A not-so-shocking truth: The best popcorn doesn’t come from a bag. Strange as it may seem, popping your own popcorn requires only the most basic of cooking skills — and we’re not talking about microwaving. The payoff of homemade popcorn is huge — it’s easy and ridiculously inexpensive to make.
Whether it’s for movies, the Oscars, a Netflix binge or a healthy snack, it’s time to make popcorn. Here are four basic tips and an easy recipe to get you started.
GET YOUR DUTCH OVEN
Your main tool will be a Dutch oven or a weighty stock pot. Grab a bottle of olive oil, jar of refined coconut oil or good old vegetable oil. Add 3 tablespoons to the pot (this is enough to pop 1/2 cup of kernels or to make about 8 cups of popped corn). It sounds like a lot of oil, but without it, steam won’t build up in the pot, and without the steam, there will be no popping of corn. (Also, the oil coats the popped kernels and gives the spices something to stick to.)
TURN UP THE HEAT
Place the pan over medium heat and pour in 1/2 cup popcorn kernels. These can be any variety — red, white, yellow, organic — it doesn’t matter. Stir them with a spoon or spatula to coat them with oil and continue stirring until they start to sizzle. Put the lid on the pan, increase the heat to halfway between medium and medium high.
You need to listen to what’s happening in that pot. Don’t walk out of the room or take a phone call for the next few minutes. It won’t take long and soon there will be popping. Once it starts, it’s so exciting. Lots of popping and bursting. Then it will slow a bit after a minute or two. Now is the time to pick up the pot and — holding the lid closed — give it a good shake up and down. This prevents the dreaded layer of unpopped kernels on the bottom. Let the popping continue, but if you see any tendrils of smoke escaping from under the lid, immediately lower heat to medium. When the popping subsides to a brief eruption every few seconds, turn off the heat. Set the lid askew so some steam can escape. After a minute of steam release, pour the popcorn onto a rimmed baking sheet, or your biggest, widest bowl. You’re ready to dress that ‘corn.
DRESS IT UP
Immediately drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil all over the popcorn. You want to do this while the corn is still hot so it coats the popcorn. Toss thoroughly with the intention of coating all the popped kernels with oil.
Lastly, let’s talk about toppings. There are so many ways to add oomph to your popcorn. You can add spice mixes (like the cheesy-and-spicy-flavored mixture below, which tastes like healthy Doritos). Olive oil, or any other liquid oil plays well with spices and helps to keep them stuck to your kernels.
Try adding melted coconut butter, simple salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese, togarashi — really — the sky’s the limit.
Whatever you do don’t forget a little bit of sea salt and a big bowl to enjoy it out of.
Cheese-less Cheesy + Spicy Popcorn
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 cups (64g) just-popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup (83g) kernels)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
Finely grind the nutritional yeast, Aleppo pepper and salt in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.
Arrange popcorn on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with some of the nutritional yeast mixture and toss well to coat, adding more of the mixture, to taste.
Note: If you choose to make this spice mix, you’ll want to do so BEFORE you pop the corn so it’s ready to apply and stick to freshly popped-and-oiled kernels!
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 2 cups
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 193; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Monounsaturated Fat: 10g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 282mg; Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 4g