How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Stove-popped popcorn is better for you and a whole lot less expensive than its microwave counterpart.  It’s also tastier, and can be customized with your own favorite add-ins and toppings.

I have someone in my Facebook community to thank for the popcorn-popping trick you’ll see in this video.  After months of tough kernels, we now eat the fluffiest popcorn in town!  (If you’re reading by email or RSS, you may need to click through to see the video.)


How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

  1. Begin heating a large kettle on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Add 2 tbsp. (or so) oil.  I use coconut oil for the added health benefits
  3. Before the pan gets hot (I hold my hand over it to see if it’s warm) pour in 1 cup of popcorn.  *** Don’t wait until it’s hot, because the popcorn will scorch.  Ask me how I know!***
  4. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the kettle (see video).  Cut a few slits in the foil to allow the steam to escape.
  5. Allow popcorn to pop, gently shaking the kettle every 10 seconds or so, until popping has slowed and there are several seconds between pops.
  6. Immediately pour popcorn into bowls.  Add melted butter and salt (or your own favorite toppings).  Toss to distribute.  Enjoy!

One cup of popcorn kernels, costing approximately 40 cents, makes about 24 cups of popped popcorn. We add real butter and salt to ours, and still come in way under $1.00 for a healthy treat for the whole family.

How do you like your popcorn?  What are your favorite toppings?


**Special thanks to my 7 year old videographer.  Be gentle.  We’re both still learning.  😉


  1. One of the last times I made popcorn I scorched it and my pan both so I will be trying this soon because we love popcorn. I Stumbled it.

  2. YAY! You did it! Love the vlog.
    Also, love this tip for popcorn. My husband will be excited about it.
    How long does it typically take for the popcorn to pop?

  3. Oh duh…just read the directions at the bottom. *dense*

  4. I am glad to have read this! We have been using kernels in paper bags in the microwave, which is a cost saver already, but doesn’t give us a family sized portion – so we have to make 2 or 3 bags. I wasn’t sure how to make it on the stove top with our existing pot and lid, so now I’m prepared to try it this week! Thanks!

    Michelle @ FTSN

  5. Very cute! I like your tip, too. I would need to use oven mitts to put the foil on — the sides of my pans become very hot!! 🙂

    I hope you keep doing videos! 🙂

    P.S. My nearly-7 videographer could never stay that quiet! 😉

    • Oh, she totally took over my flip camera after our “shoot” and videoed herself multiple times. She’s a natural! 🙂

  6. Yum!! This looks delicious! We eat a lot of popcorn, too. For my husband’s last birthday I got him and old fashioned crank handle kettle popcorn popper and he loves it.

    • How fun! I’ve seen those, and have been tempted to buy it (or an air popper, or a microwave popper…) but opted to just use what I have for now. What a great gift idea, though!

  7. Elisabeth says:

    Um…so if the popcorn scorches…how do you get the pot clean??

  8. This is great. Amy! Thanks!!!

  9. We always make our popcorn on the stove, which we do a few times every week 🙂 Haven’t bought any of those gross bags in years!

  10. Great blog, thanks. Before the time of popcorn poppers, and then air poppers, and then microwaves – before any of those, when I grew up my mom made stove top popcorn in a skillet, which I still do. The kernels lift the lid off which I believe allows the steam to escape similar to the foil slits. But I’m defnitely going to try your way for comparison. I use coconut oil, too.

    • Carol, do you know how much you can make at once in the skillet (without making a huge mess in the process)? I’d be willing to try it, but I need a LOT of popcorn made at once.

      • Amy my skillet is not very big and I’m single, so I use a scant 1/4th cup of oil with 2/3 cup corn. To make a cup at once like you do would definitely need a pot. Possibly a larger skillet, but, for a family, I think your pot method is best. Growing up, I remember my mom made 2 or 3 skillets on nights we had popcorn for family of five.

        • When I make it for myself, I use a smaller pot with a long handle, but now you’ve got me curious. 😉 I’ll have to try it in my cast iron skillet and see what happens!

  11. Loved your first vlog – great job! When I think of making popcorn on the stove, I think jiffy pop ;). I’m not a cook, obviously – ha!

    • Such great memories… one of my college roommate’s treats that her parents would send in care packages was Jiffy pop! So fun.

  12. If you don’t want to use the foil, you can put the lid on askew and this will let the steam escape. Also, lightly slide the pan back and forth over the burner as it pops and it will prevent scorching. 🙂

    • Yes, step #5 cannot be forgotten. 😉 However, NO amount of shaking (or sliding, whatever) will save you from scorched popcorn if you start out with a too hot kettle… or maybe that’s just me. I’ve tried the lid askew thing a few times, and it just doesn’t give me the same results. So, foil it is.

  13. Keri Tidwell says:

    We do this with a skillet with the lid on at least once a week. My daughter loves it! I add some salted butter to the skillet in the last few minutes it’s popping so it doesn’t burn and that way the popcorn is perfectly buttered and salted without having to mess up another bowl. Thanks!

    • Sounds like a great idea for a small family. 🙂 Since I make 24 cups at a time, the larger kettle and bowls are a necessity. (Unless you can tell me how to do that in a skillet… I’m intrigued. 😉

      • Keri Tidwell says:

        Well, I’m usually just fixing enough for my 2-year-old and me for a little snack so a 3 qt skillet is big enough. But the concept is the same.

      • Hmmm. Looks like maybe Keri means the extra bowl for melting butter in the micro…not not for eating from as she said “another” bowl. Unless she let the skillet cool she would not let a two year old eat from a hot oiled and buttered skillet. There was five of us and then usually extra kiddos besides ours sometimes so yes we also used a big pot. LOL Thanks for the vlog and blog and great tips and tricks for all our household needs. Thank you bunches. Flowers to you!!!

  14. You did a great job on your vlog. Your 7yr. old deserves an atta-girl, she did an awesome job filming! Glad to know about the foil trick for the popcorn.

  15. I love it! Yay for your first vlog! (I confess that I really wanted to see the end result, though. :)) My very favorite popcorn was done in the old fashioned iron contraption that we held in the fireplace as a child. Ah, memories…

    • Well, *I* confess that I have another video with the end result… that I didn’t post. 🙂 It got late and I wasn’t in the mood to splice them together or wait for the other one to load. Want me to email it to you? LOL

  16. Great video, and great tip! My family makes popcorn on the stove – I’ll have to try this idea.

  17. Yay! I have been wondering why my stovetop popcorn wasn’t as fluffy as it used to be…I’ve been leaving the lid on too tight! I’ll definitely try this with the foil. Thanks for the tip!

  18. We make ours in the microwave. Take a brown paper bag (like a sandwich bag). Put in about 1/4 cup of popcorn and about a teaspoon of oil. We use canola. I put a plate underneath so it is easier to clean. Just fold the paper sack and set it for about a minute or so…will vary depending on the microwave.

    We estimate that we spend just pennies per bag of popcorn. The bags are about $2 for almost 200 here. And the popcorn is about $1.34 at Walmart for a bag that will last us months.

  19. Nice vlog!! 🙂

    I have experienced chewy popcorn before like you were talking about, so I’ll definitely give this a try. I love stove popped popcorn!

  20. Fun to see you again, Amy, and the red apple kitchen! : ) Pookie No. 1 did a good job with the filming.

  21. Great vlog – your videographer did great! I can’t wait to try the aluminum foil trick – and the skillet idea some of your other commentors gave!

  22. We inherited this great high-heat popcorn popper for the stove that has a crank to evenly melt the oil and mix the kernels as they pop. We absolutely LOVE it! Not one kernel goes unpopped… what a great cheap and healthy snack for the whole family!

  23. Your videographer did a great job!! We also make popcorn on the stove top in a large quantity!! We have 4 kids and 2 adults! I am going to have to try this. I can’t say our popcorn is bad or unfluffy, but I will have to see what kind of popcorn this yields…maybe my popcorn is tough and I just don’t know it. As a side note: We went to the theater a few weekends ago and had the WORST popcorn we have ever had, besided prepackaged microwave popcorn. Thanks for the video!

  24. I made it this afternoon – it was good! I LOVE using the coconut oil! My only problem was I must not have cooked it long enough as I had a lot of half popped kernels. I think next time, I will cut the recipe in half – it was way to much popcorn for us! Sooooooo good with melted butter, salt, and a bit of sugar – kind of like kettle corn 🙂

    • Yes, with such a big batch it’s hard to get them all popped without burning some. Cutting it down should help with that. Yum!

  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been wanting to try homemade popcorn for awhile but wasn’t sure how. This post gave me the directions and the motivation to give it a try.


    The kids loved listening to it pop and were excited to see it overflowing in the kettle. My husband came in and said it smelled like theatre popcorn. I used coconut oil as well in the kettle and I think it just adds something. Our family of 4 devoured the whole batch very quickly.

    A funny quote from my 6 year old son. As I was pouring into the bowl he goes, “how come it isn’t yellow?” Oh dear….I had to explain that popcorn is not suppose to be yellow.

    No more microwave popcorn in this house. YEAH!!!!

    • Yay! I’m so excited for you. Thanks for letting me know that it worked! And your son… oh dear… that’s funny. 🙂

  26. This is brilliant! The foil tip has made my favorite snack into something even better. It really does make a difference in the texture. I have one suggestion, though, to make it safer and easier.

    When I pop popcorn on the stove, I put the oil and the kernels into a cold pot. Cover with the foil and cut the slits. Then put the pot on medium heat and just wait until it pops. It works great and no messing with putting things into a hot pot.

    • Good to know! I’ve never tried it from cold, I just always try to slip the kernels in before it gets too hot. Glad it worked so well for you! (And super glad to know the texture thing isn’t all in my head.) 🙂

  27. I’m going to try this!!! Yeay! We use microwave and I want to get away from it in the worst way. However, stove top popcorn is never “quite” right. This looks like a winner. Do let your littles eat it? I am scared to let mine…but I know I did as a child. Also ended up in the ER with a piece in my lung…oh dear.

    • Ack! That would scare me, too! Yes, they LOVE popcorn. I don’t let the baby eat it, of course, and won’t until he’s probably 2 years old. Then I’ll break off little pieces for him, to make sure he’s not getting any kernels.

  28. Thank you Amy!
    I also use coconut oil… go Nutiva!
    So, I have a big church demo coming up next month where I have to make many popcorn recipes, so I needed to perfect my method of popping corn… as I will have to show the ladies how to do that too. Anywho… I just tried your method, but cut it in half, using about 1 T coconut oil and 1/2 cup popcorn or so… Yippee! It is awesome! Almost every kernel popped! (I think 1-2 didn’t) Thank you girl! I have bookmarked your site and will read further now.
    Happy Hugz- Joyce

  29. It worked! I’m with you, all my previous attempts with different pans and lids askew left me with chewy, almost soggy popcorn and scorched pans. I was ready to give up too! Tried your method and it was flawless! We had a delicious stovetop popcorn treat with our afternoon family movie time! Thank you!!!

  30. I went online to find a way to make popcorn so it wasn’t so tough. Sometimes the pieces wouldn’t cook all the way. I’ve cooked popcorn on the stove for years now and sometimes it was fluffy but lately no so much. I came across your video and it makes sense!!! Ding, ding, ding. I am trying this tonight!!! My husband loves popcorn cooked on the stove, and the grandkids come running when they smell it cooking (if I haven’t burned it). And yes even shaking the pan back and forth, it will scorch! I can’t wait to try this trick! I will definitely let you know how mine turns out. Thanks so much!

  31. Thanks for the tips. I just scorched a batch by putting the popcorn in too late. I tried your method on a second batch and . . . success! Just got some coconut oil and a flavoring salt and experimenting to duplicate movie popcorn.

  32. Thanks for this tutorial. I have been wanting to pop popcorn this way but have never done it. I’m looking forward to trying it.

    By the way, where did you get the ceramic pottery jars on your counter in the video? The look quite similar to some that I have.


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