2 Ways to Pop Popcorn Without an Air Popper

Lately something unusual is happening on the weekends with me and my husband. He’s agreeing to watch chick flicks with me and I have been looking for any opportunity to watch FULL Utah Jazz games with him left and right. Why you ask? No, it is not because I am just dying to watch these games or him, chick flicks. It is because of our new weekend weakness: a giant bowl of buttery, salty popcorn. Does it get any better than chilling on your comfy couch in your comfy clothes watching something fun and eating popcorn? I think not! I have been wanting to mix things up and try some jazzed up popcorn recipes but my husband just loves the tried and true butter and salt, so perhaps I will just have to eat the fancy kinds by myself :)

Now another thing you need to know about us is that we do not have an air popper. We are poor graduate school students and I know it sounds pathetic, but we just don’t have $20 to throw out for a popper, so we always used to buy microwave popcorn. I really hate looking at the label of microwave popcorn to see a huge long list of ingredients I cannot pronounce that I know are not good for my body. I would rather know exactly what I am eating. Not to mention we all know homemade popcorn is just so much better anyway! So after looking up some ideas online I have found two great ways to make popcorn without an air popper.

The first way is by far my favorite way. It is easy and FUN to make! I am going to show you how to make popcorn on your stove top. I think this is the way most families did it before we had the convenience of microwave popcorn so I apologize if this is not new to you. I never knew how to do this and it just blew me away!

You will need:

-Either a tall saucepan or a big pot, depending on how much popcorn you want to make

-Oil (canola, vegetable, coconut, or grapeseed)

-Popcorn Kernels

-Salt (optional)

-Lid for your pot


First, you need to fill the bottom of your pot with popcorn kernels, creating one single layer along the bottom. Do not turn on the heat yet.

Next, pour just enough oil on top of the kernels to coat all of the kernels. You can shake the pot around to evenly coat the kernels. Pour salt to your liking if you’d like onto the kernels.

Now you can turn your burner to medium/medium-high heat.

Leave your kernels uncovered until you see one kernel pop into a piece of popcorn, like in the picture below.

Cover your pot with the lid and you are now going to shake the pot by sliding the pot back and forth on the burner. I do this by grabbing the handle with one hand and placing my other hand on top of the lid, with a pot-holder in between and shake it back and forth on the burner.

What happens next is magic! Pretty much all the popcorn kernels all pop at once, so in just about one minute you have a huge pot of popped popcorn. Keep shaking on the burner until you do not hear any more popping.

Pour into a bowl and add whatever toppings you’d like.

The second way to pop popcorn is very easy as well, but to be honest with you, I haven’t quite mastered it yet. It is hard for me to get most of it popped without burning it. There is a very small window before it is burnt and stinks up your whole house. But the second method is by putting ¼ cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag and putting it in the microwave on the popcorn setting. Now LISTEN carefully and stop it once it there are 2-3 seconds in between pops. You should have fluffy fresh popcorn. Every time I do it this way, I am left with quite a few unpopped kernels, so let me know if you have any tips for me for doing it this way.

I would love to hear if you have already been making your popcorn this way for years, or if you have any other tips for me. Leave them in the comments below! Enjoy!

    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! mary@dvo.com

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