Stove Popped Popcorn: A Tutorial

We eat a lot of popcorn around this joint.  It’s cheap.  It’s healthy (if you don’t drown it in butter….).  It’s quick and easy to make.  Yup, stove popped popcorn

You would be surprised how many people, when they see a big pan of corn sitting on my stove, tell me that they didn’t know you could pop popcorn on the stove top!

And for a few seconds I feel really, really old.  Sigh.  I actually remember the days before air poppers and microwave popcorn.

I get over it though and go on to explain just how we make our family’s favorite treat.

I start with  a six quart stock pot with a lid

stove popped popcorn popping on the stove

I take three turns around my pot with a light olive oil.  Or if I’m feeling rich, I use macadamia nut oil.  I’ve used grape seed oil with good results.  But since I always have olive oil on hand, it’s usually what I use. I’ve used coconut oil before and didn’t like the taste.  You taste buds may disagree.

In case you are wondering, 3 turns around my stock pot is about 3 VERY generous tablespoons of oil.

how much oil do you need to pop popcorn The angle of this picture isn’t helping much, but if you look closely you can see that the popcorn isn’t totally covered with olive oil.  Some of the top kernels are sticking out of the oil about half way.  Notice the bubbles in the oil…’s ready to pop!

You’ll notice I have my temperature under the pot up pretty high.  I get better results this way.  BUT you can’t walk away from your popcorn.  The next 2-3 minutes need your total attention.

The temperature to pop popcprn on.

When the oil is hot enough to sizzle around one piece of popcorn…….but NOT smoking…. I know it’s time to add all my popcorn.  I want to say I add a little more than 3/4ths  of cup of popcorn.  It isn’t an exact science.  Remember, you don’t want your popcorn to be drowning in oil.  The oil line shouldn’t be above your popcorn.

I then put the top on my pan and let ‘er rip!  I use to shake my pan back and forth.  But if your heat is high enough and your oil is hot enough all those little pieces of popcorn will pop up without any extra help.


stove popped popcorn popping on the stove

Can you see the steam on the left hand side of the pot?

You can’t see it well in this picture, but there is a lot of steam coming out from under the top of my pan.  My popcorn is going crazy in there.  This is sure to be a pan of light and fluffy goodness.

stove popped popcorn

It’s done!  There is actually more popcorn in the pan than it seems.  The popcorn has popped and is kind of packed in there.  I used the wrong side of a big spoon to stir it all up.  I’m classy like that.

I like to add my salt while my popcorn is still very warm.  I think it sticks to the popcorn much better.  I use sea salt.  Unless I’m out.  Then I’m stuck with table salt.   That always make me a little bit sad.

Here’s the secret to adding salt to your popcorn.  STIR/TOSS IT UP.  More stirring/tossing than salt.  Add a few shakes, stir the bejeebers out of it, taste it to see if you need more salt and repeat IF necessary.  There is nothing worse than too much salt on the top of the popcorn and not enough on the bottom.

Viola.  That’s it!  That’s right, I don’t even add butter.  Seriously.  It’s divine just the way it is.  Pinky swear.  I always have people tell me how good it is.  I think it has to do with getting the right oil to popcorn ratio down.  You’ll figure it out after you’ve made a pot or two.

popcorn popped on the stove

This stuff gets snarffed so quickly at my house that I don’t even take the time to turn it out into a bowl.  Everyone just eats out of the pot. Many a day I’ve made several pots to fill all the growling stomachs around this joint.

Every since Reed and I have been married we make popcorn every Sunday night.  It’s a Hodson family tradition that even my married kids have carried on in their little families.  Of course THAT popcorn is made by Reed and slathered in butter and cheddar cheese.  Yup.  Cheese.  But that’s a recipe for another day…..


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