How to Cook Popcorn on the Stove

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Start to Finish: 5 to 7 minutes

Servings: 1 family-sized bowl

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Difficulty: Beginner


Few things complement a movie or game night than the delicate, salty crunch of freshly popped popcorn, and popping popcorn the old-school way offers a more natural alternative to chemical-laden microwave popcorn. It also allows you to control the fat and salt content, and is far more fun than standing in front of the microwave waiting for the timer to go off.

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  • 3 tablespoons fat such as canola, coconut, grapeseed, peanut or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)


Step 1

Put 3 tablespoons of oil into the bottom of a heavy-bottomed pot. Almost any type of oil or fat will do, except for extra-virgin olive oil or butter because they will start to burn before the popcorn pops. Swirl the pot gently until the oil coats the bottom in a very thin film.


Step 2

Place three unpopped kernels of popcorn into the pot. This can be any brand of popcorn, including microwave popcorn that you have removed from its bag. Cover the pot and shake it gently to coat the kernels with the oil.

Step 3

Heat the oil and the three unpopped kernels over medium-high heat until all three kernels pop. This can take 1 to 2 minutes or so.


Step 4

Add the rest of your unpopped kernels -- about 1/2 cup for every 3 tablespoons of oil -- and shake the pot gently to coat them with oil and settle them into a single layer on the bottom of the pot.

Step 5

Cover the pot, leaving a small opening for steam to vent. This will ensure crisper popcorn. Let the kernels heat, gently shaking the pot every 10 seconds or so.


Step 6

Listen closely to the popcorn and remove it from the heat when you do not hear any new kernels popping for 5 seconds. Season with salt and melted butter or whatever flavoring you prefer.


Sprinkle freshly popped corn with cinnamon and sugar for a sweeter treat.


Add some spice by seasoning your melted butter with a squirt of lime juice and a dash of chili powder.

Top your popcorn with Parmesan cheese and garlic salt for a bit of savory sophistication.


  • Leave the lid on the pot for 10 to 15 seconds after removing it from the heat to keep any late bloomers from popping right out of the pot.
  • Place your freshly popped corn into a brown paper bag and then add the seasonings. Close the bag and shake it well to insure that every fluffy morsel is perfectly flavored.


Do not pop corn over high heat. This will not make it pop faster and will scorch the slower-popping kernels.



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