How to Make Perfect Stovetop Popcorn
You do not need fancy equipment to make popcorn that everyone in your family can enjoy. Using only your ordinary stovetop and a heavy-bottomed saucepan, you can make the perfect stovetop popcorn with ease. We will show you how to make popcorn using only the most common items in your kitchen.
It is obvious that the star of the recipe is the corn kernel. That is why it is imperative that you choose only the best if you want to learn how to make stovetop popcorn. There are different brands of corn kernels that you can use in making popcorn. However, they will differ in the quality and taste of the popcorn that they produce.
A key factor in choosing corn kernels for a stovetop popcorn recipe is the freshness of the kernels. You want it fresh so that you get to enjoy the earthy and light taste of delicious popcorn. Always consider where the kernels will be coming from. Factor in the shipping time. The earlier the kernels can get to your home, the fresher they will be. It is also for this reason that one should avoid buying in bulk, unless you intend to make popcorn for the entire neighborhood.
Another factor you may want to consider is the packaging and storage of the corn kernels. Bulk kernels should come in resealable containers. This will help preserve the freshness of the corn. If you are going to purchase a single-serve corn product, then the packaging is less important.
It would also be best to use organic corn kernels. At least, you will get more nutrients from each kernel that you pop. You will also not get any of the synthetic chemicals that non-organic farming methods often use.
For people who may have issues digesting corn, they can choose hull-less corn kernels. This is also perfect for those with retainers and dentures. There will be no hulls that can get stuck in these dental devices.
It would still be impossible to pick the right product for your perfect stovetop popcorn with these things in mind. As such, get ready to try out different brands at a time. This will help you determine the best kernel to use for the best stovetop popcorn.
When it comes to the cooking oil, you will want to use an oil that has a good smoking point. Popcorn stands in movie theaters and sports venues often use coconut oil as it imparts a delicious taste to the corn kernels. However, be sure to use virgin coconut oil as you will have less trans-fats in it. Refined coconut oil may not be that healthy for you.
If your main concern is about your health, then you should use extra-virgin olive oil. It has antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and Vitamins K and E. It also has a good smoking point, allowing you to finish your stovetop popcorn recipe without burning.
Some people like to use canola oil. Unfortunately, this type of oil often comes refined. A better alternative will be to use safflower oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil. These are excellent neutral-flavored oils you can use in homemade popcorn.
Salt remains the most common seasoning for popcorn. Be mindful of the amount that you use, however. You do not want to add more salt than necessary. You can also use other seasonings if you want.
Melted butter is a great option as it can give your popcorn a rich and buttery flavor. You can also sprinkle smoked paprika or chili flakes to give the treat a ‘kick’. White pepper and cayenne pepper powder also work.
You can also mix a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and mix well. Drizzle this on your popcorn to give it a sweet and irresistible taste.
For vegans, you can add nutritional yeast. It gives popcorn a hint of butter without the guilt.
Recipe for Stovetop Popcorn
Now that we have everything ready, let us start making popcorn. This stovetop popcorn recipe should give you about 4 servings or about 10 cups of delicious popcorn. You can start enjoying this treat in as short as 10 minutes or less.
½ cup of popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- Get a heavy- or thick-bottomed saucepan and place it on your stove. Turn the heat to medium high and pour the olive oil into the saucepan. If you prefer using coconut oil, make sure to melt all of the solid fat.
- Drop 2 to 3 pieces of popcorn kernels into the hot oil. Cover the saucepan and listen for the corn kernels to start popping. This will take about two to three minutes. While waiting for the popping sound, get ready with a serving bowl. You will want to have this ready when you begin popping the rest of the kernels.
- As soon as you hear the kernels popping, turn off the heat. Remove the saucepan and place it on a trivet to protect your kitchen countertop against thermal shock. Pour the rest of the popcorn kernels into the saucepan and cover. Shake the saucepan a little bit to help distribute the corn kernels in an even manner. Let the saucepan rest for about 30 seconds. It would be better to count out loud with your kids. It is much more fun this way. The waiting period will bring the corn kernels nearer to their popping temperature. When you do return the saucepan back to the stove and turn the heat, the corn kernels will pop at the same time. This is the best way to make stovetop popcorn.
- After half a minute, return the saucepan to the stove and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the kernels until you can hear them popping in the saucepan. Shake the pan in a gentle manner every now and then to help cook the corn kernels evenly.
- The moment you hear the kernels popping, vent out some of the steam by tipping the lid of the pan a little bit. Keep on listening for the popping sound. If you hear a pop every three to four seconds, your popcorn is ready. If you notice that the stovetop popcorn is trying to spill over the pot, you can tip the saucepan to pour the “popped” corn kernels into your serving bowl. Continue cooking the rest of the corn kernels.
- Turn off the heat and remove the lid of the saucepan. Dump the best stovetop popcorn into your serving bowl and sprinkle with salt. You can also add other seasonings if you wish. If you want a buttery taste to your popcorn, melt about a tablespoon or two of butter in a separate pan. Drizzle this into the hot popcorn and toss. Now sprinkle the salt and adjust the taste. Other fun seasonings you can add include chili pepper or cayenne powder for extra heat. You can also try cumin, nutritional yeast, Spanish smoked paprika, and grated Parmesan cheese.
Tips for Making the Perfect Stovetop Popcorn
Making popcorn is easy. However, there are a few rules or tips that you have to observe to make sure that you will get the perfect stovetop popcorn every time.
- Always Use a Heavy-bottomed Saucepan or Pot
The best way to make stovetop popcorn is by using a good-quality, heavy- or thick-bottomed pan or pot. You want uniform distribution of heat at the bottom of the pan. This is the only way you can make sure that the kernels will pop almost at the same time. It also eliminates hot spots which can burn your popcorn.
- Mind the Heat
Nobody likes burnt popcorn. That is why you should always set your stove to medium heat. Anything higher than medium can risk burning your popcorn.
- Assess the Oil Temperature
You cannot stick a thermometer in the oil since you will only use about a tablespoon or two of it. The only way you can check if the oil temperature is right for popping corn kernels is by starting with two or three kernels. Once these kernels pop, you will know that the oil is hot enough to begin your corn popping adventure.
- Do Not Let the Popcorn Steam
One of the neatest tricks to learning how to make stovetop popcorn is by tipping the lid of the pan or pot a little bit. You only need a small space to release the steam that may develop in the pot. You do not want to steam popcorn. It will lose its crispy nature if you steam it.
- Start with a Little Amount of Seasoning
It is easier to adjust the taste of your popcorn if you put on a little seasoning at a time. If you dump your seasoning all at once, you may no longer be able to adjust it if it turns out too salty, too buttery, or too spicy.
How to make popcorn using your ordinary stovetop is easy. Follow our tips and you are on your way to a much better bowl of popcorn.
- Perfect Popcorn – BBC Good Food