Learn how to make popcorn without a microwave. Not only is it simple, but it tastes better, and it’s healthier!
When I was a little girl, I distinctly remember hearing my dad in the kitchen, shaking the pot on the stove. Multiple nights every week, he would make popcorn and bring it out in our huge silver bowl. The 7 of us would eat it in front of the TV while we watched Love Boat or some other late 80s show. Those memories take me back to my childhood.
When I first became a grownup, I made microwave popcorn often. It seemed like the next iteration of popcorn. Who needed to make it in a pot anymore? But over time, I became more health conscious. One day, my attorney friend was telling me about a class action lawsuit he was working on – gobs of people were suing the microwave popcorn companies for developing cancer after years of sniffing the popcorn smell after first opening their microwave popcorn bag. What?! Honestly, I’m not sure how that lawsuit ended up, but it freaked me out!
It was definitely time for me to go back to my roots!
Why is homemade popcorn healthier?
One of the things I try to do in my family is to make real food. That means as much as I can, I start with the whole food and go from there. In my recipe, I use coconut oil, sea salt, and popcorn kernels. Compare that with the laundry list of ingredients on the back of a box of microwave popcorn. I bet you can’t pronounce half of those ingredients!
Try to google the phrase “is microwave popcorn bad for you?”. You will be amazed at the articles that come up. There’s a plethora of information showing that all the weird ingredients, paired with chemicals within the packaging are a health nightmare.
Homemade popcorn is made with simple ingredients that are healthy and are a great whole food alternative to their microwave counterpart.
Does homemade popcorn taste better?
This question is pretty subjective and a matter of opinion. There’s something about microwave popcorn that leaves a really weird coating on the inside of my mouth. I don’t exactly know what it is, but it is definitely off putting and one of the things I hate about microwave popcorn. So for me, I’d definitely say yes!
If I go by responses to my homemade popcorn, I’d say it’s a resounding YES that homemade tastes better. Not only are people often commenting on how amazing it is, but I’ve had multiple people text me to ask how I make my popcorn after their children have had it at my house. To me, that is the true test. If teenagers prefer it, it’s a win!
I do notice that processed food tastes very different as I move more and more of our diet to real, whole food. I now would not even prefer to eat the microwave kind because it is SO salty and tastes super artificial.
So….try it and judge for yourself! I think you’ll love it.
How to make homemade popcorn without a microwave:
- Add 2T of coconut oil and 3 popcorn kernels into a large, heavy bottomed pot.
- Cover and heat until you hear all 3 kernels pop.
- Uncover and quickly add 1c. popcorn kernels, and 1 1/2t. of pink Himalayan sea salt (preferably ground in a blender)
- Shake pot every 15-30 seconds.
- In between shakes, tip lid SLIGHTLY to let out a little steam. Do not make this large enough for popcorn kernels to jump out!
- When you hear 1-3 seconds between pops, take off heat and pour into a large bowl!
Step by step instructions on how to make homemade popcorn without a microwave:
It will shock you to see how easy this is! Here’s what you’ll need:
Popcorn – I love Jolly Time Popcorn because almost always completely pops, without leaving kernels at the bottom
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt – I put mine in a blender so it’s more like popcorn salt
Coconut oil –I use this one from Costco
Begin by choosing a large pot with a lid. I use my big soup pot and it’s probably around 6-8 quarts. It’s also important to gather all your ingredients and your large bowl to pour it into. The process is really fast once you start!
To get the oil to temperature, put 2T of coconut oil in the pot with 3 popcorn kernels. Put the lid on and put it on pretty high heat.
Once you hear the 3 kernels pop, quickly take off the lid, add the 1c. of popcorn and 1 1/2t. salt and put the lid back on and shake the pot from side to side.
For the next few minutes, shake the pot side to side every 15-30 seconds or so. In between shakes, tilt the lid so it is a tiny bit ajar, allowing the steam to escape. This part is really important because it makes your popcorn crispy, instead of chewy!
Once you hear the pops diminish to about 1-3 seconds between them, carefully pour the popcorn into the large serving bowl. You’ll want to do this quickly so the popcorn on the bottom doesn’t keep cooking and burn. Be careful and keep you face away so that if there are still unpopped ones, they won’t pop in your face.
And that’s it! Even my 12 year old can easily whip out a batch! Don’t be jealous of his blue on blue, pattern on pattern look! 🙂
How do I make popcorn salt?
Making popcorn salt is essentially just making powdered salt! I take about 1c of our regular Himalayan sea salt and put it in the Vitamix. Any blender would work for this. Just blend it up for a few seconds until it looks powdered like the one below. This sticks SO well to the popcorn and makes it so you don’t need butter to make it stick.
Do I have to use coconut oil?
No, you don’t! I absolutely LOVE making this with Ghee! It gives it such a buttery flavor. Ghee is butter with the milk solids taken out. The milk solids burn and make it so that butter cannot be heated to a high temperature. By taking those out, you can maintain the buttery flavor but still have a high smoke point, making it perfect for homemade popcorn.
Another one I absolutely LOVE is Red Palm Oil. Using this actually gives it the yellowish color and buttery flavor that you’re used to with microwave popcorn.
I always have coconut oil and rarely have ghee or red palm oil laying around, so that’s why I recommend coconut oil. It’s much more accessible and easily found in the home on an everyday basis. Plus it’s SO good!
Tips and tricks on how to make popcorn without a microwave:
*If you use a cast iron dutch oven to make the popcorn, once the oil is heated up, you’ll want to reduce the heat. Cast iron holds SO much heat, so you could easily burn the popcorn by keeping it at a high heat.
*Mushroom popcorn is super fun and makes a huge puff without an enormous hull. This is especially good if you’re going to be making crunchy caramel popcorn or this amazing caramel corn that is soft and gooey!
*We use an enormous bowl to put our popcorn in. If you don’t want to make as much as we have here, you can easily cut the recipe in half!
*We often take this as a snack when we go places. People love it and it’s a wonderful alternative to to chips and all the other processed crackers and salty treats.
*Put your Himalayan sea salt in a blender and let it go for 10-30 seconds. You’ll powder it and that’s essentially popcorn salt! It makes the salt stick to the popcorn so much easier!
*Make sure you add the salt when you add the kernels. Alton Brown says that adding it at this point allows the kernels to pop around the salt, trapping the salt inside the kernels. That way you don’t need to add any additional butter in order to get the salt to stick to the kernels. It works perfectly!
I hope you try it out!! If you do, let me know what you think!
How to Make Popcorn Without a Microwave
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt blend a larger batch in a blender and keep it on hand – this is popcorn salt
- Begin by choosing a large pot with a lid. I use my big soup pot and it’s probably around 6-8 quarts. It’s also important to gather all your ingredients and your large bowl to pour it into. The process is really fast once you start!
- To get the oil to temperature, put 2T of coconut oil in the pot with 3 popcorn kernels. Put the lid on and put it on pretty high heat.
- Once you hear the 3 kernels pop, quickly take off the lid, add the 1c. of popcorn and 1 1/2t. salt and put the lid back on and shake the pot from side to side. You can also lower the heat at this point – especially if you're using a cast iron pot.
- For the next few minutes, shake the pot side to side every 15-30 seconds or so.
- In between shakes, tilt the lid so it is a tiny bit ajar, allowing the steam to escape. This part is really important because it makes your popcorn crispy, instead of chewy!
- Once you hear the pops diminish to about 1-3 seconds between them, carefully pour the popcorn into the large serving bowl. You’ll want to do this quickly so the popcorn on the bottom doesn’t keep cooking and burn. Be careful and keep you face away so that if there are still unpopped ones, they won’t pop in your face.