Pop Popcorn The Old Fashioned Way

When I was a child Jiffy Pop was all the rage!

We loved to watch that aluminum bubble grow when we popped it on the stove. But we didn’t get Jiffy Pop very often because it was incredibly expensive compared with regular old-fashioned popcorn, and this is still true today. A 2-pound bag of old-fashioned popcorn makes dozens of servings of delicious popcorn for under $2! It is an incredible bargain in snack foods! Sure, it takes a little bit longer to prepare, but the savings alone make it worth the effort. If that weren’t enough, the fact that the popcorn, itself is unprocessed and healthier, and you can top it with your own healthy toppings rather than eating the hydrogenated oil/chemical combinations offered in microwave popcorn, should convince you that old-fashioned popcorn, prepared the old-fashioned way is the way to go!

There are two ways to prepare old-fashioned popcorn that I know of. First, if you have a gas stove, you can pop it over the flame of your burner. You can do it on an electric stove, but it is not as easy. The second way is to use an air popper.  

Delicious, Nutritious & Fun!

Photographer: earl53: everystockphoto.com Attribution License: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/terms.php
Photographer: earl53: everystockphoto.com Attribution License: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/terms.php

To pop corn on the stove, you’ll need…

A large, tall pot with a tight fitting lid and a sturdy handle or handles.

High heat oil like peanut, walnut, and/or butter.


Here’s what you‘ll do…

Put enough popcorn in the pan to make a single layer over the bottom of the pan. Add enough oil to cover all the kernels. If you want to cook it with butter, you will want to melt the butter first. I usually just barely cover the kernels with oil, then add a tbsp or so of butter. That is enough to give it the butter flavor, and that way I don’t have to melt the butter first! You can also add salt and seasonings at this point if you like. Put the lid on the pan and set it on a medium flame. Stay right there, and listen to it. The minute you hear the corn beginning to pop, start shaking the pan over the flame. Be sure to wear oven mitts while you are doing this to avoid burning your hands. You can turn the flame on high and shake the pan above the flame, that way you don’t have to scrape it back and forth across the burner, and you will avoid having it get too hot and burn the popcorn. 

Popping the corn won’t take very long. Probably less than 5 minutes. When you hear the popping begin to slow down, be very vigilant. Take it off the flame as soon as you hear just a few kernels popping. Holding the pan tilted away from yourself, remove the lid. Leaving it on causes steam to collect in the pot and make your popcorn soggy. When you take the lid off, a few pieces of popcorn will probably fly through the air! That’s just part of the old-fashioned fun!

If you have used a flavorful oil and/or butter to pop your corn and added your spices before popping, you may not need to add anything else at this point. Taste it and see, then season it as you wish. I usually enjoy it just as it is when I prepare it this way. Many people like parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and many other toppings. Use your imagination! 


The second way to prepare old-fashioned popcorn is to use an air popper. This is very convenient and eliminates the danger and burning factor inherent in stove-top popping.    

To prepare old fashioned popcorn with an air popper, you will need:

An air popper!

Old fashioned popcorn.

A tall pot with a tight fitting lid.

Olive oil, walnut oil, peanut oil, and/or butter.

Seasoning mix, salt, and/or other topping of your choice.  

Here’s what you’ll do…

Measure the popcorn into the air popper according to the manufacturer‘s directions. Set the pot up (without the lid) so the corn will pop into it. Plug in/turn on the air popper, and wait for the corn to pop. While you are waiting, prepare your topping. I usually put 2 tablespoons of butter and an equal amount or a little more of olive oil in a small Pyrex measuring cup and microwave it for about 40 seconds to melt the butter and heat the oil.

When the corn has finished popping, shake seasonings over it and pour the oil over it. Work in a spiral motion over the top of the corn to be sure it doesn’t all end up in one place. Quickly put the lid on the pot, hold it in place, and shake the pot to distribute the oil and seasonings. Take the top off right away to prevent steam from collecting. Taste and add more seasonings if desired.

Copyright:SuzanneBennett:January 11,2009 

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Comments 23 comments

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Agreed, this is the only way I make popcorn. Microwave can't compare. Lately, I've used peanut oil - nice and light.

I'll share this with a friend who is starting (serioulsy) a popcorn business - when he retires this year.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas Author

Great! Thank you! Yes, I have liked peanut oil for lots of things lately. It is a good, light, versatile, tasty oil! :)

RGraf profile image

RGraf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

Boy, did you bring back memories. As a child, this was the only we ate it. I miss those days. Might have to make some like this again soon so my kids can experience it.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas Author

Yes, just think! If we were to lose modern conveniences, our children wouldn't even know how to make popcorn over a campfire! There are so many things we used to make simply and easily enough that we now microwave. It's a shame how many people are actually completely helpless to do any kind of cooking without modern gadgets!

Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

Your hub caught my eye because - shameful as it may be - I have never popped corn in my life (and I'm not one of those "young people" :) ). (For the record, I'm not otherwise helpless. I just never happened to think much about popping corn myself.)

Recently, I've been kind of craving some butter popcorn (like they have at the movies, but like I haven't had in years and years). I've tried every kind of "movie theatre" microwave popcorn at the store, but none of it is "it". I often look at the bags of plain old popcorn and the flavored oils, but I've somehow always imagined a whole pot load of hot oil and popcorn floating in it - like little doughnuts. In other words, I haven't taken the time to sort out in mind that popped corn is not the same as "deep fried corn". :)

So - thanks for the hub. "Learn something every day." :)

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 7 years ago from Texas Author

Thanks for your comment! :) Movie popcorn has cottonseed oil (NOT a food product!) and artificial flavorings! Try a combination of butter and walnut oil or peanut oil for an approximation that is pretty healthy!

PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 5 years ago

Here in our place are popcorn vendors who make popcorn this very same way.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas Author

It's the best! :D

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Suzanne,

I fondly remember my dad popping popcorn for the family doing it the old fashioned way. They had a special kettle used just for that purpose. This brought back those memories. I must admit, I am a bit lazy now that they have those little packages readied for the microwave. Up and useful votes!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Ah, but microwave popcorn isn't anywhere near as good as stove popped popcorn, and it contains all kinds of chemicals and additives! Aside from that, it contributes more to pollution because it requires so much packaging! I hope you will soon see the error of your ways and shun it! :D

Thanks for commenting and voting! :)

duffsmom profile image

duffsmom 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

I like to put a light 1/3 of a cup of popcorn in a brown lunch bag. Close it tightly and put in the microwave on high. Set the microwave fro 1:30 but don't leave. Listen carefully and as soon as the popping slows down until a second between pops -= stop the microwave and you have a bag of airpopped corn. No added fat, no chemicals. It can take some practice to get the cooking time right. You can add a tsp. of brown sugar to the bag for sweetness, or a thin pat of butter. Lots of possibilities.

Great hub with lots of memories.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

That's a good idea. I don't like commercial microwave popcorn because of all the junk added to it. Also, it just seems too soft. I will try that next time I'm in the mood for popcorn! Thanks! :)

Aunt Jimi profile image

Aunt Jimi 3 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

Haven't popped corn in a skillet on top of the stove since I got a microwave and the popcorn started coming in microwavable bags. About 30 years since I popped corn on a stove burner. Nothing to it. I used to take a big skillet and pop a huge bowl full of it and make some fresh lemonade to go with -- squeezed the lemons myself and it sure was good.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

I have to admit that popcorn is my very favorite food! I know it's a healthy snack as long as the corn is organic (no GMO corn!) and it's only lightly salted with no butter. Since I could eat it every evening for (or in place of) dinner, I have to ration how frequently I pop it and how much I allow myself to eat. It's very difficult for me to consume just one cupful. I simply can't let the "child" in me have her way about this treat.

The very best tasting, biggest, fluffiest, most tender popping corn I've found (and I'm a popcorn gourmet) is Eden Organic Popping Corn. There are no hard kernels left unpopped. I vary the seasoning, sometimes adding just a light shake of sea salt, other times sprinkling on a bit of ground sage (don't knock it till you've tried it) and get another taste entirely with a shake of Cajun seasoning. With the latter you need to have something cold to drink nearby because the cayenne makes it hot after a few bites.

Voted Up++ and shared....Everyone should eat popcorn!


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Actually, butter is not bad for you in moderation. It is certainly a better choice than hydrogenated oil. Try doing half butter and half peanut oil. Very delicious and good for your central nervous system, hair, skin and so on.

I like stove popped or air popped popcorn so much better than microwaved. It has more body and flavor, and you know exactly what's in it. Besides that, it costs a fraction of the cost of microwave popcorn!

Thanks for the comments and votes! :)

Aunt Jimi profile image

Aunt Jimi 3 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

I just drizzle a little olive oil over my popcorn and salt it some and it's just as good as theater popcorn. Olive oil actually helps reduce plaque in your arteries. Try the olive oil on a small handful of popcorn sometime and see if you like it.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Yes, I've used olive oil too. You can use all kinds of oils for a wide variety of flavors! :)

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Came back to this and am going to give it a share. After reading this hub and all of the comments, as soon as I run out of my microwave popcorn, will try some of these other ideas in popping it instead. I love popcorn!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 3 years ago from Texas Author

Great! I think anything that keeps people from buying pre-packaged, processed foods full of chemicals and artificial ingredients is a great thing! This is a step that always saves money, adds to health and results in a better quality of food, not to mention reducing the amount of litter we discard that eventually ends up in the ocean! Many thanks! :)

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Suzanne,

We do recycle so hopefully none of the waste or litter gets into the oceans, but your best argument is that we are eating all of those potentially dangerous chemicals. Good hub in warning us against doing it! Will share once again since the last share was 20 months ago.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 21 months ago from Texas Author

Thanks Peggy! Yes, and there's also GMO to worry about. :/

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 19 months ago from Northern California, USA

I remember Jiffy Pop! I have popped corn many different ways, but my favorite way to pop corn is on the stovetop. I enjoy popped corn plain with a little salt, but to be honest, when I pour melted butter and sprinkle a little cinnamon on it, try to stop me from eating the entire batch. It's my favorite way to eat popped corn.

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 19 months ago from Texas Author

Cinnamon! What a great idea! :D

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