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How to make perfect popcorn at home and 16 topping ideas

Savory Surprise Popcorn

If I had to pick one snack food to enjoy for the rest of my life there is no competition, it would be popcorn. I love the crunchiness, the fact that I can easily change the flavor to make it different every time, and that it is super easy to prepare at home so that I don’t have to depend on processed options.

Not only that, but popcorn is actually good for you! It is a whole grain, is low in calories, and is packed with all kinds of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, folate, and Vitamins B6, A, E, and K, to name a few.

While any popcorn you get will have the benefits listed above, the pre-packaged microwave stuff is not ideal because it contains chemicals and additives (ever wonder where that fake yellow “butter” appearance came from…) that aren’t great for you.

But don’t worry! It is super simple to make your own at home – really! And we’re going to show you how to make the perfect popcorn at home (3 different ways!) as well as share 16 popcorn topping ideas.

How to Make Perfect Popcorn at Home: 3 Different Ways

There are three ways to easily make popcorn at home: on the stove, in the microwave, and with an air popper. All three are simple to make, healthy, and incredibly delicious.

An additional perk of the microwave and air popper varieties is that they are super easy for kids to do on their own.

Stove top Popcorn

I grew up on stove top popcorn. Not only would my mom frequently serve it for an afternoon snack, but she’d even pop up special batches that we would smuggle into the theater with us when we went to the movies. On those occasions, she would make it especially buttery, to resemble the stuff sold at the theater.

While it may seem a bit mysterious, making your own popcorn on the stove is actually incredibly simple (see below for detailed directions). To pop popcorn on the stove, all you do is heat some oil in the bottom of a heavy pot, add the popcorn, shake to coat, and let it do its thing, shaking occasionally to make sure as many kernels as possible get popped. Once the popping has slowed down to every 3-5 seconds, take the pot off the heat.

Once it is done popping, toss it with melted butter or oil, salt, and desired seasonings.

How to make perfect popcorn

Air Popper Popcorn

Air poppers were all the rage in the 80s and 90s because they allowed people to pop popcorn without the use of oils or butter. You didn’t hear about them for a while, but now they are making a comeback, not so much for due to a fear of fat, but because they actually produce fantastic, light, and delicious popcorn.

They are also super simple to use: just put the popcorn kernels in the receptacle (check your manufacturer’s directions to see how much popcorn you should put in), put a bowl under the chute, and turn it on!

Once it is done popping, toss it with melted butter or oil, salt, and desired seasonings.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

The reason microwave popcorn is so popular is that it is super easy. Just throw the bag in the microwave, press the popcorn button (or set it for 2 – 3 minutes, depending on your microwave), and go. As mentioned above, though, the pre-packaged microwave stuff has a lot of added chemicals that aren’t so great for us. But did you know that it is super easy to make the perfect popcorn at home in the microwave?

Here’s what you do: place 1/3 cup of popcorn into a brown paper lunch bag, fold the top over 2 – 3 times, lie it flat in the microwave, and press the popcorn button (or set it for 2 – 3 minutes, depending on your microwave). Once the popping slows down to every 5 seconds or so you are done!

Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl, toss it with melted butter or oil, salt, and desired seasonings.

popcorn

15 Popcorn Topping Ideas

The classic topping for popcorn is, of course, butter and salt. This is always a delicious option that is sure to please, but here are some other possibilities for when you want to try something new.

Popcorn Toppings: Spice Mixes

The following spice mixes make a fantastic addition to your melted butter and salt in order to punch up the flavor even more.

  • Curry Lime: 1 – 2 tsp. curry powder, zest of 1 lime (about 1 tsp.). Stir in juice of 1/2 – 1 fresh lime for even more lime flavor.
  • Parmesan Rosemary: freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste (about 1/4 cup, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, freshly ground black pepper.
  • Barbecue: 1 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • Za’atar:  Toss with 1 Tbsp. za’atar seasoning blend. Consider using olive oil instead of butter to get a more Mediterranean flavor.
  • Garam Masala: Toss with 1 Tbsp. Garam Masala seasoning blend.
  • Old Bay: Toss with 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning blend. Consider omitting the salt since the seasoning blend has some, then add salt to taste, if needed.
  • Cajun: Toss with 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning blend. Check your version of the seasoning blend to see if it contains salt. If it does, then you can skip the added salt.
  • Ranch: Toss with 1 Tbsp. Ranch seasoning blend. Check your version of the seasoning blend to see if it contains salt. If it does, then you can skip the added salt.
  • Taco: Toss with 1 Tbsp. Taco seasoning blend. Check your version of the seasoning blend to see if it contains salt. If it does, then you can skip the added salt.
Perfect Popcorn Topping Ideas

Other delicious popcorn seasonings (use instead of salt)

  • Sriracha
  • Soy sauce
  • Nutritional or brewer’s yeast
  • Truffle oil and Parmesan cheese
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder or garlic salt
  • Ground coffee beans or cocoa powder, and sugar or cinnamon
Savory Surprise Popcorn

Stove Top Popcorn

Jessica Braider
Stove top popcorn is so easy to make and so much healthier and tastier than the pre-packaged or microwave variety that you will never want to go back!
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp. canola vegetable or coconut oil for popping
  • 2– 3 Tbsp. melted butter coconut oil or olive oil to toss with popcorn
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp. popcorn salt or table salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and the popcorn kernels and shake the kernels around to coat.
  • Cover the pot leaving the lid a tiny bit ajar to let the steam escape. When the kernels start popping, reduce the heat to medium and shake the pot occasionally to make sure the un-popped kernels make it to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the popping slows to every 5 seconds or so, remove the pan from the heat, shake it again and cover it for one more minute to make sure all or most of the kernels are popped.
  • Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl, toss it with melted butter or oil, salt, and desired seasonings.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

For another delicious alternative, try our Kettle Corn recipe. It’s way tastier (and better for you) than what you can buy at local fairs and markets.

That is how we make the perfect popcorn and home and 16 popcorn topping ideas. What other seasonings or toppings do you like on your homemade popcorn?

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