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How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper

Learn How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper and get perfect results every time. Making popcorn on the stove is easy, fast, and produces delicious popcorn.A bowl of stove top popcorn, butter, salt, and a measuring cup with unpopped kernels.

Years ago I gave up on meal planning for Friday nights. Working full-time, commuting, and all the other crap that goes along with being a parent to a young kid meant that I was exhausted by the end of the week. I once joked that all I wanted to do on Fridays was eat popcorn, let my kid watch a movie and zone out on the couch.

And then one day I realized I’m an adult and could do whatever the hell I wanted. And thus, Popcorn Dinner & Movie Nights became our weekly Friday family tradition. I do believe we’re on year seven of this in our house, and I know countless other families who have implemented it as well.

I have an air popper now that was a gift, but for years I made popcorn on the stovetop. It’s so much easier than you think and the flavor it produces is absolutely delicious!

How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper on the Stovetop – Step by Step

  1. Take a large saucepan, and let it get hot over a medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and three popcorn kernels.three popcorn kernels in a pan with coconut oil
  2. When the three kernels start to pop, add the rest of the kernels and quickly place a lid on top. Offset the lid a bit to allow some heat to escape. If you don’t have a lid, top with a piece of foil and lightly pinch it around the rim. Quickly cut three slits in the foil. foil over a pot to make popcorn on the stovetop
  3. Give the pan an occasional shake to keep the kernels from burning.  Once the popping starts, stay close to the stove to monitor. Take the pan off of the burner when the popping slows down a lot. Let sit for a minute or so, and then carefully peel back the foil or remove the lid to reveal perfectly popped corn. stove top popcorn in a pot

Awesome Toppings For Popcorn

  • Butter and salt. This one is most popular for obvious reasons. It’s super yummy!
  • Cinnamon and sugar.
  • Nutritional yeast, aka nooch. Nutritional yeast tastes like white cheddar and is packed with tons of vitamins and other healthy crap. More on the benefits of nutritional yeast in this post on White Cheddar Pumpkin Seeds.
  • Mix sriracha with butter. OMG so yummy!
  • Top with grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and parsley.

Every Friday I serve popcorn with fruit, some veggie sticks and hummus, and sliced cheese to convince myself that this is a perfectly acceptable meal.

Because it is!

What is your favorite way to eat popcorn?

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

stove top popcorn in a blue bowl
Print
5 from 2 votes
How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
Learn How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper and get perfect results every time. Making popcorn on the stove is easy, fast, and produces delicious popcorn.
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper
Servings: 2
Calories: 143 kcal
Instructions
  1. Take a large saucepan, and let it get hot over a medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and three popcorn kernels.

  2. When the three kernels start to pop, add the rest of the kernels and quickly place a lid on top. Offset the lid a bit to allow some heat to escape. If you don't have a lid, top with a piece of foil and lightly pinch it around the rim. Quickly cut three slits in the foil.

  3. Give the pan an occasional shake to keep the kernels from burning. Once the popping starts, stay close to the stove to monitor. Take the pan off of the burner when the popping slows down a lot. Let sit for a minute or so, and then carefully peel back the foil or remove the lid to reveal perfectly popped corn.

Recipe Notes

Top with your favorite popcorn flavors - butter and salt, nutritional yeast, cinnamon and sugar, etc.

If you have sensitivities to coconut, replace with another high-heat oil like avocado.

Nutrition Facts
How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper
Amount Per Serving
Calories 143
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post was originally published in May 2012. It has been updated based on reader feedback, the recipe was made printable, and new photos were added.

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47 comments on “How to Pop Popcorn Without a Popper”

  1. Nutritional Yeast is such a good idea for a topping! I use nutritional yeast in other recipes, but it has never occurred to me to use it as a popcorn topper! Thanks for that idea!

  2. I’ve always used some kind of popper to make popcorn at home, but when I got married it was like starting from scratch in the kitchen. My son loves popcorn and this recipe works perfectly as long as you follow the instructions. Thank you for saving our movie nights!

  3. DELISH! Especially with the nutritional yeast!!

  4. I do it in the microwave too! Used to do the stove method but felt like I was wasting foil and I had to wash a pot. In the microwave I just use a big glass bowl covered with an inside down plate. No oil, butter, nothing. Just 30-60 sec at a time until it’s finished popping. Instead of oil in the stockpot on the stove, I too used bacon grease. Maybe 2T. 

  5. I have a couple different styles of pop corn popper but like you tend to reach for the biggest pot and lid for the best results. As for toppings salt and butter is yum but I am fond of butter, salt and maple syrup too, esp. this time of year. Sprinkle the salt then mix the maple syrup in the melted butter and drizzle your way to delicious sticky yummy-ness. Honey works to but not this time of year 🙂

  6. I use bacon drippings….it is to freaking die for!
    My God-daughter was 3 years old when I made popcorn on the stove top. “But Aunt Brenna, you can’t make popcorns like that…you need a miker-wave!!”. Her eyes just about popped out of her head!

    • Mmmmmm! How much do you use?

      Miker-wave! Adorable.

      • 2-3
        T and I try to get all the bits….I don’t strain my bacon drippings. I have yet to make it, but have considered putting a strip or two of crumbled bacon with my popcorn. It’s Friday, may have to try that tonight since the grandbabies are spending the night 🙂

      • Girl, you know how to have a wild and crazy Friday night! 🙂

  7. Microwave popcorn is nasty, not to mention ridiculously expensive compared to regular popcorn. I’ve made popcorn the “old fashioned” stovetop way forever. One day when grandkids & great-grandkids were visiting, decided to make a big batch of my famous caramel corn. When the kids saw me popping the corn in a pan on my stove, they were AMAZED. They had no idea it was POSSIBLE to make popcorn without a microwave! Made me sad.

  8. This is Alton Brown’s favorite way to make popcorn which he demonstrated on his Popcorn episode of “Good Eats”. I have used this method with an aluminum mixing bowl on the stove with great success. The benefit of the shape of the mixing bowl is it funnels the unpopped kernels down to the bottom of the bowl so you have less unpopped kernels at the end.

    • YES! Ever since we saw that episode we make it in my wok, covered with foil.
      Perfect every time!
      I put a little fresh ground pepper in with it. Just like this little old time gift shop that was at the Dayton airport in the early 90’s!

    • You have my intrigued with the wok!

  9. We make it by putting a 1/4 cup, mixed with a tiny amount of oil into a paper lunch bag and into the microwave.
    Tada! Microwave popcorn without the yicky stuff.

  10. I have an air popper that was $20 at the store. I prefer my popcorn as plain as you can get it and I’ve found nothing that works better than the air popper.

    Frugal isn’t about not spending money but about spending money wisely. That $20 has gone a long way so far.

    • I 100% agree with “Frugal isn’t about not spending money but about spending money wisely”! I will save and invest in quality and products that I love because they last and fit the need. Someone gave me crap last night in another post that I was buying “too expensive” essential oils. Well, I’ve had the same $8 bottle of peppermint essential oil for 4 years now!

      I can’t get on board with the plain popcorn though. ;-D If my hands are covered with butter by the end, it’s not a great batch of popcorn.