comments

  • Merrill wrote:

    Thank you for the recipe. We popped the corn, added some sea salt and chopped up York mints and added some mini chocolate chips. Mmmm.

  • Caroline wrote:

    i have tried going with a store brand versus orville redenbacher because it is more than double the price! but i have been disappointed and noticed a pretty big difference both times. have you tried any other brands? what is it that makes orville redenbacher so much better?!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I’m not sure what makes it better, but it works well so that’s what I stick with!

  • Dee wrote:

    I haven’t bought microwave popcorn in many years…love to pop it on the stove. We prefer the white. I would recommend if you have a stove with a glass top surface, don’t shake the pot back and forth. I use a dish towel, lay it across the top to cover both warm handles, and shake it mid air. The towel keeps the lid on. I will try coconut oil tomorrow. Olive oil makes popcorn really tough. I use it mixed with canola oil. I love it best just plain with salt, but the Parmesan I will try!

  • James A. Cronin wrote:

    There is a very serious problem with your recipe! DO NOT wait until the first kernel pops before you put the lid on! 

    Heating a pot with oil and popcorn in it without a lid on it is asking for a nasty hot oil burn! When the kernels “pop,” they are actually exploding. If someone is standing near that pot when the first kernel explodes, it can send a splash of burning/blinding oil into their eye! 

    Cover the pot BEFORE heating the oil! Your instructions as they are written could result in serious injury and liability for YOU Ms. Lange.  I highly recommend changing your posting immediately before someone gets badly hurt. 

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      yes, indeed you should be careful for sure!

  • Karin B wrote:

    Does it have to be a stainless steel pot or could it be anodized or nonstick?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I only use stainless, but you can certainly try something else!

  • Nancy B wrote:

    This recipe was awesome. I had cut it in half and it still worked great. Thanks so much for posting the recipe.

  • Cris Kossegi wrote:

    I always do popcorn this way.  I am not a fan of the microwave.  If it weren’t for my husband,  we wouldn’t even have one.  He even bus the microwave popcorn,  but my kids always say, “We want mom’s popcorn.”  It really tastes way better popped on the stove. 

  • YaaNJ wrote:

    I pop my popcorn on the stove top with ORVILLE RENDENBACHER NON-GMO and just LOVE it with white or black TRUFFLE OIL and salt……or just use a little canola or corn oil with TRUFFLE SALT.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I love that idea!

  • TootsNYC wrote:

    Here’s why I switched to stovetop instead of microwave:
    NO MORE BURNT POPCORN!

    In the microwave, oven, the microwavesscontinue to heat the popcorn even after it has popped. And you can burn the core of every single kernel.

    On the stovetop, as long as you don’t put your heat too high, you’re not as likely to burn it. AND, if you do, you’ll only burn the ones that were touching the pan.

    Plus, no chemical taste coating your mouth, of course.

    My mother always put just one or two kernels in the oil as testers; once those popped, she put in the rest of the kernels and put on the lid.

    I’m going to have to try the splatter screen!

  • Black Guy wrote:

    Easy instructions finally made a good batch today, I was just winging it prior.

  • Rachael wrote:

    Hey I do my popcorn this way every now and than I put oil and butter in pan wait for it to heat up than add popcorn kernels ,salt and than wait for it to start popping than I put a lid on it and take it off stove for 30’seconds than back on stove and start shaking potential popping ceases than put it into a bowl very yummy 🙂

  • sotonye rowlands wrote:

    I have tried popcorn on stove but they never come out popped instead they get burnt is there a specific corn or kernel used for making popcorn? pls I want to know. Thanks.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I don’t buy anything special- just whatever is available on the store shelf.

  • Danielle wrote:

    As an avid popcorn eater… thank you, thank you, thank you! It was super easy and delicious!!!

  • bon wrote:

    wow I haven’t cooked anything in years but I found an old popcorn bag and said “how do I cook this thing” happy I found this tutorial , it was easy and I didn’t even burn any

  • Linda wrote:

    This is simple to do and tastes great! My kids love popcorn, but I have read about all the chemicals and junk that are in microwave popcorn and have been wanting to make it on the stove. I didn’t realize it was so easy. Thanks!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      You’re welcome!

  • Steve Heraty wrote:

    Great article Lori. I use pure corn oil to pop my corn.
    It’s always fun to make Popcorn the old fashioned way.
    There something satisfying and relaxing about this comfort
    food

  • Sylvia wrote:

    Very good tutorial and easy to follow. I plan to make a lot of these and bring it to my daughter graduation party as part of dessert table.

    Any suggestion on how to store the popcorn to keep them crispy for hours? Should I put them on a big plastic bag or large airtight container? Thanks

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Either method should work- though it likely won’t stay as fresh and crispy as just-made.

  • Christa wrote:

    FINALLY! I can figure out what I’ve been doing wrong. I’ve ruined SO MUCH popcorn on the stove top. Heating the oil first is NOT a good idea. Thanks for the tutorial, I finally have good popcorn. 🙂

  • Allen wrote:

    Thanks for the recipe. This was my first time popping popcorn on the stove in a pan and using coconut oil (outside of a smoothie). It worked out well! I am really excited about the outcome.

  • KT wrote:

    I recently found myself in a rental unit with no microwave & I had a bag of microwave popcorn in my hand :(. Determined to get my popcorn I found your recipe & was able to pop the kernels on the stove & it was so much better! Thanks for taking the time to put this up, you saved me!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Great!