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Pop Popcorn - Stovetop, Air Popper or Microwave

By Edited Dec 11, 2013 2 5

Snuggled in front of the TV with a big bowl of perfectly popped popcorn is the perfect night for many. Popcorn is a favorite snack of both kids and adults. There are many ways to pop popcorn, but some ways are tastier than others. Placing a bag into the microwave to pop your popcorn may seem like the easiest popping method, but with ease and shortcuts comes a bit of a stale flavor and a chemical-like taste. Plain microwave popcorn may marginally pass a taste test, but for those who are popcorn lovers and aficionados – a bag in the microwave is one of the last places they will make a favorite snack.

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Tried and True Stovetop Popcorn

Popping popcorn on top of the stove is a traditional method of making popcorn. It is the oldest method and the results are well worth the little bit of “cooking”.

Lightly coat the bottom of a lidded 4 quart pot with vegetable oil. Make sure the entire bottom of the pot is covered in oil. Remember the oil is just a light coating – you don’t want your popcorn kernels swimming in oil.

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Place the pot onto the stove.

Turn on the burner to medium and allow it to heat for 20 to 30 seconds.

Measure approximately ½ cup of popcorn kernels.

Pour the kernels into the pop and place the lid on the pot.

Allow the popcorn to remain on the stovetop untouched until you hear the kernels begin to pop.

 When you hear the popping, put on a pair of oven mitts and pick up the pot by the handles, securing the lid with your protected fingers. Keep the bottom of the pot slightly over the flame or heat by approximately ½ to 1 inch about the heat source.

 Lightly shake the pot to move the kernels about the bottom of the pot.

 Continue to lightly shake the pot while keeping it ½ to 1 inch over the stove’s heat.

 When the time between kernels popping becomes greater than 4 or 5 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and set it on a heat safe surface.

 Carefully remove the lid away from your face. There will be hot steam escaping from the pot as you lift the lid as well as the possibility of another kernel or two popping after the lid is removed.

Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.

Optional and Depending on Your Taste

 Add salt, butter, flavored salt, sugar or whatever your favorite topping may be.

Popping Popcorn in an Air Popper

Take the shoot off the popcorn maker. Some air poppers do not require removal of the popping shoot before filling it with kernels. If there is no way to remove the shoot it is the stationary type shoot.

Add popcorn kernels to the fill line. If there is no fill line add ¼ cup of popcorn kernels to the recessed area that holds the kernels.

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Put the removable shoot back in place.

Set a pot or large bowl under the open end of the popcorn shoot.

Plug the electric cord into the nearest outlet.

Turn on the power switch which is typically located on the air popper housing.

Allow the popped kernels to come down the shoot until no more popcorn requires popping.

Turn off the air popper and unplug the cord from the outlet.

Add your favorite toppings and flavorings, toss the popcorn and enjoy.

Popping Popcorn Kernels in a Microwave

You can pop popcorn in the microwave without buying the bag-type brands of popcorn.

The first time you pop regular popcorn in the microwave it will require a little experimentation in order to determine the correct amount of time you will need to pop your corn.

 Measure ½ cup of popcorn kernels.

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Pour the kernels into a microwave safe bowl. A microwave safe bowl will be clearly marked on the bottom. Do not use a bowl that is not marked or you run the risk of the bowl of injury, breaking the bowl or permanently damaging your microwave.


If your microwave safe bowl came with a lid, secure the lid on top of the bowl. If the bowl does not have a lid, stretch microwave safe plastic wrap over the top of the bowl. Run your hand around the outside of the bowl, pressing the plastic wrap tightly in place on the outside of the bowl.


Place the covered bowl into your microwave.


Set the time on your microwave to 2 minutes to begin. Turn on the microwave and allow the popcorn to begin popping. Turn off the microwave if the time between pops exceeds 4 seconds turn off the microwave. If the popcorn is still in the process of popping, set the microwave in 30 second increments until the time between kernel pops is 4 seconds.

Wear oven mitts to remove the bowl from the microwave and set the bowl onto a heat safe surface.

Carefully remove the lid or plastic wrap away from your face. Steam with escape from under the plastic wrap or lid – use care.

Season your popcorn with butter, salt or other favorite topping.

Microwave Popping Tip

 Add butter salt, sugar, flavored salt or whatever you like on top of your popcorn to the bowl along with the unpopped kernels before placing the lid or plastic wrap on the microwave safe bowl. The flavoring or toppings will distribute itself over the kernels as they as popping.


What to Do with the Popcorn Kernels that Didn't Pop

If you have popcorn kernels that did not pop left at the bottom of your pot, bowl or air popper, allow them to cool to room temperature.

Pour the kernels into a glass jar with a lid.

Add 5 or 6 tablespoons of water to the jar of kernels.

Secure the lid onto the jar.

Vigorously shake the jar of popcorn for two to three minutes.

Keep the lid tightly on the jar and store it in a cool place for three or four days.

Pop the popcorn in your usual way.

Why Does This Work?

Popcorn that does not pop is usually because the kernel has become too dry. Adding water and storing the popcorn in a sealed jar will restore enough moisture to cause the popcorn to pop the next time you make it.

Do not leave the popcorn stored in the jar for more than three or four days because the kernels will become moldy and cannot be used.



Jul 24, 2012 8:16am
Good tip on what to do with kernels that didn't pop! I've learned something new today! Thanks.
Jul 24, 2012 8:18am
I was getting tired of all the unpopped popcorn kernels and told my mother who said to do this.
Jul 31, 2012 6:33am
Well done popcorn article. Who knew you could re-hydrate and pop dry kernels? You always come up with unique and functional tips, Jack.
Jul 31, 2012 7:04am
Thanks Sully! Yes, no more wasted popcorn kernels.
Feb 23, 2013 10:48am
Popcorn is now talked about as a super food. So your suggestions on preparing it will come in useful for many people. Thanks for sharing! Thumbs Up!
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