How to Pop Popcorn
While, at first glance, this might seem like a simple question, in fact it is not. We take a lot of pride in growing our popcorn to make the best gourmet kernels and we want everyone to feel confident in how to prepare a batch of popcorn.
And there is also not just one answer to this question because popcorn can be popped in a variety of ways. The method we most often use in our own home is the stove top version but there is also an option for air popping and microwave popping. So let’s dive into all the details.
Our base recipe is 3 tablespoons of oil to about 1/3 cup of kernels. That should give you the maximum pop with few or no unpopped kernels. We recommend a pot with handles on either side because there is going to be some shaking involved. Our favorite pot has heat-proof handles but you can also use oven mitts. It must have a tight-fitting top. Ours has a glass top because we like to see the kernels popping but it’s not required. You’ll hear them.
It may be tempting to use butter instead of oil because we all love that buttery popcorn flavor. However, butter has a very low smoke point and will burn at the high temperatures required to pop popcorn. The exception would be clarified butter, also known as ghee, which has had the milk solids and water removed. What’s left is the butterfat and that creates a higher smoke point.
We also advise against using olive oil, again because it has a low smoke point and will burn too easily. A neutral flavored, high smoke point oil, such as vegetable oil or canola oil, is the best option.
Start by adding the oil to the pot on high heat. How will you know when the oil is hot enough? Easy. We add a couple of kernels to the oil before covering the pot. When they pop, your oil is hot enough. Now go ahead and add the 1/3 cup of kernels, cover, lower the heat just a touch to medium high and give the pot a good shake to make sure all the kernels are coated in the oil.
Don’t go anywhere because popcorn pops quickly. Every half minute or so give your pot a good shake and listen to the exploding sounds of the kernels. When they stop popping or there’s a 1 second lag time between popping, then you’re done. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the hot popcorn into a large bowl. This method perfectly coats each kernel with the oil and allows popcorn seasoning or salt to adhere well. So, season to your heart’s content, go find a movie to watch and enjoy your freshly popped popcorn.
There are a couple of ways to use the microwave to pop popcorn. You can use a popper such as the convenient collapsible one that we sell (link here). Poppers allow you to pop the kernels without oil (although you can still use it if you want). They are quick and easy to use and, of course, allow you the option to reduce the calorie count of your snack. Once popped, you can transfer the popcorn to a different bowl or just eat straight out of the popper. Season as desired and enjoy.
No microwave popper, no air popper, no problem. Just reach for a good old fashioned brown paper sandwich bag. Add about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels to the bag. No oil needed. Fold the top of the bag sealed a couple of times. Microwave on high for 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes or until you hear a 1 second lag between popping sounds. Carefully open the bag, pour into a large bowl and season as desired.
Stand alone air poppers are countertop appliances that allow you to avoid the microwave altogether although they do take up room on your counter or in your cupboard. They use only hot air, not oil, to circulate the kernels and get them to pop. Once popped, you can add butter and or seasonings.
This popular aluminum stovetop popper has a built-in stirrer to keep the kernels moving around evenly until they pop. For best results, it uses oil just as any other stovetop method.