HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


HELP: how to make popcorn on the stovetop

I don't have a microwave and hate microwave popcorn anyways, it's too salty and fake buttery. And I don't want to buy an air popper either since I live in an apartment the size of a shoebox and can't give up space to an appliance that only has one function. So I've been making my popcorn on the stovetop in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. My method is the following: Heat up a tbl. or so of oil in the pan, add a kernel to the pan, when it pops, add a 1/4 cup of kernels, cover and wait for the popping to commence. However, I end up shaking the pan around a lot since I don't want it burn, which seems to lower the heat of the pan, making it take longer to pop the kernels. Additionally, my popcorn ends up being really small, like the kernels didn't pop to their full potential. What am I doing wrong, or is it the cheap Kroger popcorn kernels that I'm using?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It is the cheap Kroger kernels. They are probably old(er) not much moisture in them to help them really puff when they pop. Search out some good quality popping corn, Black Jewel is a good one and use it. There will be a big difference. The only way I knew to pop corn for many years was in a sauce pan. Air poppers have only been around since the early 80's. You are doing it right, just get yourself some better corn.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        Old popcorn will most likely be drier, cheap or not. One trick is putting the kernels in a jar with a tight fitting lid and adding a little water...about 1 T per quart jar of kernels...shake well, add lid and let sit 3-4 days, minimum. Store jar in refer.

        1. re: OldDog

          The method I read of and use is to pour water into the jar of old kernels, then pour it right back out and screw on the lid. Never had to keep it in the fridge that way. It restores most of the kernels, so very little "poopcorn".

          If you are using seasonings but no butter or oil to top the popped corn, try spritzing hot popcorn with VERY little HOT water from a spray bottle, then immediately shaking it up and adding the dry seasonings, which will stick better to the corn.

      2. I pop corn on the stovetop too and I learned to coat the bottom of the pan with oil, drop in 3 kernels (don't know why, but it was always 3) and cover with the lid. You want high heat here. When they pop, then toss in about 1/2 cup popcorn and shake pan vigorously until the popping dies down. You don't want to leave it on until you hear nothing, because then it's sure to be burnt. Usually a few kernels pop as I'm pouring it into a paper bag, to remove the excess oil and to nicely distribute the salt and pepper (and sometimes wacky things like taco seasoning or garlic powder and cayenne pepper.) Just fold over the top and shake away your seasonings, pour into a bowl, get on the couch and press PLAY.

        1. My problem was not putting enough oil. Now I don't just coat the bottom with oil, I put more. Wish I could tell you how much but it's just by sight now.

          I put all the popcorn in at the beginning. Then AS SOON AS I hear one kernel pop, I remove it from heat and wait 30 seconds or so. Then put it back on the heat, swirl it around a bit until it starts popping, and by then it usually RAPIDLY pops, it's finished too quickly for anything to burn.

          And if you can get your hands on a West Bend Stir Crazy Popper, they work very nicely...not sure if they make/sell them anymore...it's not an air popper, you add oil.

          I've used cheap popcorn and it works okay, the problem for me was too little oil. If the popcorn comes in a plastic bag, you need to store it in a tight dry glass jar after the bag has been opened.

          8 Replies
          1. re: jackattack


            There's a couple for sale on ebay. search for westbend and west bend

            1. re: jackattack

              They do still make the Stir Crazy, you can find them at Target or Wal-Mart. I think they cost around $35. My vote goes to the Whirley-Pop stovetop popper. They go for around $20, but can often be found at thrift stores (if you go this route, the Theater II stovetop popper is identical) for a fraction of the price.

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                Yes. At outlet-type places, you can get them for $10 or less.

                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  I have a Whirley-Pop and the popcorn always comes out chewy instead of crunchy and fluffy. Can you help? Do you know what I'm doing wrong? I originally thought it was the popcorn I was using (that maybe it got too old), but I bought new kernels and it still came out chewy! HELP!

                  1. re: Torrancetiger

                    adjust temperature. probably too hot.

                      1. re: Torrancetiger

                        I'll bet the heat is a factor too, because the kernels are popping too fast. But more than that, you're generating a lot of steam in the pot, and faster if it's too hot. Steam is an enemy of popcorn. As soon as you can while popping, without popping kernels flying out everywhere, lift the lid a bit and let steam out, even as the corn finishes popping. Some steam escapes through spaces in the lid already, but not enough. So, between heat and steam, your popcorn should do fine if both are controlled. I have a posting here somewhere of how I change the temperature during popping, to help control heat -- and get great popcorn.

                        1. re: finessed

                          We have always stuck a toothpick under the side of the lid!

              2. I think it's the kernels too. Cheap kernels are OK, but old kernels are not. Keep them in an airtight jar. Your technique sounds OK.

                1. You must shake the pan...lid on as you go. Don't skimp on the amount of oil either. Not just a pan coating...a little depth.

                  Hottish pan...add oil and corn...shake rattle and roll!

                  white popcorn produces small almost hull free pieces.

                  yellow... big pieces thus more hull.

                  1. Try using a thinner-bottomed sauce pan and a little more oil. I've used a little cheapo one with great success.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: a_and_w

                      We were lucky enough to score a mint "Atom Pop" pan in a hysterical space-themed box from the 50s, and have used it ever since. It's thin aluminum, shaped like a flying saucer, with a three-inch wide bottom that tapers out to about eighteen inches at the rim, kind of like a really crappy wok. Works great, looks even better. The aluminum's going to be all scraped through on the bottom someday, though; this pan is CHEAP. But it pops every kernel every time.

                      Hmm, I'll bet you could use a wok. The idea is, the narrow bottom concentrates the heat and concentrates the oil, so you don't have to use a gallon of the stuff to get some depth to it. the wide flare helps keep the already-popped kernels away from the direct heat, too.

                      1. re: fnarf

                        We too are big fan's of the Atom Pop, such huge fans that my cousin and I are looking to market these sensational popcorn poppers at farmers market and county fairs. Atom Pop currently produces 600 kettles yearly in the middle of Kansas. I wouldn't be too concerned about scraping through the bottom, we've used the same popper for the past twenty years - we burnt the handles off a couple of times.

                        1. re: atom pop

                          I love the Atom Pop and want to order a couple more, but can't find the number of the company to order another one. Does anyone know the contact information for this company in the middle of Kansas?!?

                          1. re: rfrooney

                            The Atom Popcorn Popper is currenty being manufactured in Bushton Kansas. You can contact them at 620-562-3249.

                    2. We've also had some bad experiences with cheap supermarket corn. Is Orville Redenbacher the best supermarket brand?

                      I have more than once given gifts from Fireworks Popcorn http://www.popcornlovers.com/

                      They have a number of different varieties and the prices are reasonable.

                      1. So I agree that your problem is probably the kernals, and possibly not enough oil. The oil issue is tough because it turns a relative healthy snack less so, but you've got a valid reason for not wanting an air popper.

                        But while we're at it, how about some tasty topping ideas?

                        Simple melted butter and salt is often all I want, but I get good results by swirling a little sugar into the butter after it's melted. I've added rosemary or sage to the butter too, also a little grated parm. Dry spices like a mild chili give a nice kick.

                        But I recently picked up some truffle salt that is ridiculously good on popcorn, again with butter.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Grubbjunkie

                          ooh, sage sounds great. i like cholula hot sauce and lime or parmesan cheese or just plain salt usually.

                          1. re: Grubbjunkie

                            I've done that with packaged taco seasoning, also packaged dry ranch dressing mix.

                            1. re: Grubbjunkie

                              I like making 'kettle corn' by sprinkling an even layer of sugar and a little bit of salt over the kernels before they're popped. Don't let them pop too long, though....better to have a few old maids in the bowl than burnt sugar.

                              As an aside, I had some oil leftover from frying plantains once and rather than toss it, I threw it into the kernels I keep in the fridge. It was so easy the next time I made popcorn that I generally keep my kernels in oil, ready to go. Anyone else do this? Does it help keep the moisture or is it bad form?

                            2. There was an episode of "Good Eats" recently where Alton Brown made popcorn on the stove top. He used a large, cheap metal bowl and foil. I think that would be a good set up. You could use the giant bowl for lots of other things.


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: birddogfoodie

                                Yeah, I thought that was a very cool method. I'm going to give it a try whem the fancy popcorn I ordered from http://www.crownjewelgourmet.com arrives. I've always done it in a pot and it's always come out pretty well, so I'm curious to see if there's much of a difference.

                              2. I use a very thick bottom pot and it doesn't need to be shaken at all. Also after years of measuring precisely according to the Orville Redenbacher label, I realized you just have to cover the bottom with some oil and put in some popcorn. And after years of doing that thing where you heat the oil with a few kernels I realized you can just dump it all in at the start. Less fuss, less stuff to wash, less arm exercise, and it's great.

                                The only thing that seems to matter is the thick bottomed pot and decent quality fresh popcorn. I do think Orville Redenbacher is better but I can't find it around here anymore.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: wombat

                                  The point about just dumping the kernels in is well taken. But I actually disagree that a thick-bottomed pot is required. First, my own experience is to the contrary. Second, Jiffy Pop comes in rinky dink aluminum pans.

                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                    It's not required if you like shaking the pan. It's just that I prefer going and sitting down and coming back when it's done.

                                2. In a pinch one day, I got some of the fancy organic popcorn from the bulk bin in my local fancy product market. It was seriously the best popcorn I'd ever made at home, so now that's all I buy. It's great.

                                  1. WHIRLEY-POP makes the best popcorn in the world.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Fleur

                                      Yes! We love our Whirley-Pop. I've become addicted to popcorn ever since we bought it earlier this year.

                                      1. re: ziggylu

                                        Yes - i concur about Whirley Pop -- the recipes in the book are also good - especially kettle corn...a bit of sugar - the biggest downside to the whirley pop is the amount of space it takes up (for small abode dwellers)

                                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                          Multi task it and use it to roast green coffee beans

                                      2. re: Fleur

                                        agreed, I got one last summer and it makes the best stove top popcorn...really big pieces of poped corn! but yes, the storage is an issue cause I use it enough not to put it away, but not that much that I want to put it away...if that makes sense...

                                        1. re: geminigirl

                                          HA! I have the exact same issue!!! Mine lives on the stove-top, which I'm not thrilled with, but it is too awkward to try to squish it into a cabinet and, anyway, I use it quite a lot. Love the thing, though.

                                      3. I use two or three tablespoons of oil to 1/2 cup of white popcorn in a thick aluminum pan. I heat it over medium-high heat. If it pops too fast, it seems like the kernels come out tough.

                                        Lately, though, I've been popping 1/4 cup of popcorn in the microwave in a brown paper lunch bag. Less greasier than pan popped, crunchy like air popped popcorn.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Kiyah

                                          With the WHIRLEY-POP I have used as little as 1-2 teaspoons of oil for 1/2 cup popcorn. Works every time.

                                          1. re: Fleur

                                            I have no idea why but popcorn made using a Whirley-Pop is much better than popcorn using a regular pot. There is something about the Whirley-Pop that makes the kernels more tender when popped. It's great that such a low-tech machine can do wonders like that.

                                            1. re: cornflower55

                                              I love my Whirley-Pop, too. I took the tip from someone on this board and I now pop with a mix of melted butter and olive oil. Gives a nice buttery flavor without having to use very much. I then sprinkle with a bit of salt, garlic powder and some fresh grated parmesan cheese. Sometimes a bit of cayenne pepper, too. Call it dinner on those non-cooking nights...

                                        2. Add 1/2 cup kernels and 3 tbsp natural coconut oil (the best) or canola. Natural coconut oil is actually healthy and you store it in its solid state in your cupboard. Put over medium heat covered with the lid slightly ajar. Remove when popping slows down but before it stops altogether. You can shake it a few times as you go to make sure the unpopped kernels fall to the bottom. It does take a while but it is worth it. Pour melted butter over the popcorn while stirring to distribute evenly. Sprinkle with Morton's popcorn salt while stirring again.

                                          Movie theater popcorn in your own home. Children, everywhere, will idolize you.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: CDouglas

                                            Where do you find Morton's popcorn salt? I've been searching supermarket shelves for a while, and can't seem to locate any.

                                            1. re: i8dumplings

                                              My grocery store stocks it on the same shelf with the popcorn and microwave popcorn. Small blue container with salt that is finely grained so that it really clings to anything that you sprinkle it on.

                                              Diamond Crystal makes a version as well.

                                              1. re: CDouglas

                                                Alton Brown recommends you make your own popcorn salt by pulsing kosher salt in a food processor- about 10 3-second pulses.

                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                  Beware if you do this that salt is very abrasive and may scratch your plastic food processor bowl. I noticed that the bowl was getting hazy and foods tended to stick when I used it for other purposes. I ordered a new bowl and use the scratched one for salt and making breadcrumbs only.

                                          2. I use a dedicated popcorn saucepan. Generally dump it all in and swirl on the burner. Fill a bowl halfway with popped corn, butter and salt, then add the rest of the corn and butter and salt.

                                            I like some of the kernels to be a little charred, hence the dedication of the saucepan.

                                            Distribute some bowls around the living room and settle down with the family to watch Sunday night Bonanza. Gaack! that was how many decades ago?

                                            1. As odd as it might sound I use a wok with a lid for making popcorn.

                                              I do not seem to have to use as much oil to start the kernals popping since the bottom of the wok is curved. Also because of the curved bottom the unpopped kernals always sink to the bottom where the heat is the hottest and I seem to have fewer unpopped kernals (is saying "old maids" politically incorrect now days?).

                                              If I want buttered popcorn I then use the wok to melt the butter and drizzle it over the popcorn. I then dump the popcorn back into the wok and flip the popcorn several times to better distribute the butter to all the popcorn. Dump the buttered popcorn back into a bowl and settle in to watch TV (napkins needed).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: TryThis

                                                The setup that Alton Brown did on the recent Good Eats was based on the same concept. A small area in contact with the heat means no burned popcorn and fewer unpopped kernels.

                                              2. I use coconut oil. Don't need to shake it. Comes out delish.

                                                1. I know this will most likely get me crucified by the popcorn purists, but I actually like my popcorn plain - no oil. That's why I love making it in the microwave, using plain kernels in a paper bag.

                                                  But I don't have a microwave anymore and no room for an air-popper. Is there any way to make it on the stove without adding oil?

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                    No, and lots of people will tell you that the paper-bag-in-the-microwave method got them an unexpected new kitchen.

                                                    1. re: jackattack

                                                      I've been doing it for years with no problem. Just make sure there are no staples in the bag.

                                                      1. re: piccola

                                                        Actually, I do it with two stapes at the top of the paper bag, with no problems whatsoever.

                                                        Best popcorn ever. Just toss in a bit of oil/butter/seasoning after popping.

                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                          How much time do you set for your microwave?

                                                          1. re: Teep

                                                            I press the "popcorn" button and start paying close attention after 2 minutes.

                                                      2. re: piccola

                                                        I've made it on the stovetop without any oil in a small, fairly heavy saucepan (1 qt) with a tight fitting lid.I've only made a single serving (about 3 cups popped) so I don't know if it will work for larger quantities.

                                                        My method- put about 2 TB unpopped kernels in a cold pan. Put on lid, turn flame on high heat (probably about 8/10 on an electric stove, though I've only done this on gas)and let it sit over the heat until it starts to pop. Once it starts popping, hold the lid only slightly askew so that there a little room for the steam to escape and shake the pan until the popping stops. It goes fast.....

                                                        Remove from heat and take off the lid. I find that the kernels crisp up a little if you let it sit for a minute or 2 uncovered. Then add on whatever oil/butter/flavorings I like. I use this method because IMHO I think that the butter tastes more buttery if it's just melted on top instead of part of the cooking medium.

                                                        If you're adding on dried seasonings, take care to do it outside of the saucepan, as the residual heat in the pot will often burn them. (burnt garlic powder- yech :)

                                                        1. re: 4Snisl

                                                          Cool, thanks! I was planning on making single servings anyway, so this is perfect.

                                                      3. Danger! Please move far away from me when eating my favorite snack; popcorn made on the stovetop. My wife gets terribly embarrassed when I eat popcorn in front of guests because I shove so much in at once and with such enthusiasm. My table etiquette goes out the window when I eat popcorn, chicken wings, or ribs...hmmmm!

                                                        Anyway, I've tried just about every method of popping popcorn and love the stovetop method best. Here are the key ingredients to making great stovetop popcorn;

                                                        1) Fresh High quality kernels (I noticed that the generic "yellow kernels", are really tough so buy the lighter "white kernels" if you're buying the cheap stuff. Think of corn on the cob...the white or peaches and cream ears of corn are more tender than the yellow varieties.)
                                                        Orville's are great quality regardless of the color but on the expensive side.
                                                        2) I usually use my all clad 4 qt. pot but you can use any cheap pot.
                                                        3) Canola Oil
                                                        4) Fresh High quality melted butter(old uncovered butter will ruin your popcorn)
                                                        5) Salt to taste

                                                        1) Melt about 1/4 to 1/3 stick of butter.
                                                        2) Pour 4-5 tablespoon's of canola oil in the bottom of pot and swirl around until bottom of pot is evenly coated.
                                                        3) Pour kernels in until evenly touching bottom of pot and not on top of eachother; about 1/2 cup
                                                        4) Turn on flame to medium high and cover pot tightly with lid
                                                        5) Shake pot every 30 or so seconds when popping is vigerous.
                                                        6) Remove pot from heat when popping occurs about every 3 seconds and pour popcorn in an extra large stainless mixing bowl.
                                                        7) Swirl about 1/4 of your melted butter over the corn in a circular motion and then add salt and toss thoroughly. Repeat this step until salt and butter are to your liking. Enjoy!

                                                        1. I use a medium-sized saucepan, medium-high heat. I coat the bottom of the saucepan with a thin layer of oil, dump all the popcorn in at the same time, and start shaking when I hear the first pop. As I'm shaking the pot, I also lift or cock the lid a bit to allow the steam to escape (but trying not to let the popping kernals escape at the same time - it takes some practice).

                                                          I've heard that if you keep the steam trapped with the popping popcorn, it'll absorb some of the moisture and be tough and chewy. I've never done an empirical analysis, so I can't be sure.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                            this method releases the steam while popping—it really works!
                                                            pop the corn in a wok and turn a metal colander upside down for a lid

                                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                                              I've used a splatter screen with a paper towel on top of it - the towel captures the oily steam that escapes.

                                                          2. Orville Redenbacher's is indeed the way to go, even if it is expensive - I've tried the supermarket brand and they make small, tough kernals.

                                                            My best result was with a nonstick saucepan - I follow Orville's directions (coat bottom with oil, toss in 3 kernals, add the rest when those 3 pop). With the nonstick pan, once I gave it a couple of shakes to coat the kernals with oil I could just leave it. Once I got the heat right, I had no burning and no unpopped kernals. Unfortunately our nonstick got scratched, so now I use a copper-bottom pot, which gives slightly less perfect results - but still, I don't see a need for all the shaking. Once you make popcorn on the stovetop a few times, you will know the exact burner setting and amount of oil, and it will be a breeze.

                                                            1. I used some of that foo-foo organic red variety from Amish country and from batches of 1/4 to 1/3 cup had maybe three or four old maids. Even a couple years old, shoved in the back of the 'unloved' shelf, it popped great.

                                                              BTW, great thread on popcorn toppings. Furikake is good though it doesn't stick, maybe I should put some parm on first.

                                                              1. I use my wok. I put a lid on slightly ajar to let steam out.

                                                                1. Okay, I stole this idea from a blog, but I can't remember which one.

                                                                  Chop 2-4 strips of bacon into fine dice, pan fry until crispy, remove from pan and set aside. Depending on the amount of fat drain off more than is needed to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in popcorn, cover and shake until popped, toss bacon bits back in. Eat. Call cardiologist for checkup.

                                                                  1. There is really nothing like popcorn made on top of the stove. I can tolerate some microwave popcorn ( i do like the jalapeno o.r. variety), but i definitly can not tolerate the low-fat non-fat types.....i'd rather eat a bag of those styrofoam packing peanuts...which is exactly what that stuff puts me in mind of...i'll pass ! blech. Same goes for air popped corn.

                                                                    A bag of popcorn kernels signal high risk situations for me, given my over the top love of the stuff !! Not something i can regularly keep around the house, because i'll make it way too often on the stove top...which is not a low fat, low salt etc snack. I don't measure mine, which often results in a pan lid being pushed a few extra inches off the top ....but i just tend to throw in a good quantity of oil...enough to coat the kernels that i toss in there...i sight it. I put the burner on max...and stay with it, shaking the pot, until i hear the popping slow down, and immediatly dump it into a waiting bowl for seasoning etc.

                                                                    One poster mentioned a non-stick pan...i was under the impression that you shouldn't heat a non-stick pan above medium......or is that just the older varieties??

                                                                    seasonings...don't get me started. i actually like that powdered stuff...either the Kernels brand nacho or sour cream and onion...or the Bulk Barn hickory smoked one....smokey sweet, mmm. Real butter and plain salt is also good. I also sometimes use my grinder of alder smoked sea salt on my popcorn, dashes of hot sauce are also good, i also sometimes throw some shredded cheese to glom it all together. It's a good thing i haven't tried some of the movie theatre butter options out there.

                                                                    i'm also not above having a dip for my popcorn...mayo mixed with hot sauce is good. Maybe with a bit of smoked paprika thrown in (i also use this mix to dip carrots into on healthier days)

                                                                    1. I use a 2-3 qt sauce pan or wok with a tight fitting lid. Put 1-2 Tb of peanut or corn oil(enough to cover the generously bottom) and 1/2 cup of popcorn on high and shake occasionally to coat the kernels.

                                                                      Keep shaking while the popcorn starts to pop, and then lower the heat to low-medium, while shaking occasionally. Continue to shake until the popping subsides, and then pour into a large bowl. season with fine salt, melted butter and spices of you choice.

                                                                      Repeat as necessary.

                                                                      1. I have an old heavy 3 qt. Calphalon pot. It's no longer anodized inside. It's my favorite popcorn maker! I add olive oil and corn to cold pan. Put the gas burner. Do not shake it even a tiny bit. I take it off when it stops popping. I don't think I've burned a batch, and nearly all kernels are popped. Just made some 20 minutes ago. I think it's the heaviness of the pan. If you didn't have a really heavy pan, I'd even try a cast iron skillet.

                                                                        1. Wow, this far into a thread about popcorn and no mention of sprinkling some Nutritional Yeast on top? It's really great and in northern California it's pretty much par for the course. I like to sometimes add some hot sauce to the butter for a little extra kick. I also second the idea of a metal colander upside down instead of a lid or else the popcorn gets soggy and wet and I hate that.

                                                                          1. OK, even thought the OP is old, I just have to mention that you can once again buy jiffy pop at Target, the kind that is in a pie shaped tin and puff's up with the foil dome. I had to buy it just for old time's sake.

                                                                            1. The real trick here is making sure your oil is doing the cooking rather than your pan. I use a really cheap, thin, aluminum pot. Coat the bottom of the pot with oil, put over MEDIUM heat (though I use gas and a thin pot, so maybe that's high for electric or a thicker pan - just remember you want the oil to cook the corn, not the pot), wait 2-3 minutes for the oil to heat up. Once you think the oil is somewhat hot, throw in a test kernel or two; it should pop relatively quickly. Dump the rest when the test kernels have popped, shake a bit, and crack the lid the smallest bit possible to allow steam to escape (which will keep the corn from getting soggy). Shake a bit on/off until popping slows, then dump, season, enjoy!

                                                                              I've found that if I get my pan too hot on the bottom I'll get premature popping, which results in small pops. A thicker pan could help this, but I find just letting the oil heat up well solves the problem. I use cheap store-brand kernels and they turn out great!

                                                                              1. my grandchildren ( I am 54) were raised on stove top popcorn and it is the most requested food when they visit-which is often because no one else makes it that they know.:)
                                                                                thin pot, little oil, popcorn-instant adoration. life is good.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: overdoit

                                                                                  For me, I like my popcorn to be super super crunchy, so I start off with enough popcorn to fill the bottom of the pan in one layer, and a couple of glops of oil. Then I turn my stove on as low as possible, and stir occasionally until my corn is a nice toasty brown color. Then I turn the heat up to high and let it all pop. Add a little greek seasoning, and it's perfect!

                                                                                2. I know this is an old thread, but I felt the need to contribute, as a consummate popcorn lover.
                                                                                  I had one of those air poppers from back in the '80s, it worked really well; had it for close to 25 years. Don't remember the brand, maybe Presto. You needed butter with the air-popped corn to get the salt to stick but the machine came with a little butter melter attachment on the side, very convenient.
                                                                                  My parents had a wire basket with a slide-on wire mesh lid. I remember my father shaking the basket over the stove burner forever. It didn't work so well with a gas stove; however, it seemed like we always had electric stoves growing up. My parents would make popcorn after we went to bed and the aroma would bring us all downstairs again, begging for a bowl.
                                                                                  I could never get the hang of Jiffy-Pop, always burned it and it was a purchase of desparation for me, anyway. Tried it twice and never went back.
                                                                                  Microwave-love it but there's just too much crap in the bag with the kernels, even with the lite versions. Mr. Bushwick doesn't eat popcorn so I would eat the whole bag and not feel good about it.
                                                                                  Now I just shake my way to happines, corn oil, decent quality popcorn, crack the lid a bit on the pot while popping, butter and fine sea salt. Back to basics, I guess.

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                    Most kids under the age of 20 have never had anything but microwave popcorn.

                                                                                    Well, Movie theatre popcorn too....but have you heard that AMC and Regal cinemas have gone back to using the fully-hydrogenated coconut oil for popping,65 grams of fat per medium bucket of popcorn and that's BEFORE they add the butter topping. That's the equivalent of 4 hot dogs with lard poured on top of them.

                                                                                    1. re: jackattack

                                                                                      Those medium buckets of popcorn are $6 and change in NYC; combine the price and the 65 grams of fat and I'm skipping it.

                                                                                    2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                      Glad to see some popcorn purists out there. I've used sturdy pots on the stovetop for years to make popcorn, and learned to use a metal collander as a lid on one pot to let the steam escape - so the popcorn isn't tough and small.

                                                                                      I think a good outcome has very, very little to do with what brand the popcorn is, really. You have to control the steam and the temperature throughout. That's where the art comes in.

                                                                                      Just over a year ago I bought a crank type popcorn pot from Goodwill for $5! Always wanted one of those. (Using a regular pot with lid or a crank type pot, remember that you're either shaking or cranking for one main reason - to keep the corn from staying in one spot on the bottom of the pot and burning.)

                                                                                      I was glad the lid lets steam escape, but I learned a new trick that works every time, no matter the popcorn brand, to make the corn pop plump, light, and fluffy; it's never been tough or hard. Here's what you do and it involves varying the heat while you're popping:

                                                                                      Start with 60% heat (my control dial is marked from low to 10). Put the popcorn and oil in the pot at the same time before the oil gets very hot... none of this 3-kernel business. You want to give the moisture center inside the kernel time to heat up, so that when it does pop it really explodes. The key is patience. When you've heard the first few kernels pop over about half a minute, turn the heat up to 90%. Once you have the full sound of everything popping, turn the heat down to 70% (kind of like driving - you only need first gear to get started, and after that you use less gas). As the popping subsides, turn the heat back to 90% for just 10 to 15 seconds (my theory - to give that final burst of heat to the last kernels trying to pop).

                                                                                      All the while, you're letting the pot lid up for 1/2 a second at a time for steam to escape. Don't worry if a kernel or two escapes while popping is at full blast. On my popper, it's just lifting the hinged half of the lid and dropping it back down.

                                                                                      When you're done of course, pour the popcorn into a serving dish and enjoy it however you wish. And coconut oil for popping still provides the best taste!

                                                                                      1. re: finessed

                                                                                        Yikes....coconut popping oil also adds about 40 more grams of saturated fat to the potful than does corn or canola oil! No thanks!

                                                                                        Maybe I have a super-duper pot or something, but I don't have to shake mine (on a gas stove). I use a stainless steel farberware, a 20 year old 6 quart pot. I put the corn in,covering the bottom one full layer, then about 1/4 cup of oil (a little less maybe)...then crank up the heat with the cover on. Once it starts to pop violenty so that I know the pot is about 2/3 full...I just take the top off and let it finish off with no cover. I lose maybe 4 or 5 kernels this way, and I turn the heat off as the popping sounds get very slow. I've never had any "burning" on the bottom of the pot except when experimenting with using less and less oil a while back. With the proper amount of oil it never sticks or burns.

                                                                                        I've heard that the popcorn needs to have the tight cover for the first minute in order to combust properly, but I guess that's not the case if finesse uses a colander lid and has great results. .

                                                                                        1. re: jackattack

                                                                                          I agree with you about the fat content, and I stayed away from coconut oil for years. Then one of the fitness coaches at my gym said there is new evidence that coconut oil is good/okay for you because of Omega-3 fatty acids or something, and I started listening. He said you need to get the unrefined organic non-hydrogenated kind. And guess what - I found it at the health food store!

                                                                                          Anyway, your pot sounds great. I don't use so much oil, only about 1-1/2 tablespoon, just so all the kernels get wet when I shake it around in the beginning. Yeah, the tight cover thing is a myth because all you're doing is trapping steam in the pot. Where the steam is important is inside the kernel, since that little bit of moisture in the germ heats up, expands, and builds pressure to explode the kernel into a big fluffy delicious treat!

                                                                                          1. re: finessed

                                                                                            I've got to try out the colander lid idea!

                                                                                            With regards to coconut oil, it's not a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid. The main differentiation of fat profile in coconut oil from, say, animal-derived fats is the presence of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that may not raise cholesterol levels in people with normal cholesterol levels, and may even have some health benefits like boosting the immune system.

                                                                                            However, all of these are "mays"....research that I've looked into shows inconsistent findings.

                                                                                            1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                              Thanks for that. I'm sure I really just like the coconut oil for the flavor it gives to popcorn.

                                                                                              When you use a collander lid (metal, of course) be careful standing over it as you may get some pinpoint sensations of hot oil splashing, and escaping through the holes (very small splashes). In all the years I used a collander lid, I never got burned. It's just that those pin pricks of oil were hot!

                                                                                          2. re: jackattack

                                                                                            What I've learned over the years is that saturated fat has gotten a bad rap, and corn/canola oils are so highly processed at such high temperatures that they are quite unhealthy.

                                                                                      2. First off I buy the Amish red corn. Then I soak it beforehand, which accomplishes two things: (1) It helps break down the phytic acid, which is not good for you, and especially not for me as I am allergic to corn. Soaking it first allows me to eat it. (2) It infuses some H2O into the kernel, so there are no "old maids."

                                                                                        The popper I use is the same thing as a Whirley Pop but is made out of stainless steel instead of aluminum. (No Alzheimer's for me!) It is made by Victorio and costs ~$40.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: ApartmentDweller

                                                                                          Very interesting suggestion. I have celiac and *thought* I could not eat corn, but am now trying to put it back in my diet. How long do you soak it for? Over night would be too long, right?

                                                                                        2. Hi. Have you ever tried making the popcorn with the butter in the pot as the kernels pop? That is what I do but I only use 2 tbsp of butter app. I start with a kernel in the pot with the bottom covered in vegetable oil, then once the kernel pops, I add kernels 'til the bottom is covered. Immediately after the kernels have been poured, I add the butter and continuously shake until the kernels are done popping. Make sure to pour the popcorn while the kernels are still popping or else the butter will burn. Dump the pot when most kernels are popped and the popping slows down. Add some salt and shake it around! There you go! I gave it to 5 of my friends and they say it's better than the theater! I really hope you try this dude!

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: mastershing

                                                                                            You can use clarified butter from start to finish, if you want to go to the trouble!

                                                                                          2. In pre-microwave days I made popcorn on the stove burner using a heavy covered pan (actually it was my Mirro pressure cooker pan without the rubber gasket and thingamabob---just pan and lid). You do have to use oil in the bottom of the pan (but not too much) and you do have to keep the pan moving, sliding it back and forth across the burner. You'll figure out how high to turn the burner so that the corn a) pops and b) doesn't burn. Another option is that we are now in the full swing of yard sale season and you may be able to pick up a corn popping machine of some kind for a couple of dollars.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                                              Seriously, I've been making stovetop corn for years and I never shake the pan.