How to Make Fresh Stovetop Popcorn

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

There’s a little independent movie theater in Brookline, Massachusetts that makes the best popcorn. It’s made in an old-fashioned popper and served with a generous spoonful of real melted butter (even when you ask for just a little) and a sprinkling of salt. A small is actually small, and the popcorn itself is perfectly light and crunchy.

We were lamenting the fact that we rarely have a chance to go there when James suggested we try popping kernels on our stovetop. I didn’t have a lot of hope, but now that we’ve been doing it for several months I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s super easy and almost as quick as microwave popcorn but a thousand times better. I’d dare to say it’s just as good as the popcorn at the Coolidge Corner Cinema!

I photographed this in my studio, not in my kitchen, because we have terrible lighting in our kitchen. Let’s pretend it’s on a stovetop, okay?

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn


2 tablespoons Canola oil
3 tablespoons popcorn kernels
Salt or other seasonings to taste


How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

1. Pour about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons canola oil into a deep, wide non-stick pan or pot (be sure to choose one with a lid!). Immediately plop four or five kernels into the oil and turn the heat to medium-high. While you wait, take out a big bowl!

How to Make Stovetop PopcornHow to Make Stovetop Popcorn

2. Once those kernels begin to pop, pour in the rest of the kernels and cover the pot. Shake it around vigorously to get all the kernels covered in a bit of oil. When you hear the kernels begin to slow their popping, with a second or two between pops, uncover the pot and transfer the popcorn to the bowl you took out earlier. The whole popping portion only takes about 30 seconds to a minute, so be on your toes!

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn
How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

3. Season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cheese, nutritional yeast, rosemary, or any other flavor of your choosing. In Hawaii, we always eat our popcorn with kaki mochi, or rice crackers, as pictured here.

Easy, right? It’s also really economical. The big container of Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn kernels from Costco cost us $10 for a whopping 62 (six-cup) bowls of popcorn! Compare that with the same brand’s microwave popcorn, which costs $13 and only 40 (four-cup) bowls of popcorn. And it tastes so much better! That, my friends, is a win-win situation.

Now if only I could figure out how to make a popcorn garland that Kona won’t try to eat…

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  1. Stovetop popcorn is the best! I made it that way for years until we finally picked ourselves up an air popper. It’s fun to play around with infused oils with this method too – my favorite is to use a meyer lemon infused olive oil. Yum!

  2. “I photographed this in my studio, not in my kitchen, because we have terrible lighting in our kitchen. Let’s pretend it’s on a stovetop, okay?”
    Hahahahahahahaha. Story of my life!

    I love homemade popcorn–it’s delicious, it’s cheap, & not *too* unhealthy 😉

  3. Yay! So much fun! I love making my own popcorn but I always use too small of a pan! HAH! My popcorn is always overflowing! Thanks so much for the size proportions! This will help so much! =]

  4. Why do you start with only 4-5 kernels? To make sure the oil is hot enough?

  5. Love this! I just made some Pumpkin Spice popcorn which was a perfect alternative to the pumpkin cookies I’ve been craving. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  6. Yum! Brings back memories of my grandma, her stovetop popcorn was the best! The perfect simple and warm treat for the season!

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