Making popcorn on the stove is super easy, and it's the best way to enjoy this low calorie snack. Follow this method for perfect popcorn that won't ever fail you! This is a great way to make movie night fun by letting the kids create their toppings with a popcorn bar.
Where does popcorn come from?
While we think of buttered and salted popcorn as a quintessential American classic movie snack the truth is it's been around for a while. The ancient Peruvians were into it about a thousand years ago, and I hear that it was even part of the first Thanksgiving feast.
Popcorn as a family snack grew insanely popular in the US in the 1800's. When Charles Cretors built the first popping machine in Chicago in the 1890's....well...there was no turning back, and the rest is insanely delicious history!
You just need three little ingredients for popcorn. Popcorn kernels, oil, and salt.
What oil should I use?
You should use an oil that tastes good and offers the nutritional value you are looking for. You also want to make sure that the smoke point is at least 350-degrees. I like to use coconut oil, but you can also use olive or grapeseed oil.
Smoke point versus Flash Point
The smoke point refers to the point where oil begins to smoke. We don't want this to happen as it will lend a burnt taste to our popcorn. The flash point refers to the point at which flames ignite on the oil, which is generally about 600-degrees. We definitely don't want this!
What equipment do I need?
You will need a heavy bottomed pot or large pan with a lid that will fit securely on top. I used an extra large cast iron pan.
- Put your pot or pan on the stove over medium heat.
- Add in the the coconut oil, and two popcorn kernels. Cover with your lid. Do not leave the oil unattended for safety reasons!
- Wait a few minutes, and once these pop add in the rest of the kernels.
- IMPORTANT remove the pan from the heat for a minute or two to allow all the kernels to come to the same temperature. Return to the burner, and continue to cook.
- If to much condensation builds up then you can tilt the lid slightly to let some of that escape.
- The popcorn is done once the popping slows down or the pot or pan is full!
Toppings for popcorn on movie night
When you stay in for movie night one of the best parts is you can dress up your popcorn as fancy or simple as you like!
- Classic butter and salt, or buttered salt - you can melt a little butter in the microwave and add a little salt with your snack. Or, you can splurge on buttered salt tossed with your popcorn.
- Copycat Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch - looking for an Umami punch? Try out this delicious treat with pantry items you have on hand from Become Betty!
- Ranch - I adore ranch on everything, and popcorn is no exception! Toss a little homemade Ranch seasoning from Make Ahead Meal Mom for a special treat!
- Garlic Parmesan - a little melted butter, garlic salt, and Parmesan cheese for a savory treat.
- Spicy Palomitas - a spicy blend of cumin and ancho chile powder with a few sweet notes makes your snack a gourmet treat from Muy Delish!
- Everything Bagel - some melted butter then tossed with some Everything Bagel seasoning makes a great topping!
If you want to up your game create a popcorn bar with a bunch of toppings so everyone can mix and match to their content!
Can I make this in the Instant Pot?
The answer is it depends. I have found that Instant Pot Popcorn is an elusive creature. You can follow the same directions in the post above but use the saute feature on high. Most people get mixed results, and so did I which is why I use the stovetop method instead. I found I had more success in my pressure cooker model like the Duo Evo which has a flat bottom than other models with a curved bottom.
Perfect Stovetop Popcorn
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- Salt to taste
- Put heavy bottomed pot or pan on stove, and turn to medium heat. Add in coconut oil, and two popcorn kernels.
- Cover with lid, and wait to heat. Once the two kernels have popped add in the remaining popcorn kernels then cover with lid. Remove from heat for one to two minutes to allow kernels to reach the same temperature.
- Return to heat, and allow to pop. When the popping becomes less frequent and popcorn seems to have filled pan remove from heat.
- Once popping stops, remove the lid and toss with butter and salt then enjoy.