How to Make Perfect (Healthy!) Stovetop Popcorn

5 out of 5 leaves

5 out of 5 leaves


Popcorn is a yummy snack and can be super healthy for you too, if you avoid the nasty commercial microwave version.  Previously, I’ve found that DIY microwave popcorn is super easy to make (and clean up).  But some in the crunchy community do not feel comfortable with microwaves and need another alternative.  There are commercial stove-top popcorn packages, but they come full of the same toxic flavorings that make their microwave cousins so sketchy.  Do you need a special popcorn popper in your kitchen, or can yummy, healthy popcorn be made quickly and easily on your stovetop?

The Good:

  • Better for you – homemade popcorn is generally free of yucky artificial flavorings and hydrogenated oils
  • Better for the earth – unpopped bulk corn has much less packaging and a much smaller carbon footprint than the factory produced and packaged kind.
  • Saves Money – bulk popcorn is super cheap compared to the already processed kind.
  • Easy – popping on the stove is super easy, and the clean-up in a cast iron pot is even easier!
  • You control your oils and flavors – you own the ingredient list on this one

The Bad:

  • Small children love to jump around with the popping sound – you’ll have to be a little more careful with them jumping around a hot stove.

My Experience

Easy, Healthy Stovetop Popcorn


We love popcorn at our house!  It is often a special treat to go along with a movie, or a reward for a day filled with good behavior.  It wasn’t always so, however.  For a long time, we didn’t eat popcorn because the microwave stuff is pretty nasty (read more about my “popcorn journey” here).  Then we learned how to make it in the microwave in a plain paper bag.

We did the microwave version for a while, but it was always pretty light on the flavor.  I found myself melting butter or coconut oil to go on top, which made for more dishes, and more time, and I might as well just make it in a pot on the stove and be done with it.

Enter my glorious cast iron dutch oven.  Only in the last six months have I really gotten into cooking with cast iron. Using my dutch oven, I’ve perfected a quick and easy method for making stove-top popcorn:

  1. Put ~1/4 cup coconut oil and 2-3 kernels of popcorn into the dutch oven
  2. Heat oil on medium high until the 2-3 kernels begin to pop.
  3. Do something else (multi-task!) while you are waiting.
  4. Once test kernels have popped, dump in 1/2 cup popcorn and place lid on dutch oven.
  5. Do something else (multi-task!) while you are waiting.
  6. When popcorn starts popping give the whole oven a shake or two to ensure the unpopped kernels are staying at the bottom of the pot.
  7. When popping stops, remove from heat, dump into clean bowl, and salt to taste (we like using Real Salt!)

This method is super easy, and includes lots of downtime so you can multi-task (I usually use the time to clean up the kitchen).  I’ve never burned the popcorn with this method – all the pieces come out coconutty sweet and salty.  YUM!  If you are using cast iron, there is no need to wash the pan, just wipe it out with a towel, and it will be ready for it’s next use.  Super simple!

Have you ever tried old-school stovetop popcorn?  What are your favorite flavors to sprinkle on freshly popped corn?



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23 Responses to How to Make Perfect (Healthy!) Stovetop Popcorn

  1. Stovetop popcorn is the way to go! Growing up my mom would always make a big batch in her cast iron pot and it was so good. I’ve been looking for a good, large pot to use on the stove to make popcorn for a while now, similar to my mom’s, but haven’t had any luck. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. tessa says:

    Yummy! We shared with our FB readers at

  3. Barb Anderson Moore says:

    We always had stove-top popcorn, i liked it best the next day, a little chewier!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    OH my goodness, this is how we made it growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. We’d make a big batch, pile into the station wagon, and head off to the drive in.

  5. Lydia says:

    I’ve always made mine in the stainless soup pot. I give it frequent shakes to keep the un-popped kernels at the bottom, then after pouring out the popcorn, melt butter in the still hot pan and drizzle on top. The key is to add your toppings (salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast for me!) before pouring on the butter so it all gets distributed evenly. I’m going to try this in the cast iron next time and see how it works out.

  6. Popcorn is such a go-to snack food, it’s so nice to see a healthy version of it when I am in need of a snack! Thank you for linking up to the Thrifty Thursday link party!

  7. Jen C. says:

    We don’t own a microwave, so this is the only way we make popcorn. I’ve never used coconut oil, only canola or olive. I’ll have to give it a try.

  8. I forget how the topic came up, but I remember when I was working in New Orleans several years ago, I mentioned popcorn on the stove and a co-worker looked at me like I was from Mars! I asked her where she thought popcorn came form before Jiffy Pop or the microwave, but she had no answer. She asked me how to make it, so as I was explaining (half thinking she was joking), other people started to gather around. Then it was ME looking at THEM like they were form Mars LOL. I had no idea that so many people don’t know you can make it that way! I must admit though, I’ve never had a cast-iron pot to try it it, so mine requires more shaking to prevent burning.

  9. mrsgreendreams says:

    How timely. I just bought my first stove top popcorn today!!! Will try it and let you know how it goes!!!

  10. Leah says:

    I have made it this way for years. I try to avoid the microwave anyway and as I began to make more from scratch, the microwave stuff began to taste terrible. However, I always put the kernels in with the oil at the beginning. I used to do a “test kernel” then add the rest to the hot oil, but I found I liked the texture better when the kernels heated up slowly. I’m at a high altitude, so maybe that’s why 😉

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  13. We LOVE popcorn! Thank you for sharing these tips at Tuesdays with a Twist! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  14. Kerry says:

    We have been making all our popcorn on the stove for the past 4 years– we love it! I love that the teenagers can even make their own. Popcorn is a much loved snack here On A Hill as well!

    Thanks for sharing on A Humble Bumble’s Healthy Tuesday’s Blog Hop- I hope you will join us again this coming Tuesday!
    Kerry from Country Living On A Hill

  15. Popcorn on the stovetop is the only way to go. 🙂 Visiting from Homemade Mondays!

  16. We love our stove top popcorn cooked in coconut oil — sooooooo good. Thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. 🙂

  17. Andrea says:

    I bet it’s tasty with coconut oil! I have a flat-top stove, so we don’t use cast iron (which is a total bummer), but I’ll try this with a stainless steel. Thanks for linking up to Natural Living Monday!

  18. Melanie says:

    Thank you for this! I was just thinking the other day that I need to figure out a way to make popcorn more healthy!

  19. I make popcorn on the stovetop all the time – prefer it to microwaved popcorn, plus its possibly to get GMO free organic popcorn, and with coconut oil and sea salt it becomes a really healthy snack 🙂

    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link-Up! 🙂 Please come back on Tuesday to see if you were featured 🙂

  20. momstheword says:

    Oh that’s clever! My hubby makes popcorn on the stove top but he uses a pat with a lid. Sure tastes yummy though! I’ll have to tell him your idea. Thanks so much for linking up to the “Making Your Home Sing Monday” linky party! FYI, the NEW linky part is live and ready for your posts today! 🙂

  21. I have a big pot that I use on the stove and usually make a few batches at a time. We add the buttered salt in while it is cooking. I also am addicted to kettle corn made on the stove. I did also get a popper that goes in the microwave that you can use with oil or without which is fast and easy in a pinch 🙂 Better than using a paper bag. We love our popcorn!!

  22. Megan says:

    I use a Nordic Ware microwave popcorn bowl to pop my popcorn, then drizzle with a high-quality (i.e. tasty!) olive oil and salt. Easy, delicious, and no extra mess! Plus, the olive oil is good for you!

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