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How to Make Oil Popped Popcorn - Perfect Stove-Top Popcorn at Home

Updated on December 10, 2009

Sure, microwaved popcorn will do in a pinch, but there’s something not-too-natural in those quick snack solutions that to my taste buds, detracts from the experience.

And since you can make oil popped stove-top popcorn in about 2 minutes, it tastes movie-theater good and it costs a small fraction of the cost of packaged microwaved popcorn – why not do it right and enjoy the real thing?

There isn’t much to making stove-top popcorn, but I’ll run through the instructions and a few tips and tricks that will help you make perfect popcorn - crisp, tasty and light, every time.

If you already know how to make popcorn, skip down to the flavor combinations for some interesting variations!

Stove Top Popcorn Instructions

  • 2 Tbls of vegetable oil (corn oil)
  • ½ cup of popcorn
  • 1-2 Tbls of butter to taste
  • Salt


  1. Get a large volume heavy sauce pot that has a lid and heat it and the 2 Tbls of oil over medium high. It needs to be big enough to hold all the popped corn, and the heavier it is, the less you have to worry about burning.
  2. While the oil is heating, add 2 or 3 kernels of popcorn to the oil. When these kernels start to pop, you know that your oil has preheated enough and is ready for you to add in the remaining popcorn.
  3. Once you’ve added the popcorn, immediately slap on your lid (to avoid exploding corn face pain) and give the pot a good shake, to get all the kernels moving and coated in the hot oil. If possible, keep your lid just slightly ajar to let the steam being created escape. If you don’t let the steam escape your popcorn won’t be as light and fluffy
  4. Keep the pan on the heat, shaking it every few seconds. The kernels will start popping vigorously soon. Keep shaking until the sound of the popping slows to one every second or two and the remove from the heat, getting the lid off as soon as you’re sure that popping has really stopped (Again, steam is the enemy here). There is always a temptation to wait too long, to get every last kernel popped – but I find that it’s better and safer to err on the side of caution and get it off the heat quickly, maybe have a few extra unpopped kernels at the bottom, but avoid scorched or blackened popcorn.
  5. Melt your butter in the microwave and then drizzle over the top, mixing it in evenly with some generous pinches of salt. Taste and season again with salt as necessary.


Popcorn Flavoring Ideas

I have to admit that I prefer plain old salt and butter popcorn, but if you are looking for something a little different, you could also try:

  1. Kettle corn – Same as above but add 1/3 cup sugar to the pot with the popcorn
  2. Chili corn – add a little ancho chili powder with the salt for a spicier kick to your corn (or chipotle, or cayenne or whatever…)
  3. Bacon popcorn – substitute bacon fat for the oil when popping
  4. Cheesy popcorn – sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese with the butter (watch how much salt you add as the cheese is already salty)
  5. Yeast flavored – sprinkle on a little brewer's or nutritional yeast after popping


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    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      I like the tip about letting the steam escape for fluffy popcorn! I love garam masala on my popcorn.

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for the tip - sounds great!

    • mwatkins31 profile image


      8 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      My mom and I used to make stovetop popcorn all the time when I was a kid. Might I suggest salting the kernels prior to popping, and adding butter along with the oil that the kernels will pop in? It really adds to the flavor.

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      8 years ago

      Sam Ch - thanks for commenting...glad to hear you had good success!

    • profile image

      Sam Ch. 

      8 years ago


      Thank you so much for your directions.

      Having read your article, I made a perfect popcorn on our electric stove.

      Have a great time

    • Anna Evanswood profile image


      8 years ago from Malaysia

      mmm I love popcorn. It's good to be reminded of how easy it is to make:)


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