Homemade Popcorn

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Making healthy, homemade popcorn on the stovetop or in the microwave is so easy! Whip up this good-for-you snack anytime, with or without toppings, and even store it for later.

Hands holding a bowl of homemade popcorn with cinnamon sprinkled on top

Growing up, we had an air-popper popcorn machine. A small, countertop appliance that air-popped popcorn kernels as I watched them fly all over the place! It was always a fun treat.

In an effort to minimize items in our kitchen, an air-popper doesn’t make the cut. I have learned to make healthy, homemade popcorn for our family two other ways and it couldn’t be easier.

Popcorn is a whole grain and, as long as it’s not covered in unhealthy toppings, is an excellent snack for your family. Here are directions for making homemade popcorn on the stove and in the microwave as well as some more tips!

Popcorn kernels in a measuring cup and spilled on a counter

How to Make Popcorn on the Stove

This is my favorite way to make homemade popcorn, even though it’s more time consuming and creates a few extra dishes. I just enjoy the process I guess!

Even though I mainly cook using cast iron, I keep a stainless steel pot as well as a saucepan for various needs, including popcorn. I use a medium-sized stock pot with a lid.

Use your favorite healthy cooking oil. I use avocado or olive oil. And of course, never leave the popcorn unattended on the stove top! It will pop quickly and can burn just as easily. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Stock pot with a lid
  • Oil of your choice
  • Kernels
  • 1/2 measuring cup
  • Large spoon
A pot with the lid askew that's full of popcorn

Here are the steps for making popcorn on the stove top:

  • Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of oil into the pot-and turn the heat on medium-high.
  • Carefully add popcorn kernels to the pot-1/3 or 1/2 cup is enough for a family.
  • Constantly stir the kernels with a large spoon-then put the lid on when the first kernels start to pop.
  • Gently shake the pot back and forth-don’t stop or some of the kernels might burn. Use oven mitts if your pot gets too hot. Continue shaking the pot until popping slows to a second or two between pops.
  • Remove pot from the heat-pour the popcorn into a large bowl and add toppings, if desired.

How to Make Popcorn in the Microwave

Skip the store-bought microwave popcorn and do it yourself! This method is quicker than popping it on the stove and creates less dishes to wash. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Popcorn kernels
  • Paper lunch sacks-I like to buy the larger size lunch sacks so I can pop more popcorn for our family of six. The regular size paper lunch bags will work as well to make a smaller amount. Remember to compost your bags after using!
  • Measuring cup-1/2 cup for a large lunch bag and 1/3 cup for a small lunch bag.
Popcorn spilling out of a paper lunch bag

Just a few simple steps is all it takes:

  • Pour the kernels into the paper lunch bag– 1/2 cup for a large bag and 1/3 cup for a standard lunch bag.
  • Fold the top of the bag over-3 times is best to keep the popcorn from spilling out.
  • Place in the microwave-lay the bag down with the folded top facing down.
  • Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes-stay by the microwave and listen carefully and stop the microwave when the pops become a second or two apart. Mine is usually done around 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
  • Pour out the bag-and serve the popcorn however you like!

How to Serve Homemade Popcorn

Homemade popcorn is a healthy, whole grain option as long as it’s not topped with anything unhealthy. Here are our favorite ways to enjoy our popcorn:

Four glass bowls holding popcorn toppings: melted butter, cinnamon, salt, and nutritional yeast
  • Melted butter-Of course, butter goes naturally with popcorn! But only real butter, not the questionable flavored popcorn toppers sold at the store. Regular butter will do the trick, salted or unsalted. If using unsalted, I like to add a dash or two of salt while I’m mixing it in. Simply melt a few pads of butter while the popcorn is cooking and drizzle it on once the popcorn is finished. Quickly stir it in to be sure to coat all of it while it’s still warm.
  • Nutritional yeast-A friend taught me this trick years ago and we have been enjoying it ever since. Nutritional yeast tastes amazing on popcorn (after it’s been buttered so that it sticks to the kernels) and we love it. Sprinkle on as much as you like, give it a good stir, and enjoy the taste along with added health benefits!
  • Cinnamon-After adding some melted butter and mixing well a few sprinkles of ground cinnamon mixed in makes for a sweet treat without the sugar.
  • Plain-Don’t forget that you can simply enjoy homemade popcorn completely plain! It’s delicious all on its own with nothing added.

How to Store Homemade Popcorn

Cook up some homemade popcorn ahead of time for a tasty, healthy snack when you need it! Here are some tips for storing popcorn until you’re ready to eat it:

  • Leave it plain-Popcorn with any toppings, including salt, does not store well. Keep completely plain if planning to store.
  • Cool-Make sure the popcorn is room temperature before storing.
  • Covered-Store in an airtight container in the pantry.
A reusable bag holding popcorn and a thermos and a peach-for a picnic

Here are a few times when you might want to have some homemade popcorn for a healthy yet fun treat:

  • Lunch or Dinner-Popcorn makes a great addition to a snack-style meal along with some cut up fruit and veggies, cheese slices, nuts, and whatever else you have on hand.
  • Picnics-Stored in an airtight bag or tub, take some along on your next picnic for an easy addition to your outdoor meal.
  • Movie Night-We have homemade pizza while watching a movie on Friday nights and some yummy popcorn later in the evening is always welcome.
  • Pot Lucks-Skip bringing a bag of chips and bring a big bag of homemade popcorn instead.

Homemade popcorn, whether made on the stove top or in the microwave, easily beats the packages sold in the store. Treat your family to a healthy, whole-grain snack in just a few minutes!

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