Fifteen Spatulas

How to Make Popcorn on the Stovetop

Stovetop Popcorn Recipe

Did you know that you can make popcorn on the stovetop?

Maybe some of you are like “um, yes, DUH. Of course I do, Joanne.”

Until a few years ago, I had no idea. I thought popcorn was only made in microwaveable bags and those gigantic carts with the big glass windows that you find in movie theaters.

There are three main reasons why I think making popcorn on the stove top is WAY better than making microwaved popcorn.

Stovetop Popcorn Kernels

First of all, a lot of microwaveable popcorn has artificial butter flavorings, chemicals, and excessive amounts of salt. Well, and excessive amounts of that buttery stuff too.

It’s like the person who designed most microwaveable popcorn was like, “I’d like a little popcorn with my butter, please” instead of the other way around.

I like that I can control the amount of butter and salt I use, and use good quality ingredients.

How to Make Stovetop Popcorn

Stovetop popcorn is also cheaper to make than microwaveable popcorn, and I can make as much or as little popcorn as I want to (those microwave popcorn bags are too big to finish on my own).

First heat up a big pot, and put 1/8 tsp vegetable oil on the bottom, and spread it around with a spatula:

Stovetop Popcorn How-to

You are using a really small amount of oil here, otherwise the oil will pool around the pan and the popcorn kernels will have a hard time rolling around (and they’ll burn).

Add your corn kernels, put the lid on, and start shaking!

How to Make Popcorn on the Stovetop

You shake the pan for a few minutes, vent it slightly, until all the corn kernels pop. Then you can dress it up with whatever flavors you want!

Here’s my How to Make Stovetop Popcorn video showing you how to make it from start to finish:

Stovetop Popcorn Recipe

Yield: 8 cups


1/8 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup unpopped corn kernels
1 tbsp melted butter (or more, if you want)
pinch of salt


Heat up a big pot over high heat for a few minutes, then use a spatula to spread around the vegetable oil on the bottom of the pan. Dump in the unpopped corn kernels and put a lid on the pot. Turn the heat down to medium. Start shaking the pot forward and back, side to side, constantly moving the pot around the burner. If you don't shake the pan continuously the popcorn kernels will burn.

After a few minutes, vent the pot slightly by moving the lid a bit to the side (but don't let the majority of the hot air escape). Continue shaking, and the corn kernels should start popping. Once the popping slows down, dump the popcorn out into a bowl and drizzle over the butter. Then, season with salt (adding the butter first helps the salt stick to the popcorn). Enjoy!

Note about doubling/tripling: You can make as much popcorn as you want as long as the corn kernels are no thicker than a single layer on the bottom of the pan. They need room to roll around the hot pan and heat up.


31 comments on “How to Make Popcorn on the Stovetop

  1. You are so cute ! When I went to look at your darling picture, I realized, ” Of course, Joanne didn’t know about stove top popcorn making’ How do you think those pioneers decorated their christmas trees with strings of popcorn? They made it on the stove ! So for all of you non-cooks or under 30’s this is a great reminder and great video. Keep it up.

  2. Nice and easy!! Thanks for the tips!

  3. Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me!

    Thisis the way Popcorn is done in my home. I like my own buter and my own seasonings. Way to go! Sometimes the old fashion way works better.

  4. You can also buy the brown paper bags… lunch bag size… put your dry popcorn in… without any oil and use the microwave… just barely layer the bottom of the bag with kernels. No mess, just toss it when your done.

    • The treeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees

    • I found this out about a year and a half ago and my life hasn’t been the same since! After I microwave the brown bag popcorn, I spray it down with my olive oil-filled Misto and toss with some sea salt. Tastes great and so much healthier for you!

  5. They do make those things called popcorn poppers too!

  6. I always add a test kernal to my pot with the oil as it’s heating, and when it pops, you know the oil is hot enough. I love making popcorn on the stove! It’s so much better than microwave popcorn. Avoiding all of those chemicals is exactly why I do it too! My favorite flavors I’ve come up with have been dill, and bacon and onion.

  7. Yay, I do my popcorn on the stove too. My method is a little different, I don’t do the whole shaking part, but I probably should to eliminate all the calories from what I stick on my popcorn.
    (usually consists of chocolate chips and marshmallows). Basically I stick 3 kernels in and once they’ve popped I add the rest. I remove the pan from the heat for 30 sec, then back on the heat.
    Anyways, I wanted to ask for your idea on making caramel popcorn. I’d like to avoid having to add the storebought kind.

    • I think this is the best way of making popcorn on the stove-top. I started doing it after seeing a video from, I think America’s Test Kitchen, and now I almost never end up with burnt popcorn or any unpopped kernels.

  8. Try using Bacon Grease instead of oil. You’ll never use oil again.

  9. best way to make stove top popcorn- add small amt of oil and 3 kernels. When they pop, oil is correct temp, add remaining popcorn and shake pan to distribute kernels. Good corn should pop within 2-3 minutes.

  10. In our family we make our own microwave popcorn. We buy the same popcorn you cook on the stove, put it in the microwave popcorn bowl, and pop it just like microwave popcorn (wait until there is 2-3 seconds between pops, etc…). This method is just as easy as the regular microwave popcorn, but with the normal popcorn taste and flavor. You can pop as much as you want and add whatever flavors you want (butter and salt…mmmm).

    There is no excuse for chemicals in your popcorn. This is the bowl I have at home:

    • my only issue with microwaved popcorn is that it doesn’t hold salt, parmesan cheese or much anything else because it is so dry. I’ve tried spraying it with Pam or similar, but it just can’t compare to stove top. Interesting that popcorn can bring out the most fervent of fans. I can give name of Mennonite farm where mine is grown if anyone is interested. They do big business and do sell microwave as well as tiny tender white, yellow, etc. to us average people.

  11. You aren’t the only one that thought you could only make popcorn in the microwave! Until recently, it never occurred to me that people were making popcorn WAY before the invention of microwaves. I just started making stove top a year ago and I won’t go back. I love to season mine with grated Parmesan and garlic powder. Mmmm!

    • another factor in really good popcorn is to purchase it as fresh as possible. Most of the stuff in stores is over 1-2 years old. There are growers, who sell to larger companies for repackaging, who sell it direct and consider anything over 1 year old too old. This is where I get mine.


    • BTW, bacon grease it the best.

  12. I am so hungry this Popcorn looks really delicious..thanks for sharing this with us

  13. Thanks for this! I swear, every time I make it on the stove I burn it and my house smells horrible for days. I’ll have to try again!

  14. Gasp! You didn’t know that you could make popcorn on the stovetop? We used to do that a lot until we got this fantastic hot air popper. Basically, you pour your kernels in, and then hot air blows through them, heating them up and…popping them! (That’s my oh-so-scientific explination of what happens.) It’s really great because the popcorn is really light and fluffy and there’s really no chance of burning it. I would also add that it doesn’t use oil, so it’s “healthier,” but as soon as we get it out of the popper we drench it in olive oil and salt, (I used to like butter but olive oil and salt is just so much better) so it’s a bit of a moot point. 😉

    • Maybe one day I will get one of those poppers….they sound nice! And LOL at the not using oil thing…so true! I think I’m a butter fan but will have to try that olive oil thing sometime.

  15. Stovetop popcorn is easy and delicious with the “Atom Pop” made in Bushton, Ks since the 1950’s. This inexpensive, fabulously designed popcorn popper is a no stir, no shake unique design that works well. Find them online or check their store locator to see available in your area. They tend to sell to smaller mom and pop type stores–hardware shops or specialty food stores. Devoted following and many lovers of this popcorn popper. I give a lot as gifts–simply the best! As fast and easy as microwave, without all the chemicals of microwave popcorn and much better than air popped!

  16. I hate to sound conceited but, my husband and I can out do most any popcorn except the
    picture shows!!! So listen closely. First we buy a gallon of COCONUT OIL AT THE POPCORN
    STORE. I knew this for years but just never did do it. So we paid around $ 48.00 for a gallon.
    Cover the bottom of a 4 qt. dutch oven and heat. Then add 1 Cup of reg. popcorn. We use
    yellow corn but I do not think it makes any difference at all. Then ad the ACTS 2 buttery salt 11/2 tsp. and we buy that at SAM’S Club. Now you may very a bit on the oil and corn and salt
    but we almost have it down pat!! You will throw out all ideas after you try this and we don’t mind sharing our ideas. Some people call me the Recipe Lady. Thanks, Norma Martin

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