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How to Make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

by klarsen28@gmail.com
Bowl of stovetop popcorn and popcorn kernels in a jar.

Stovetop popcorn is a quick and easy-to-make snack. You only need two ingredients: popcorn and oil. To make stovetop popcorn, just heat the oil, add the kernels, and in a few minutes you’ll have popcorn!

I have a lot of love (bordering on obsession) for popcorn. My popcorn obsession started back in the days when fat was the enemy. Instead of making stovetop popcorn, I air-popped my popcorn, and seasoned it with a few sprays of Pam and salt.

I had a West Bend air-popper that must have made thousands of batches of popcorn. Don’t get me wrong, I still love air-popped popcorn. But now when I make it, I heavily season it (meaning, I pour an obscene amount of butter on it).

Now that we know certain types of fat are actually good for you, I’ve started to experiment with stovetop popcorn. And guess what? It’s delicious!! I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this amazing goodness all these years!

Once you learn how to make popcorn on the stove, it’s hard to go back to anything else. But I’ll always have a place in my heart for air-popped.

Why Make Stovetop Popcorn?

Because stovetop popcorn is delicious!! I love air popped popcorn, but it’s basically a blank canvas and doesn’t have much flavor. It needs to be heavily seasoned to bring up the flavor profile. On the other hand, stovetop popcorn is so flavorful, I even enjoy eating it without any seasonings or with just a sprinkling of salt.

Stovetop popcorn is also a much healthier option when compared to microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn can contain unhealthy ingredients, including trans fats, natural flavors, and artificial coloring.

Almost all microwave popcorn bags are lined with the toxic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is listed as a carcinogen by the EPA. Microwave popcorn also contains oils which can go rancid over time, affecting the taste and smell of the popcorn.

What Are the Best Types of Oils for Stovetop Popcorn?

Coconut Oil – This is my favorite oil to pop popcorn with! It gives the popcorn the most movie-theater-like popcorn flavor. I love coconut, but in all honesty, I don’t notice any coconut flavor when I use this oil. If you don’t like coconut, or are sensitive to the flavor of coconut, you can use refined coconut oil which goes through additional processing steps and has no distinct coconut taste or aroma.

Ghee (clarified butter) – Ghee, or clarified butter, is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed. It has a nuttier and richer taste than butter. It’s not dairy-free because it’s made from butter fat, but it is lactose-free.  

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – People have shied away from using olive oil because they’ve heard it has a low smoke point. But recent research has shown that smoke point isn’t the most important factor for determining whether an oil is safe to cook with. Other factors, like the amount of polar compounds (the harmful by-products that come from heating oils) are better indicators of an oil’s stability when heated.  In fact, research has shown that EVOO is the most stable oil when heated, with coconut oil a close second.

Vegetable or canola oil – I stay away from vegetable oils due to their potential negative impact on our health. These oils are highly processed and refined, contain high levels of Omega 6, and may lead to increased inflammation. You can read more about it here.

Avocado oil – This is a neutral tasting oil with many health benefits, including high oleic acid content, high in lutein, and it’s rich in antioxidants. I like using avocado oil, but I use it sparingly as it’s very expensive.

What Makes Popcorn Chewy?

Inside each kernel is a bit of moisture. Each popcorn kernel contains about 13.5-14% moisture. As the kernel heats up, the water starts to expand. Once it pops, moisture is released in the form of steam. Steam builds up in the pan and leads to excess moisture unless the pan is properly vented. This moisture is what makes popcorn chewy.

Pro Tip: To avoid making chewy popcorn, make sure to tip the lid on the pot while the popcorn is popping.

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

stovetop popcorn ingredients


To make stovetop popcorn you’ll need 2 ingredients:

  1. Popcorn kernels – Use the type or brand of your choice.
  2. Coconut oil – Or any other oil you prefer (see my list above for other options).


Use a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, like a large Dutch oven or a heavy-duty stockpot. Lighter pots don’t distribute heat evenly and have hot spots which can burn the popcorn.

popcorn kernels in coconut oil

Step 1: Heat cooking oil over medium heat.

Don’t turn up the heat too high. Oil can burn if it gets too hot so keep the heat closer to medium instead of high. If you notice any smoke (not steam), your oil is burning, and your popcorn will taste burnt. If that happens, it’s best to start again with a new batch.

Step 2: Add 2-3 kernels to the pot.

This will help to gauge the temperature of the oil. Once those pop, your oil is hot enough.

Popcorn kernels in pot

Step 3: Add the rest of the kernels and remove the pot from heat.

Shake the pot to coat all the kernels in oil and let it sit for 30 seconds. This warms all the kernels and primes them to pop without burning the oil.

Step 4: Once kernels start popping, shake the pot!

If kernels sit on the hot surface of the bottom of a pan they can burn. Just a few pieces of burnt popcorn can ruin the whole batch.

Step 5: Tilt the lid a bit to let steam escape.

This releases the steam so it doesn’t build up moisture in the pot and make the popcorn soggy.

Step 6: Continue cooking until the popping slows to about one pop every few seconds. 

Step 7: Remove the pot from heat, and transfer popcorn to a large bowl.

Step 8: Season and enjoy!

Read on for some seasoning suggestions. 

pot of stovetop popped popcorn

Stovetop Popcorn Seasoning Suggestions

Here are some of my favorite popcorn toppings:

  1. Butter and salt – Probably the most common topping, and for good reason. It’s delicious! Make it even healthier by using grass-fed butter.
  2. Nutritional yeast – This has a nutty, cheesy flavor and will kick your popcorn up a notch without adding in any additional fat or salt. It’s also a good vegan topping. Just sprinkle some on freshly popped popcorn and toss to coat.
  3. Garlic and parmesan cheese – Chop up a few garlic cloves, sauté them in butter and then mix them into the popcorn. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll toss some minced parsley on top.
  4. Butter and soy sauce – This is a savory, umami-filled treat. Heat butter and soy sauce in a small saucepan and then pour the mixture over popcorn. Browning the butter gives it an even deeper, nuttier flavor.

How to Store Popcorn

Popcorn should be stored in an air-tight container and kept in a cool, dry place like your pantry or cupboard. The popcorn should stay fresh for about a week.

For more details about storing popcorn, see my article here.


Bowl of stovetop popcorn and popcorn kernels in a jar.

Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 124 calories 7.5g fat
Rating: 4.4/5
( 10 reviews )


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, combine coconut oil and 2-3 kernels. Cover pot and wait until kernels pop.
  2. Once kernels pop, remove pot from heat and add remaining kernels. Replace lid and give the pot a good shake to cover all the kernels with oil. Let sit off the heat for 30 seconds.
  3. Put pot back on burner to continue cooking the popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally. 
  4. Once the kernels start popping, tip the lid a bit to allow steam to escape.
  5. Continue until popping slows to about one pop every few seconds. 
  6. Remove lid and pour popcorn into your serving bowl.
  7. Salt to taste.


Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.

Have you tried this recipe?
If so, tag me! Mention @thepopcornity and tag #popcornity!

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the best stovetop popcorn

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