Appetizers & Snacks

Best Stovetop Popcorn

at a glance
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Servings 4 servings

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Delicious, crisp, popcorn perfection! Stovetop popcorn is easier than you may think and will give you a bounty of this favorite treat!

Stainless steel pot with popped corn sitting on stove top

Why make popcorn on the stove?

In addition to being super easy and cost-efficient to make, stovetop popcorn is so tasty and easily made with just a couple of ingredients! When making it on the stovetop (vs. a bag of popcorn in the microwave), you also have the ability to adjust portion size and season however you like! 

Is stovetop popcorn hard to make?

Stovetop popcorn is way easier to make than you may think! All you need is a couple of ingredients and a sturdy pot with a lid. The process is really simple and the result is the absolute tastiest, freshest treat! 

How is stovetop popcorn different from store bought microwave popcorn?

Aside from the obvious cooking method (one is cooked on the stovetop and the other in the microwave), the major differences are in the ingredients. You have far more control over what goes into your popcorn when you make it at home!

Close up of stainless steel pot with popped corn sitting on grey and white marble countertop
Stovetop PopcornStore Bought Popcorn
Made with olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, or avocado oilMade with palm oil
Popped on the stove in a sturdy pan with a lidPopped in a bag in the microwave
Flavored with whatever seasoning you have on hand at homeFlavored with artificial ingredients and “natural” flavors

What is the difference between stovetop and air-popped popcorn?

Air-popped popcorn is made using hot air and no added fat (oil/ghee), while stovetop popcorn uses a small amount of fat (usually only 1-2 tablespoons) and is heated on the stove. While both make for a tasty, healthy snack, I think that stovetop popcorn is much more flavorful and fulfilling since it has the added healthy fat content. 

Is stovetop popcorn healthier than microwave and movie theater popcorn?

Stovetop popcorn is definitely healthier than microwave and movie theater popcorn. For a basic popcorn, you just need two ingredients (the popcorn kernels and oil/ghee), making for a super clean snack. Microwave and movie theater popcorn are usually made with artificial ingredients and flavors for taste and color and use lower quality oils. 

Ingredients for Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

The ingredients for the perfect stovetop popcorn are simple! All you need are:

  • Olive Oil/Ghee –  2 tablespoons of olive oil or ghee heated in the bottom of a pot will get your kernels to popped perfection.
  • Popcorn Kernels – into the olive oil or ghee, you’ll add a ½ cup of popcorn kernels to make your tasty snack!

Ingredient Modifications

There is not much by way of modification for the popcorn kernels, but you can certainly change up the flavor profile of your popcorn. Here are some ideas:

  • Use a different fat: use coconut oil or avocado oil in place of the olive oil or ghee. You’ll just want a fat that has a high smoke point. 
  • Use a different type of popcorn kernel: instead of the traditional yellow popcorn kernel, try white, red, or blue popcorn kernels.
  • Add seasoning: sprinkle seasoning (or even parmesan cheese) over your popped popcorn for a more flavorful treat!

What is the best oil for popcorn?

Since you’re cooking popcorn on the stove at a high temperature, you’ll want to use an oil with a fairly high smoke point (350℉ or above). I personally prefer to use minimally processed oil, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil. Ghee (one of the options in this recipe) also makes for a tasty popcorn. Bacon fat or pork lard would make for a really decadent popcorn!

Supplies Needed for this Recipe

How to make Popcorn on the Stove

To make your stovetop popcorn, you just have to follow a few simple steps!

Stainless steel pot with bottom coated in oil sitting on stovetop
Stainless steel pot with bottom coated with oil and three popcorn kernels sitting on stovetop
Stainless steel pot with bottom coated with oil and a coupe popped popcorn kernels sitting on stovetop
Stainless steel pot with popcorn kernels and oil sitting on stovetop
All clad, stainless steel pot with lid sitting on stove
Stainless steel pot with popped corn sitting on stove top
  1. Melt the fat – melt two tablespoons of ghee (or warm two tablespoons of olive oil) in a pot with a matching lid over high heat on the stove. 
  2. Add a few kernels, test the oil, then add the rest – once the ghee or oil is hot, add 2-3 popcorn kernels to the pot (this will help you gauge the temperature and let you know whether the ghee/oil is hot enough). Once the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, put the lid on the pot, and remove the pot from the heat for 30 seconds.
  3. Pop – put the pot back on the heat and once the kernels start popping, give the pot a gentle shake. Then listen!
  4. Remove the pot from heat – once the popping slows to one pop every 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Enjoy!

What type of pan is best for popping popcorn?

You can use pretty much any type of pan to make stovetop popcorn, just make sure it is large enough to allow for the increase in volume once the popcorn starts popping! You’ll also want to make sure the pan has a tightly fitting lid and isn’t too heavy for you to gently shake to distribute the kernels while they’re popping.

Do I put the oil on the pan before cooking, or on top of the popcorn after?

The oil heads into the pan before cooking your popcorn. Preheating the oil in the pan is what cooks the popcorn and gives the kernels and even coating of fat. If you want your popcorn to have an even richer taste, feel free to add melted ghee or butter over the bowl of finished popcorn before diving in.

Stainless steel pot with bottom coated in oil sitting on stovetop

What is the best amount of butter to put on stovetop popcorn?

If you’re adding melted butter over your finished popcorn, I recommend starting with a couple of tablespoons. Pour it over the popcorn and toss to coat. There really isn’t a wrong answer here, though — it’s all up to your personal preference. To me, nothing beats a perfectly buttery piece of popcorn!

How much salt should I put on my stovetop popcorn?

This is another personal preference. I would start with a ¼ teaspoon and adjust accordingly from there. To get an even coating of salt on your popcorn, add the salt in with the oil before you add your popcorn kernels.

Popcorn Topping Suggestions

There are SO many fun toppings you can add to your popcorn! Here are some ideas:

  • Add seasoning: sprinkle with your favorite spices (cayenne pepper, chili flakes, and garlic salt are some favorites).
  • Drizzle melted butter: melt butter and toss your popped popcorn in the butter for the ultimate buttery popcorn! Get really creative and add garlic and herbs to your butter before tossing it with your popcorn.
  • Top with cheese: use a microplane and grate parmesan or asiago on top of your finished popcorn. Nutritional yeast is also great for a non-dairy cheesy flavor!
  • Make it sweet: dust your hot popcorn with some cinnamon and coconut sugar for a sweet treat.

Other Favorite Snack Recipes

Best Stovetop Popcorn

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
No ratings yet
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 8 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Delicious, crisp, popcorn perfection! Stovetop popcorn is easier than you may think and will give you a bounty of this favorite treat!

Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels

Instructions

  •  
  • Melt two tablespoons of ghee (or warm two tablespoons of olive oil) in a pot with a matching lid over high heat on the stove. 
  • Once the ghee or oil is hot, add 2-3 popcorn kernels to the pot (this will help you gauge the temperature and let you know that the ghee/oil is hot enough). Once the kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn, put the lid on the pot, and remove the pot from the heat for 30 seconds.
  • Put the pot back on the heat and once the kernels start popping, give the pot a gentle shake. Then listen!
  • Once the popping slows to one pop every 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Enjoy!
Meet the Author
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Melissa Guevara

Melissa spends the bulk of her time writing, managing our content calendar, and lending a hand in recipe shoots. She values time spent exploring outdoors with her family and baking all things sourdough.⁠
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