Stovetop Popcorn

Popcorn is one of my favorite foods, it is simple, pure and good. I will have microwave popcorn when I am feeling really lazy, but I always find that making it on the stove is almost always worth the extra effort. Making popcorn on the stove is a bit of a dying art, people are scared of giving it a try. This is a shame though, it is really pretty easy and anyone should be able to pull it off.

Stovetop Popcorn Tips and Tricks

That said there are a couple of tips and tricks to make a good bowl of stove top popcorn.

  • Heat is your friend. Popcorn pops when the water inside the kernel quickly turns to steam causing the kernel to explode open. Without enough heat it explode as much and the popcorn won’t be as light and crisp.
  • Aim for medium-high heat. You want it to be hot enough to pop the corn, but you don’t want to smoke the oil. You want the oil to be about 400-450 degrees. The burner should be hot enough to get the oil back up to this heat when you add the corn.
  • Use a heavy, covered pot. You want a pot that can store the heat so that when you add the corn it doesn’t cool off too much.
  • You want to use a mild oil with a high smoke point. I love Corn Oil, but peanut and Canola oil also work.
  • You need to leave the lid slightly ajar, you want to let the steam vent. When the kernels pop they let of steam. If the steam doesn’t escape, the popcorn gets chewy.
  • It is best to store the popcorn kernels in your cupboard. You want to try and make sure it doesn’t dry out. You need the water in the kernels to make it pop.
    • For best results, after you open your popcorn bag, always store your popcorn in a glass jar, or some other airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight.
    • If your popcorn, when you pop it, has a slightly gummy texture or pops up like foam, it might be too moist (by approximately 1%). You can put some kernels on a plate and leave it on your counter for a day, then see if it improves.
    • If your popcorn tastes tough after you pop it (too dry by approximately 1%), it may improve with a little added moisture. The ratio is one teaspoon of water to 1 pound of popcorn. Put it in a glass jar and shake it up. Shake it up at least 2 or 3 times a day for 3 days, then try popping it again. Be sure and shake it up, otherwise the water will stay at the bottom and mold the popcorn.
    • Old Bay – This is my favorite topping, it is spicy and salty and sticks to the popcorn really well.
    • Brewer’s Yeast or Nutritional Yeast – Tastey sort of buttery and it is good for you, it is a little tough to get it too stick though. I have found tossing it with soy sauce makes it stick and tastes good together. They soy can make the popcorn soggy though.
    • Kernel Season’s – They make lots of fun flavors. So far I like Naco Cheese the best.
    • Garlic Powder – Good and garlicy, and it sticks well
  • Stovetop Popcorn
    Use a heavy pot that can hold the heat.

    Here are some additional tips from Wisconsin Gold Harvest, producers of some great popcorn:

    Stovetop Popcorn
    Popcorn with Old-Bay.


    Everyone has their own favorite popcorn toppings, but here are a few of mine. Also if you ware going to add salt, try adding it when you add the corn to the oil, it will help it get even coverage.

    Stovetop Popcorn Recipe

    1. 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
    2. 3 Tbsp corn oil
    3. 3-4 quart heavy cover pot
    • Place pot over medium-high heat. Pour in oil and add three kernels. Cover
    • Wait for test kernels to pop. After they pop, add all the remaining popcorn. Leave the lid slightly ajar.
    • Shake the pot every 10 to 20 seconds to keep the kernels from burning. The kernels should starting popping slowly and then quicker and quicker. When things are popping, lift the lid two or three times to make sure the steam is venting, watch out for flying popcorn!
    • When the popping slows down to every other second or so, remove the pot for the heat
    • Pour half the popcorn into a bowl, sprinkle some of the topping on the bowl and shake. Pour the remaining popcorn in the bowl and add more seasoning.
    • Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “Stovetop Popcorn

  1. How do I keep from getting tough popcorn when I pop it on the stove. We use a whirly pop popper, 2 tbsp coconut oil,cook over med high heat….

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  5. I cook it in olive oil & cover it with a perforated colander to vent the steam & keep the corn contained. I flavor it with olive oil instead of butter, add some fresh ground pepper with the salt.

  6. Brewer’s yeast is not the same as nutritional yeast!
    Nutritional yeast can be found in health food stores as yellow flakes or a yellow powder, it has a nutty “cheesy” taste, so so so good on popcorn after you’ve put the butter on.

  7. Hi Jen, I just popped up a bowl tonight. I am still way addicted to popcorn. I follow you seasoning technique, or sometimes I quickly move the popcorn to a big bowl so I can toss everything. You are right on though, I think the bonus oil helps everything stick. If you are really hooked, check out They have tons of great popcorn seasonings!


    • Anyone have any idea how many calories and fat grams stovetop popcorn has (after it’s popped)? I LOVE the stuff, but I was wondering how it fit into my wieght watchers plan.

  8. I just started turning the heat up on the stove when i do this to medium high like you and the bag suggested and viola! I only had one unpopped kernel. And they popped up so fat, and fluffy! I’ve always been stumped by whether to add the seasoning before, or after pop. If it flips inside out then won’t the salt be in the middle instead of on the fluffy (where i want it)

    Sometimes, after popping’s done, i add the seasoning to them while they are still in the pot (move it to a cold burner) because, i believe the heat in the pot will help to make the seasoning stick. My other suggestion is to make sure there is more oil in the pan than there are kernels so that some oil will be left over, and help to serve as a “seasoning sticker” if you will…. Can you tell I’ve given this too much thought?

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  10. I totally agree about stove-popped popcorn – so much better than microwaved (although, I do get lazy at times, too.) And I have to second the adding salt when you add the kernals to the oil. Best way to get it to stick.

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