Fun Ways to Pop Popcorn Plus… the BEST Caramel Popcorn Recipe

A couple of months ago, my Kindergarten son was supposed to bring a show-and-tell to school that shared a family tradition. I asked him what he wanted to do and he immediately said, “I am going to bring in a DVD and tell about family move night!” I was a little surprised by his idea of a family tradition, but the more I thought about it, I realized this truly is one of our most consistent and loved family traditions. Every Friday night at our house is “family movie night.” We always spread a big blanket on the floor, turn on a movie, and eat dinner picnic-style on the floor while watching the movie. When dinner’s over, we bust out the air-popper and make a big batch of popcorn. We all LOVE popcorn at our house, and making it “homemade” with the air-popper is so much better.

I got to thinking about popcorn and how it might be fun to find some other, creative ways to make popcorn for family movie night. Here some ideas.

  1. Dutch Oven Popcorn. A cast iron dutch oven is a great investment. There are the outdoor dutch ovens and there are also smaller cast iron dutch ovens that can be placed on a stove top. To pop popcorn on the stovetop, heat your dutch oven over medium-medium high heat. Add about ¼ cup of oil. It is best to use oils that have a higher smoking point, like corn oil. You may want to test to see if the oil is hot enough by placing only a few kernels in first. When those pop, you can add the rest of the kernels. Make sure to put the lid on the dutch oven and then stay close. Shake the dutch oven every so often to help prevent the kernels from burning. The popcorn will usually pop in 5-7 minutes. All of the kernels might not pop and that is okay…you don’t want the majority of the popcorn to burn while you wait for the stubborn kernels.

  2. Instant Pot Popcorn. You knew I would have to include the Instant Pot, right?! The Instant Pot is truly amazing and can even pop popcorn. However, you will need the Instant Pot glass lid accessory to pop popcorn. Using the sauté function, heat the Instant Pot. When the display reads “HOT”, add about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. (The coconut oil helps it be hot enough to pop the kernels). When butter and oil are melted, add ½ cup of popcorn kernels and stir to coat them. Place the glass lid on top and wait. The popcorn should mostly pop in about 2-3 minutes. And just like the dutch oven, you will want to remove the pot before all of the kernels have popped or you will burn the popped corn.

  1. Air Fryer Popcorn. I just got an air fryer for Christmas and I am so excited to start learning how to use it! So, expect more from me on the air fryer, but for now, how about popping popcorn in the air fryer?! It sounds easy enough. Cover the fryer basket with aluminum foil to prevent the kernels from falling out. Set the air fryer machine to 390 degrees. Add 3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels to the air fryer basket. You can spray the kernels lightly with some oil. Insert the basket for 15 minutes. Listen closely. If the popcorn pops sooner and the pops begin to slow, pull the basket out before the timer runs out.

Well, there you have it. Maybe there’s at least one new popping idea for you...

I have to finish this article by sharing my all-time favorite caramel corn recipe. This recipe was given to me by my sweet neighbor growing up in Seattle. Her name was Markie Wood. She was kind of like our adopted grandma and she lived to be 101! She definitely knew a thing or two about great popcorn.

Markie’s Caramel Corn

1 stick margarine (or butter)

7 large marshmallows

½ cup brown sugar

4 cups of popped popcorn


Melt the margarine, marshmallows, and brown sugar over low heat; stirring. Put the popcorn in a large bowl and pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Eat and enjoy. Yum!

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    Cristina Duke
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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