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 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 15 popcorn topping ideas.
How to Make the Perfect Popcorn at Home: Basic Stove Top Directions
8 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)
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, to taste
1. Heat a heavy pot over medium-high heat, add the oil and the popcorn kernels and shake the kernels around to coat.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl, toss it with melted butter or oil, salt, and desired seasonings.
Two Other Ways to Make Popcorn
I grew up with the stove top version, and it is still my favorite way to prepare popcorn, but if that feels overwhelming or if you don’t want to get a pot dirty, there are two other ways to make the perfect popcorn at home.
An Air Popper
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, 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.
15 Popcorn Topping Ideas
In addition to butter or salt, you can toss popped popcorn with:
• 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
• Zaatar: Toss with 1 Tbsp. zaatar seasoning blend. Consider using olive oil instead of butter.
Other delicious popcorn seasonings (use instead of salt)
• Old Bay seasoning
• Cajun seasoning
• Soy sauce
• Nutritional or brewer’s yeast
• Ranch seasoning
• Taco seasoning
• Truffle oil and Parmesan cheese
• Garlic powder or garlic salt
• Ground coffee beans, cocoa beans, and sugar or cinnamon
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 15 popcorn topping ideas. What other seasonings or toppings do you like on your homemade popcorn?