Homemade Stovetop Popcorn

Hey, you.

Are you still buying packages of microwave popcorn? Or perhaps, like past me, you love popcorn, but don’t want the excess packaging/salt/butter/additives that come with microwave popcorn? Want to customize your popcorn and still spend a fraction of what you would buying pre-packaged or artisan popcorn?

(Much love to our local artisan popcorn makers, who make killer specialty popcorn. We just can’t afford it all the time πŸ˜‰

Let’s talk stovetop popcorn.

Making stovetop popcorn is absurdly easy, and takes just the slightest bit more effort than throwing a bag into the microwave and inevitably burning yourself when you open the weirdly-coated popcorn bag (that’s not just me, is it?). Plus, when I make stovetop popcorn, I nearly always get just about every kernel popped, with no burned pieces, unlike my microwave efforts, which nearly always resulted in some form of burning. (I used to ban anyone from using my teacher microwave for popcorn for this reason.)

You can make as much or as little as you want (although it’s best to make a good batch, then pack the remnants away in a sealed bag for later if you don’t finish it), and season it according to your tastes. Plus, bulk popping corn takes up a lot less space in your pantry than individually wrapped packages of oversalted, fake-buttered nonsense.

Right now, I’m stuffing my face with the remnants of a batch I made while watching a movie with guests last weekend, because I couldn’t do this post without it. (Also, it’s still good, four days later.) I chose to flavor it with butter, salt, and shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice powder), because why not?

Be warned: once you start making stovetop popcorn, you’ll wonder why you ever put up with microwave packages, and might be doomed to making batches of your own flavored popcorn on a regular basis. But hey, there are worse things you could be doing.

I’ll give you the basics, as well as some of the flavoring variations we’ve come up with around here.

  • Servings: 8-10 cups
  • Print

You’ll need a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, skillet, or pot with a lid. Use a high-heat oil, such as vegetable or canola oil here - extra virgin olive oil will burn and break down. Salt and season to your taste when it’s done!

you will need:

  • Β½ c popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp high-heat oil, such as canola or vegetable


  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Place two popcorn kernels in the uncovered pan. When the kernels pop, remove them (if you wish – I had no ill effects from leaving them there last time), add the rest of the popcorn kernels to the oil, and cover.
  2. Cook kernels until the popping slows down to nearly a stop (fewer than 1-2 pops per second or so), shaking the pan every once in a while to make sure kernels cook evenly. Remove the pan from heat. You can let the pan sit for a minute or two to allow straggler kernels to pop, but I’m not often that patient.
  3. Pour popcorn into a bowl, and season to taste. Yay, popcorn!
  4. Buttered Popcorn: Drizzle 2-4 tablespoons of melted butter over popped popcorn, and fold with a spatula. Stir in ΒΌ-Β½ tsp popcorn salt or fine sea salt, if desired.

    Togarashi Buttered Popcorn: Follow the directions above, and add 1 tsp of shichimi togarashi powder with the salt.

    Cocoa-Dusted Popcorn: Combine 1 tbsp cocoa powder with 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar. Dust over popcorn, folding with a spatula as needed.

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