Introduction: Easy Stovetop Popcorn

Picture of Easy Stovetop Popcorn

I love popcorn!

But microwave popcorn has its serious limitations:

1) tastes definitively like microwaved popcorn
2) always too much or too little popcorn (depending on size of bag and mood)
3) it ain't cheap
4) my boyfriend doesn't have a microwave!!!!

What's a girl to do??
Oh yeah.
The stove! I have one oh those!

I'd like to say I remember this from my childhood and it brings back warm fuzzies of ski lodges and family game nights. But no, we had an air popper - a cumbersome, mono-utility device, that while awesome, I refuse to spend money on just to try and find more space in my tiny apartment kitchen to store.

But hey, I've got a stove. And a pot! How can I take these simple things and use them to make my favorite snack? With oil and salt I already have, and a bag of popcorn (they sell it by the kernels now!) I can buy for about $1 and get 6 servings from! Six of those big-bag-size servings that I still can't finish.

I wonder why I don't just pop less corn?

This instructable will show you a simple way to save money, control portion size and additives, and generate free entertainment!

Step 1: Supplies

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Pot or pan with handle and lid

Popcorn kernels


Salt or other seasonings to taste

Step 2: Heat the Stove

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Turn the heat on to high.

If you are using a gas stove, you can do this after you've added oil to the pan. I prefer to do it first on an electric stove to give it time to heat up.

Step 3: Add the Oil

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Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

If you are making a little popcorn, just barely cover the bottom.
The more popcorn, the more oil.

Step 4: Add Salt (opt.)

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I like to do this before I add the popcorn because I like to imagine the salt granules reaching every kernel this way.

I doubt that's how it happens, but it seems more fair to the kernels than just dumping it on post-pop, and all the best for whoever's on top.

Step 5: Pour in Popcorn Kernels

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Once the oil is so hot it's almost smoking, pour in the popcorn kernels.

Step 6: Kernels in Oil

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Should look something like this!

Step 7: Shake That Thang

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Shake to evenly distribute oil, heat, and kernels.

Not too vigorously at this point, or they might come flying out of the pan.

Step 8: Cover the Pan

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Cover the pan.

Continue to shake the pan occasionally.

Watch for condensation to gather.

Step 9: Release Steam

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Do this a lot!

Lift the lid a little to release the steam that's building up in the pan.
Otherwise you will get chewy popcorn.

At some point, the kernels will have popped high enough that some will try to escape during this step. It means you're almost done!

Step 10: Listen for Popping to Stop

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When your you notice the popping has slowed down, it's time to take it off the heat.

Release more steam and check out your gorgeous kernels!

Step 11: Turn Off the Stove!

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Don't forget this part!

Your popcorn will continue to pop a bit even after the heat source has been removed. This is good, because then you know you're not going to burn it.

Step 12: Enjoy!

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Pour into your favorite popcorn bowl and enjoy!

I highly recommend dressing your kernels with a scant drop of truffle oil.  Yum.

All of that delicious popcorn for less than 16 cents!!!

Now settle in with a free episode or movie from or one of the major network's websites (or a dvd from the library if you had the foresight to go get one) and think about the $32 you just saved by not going out!


love2dothisLynn made it! (author)2015-11-05

I did this with one small difference. I used vegetable oil. Taste pretty good too.

mrjonesmmcsd (author)2013-06-11

Try different kinds of popcorn. The big stores just carry white or yellow. Way too generic! Go for variety! Here in Northern New York we have an Amish store. Holy Cow!!! You need to try their corn varieties. Ladyfinger is my favorite. Kernals about half the size of standard, light fluffy bits of awesome!! Try some other varieties at Crown Jewel .com amazing. The Blue Sapphire is fantastic!

valkgurl (author)2012-11-18

Some old timers like my grandparents had a "special" pot that they used ONLY for pop corn and NEVER washed! Wiped out only. IT "seasons" like a cast iron. pan. The more aged it got the less oil you needed--obviously you still need opil of some sort though!!! And then they added pre-melted butter and "pop corn salt" which is a finer salt than "table salt" and gets in the "nooks and crannies" better.

batonas (author)2011-10-28

Ok so I have cooked popcorn this way for years and find out that you can use butter insted of oil ( tastes better for me), all corn should reach bottom and be half submerged in oil-butter, cook on medium heat, all corn will never pop unless you want to burn them, so when you smell a light smoke its done, add salt or whatever you want and enjoy.

Pizzapie500 (author)2010-12-02

LOL! I made this then my dad came in and he was like "why are you making popcorn on the stove?" and I was like "Because I heard it taste better than microwave popcorn" then he said " we have a air popcorn maker downstairs".

BtheBike (author)Pizzapie5002011-03-04

haha.. thats so funny , because its exactly what happened to me while visiting my Mom and Dad. Me and My Mom have a Fierce popcorn addiction .. Fierce ,I say .

During a google session finding out about the cons of microwaves, i decided to start popping healthier corn for us in a pot on the stove top. Me and my Mom were all proud till Pops comes in and says " know ,we have the air popper ..right ?" .(Dad ,of course ,does not have the popcorn fetish gene)
Its like as old as me , and lo and behold,da ting still worked ! LoL !!

SeaLion (author)2010-11-27

Just tried it out...this is incredible! My popcorn cravings are at bay.
One question though, do you find that oil kind of pops out of the lid when you let steam out of is this a sign that I've put in too much oil?

SeaLion (author)2010-11-18

For the longest time, I've craved for popcorn but coudn't bring myself to buy microwave last! POPCORN!!!

cherishcherub (author)2010-09-10

this was really easy to make, and these are lovely!!!

took me less than 10 mins

lasted even less

Calorie (author)2008-11-20

The best instructables are the ones that are most obvious. I think it's like a great invention, sort of "Hey, why didn't I think of that?" Done this for years. I would suggest using less oil, perhaps 1/2 of what you used. Other than that, keep popping! I like jessyratfink's idea of paprika, gonna try it.

Lokisgodhi (author)Calorie2010-08-22

The thing isn't 'why didn't I think of that' because many times you have. It's 'why didn't I do something with the idea first'. That's the million dollar (sometimes literally) question.

sarahschmara (author)2008-12-28

I like to use bacon fat instead of oil... and I add melted butter after.

arpoky (author)sarahschmara2010-08-01


dombeef (author)arpoky2010-08-02

You are genius

arpoky (author)dombeef2010-08-02

I didn't make it. I just found it.

dombeef (author)arpoky2010-08-02

Yeah, but you directed it to this

mason0190 (author)sarahschmara2010-07-14

popcorn... and bacon... you, sir get ∞ gold stars.

blodefood (author)sarahschmara2010-03-23

You can also use coconut oil which works well.  For some really buttery flavour without having to add butter, you can use ghee (clarified butter).

mason0190 (author)2010-07-14

wait, don;t they still sell JiffyPop?

ShadowJesus (author)2010-03-25

Ah! you always have amazing instructables.

ongissim (author)2008-10-17

This is how I, too, make my popcorn. You should try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil when you are adding the olive oil next time you make some; it makes it taste just like the movie theater's!

scoochmaroo (author)ongissim2008-10-17

Coconut oil? Brilliant! I never would have thought of that. Now where do I get coconut oil?

blodefood (author)scoochmaroo2010-03-23

Health food stores would carry it as well as west Indian and east Indian grocery stores.

generator (author)ongissim2008-11-15

i worked at an old fashioned movie theater that got voted 'best popcorn in san diego' they used soybean oil.

frollard (author)ongissim2008-10-19

Coconut and palm oil are used by the theatres simply because it is cheaper. I highly recommend using just the olive, canola, or vegetable oil - for healths sake.

wazzup105 (author)2010-03-16

re: microwave popcorn being expensive ... I just put ordinary  popcorn-kernels in a regular paper bag (without oil) which I microwave for 2 minutes...  works like a charm (most of the times, I admit sometimes the popcorn burns because the stick together (blow some air in the bag prior to closing it helps) and don't use an iron clip to clip the bag.. seeing fire in your microwave might be amusing at first, the stench will linger way too long)

salt doesn't stick to it though, but at least it is cheap and since I just require a small amount....

blodefood (author)wazzup1052010-03-23

If this works for you that's great!  You've got the timing done right.  I would be afraid that if left too long, say in more powerful mw ovens, the bag might catch fire.  Just safety on my mind here.

frollard (author)2008-10-19

My first 'real' job was working at a now-closed-down classic movie theatre; (we're talking bow ties and vests) - anyhoo, we used *this* recipe for our popcorn (none of that yellow crap they add nowadays) with 1 exception

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS heat the oil to 'just before it starts to smoke'. Popcorn pops because the tiny bit of water remaining in the core of the 'seed' boils, creates steam pressure and explodes the kernel. It is the FAST expansion of the steam which causes good popcorn to be fluffy and light. - The popcorn looks like ripped 'flaky' chunks, and has excellent texture.

When you heat it slowly in oil, the pressure has a chance to escape slowly(er), and the shell begins to soften as it absorbs the oil. The soft kernel shell rips open slowly instead of ripping explosively. Slow = bad. Slow popcorn are the ones that look like little brains; speherical and hard/chewy.

The analogy is that you have to 'surprise' the kernels open. Lastly; always use fresh popcorn kernels. Old popcorn dries out, and thus you get much less bang and more 'slow' kernels.

jdtwelve12 (author)frollard2010-03-16

I used to make popcorn on the stove back in college.  One trick for knowing when the oil is hot enough (without slow-heating them all) is to put just a kernel or two in the oil.  When they pop, *then* add the rest of 'em, and give it a slight shake.

scoochmaroo (author)frollard2008-10-19

Yes! I forgot to mention how hot the oil should be before you add the kernels! I did have a picture of the "just before smoking" oil, but it was hard to interpret. Good catch.

Jayefuu (author)2010-03-15

Nice ible! I like to upturn my pasta colander over my pan. It lets the steam out but keeps the popcorn in. :D It also allows for more popcorn to fit in the pan which is always a win!

matthewabel (author)Jayefuu2010-03-15

 That.  Is.  GENIUS.

VanillaXtiffy (author)2009-09-13

Yes. This is how I make my popcorn. It tastes so much better and by controlling what you put in it, healthier. My mom still uses the mic but that's her loss. It takes about the same amount of time anyway and the pot is easy to clean. Less waste!

skmemailid (author)2009-06-23

I was always doing this way, until I found its easier to do it in microwave. But, as you put it, the taste is different in stove top popcorn. But, with me, some kernels always burn and it destroys the flavor of the rest of the popped corn.

skmemailid (author)2009-06-23

vow! you think just like me. Thank you for speaking your mind.

gummihu (author)2009-03-23

You can add one or two kernel into the pan before it is hot, when it pops it is hot enough

Mugshotz (author)2009-03-07

You can also use aluminum foil with holes punched in to let the steam escape. I do this all the time and never worry about "chewy" popcorn. Plus you don't have to clean the lid!

stretch mark (author)2008-12-30

I was in Hawaii two years ago and had "Malina's Pollen Pops." Really interesting, so I snipped the label. Snipping labels is useful. I need to remember to do that more. Last month I got around to making my own. Really great, so here is Malina's ingredient list for your perusal. Popcorn Macadamia nut oil (I disregarded this oil, but am now interested again after reading these other comments.) Nutritional yeast Dehydrated bee pollen Fructose (also disregarded.) Garlic powder Cayenne pepper Sea salt I think for my own I added some other heat like paprika and chili powder. I did a variation with a little mustard cumin and turmeric (very little). All were great. This afternoon I am going to try to really minimize the fat so I can spray it on after. Spraying after might help the dry ingredients stick to the popcorn better which would be an improvement. I have been experimenting with turmeric as a preservative in various foods. I read that it promotes oxygen in hemoglobin in our own bodies and therefore might also be a natural preservative. Forgive me, these are not areas of my expertise. The first batch of popcorn did not last very long put in a freezer bag in the fridge and got stale and soggy within a day or so. Perhaps obviously, storing on the counter for a day or so would have been better. No air tight bag might have been better also. Turmeric batch got eaten in one sitting so no science report there.

Rectifier (author)2008-10-22

Damn fine! A past roommate of mine re-introduced me to "Ghetto Corn" as we called it back then...
Better than microwave and MUCH better than the dry cardboard corn that comes out of the popcorn popper machines...

These days, instead of oil, I use melted lard... tastier, and more calories! (remember, we are saving money here - more calories per dollar is better, also I am skinny, a bottomless food pit and always trying to eat enough not to be hungry).

I also have a popper machine, but I use it to roast coffee - it's much better at that.

janazon (author)2008-10-20

Toss a couple kernels in the pot & when they pop, the oil is hot enuf...ah, the simple life! Thanks for remembering, scooch!

stacyteague (author)2008-10-19

I liked to use parmesan cheese... even the cheap-o KR*FT kind in the green container for spaghetti... niiiiiice! :)

hammerhead (author)2008-10-19

Ah yes, the old school art of making popcorn, the best way there is. I had one of those hot air popcorn makers but I found the result to dry and tasteless thus reverted to the pot. If you don't mind the calories a generous amount of melted butter after popping is done makes it even tastier and helps the salt distribute evenly when shaking it up.

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-10-18

lol, you have -1 views

CaseyCase (author)2008-10-18

You can add sugar to the popcorn kernels and oil and make a rockin' batch of kettle corn. (1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup popcorn, 1/4 cup sugar) Enjoy.

jessyratfink (author)2008-10-17

This is how I always make popcorn now. It's so cheap! I normally add freshly ground pepper to the oil, and if I want to add more spices, I'll add them after it's popped and just shake the pan with the lid on. Paprika, rosemary, oregano, and garlic all taste amazing on it. :D

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