Homemade stovetop popcorn is salty and crispy and crunchy and warm and if those aren’t all the adjectives you need to feel better about life than we just can’t be friends.
Until recently I thought making popcorn in any way other than the microwave was terrifying. But stovetop popcorn is deceptively easy — if you use science. And also do the popcorn dance.
Perfect Homemade Stovetop Popcorn
You will need:
- 3 Tablespoons oil (we use high-heat canola or sometimes coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- Large, heavy bottom pot with lid
- Salt or parmesan cheese (I like this salt best, it’s super fine and sticks to the popcorn)
- Add 3T oil to a heavy-bottomed large pot. We use a basic soup pot.
- Add three (yes, 3) kernels of corn. These are your test pilots.
- Turn the heat to medium or just at the edge of medium-high.
- Put the lid on and listen. And wait.
- When you hear the test kernels pop, you are ready for the magic!!
- <<The Science/Magic Part>>
Add the 1/2 cup of kernels to your hot oil. Optional: We add a swoosh of popcorn salt at this step, too. Replace the lid. Then take the pan off the heated burner for 30 seconds.
The Science Behind It: During this 30-second waiting period the kernels have the chance to bathe in oil and they all come to the same temperature. When you put them back on the burner in 30 seconds, they will now be evenly heated and your popcorn will be timed to pop in harmony and this reduces any chance of burning or scorching!
The Dance: The Captain and I have developed a super cheesy dance where we count to 30 and sashay around each other in the kitchen while sing-counting down. We are a handful.
After 30 seconds put the pan back on the heated burner. Keep the lid on the pan.
Now you shake and pop.
- It may take a few minutes to bring all kernels up to popping temperature. During this phase (takes us about four minutes? Maybe more or less depending on the oil and the heat) begin to gently move the pan back and forth a little bit.
- Once you hear popping, begin to shake the pan or move it in a circular or vigorous back-and-forth pattern on the burner. Your corn will pop-pop-pop pretty much all at once. Once the popping starts it’s less than 90 seconds total to get all the kernels to pop. You may try to vent the lid a little in this stage to keep from having too much steam build up (makes crispier popcorn) but it took a few tries to get this maneuver perfected. The captain now holds the lid in one hand with it kind of turned up a tiny bit one edge while shaking/holding the pan itself with the other hand. I have not mastered that move. It’s fine both ways.
- Once most of your kernels have popped, take the pan off the heat right away.
Pour into a big bowl and add salt, cheese, or your preferred toppings and enjoyyyyyy. This makes a REALLY BIG bowl of popcorn, easily the size of a movie theater large but so much tastier!